Victim pays Beijing sleuths for Xian trip

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 February, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 February, 2000, 12:00am

Beijing police told a Japanese executive wounded by one of his employees that he must pay the costs of finding the culprit.

The executive, from a Japanese company in Beijing, told his employees last month that, to reduce costs, he planned to dismiss 19 out of 100 who worked for him, industry sources said yesterday.

All accepted the situation except one man, who warned him he would suffer as a result. A few days later, the man burst into the executive's office and hit him over the head with a metal object before running out.

The executive was taken to a city hospital and X-rayed. The films, showing the extent of his injuries, were presented to police as evidence of the attack.

The Japanese urged police to catch his assailant, but they said he had probably returned to his home city, Xian.

Beijing police would not accept the executive's X-ray evidence, saying tests would have to be done at a police hospital about 30km away.

The assault victim went there and had the X-rays taken again at a cost of 1,200 yuan (HK$1,110).

After presenting the second set of films to police, he urged them to go to Xian and catch the suspected assailant.

This time, police claimed the man lived in a dangerous area and they would need to send not one officer, but four.

If he wanted this done quickly, the executive would have to pay for the cost of the air tickets and hotel accommodation for four in Xian, police said.

The Japanese businessman reluctantly agreed and the long-distance investigation got under way.

Another form of extortion to which Japanese firms claim they are subject include fees local governments demand for special projects, such as 'poverty relief'.

A recent project was 'a fund to save state firms' proposed by Shenyang city fathers, who asked Japanese firms operating there to pay up and ease the plight of thousands of ailing state enterprises.

Japanese firms united to oppose the imposition of payments, a move which the city eventually dropped.

Local governments view Japanese firms as soft targets because of atrocities committed by Japan in China in the first 45 years of the past century. The Government keeps these fresh in the mind of its citizens through regular articles in the media and TV programmes.

This makes Japanese firms in China eager to maintain a low profile so as not to offend public sensibilities.

But it also makes them reluctant to pay bribes demanded by Customs, tax bureau and other, often petty, officials, one Japanese businessman said.

'What we fear is that such bribes could be used against us in the next anti-Japanese campaign,' he claimed.