Beijing Cracks Down On Private Security Companies Used To Detain Petitioners
According to Global Times, a publication that operates under the official People's Daily, Beijing municipal Public Security Bureaus launched an official six-month "crack down" on illegal detentions of petitioners by private security companies. The crackdown comes after Chinese news media exposed instances of abuse by "stability maintenance organizations" under contract by local governments to prevent petitioners from airing their grievances to the central government. While authorities have cast the "crackdown" as a serious attempt to restrict the use of private "stability maintenance organizations," the implications and effectiveness of the crackdown remain unclear.
Petitioning exists to provide a channel, outside of court challenges, for citizens to appeal government decisions and present their grievances. Chinese citizens often use the petitioning system to seek redress for perceived wrongs, especially when dealing with issues in local corruption and land compensation. (See the Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2011 Annual Report for additional information on the petitioning system.) When seeking redress at the central government level, petitioners from all regions attempt to travel to Beijing, where the central government is located, and present their grievances to central authorities through attempts to hand over letters, pass out leaflets, set up banners in prominent locations, or otherwise draw attention to one's grievance (see, e.g., hand over letters, pass out leaflets, set up banners).
In October 2010, Southern Metropolitan Daily exposed a private security company, Anyuanding, under contract by local governments to block petitioners from petitioning to central authorities in Beijing. An October 27, 2010, article in Global Times reported that Anyuanding employed a variety of methods to prevent petitioners from making their grievances heard. The methods reportedly included coercion, pressure, abduction, detention in ''black jails'' (extralegal detention facilities) for extended periods of time, and beatings. In 2010, Chinese Human Rights Defenders documented at least 2,600 cases of petitioner detention in the black jails. More recently, in August 2011, Chinese media exposed former employees of a private security company who ran a black jail that held petitioners located on the outskirts of Beijing in an operation revealed to be funded by five local governments.
Current Crackdown Regulations
According to a December 1, 2011, Beijing News article (via Xinhua), the Beijing public security bureau will require all security companies to register by the end of February 2012 and has adopted a zero-tolerance policy against those who seek to "block petitioners and act against regulations." Specifically, the main goals of the crackdown target companies that block petitioners from reaching central authorities, operate without a license, and use violence against petitioners. In addition, according to Global Times, authorities will prohibit security companies from using police insignia and start keeping records of security companies' activities.
The effectiveness and long-term impact of the crackdown remain unclear. China's Regulations on Public Security Services, which became effective in January 2010, already contain regulations on "stability maintenance," and private security companies. For example, Chapter 2 contains conditions which must be met (Articles 8-12) by security companies before operations can start, including a license application requirement (Article 9). Furthermore, current regulations already prohibit some potential conflict of interest situations by preventing authorities from running and managing private security companies (Article 40).
However, as an April 12, 2011, article from Caijing points out, it has been difficult for local authorities to give up the practice of running private security companies. According to the article, the lack of guidance on how to disentangle security bureaus from operating private security companies, and the desire by public security bureaus to keep collecting financial rewards from the reportedly 40 billion yuan industry have all contributed to lack of reform in spite of having laws on the books.
Many Chinese citizens still view citizen petitioning to central authorities as the ultimate channel for redress against wrongdoing by local officials even though only approximately 0.2 percent of the petitioners resolve their grievances through petitioning, according to Global Times based on 2007 research conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. As a June 6, 2011 Caijing article points out, the central authorities' mandate to preserve stability, especially the practice of tying the lack of petitioning incidents to local officials' career advancement, has contributed to the rise of illegal conduct by private security companies against petitioners. It remains to be seen whether a six-month-long crackdown on these companies will have any fundamental effect on the entrenched system.
For additional information on petitioning, see Section III—Access to Justice in the CECC 2011 Annual Report.
Petitioning exists to provide a channel, outside court challenges, for citizens to appeal government decisions and present their grievances. Chinese citizens often use the petitioning system to seek redress for perceived wrongs, especially when dealing with issues in local corruption and land compensation.
No need to recheck--lifted from 2011 AR.
