Growing Concern About Detention of U.S. Businessman as Key Date Approaches in His Case

May 31, 2005

California businessman David Ji, who has been detained in Sichuan province since October 2004 in connection with a business dispute, faces a key date in his case on May 29. Sichuan police have been holding Mr. Ji under "residential surveillance" since November 2004, alleging that he and his U.S. company committed fraud in dealings with a Sichuan business firm. The legally prescribed period for residential surveillance will expire on May 29, and Sichuan authorities in theory should have to decide whether to charge Mr. Ji with a crime or to release him. (For details on the case, see an earlier CECC story here.)

Advocates for Mr. Ji contend that the charges are groundless and that police have detained Ji for leverage in the commercial dispute between his company, Apex Digital, and the Sichuan Changhong Electronics Company, a publicly traded Chinese company. Changhong has been under significant public and official pressure in China for financial losses and alleged misdealing. Mr. Ji's supporters note that he has been forced to sign numerous commercial agreements detrimental to Apex during his detention.

Concern has been growing in the U.S. Congress about Mr. Ji’s case. Members of Congress are increasingly concerned about the unreasonable treatment of an American citizen and an apparent violation of consular notification requirements of the 1980 U.S.-China Consular Agreement (for details, see below). In addition, some Members are concerned about the Sichuan authorities’ multiple violations of Chinese criminal procedure law.

Apparent Violations of Chinese Law and Procedure and International Law in the David Ji Case

  • Police failed to notify U.S. consular officials within the specified four days after Mr. Ji was first detained on October 24, 2004, an apparent violation of the 1980 US-China Consular Convention.
  • Neither Mr. Ji’s family nor his company was provided notice of his detention within 24 hours, as required by Article 64 of the Criminal Procedure Law.
  • Mr. Ji’s requests to meet with his attorneys have been denied on several occasions, a violation of Article 96 of the Criminal Procedure Law, applicable regulations on residential surveillance, and the internationally accepted rights of criminal suspects.