September 21, 2012


Cracks in the armour as voices refuse to quieten (John Garnaut, 9/15/12,  The Age and Sydney Morning Herald)

Long Meiyi was 19 when she met the mining magnate who allegedly raped her at one of Beijing's most gaudy and exclusive nightclubs, the Softly Shaking Bar. She had initially received his overtures with the confidence that came from being raised in a family of senior officials in a country where political power and connections frequently trumps all else. The stepfather who raised her was vice-mayor in the industrial city of Liupanshui, in south-west China's Guizhou province, and her mother held a senior role in the city bureau of the Ministry of State Security, China's secret intelligence service. Grandparents on both sides fought for the communist revolution. But, when the girl's complaint vanished into the vortex of the city's legal-political system, the family found that the local red aristocracy had been outplayed by the provincial nouveau riche.

Long's case caused a sensation in the Chinese blogosphere because her stepfather, Tian Wancang, was responsible for Liupanshui's "stability preservation" apparatus, which has been China's greatest bureaucratic growth industry in recent years. Tian shared responsibility for running the city's police, procuratorate, courts and also the notorious ''letters and complaints'' system that ostensibly provides redress for administrative injustices while collecting intelligence on disgruntled citizens.

Tian's overriding task in managing the city's political-legal system was to preserve the veneer of a "harmonious society" over the top of China's increasingly fractious reality by preventing aggrieved individuals from petitioning for justice in the capital. But he found the stability preservation machine he helped create was more powerful than he was. A year after his daughter's alleged rape, he joined her in Beijing, with a dust mask to hide his identity, to coach her on how to outfox the system and successfully lodge a complaint.

Posted by at September 21, 2012 5:28 AM

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