When seeking redress, petitioners from all regions attempt to travel to Beijing, where the central government is located, and present their grievances to central authorities through handing of letters, chanting slogans, setting up banners in prominent locations, or otherwise drawing attention to one’s grievance.
Handling of materials, leafleting:
中共中央纪律委员会的接待站，今年年初由东城区府学胡同搬到永定门西路的国家信访局为伍,成了不解决问 题的“三办”。所以每天都有访民不去“三办”，而到平安大道的中纪委机关上访。只要是工作日几乎或多或少有蓬头垢面的访民在中纪委机关大门喊冤。10月3 日博讯义工途径中纪委机关看见不少于20多名访民在门口喊冤,有穿状衣的，有举横幅的，有喊叫的////路人见怪不怪，说:这场面天天有。
Otherwise drawing attention:
CMS 167703 Villager from Hadan Guangping county carries son’s skull to petition in Beijing
CMS 167302 “十二名维吾尔访民到中央纪委要求见领导，解决有关官员贪污及上访诉求，并在大门外下跪”
CMS 166635 “北京市公安局说，这名男子42岁，来自湖北黄冈，由于不满一项法庭裁决而试图自焚，目前正在康复中
In October 2010, Southern Metropolitan Daily exposed a private security company, Anyuanding, under contract by local governments to ‘retrieve’’ petitioners who attempted to petition in Beijing, where the central government is located.
Fair summary from a lengthy two-part article on Anyuanding. CMS 148 291 and 157797,
Here some short sentences:
Anyuanding employed a variety of methods to prevent petitioners from making their grievances heard at the central level. The methods reportedly included coaxing, threats, abduction, detention in ‘‘black jails’’ for extended periods of time, and beatings.
SOURCE: CMS 149572
Zhang Yuliang, said when Xu arrived in Beijing the district government began pressuring the family further and in October 2009 forced her son-in-law to divorce her daughter in order to pressure her to return.
In March this year, Xu was blindfolded by a group of people in uniforms allegedly employed by Anyuanding. Her son told the Global Times that she was driven back to Nantong where he said she was beaten and kicked.
Detention in black jails:
During the "rush time" for petitions, such as the National Day, Party meetings and the Spring Festival, the 37-year-old man said he was arrested on four occasions between March 2008 and October 2009 and detained for a total of 57 days in "black hotels" to prevent him from petitioning until the "sensitive periods" ended.
But her ordeal began a year before that, her son told the Global Times, when 160 thugs allegedly broke into Xu's house, beat up her family and demolished the home. Following that she petitioned all the way from her district government to Beijing.
More recently, in August 2011, Chinese media exposed a black jail holding petitioners located on the outskirts of Beijing, an operation later revealed to be funded by five local governments.
SOURCE: CMS 168522
In 2011, Chinese Human Rights Defenders documented at least 2,600 cases of petitioner detention in the black jails.
“CHRD documented a total of 3544 incidences of arbitrary detention of individuals for exercising
or defending their own or others’ human rights, as outlined in Table 1.”
Cases of arbitrary detention of individuals for exercising or defending their own
or others’ human rights.
Type of detention Incidences of arbitrary detention
Re-education through Labor62
According to Beijing News, the Beijing public security bureau will require all security companies to register by the end of the February, 2012, and has adopted a zero tolerance policy against those who seek to “block petitioners and act against regulations.”
SOURCE: CMS 168706
Specifically, the main goals of the crackdown targets companies that block petitioners from reaching central authorities, operate without a license, and use violence against petitioners.
In addition, according to Global Times, authorities will prohibit security companies from bearing police signs and start keeping records of security companies.
“All security firms have to apply for a business license by the end of January, and all the security guards have to go through a job test by the end of February, the bureau announced.”
“The uniform and services of these companies will be regulated. Their cars will be prohibited from bearing police signs, and the bureau will keep records of their recruitment and operations, it said.”
The effectiveness and long-term impact of the crackdown remain unclear. China’s Regulations on Public Security Services which became effective in January 2010 already contain regulations on “stability maintenance,” or private security companies.
