December 24th, 2003

Образ Китая в "Вашингтон пост"

Во вчерашней "Вашингтон пост" рядом помещены две статьи о Китае. По-моему, они - вместе, как единое целое - очень интересны именно с точки зрения сравнения с нашей реальностью. То есть не то чтобы их реальность была идентична нашей, но поучительно, как фундаментально схожи проблемы, как фундаментально схожи направления развития, и как рассыпаются стандартные упрощенные представления о нынешнем Китае.

China's Leaders Back Private Property.
Proposed Amendments Would Mark Break With Communist Roots

By Peter S. Goodman
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, December 23, 2003; Page A01

SHANGHAI, Dec. 22 -- China's Communist Party leaders on Monday proposed amendments to the nation's constitution that would enshrine a legal right to private property while broadening the focus of the party to represent private businesses.

Collapse ) Party leaders have advanced property rights as part of a process of privatization that has been unfolding for years but has gained considerable momentum in recent months. More than 100,000 state-owned companies have been sold over the past decade, according to official statistics, and the government recently outlined plans to shift tens of thousands more into private hands.

The formal establishment of property rights serves to legitimize a reality that has existed for decades: Chinese people own all sorts of things, from their bicycles and farm implements to the cars, apartments and shares of stock being purchased at a frenzied pace by a growing urban nouveau riche.

The problem is that property can be taken by state or local authorities with little or no compensation. The exploding real estate business has been particularly rife with corruption, as government officials routinely avail themselves of the opportunity to get hold of choice land and use it for private business. When disputes arise, personal connections in government remain more important than the evolving body of law, often muddled by internal contradictions. The amendment is at once a bid to spur more commerce while limiting the opportunities for abuse.Collapse )

The state-owned firms that once dominated China's economy have traditionally been sustained by credit from state banks, regardless of their balance sheets. Today, many are bankrupt, and banks are burdened by about $500 billion in bad loans, according to private economists. The government has cast privatization as the prescription for turning them around, creating management incentives to make them profitable.

But the process has been messy and painful, eliminating jobs for tens of millions of workers at bankrupt firms at a time when the government is slashing the social benefits that were part and parcel of communism. After years of free housing, health care and education, most Chinese must now pay for these services. Many state-owned companies have have been acquired by well-connected insiders at sweetheart prices. Entrepreneurs have gained control of once-collective farms, harnessing them for private benefit in real estate ventures while peasants go landless.

From the beginning of economic reforms in the early 1990s through the end of the decade, nearly $4 trillion in public assets were transferred from state-owned companies to insiders in such dubious deals, according to Yang Fan, an economist at China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing.

Most Chinese scholars now portray privatization and China's larger embrace of the market as irreversible trends. Yet some intellectuals have criticized the move to protect private property as precipitous: Without first forging a modern legal system that affords aggrieved laborers and farmers the right to protect their own interests, they argue, the creation of property rights simply legitimates the looting of public assets.

"Ordinary people in China often say that 'privatization' really means power stealing wealth," said Kuang Xinnian, a literature professor at Qinghua University in Beijing, one of the more vocal critics.
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Execution Reveals Party's Grip in China
Case Highlights Flaws in Legal System

By John Pomfret
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, December 23, 2003; Page A12

BEIJING, Dec. 22 -- In a case that has roiled legal circles for months, China's highest court upheld a death sentence and then allowed the execution on Monday of an alleged gangster despite testimony from eight prison guards that the man had admitted to ordering a mob killing only after lengthy torture.

Legal experts criticized the decision and said the case of Liu Yong underscored serious problems in China's legal system. Government sources said the Supreme People's Court reversed a lower-court verdict under orders from the Communist Party's top law enforcement committee even though several of the judges opposed the decision, illustrating the control the party exerts over court decisions.

Defense attorneys and academics said the reversal despite the torture charges, which were backed up by affidavits from eight security service witnesses, marked a step backward for a country that has been struggling with police brutality for decades. "This case is going to set back China's development of a legal system by 10 years," said one of Beijing's leading lawyers and a senior member of All China Lawyers' Association. This lawyer, like other lawyers and legal experts, spoke about this case on condition of anonymity because he fears he could lose his job or face more serious punishment from the police.

Under Chinese law, confessions obtained through torture are not admissible in court. Even so, torture is common and, many legal academics argue, it remains the main method used by police to solve cases.Collapse )

According to police, Liu, 43, was the brutal head of a criminal organization that operated through extortion, corrupt land deals and murder. An entrepreneur who started off hawking clothes from a small stall, Liu eventually expanded his business into a sprawling conglomerate, the Jiayang Group, employing 2,500 people. At the time of his arrest in July 1999, Liu was a member of the legislature in Shenyang, a major northeastern city. Liu allegedly belonged to a cabal of corrupt officials, including former mayor Mu Suixin and deputy mayor Ma Xiangdong. Ma was executed in 2001. Mu is in prison and has untreatable lung cancer.

In April, Liu and his alleged henchman, Song Jianfei, were sentenced to death -- Song for beating up a cigarette vendor, who later died of internal bleeding, and Liu for ordering the killing because the man purportedly was a competitor. Liu hired a top litigation lawyer, Tian Wenchang, to appeal.

Tian collected the testimony of the eight retired officers, members of the People's Armed Police who said that at various times and locations they had witnessed police torturing Liu. Tian's success in convincing former officers to break a code of silence about police brutality marked a breakthrough for the legal system. The witnesses wrote of police denying Liu food and water, applying electric current to his body, and forcing him to squat in a small metal box for days.Collapse )

On Oct. 8, the Supreme People's Court took over the case, marking the first time since the 1949 Communist revolution that China's highest court would hear a common criminal case. Sources said the Communist Party's Committee of Politics and Law, which runs the country's security services, ordered the top court to issue a new verdict and sentence Liu to death. The sources said that Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang, the second-ranking member of the committee, insisted on a death sentence, because he did not want a precedent set allowing confessions obtained by torture to be thrown out of court. Senior members of the Politburo, China's top political body, also agreed that Liu should be executed because public opinion seemed to be in favor of it.

The top court held its first session on Friday, but Tian, the defense lawyer, boycotted the meeting. In a lengthy report Monday night, state-run television quoted the high court as brushing aside the torture charges and saying that the seriousness of Liu's crimes warranted his death.

"Originally we thought this was a historical case," said Yu of New York University. "We had a high court that admitted some kind of torture occurred and that torture actually had legal consequences. But now they have really disappointed a lot of Chinese lawyers."

More than 100 defense attorneys have been arrested nationwide under a clause in a law that gives police and prosecutors sweeping rights to jail them for making statements in court that are deemed false, officials at the All China Lawyers Association said. That clause is having a chilling effect on criminal defense work, and scores of lawyers are leaving that side of the profession, senior defense attorneys said.