As disgraced Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai appeals his lifelong jail sentence, the city he ruled for five years is still struggling with the dubious legacy of his anti-crime campaigns.
Xu Mingxuan, a legal practitioner who has long criticised Bo’s legacy, called on Chongqing’s municipal government to bring justice for those prosecuted during Bo’s publicised “dahei”, or “fight organised crime”, campaign in a commentary for the Beijing News on Sunday.
More than 3,300 people have been detained in the campaign which lasted from 2007 until Bo’s downfall early last year, according to municipal statistics. Many were tortured. The city’s longtime police chief Wen Qiang became the campaign’s highest-profile target in 2009. He, along with 12 other purported triad leaders, was executed.
After the man who spearheaded the campaign, police chief Wang Lijun, attempted to defect to the US consulate in Chengdu in January last year, many of those prosecuted spoke out demanding compensation and an apology for the often extrajudicial punishments.
For Xu, the case of real estate developer Chongqing Junfeng Industrial Development Group was a litmus test for Chongqing’s new administrators and their willingness to make amends for the witch-hunt conducted by their predecessors.
“The problems left over from the dahei campaign will not naturally disappear,” wrote Xu in the article. “Don’t let the people lose faith in the law over some anxieties.”
At least 25 company employees were arrested in the campaign in 2010 on charges related to organised crime, with 20 sentenced to jail for up to 18 years. The company’s founder Li Jun, then one of Chongqing’s richest men, fled to Hong Kong and went into hiding.
Last week, Junfeng said two company bank accounts had been unfrozen by the city’s police and some 200 million yuan in funds had been gradually been returned to the company.
The funds had been funnelled through an account controlled by the local police unit in charge of the crackdown on to other companies with ties to the police unit, wrote Xu.
However, the city’s judiciary has been hesitant to hear the case of Junfeng founder Li against what he says was an illegal seizure of assets by the dahei special unit. Li has not yet received an official response on his application for a lawsuit filed in February against the Shapingba District Public Security office, wrote Xu. The company is seeking damages amounting to 113 million yuan.
“Entrepreneurs are also citizens,” Wang Shi, the founder of China’s biggest listed real estate developer Vanke, said in an interview with China Business News on Monday, commenting on the crackdown’s legacy. “It brought me out in a cold sweat,” he recalled.
“If nothing had happened to Bo, could entrepreneurs have hidden from him?” he asked. “Is it acceptable not to speak out if [someone] violates the rule of law?”