SOURCE: CMS 168523
For example, chapter 2 contains conditions which must be met (Articles 8-12) by security companies before operations can start....
SOURCE: CMS 168523
including a license application requirement (Article 9)
Furthermore, current regulations already prohibit some potential conflict of interest situations by preventing authorities from actively running and managing private security companies (Article 41).
SOURCE: CMS 168523
However, as the recent article in Caijing points out, it has been difficult for authorities to give up the practice of running private security companies.
Fair summary of CMS 168591, also see the next sentence.
According to the article, the lack of guidance on how to disentangle security bureaus from operating private security companies, and the desire by public security bureaus to keep collecting financial rewards from the 40 billion-yuan industry have all contributed to lack of reform in spite of having laws on the books.
SOURCE CMS 168591
Many Chinese citizens view citizen petitioning to central authorities as the ultimate channel for redress against perceived wrongdoing by local authorities even though only approximately two percent of the petitioners resolve their grievances through petitioning.
SOURCE: CMS 149572
According to a 2007 research by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, more than 10,000 petitioners have set up temporary residence in the capital city. They make the rounds of petition offices including the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and others.
Only one out of every 500 petitioners, or 0.2 percent, have their problem actually solved, said Yu in his 2004 report The Deficiency of the Petition System and its Political Consequences.
A 2010 Caijing article points out, the central authorities’ mandate to preserve stability, especially the practice of tying the lack of petitioning incidents to local officials’ career advancements, has contributed to the rise and illegal conduct by private security companies against petitioners. SOURCE: CMS 160750
SOURCE: CMS 160750
Fair summary of the article, but specifically the following (translation from the Chinese by Duihua):
Central authorities mandate or preserve stability:
Maintaining stability is one of the most important functions of the CPLC. In 1980, when the Central Committee first established the CPLC, Peng Zhen was its first secretary. It was briefly abolished in at the beginning of the 1990s.
Ever since the CPLC announced its “Three Key Tasks” (social conflicts resolution, social management innovation, and clean and fair law enforcement) in 2008, central-level stability preservation work has turned towards the construction of a stability-preservation network and the search for new modes of stability preservation.
Tying petitioning to career:
These rankings are closely connected to assessment of local government performance, but their impact on political evaluations can be taken care of if the right payments are made.
On March 14, 2007, the politico-legal committee secretary of Song County, Henan, said in a work conference on stability-preservation: “From now on, you must pay for any petitioning. Payoffs are only an economic expense, but failing to make payments will damage one’s political future.” Correspondingly, [he continued]: “From January to March of 2007, there were 25 incidents involving 65 petitioners going to Beijing. One of these managed to register [a complaint], placing us ninth in the ranking of all counties and districts in the prefecture. There were 41 incidents involving 55 petitioners going to the provincial capital to petition. Seven of these were registered, placing us third (actually, first) in the ranking. There were also 30 incidents involving 111 petitioners at the prefectural level and 216 incidents involving 1180 petitioners at the county level.”
Rise of private security:
Local governments’ fear of petitioning has led to a huge stability-preservation “market” that includes capital liaison offices, security contracts, and “payoffs” and results in all types of rent-seekers, brokers, and thugs out foraging for themselves. Appetites whetted by the favors that can be had in this rent-seeking arena, the capital liaison offices, security companies, and petitioning officials all [seek ways to] protect and expand the “stability-preservation pie.” As this “market” continues to grow, even things that have nothing to do with “stability preservation” can be categorized as “stability preservation” in order to “collect more rents.”
The abolition of capital liaison offices has obviously made it more expensive for local governments to send personnel to intercept petitioners, leading them to pursue a second method: contracting out petitioner interception to security companies. For example, the Anyuanding Company once had petitioner-interception contracts with the relevant departments of 19 provincial-level governments.
Security companies set out clear and detailed fees for intercepting, detaining, and transporting petitioners on behalf of local governments: 200 to 400 yuan per person for stability control and 200 to 400 yuan per person for restraining measures. Fees for transport vary according to the method of transport, the number of individuals to be transported, and the distance involved.