Debtors held in cages by officials

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 December, 1999, 12:00am

A Guangdong businessman has been kept in a cage for three months for failing to repay more than one million yuan (HK$940,000) he borrowed from a local government.

An official in Genzi, near Zhanjiang, said that unless Wu Zhiyong repaid at least part of the money he owed, he would not be released.

The practice of caging debtors was common in the town, with more than 50 being locked up since the start of last year, according to the Guangzhou-based New Express.

An insurance agency boss was released 11 days ago after being caged for not honouring a guarantee on a loan.

Township officials held Chen Yingbiao, 49, in the 1.5 square metre cage inside a government building for 68 days in late September.

He guaranteed 300,000 yuan when the township Government made the loan in 1995 to local businessman Cheng Hongxin, who later went bankrupt and disappeared.

Mr Chen, head of the Genzi branch of the China People's Life Assurance Company, was detained by the township Government after Mr Cheng fled, the New Express reported.

Mr Chen described the conditions in the cage as primitive.

'I was locked up with another person like an animal,' he said.

Although he was now free, Mr Chen said he was unable to sleep at night, still believing he was in the cage.