2009 November 12 Thursday
Complainers In China Go To Jail

The country which is on course to become the most powerful in the world has a government that secretly jails rural people who travel to cities to submit complaints at government offices. The 21st century will be the century of economically advanced despotism.

For the past six years, citizens have been held without communication in so-called black jails, often located in state-owned hotels, nursing homes and psychiatric hospitals, according to a new report from the human rights group.

Most of the detainees are from rural areas and travel to major cities to submit grievances at petitions and appeals offices, which address cases without going to court, Human Rights Watch said.

If diversity is strength then the differences in China's political system make the world a stronger place.

Incentives work to change the behavior of government workers. The jails cut down on the metrics used to measure grievances.

But the rights group said the jails are becoming more popular because officials are penalized if too many grievances come from their jurisdictions. Areas with fewer complaints are rewarded, it said.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 November 12 09:14 PM  China

johnlaw said at November 12, 2009 10:02 PM:

The fallacy of course is thinking that jail in China means the same thing as jail in the United States.

Jail in the US for the average American (i.e. white male) means getting raped by black and Hispanic prisoners. And then there's always physical assault and murder of course.

There was an interesting article in the NY Times a couple years ago about an American guy who was in prison in South Korea. South Korea isn't the same as China of course, and it's much more developed, but it does give you an idea of prison in the Orient compared to the inhumane torture that is jail in the US. Prison over there seems like summer camp compared to what we have here.

not anon or anonymous said at November 13, 2009 4:24 AM:

There's a good chance that the central government of China will crack down on this, to the extent it's able to do so. The right to petition the government has been recognized in China for millennia: the Chinese government is not going to forgo its only source of legitimacy.

Michael L said at November 13, 2009 8:21 AM:

I think there is a fairly easy way to counter this - have the people first file the petition electronically on a secure server ran either by the government or by some respected "rights protection" organization and then have them go deal with the bureaucracy. That way it would be pretty easy to track, post factum, what is happening with the filers. E.g. if you are seeing that many of the people who submitted electronically vanished or were diagnosed with counter-revolutionary mind bend within 6 months, then you can start investigating the bureaucrats they were dealing with. You could even construct a metric out of this...

RKU said at November 13, 2009 9:47 AM:

I'd say that Johnlaw makes a very good point. Consider also that America today probably has the world's highest per-capita rate of imprisonment, and the overall picture presented of our society really isn't a very pretty one.

And keep in mind that his entire "black prison" system is clearly intended to get around the policies and directives of the central Chinese government. The PRC leaders established a fairly sensible system whereby the complaints by citizens against local officials were used as a metric to detect and punish the corrupt or incompetent ones. So the corrupt local officials began kidnapping and imprisoning complainants to circumvent this. This obviously isn't a good thing, but it certainly doesn't sound like official government policy, less so than America's own horror-filled prison system.

Terald said at November 13, 2009 1:58 PM:

Of course, conditions in the prison system of the People's Republic are just like those in South Korea. The political prisoners who are selected by blood typing, pulled from their cells and shot in the head so their organs can be harvested to fill an advance order from a wealthy individual (or a Party official who needs it) will certainly agree that they have it so much better than prisoners in the free world. True, South Korean prisons are a model, for the most part, BUT they have the unfortunate tendency to be IN SOUTH KOREA, not the PRC. There are horrors in the American system, but there are also model prisons which compare favorably to the oriental ones mentioned by Johnlaw. And I am sure if you spent any time looking around, you'd find the same horrible conditions in other prisons in South Korea - prisons to which foreigners are not normally sent. An American (or European or other foreigner) in most countries tends to receive better treatment because if they're sent to the normal prisons, relations can become strained. The comparison is the same as that idiot Michael Moore made in Cuba, when he was shown the top medical center in Havana which is not accessible to the ordinary citizenry. He was not shown the horror that 99% of Cubans have for medical care. He fell for it because he is a half-wit who is unable to tell when he is being used as a propaganda tool. In jail, the experiences of an American in most developed free world countries will generally be better than the experiences of his local counterpart.

Randall Parker said at November 13, 2009 5:19 PM:

RKU refers to:

America's own horror-filled prison system.

I agree that it is. But why is that? What would it take to stop all rape in US prisons for example? Single person cells?

Part of the problem is that we have much more dangerous prisoners than South Korea or Japan does. But how much of the problem is due to policies for handling those dangerous prisoners?

averros said at November 13, 2009 7:13 PM:

Anybody who thinks US is nicer than China with regard to chances to be jailed for a non-crime, should read this blog (besides well-articulated editorializing, it has quite a lot of stories from the real life): http://freedomiourtime.blogspot.com

johnlaw said at November 13, 2009 8:41 PM:

And I am sure if you spent any time looking around, you'd find the same horrible conditions in other prisons in South Korea - prisons to which foreigners are not normally sent.

This is not true.

The first foreigner-only prison in South Korea opened in July of this year. Before it opened foreign inmates were sent to regular prisons.

The "horrible conditions" in US prisons I was talking about were specifically the rapes, physical assaults, and murders that white American prisoners are subject to by black and Hispanic prisoners. You will not find these "same horrible conditions" in South Korea. Poor heating and too much kimchi in the diet, maybe. I suppose if you find kimchi offensive and intolerable, as many do, then you might insist that there are "horrible conditions in other prisons in South Korea." There really aren't any black and Hispanic prisoners in Korea in the first place for there to be a racially based, systematic sexual and physical predation in the prison system. And if there were, I seriously doubt that they would tolerate it, and turn it into a ubiquitous joke and cultural trope (don't drop the soap!) like we have here.

Randall Parker said at November 14, 2009 1:29 PM:


You misspelled that URL. I'm guessing you meant freedominourtime.

averros said at November 16, 2009 3:34 AM:

Randall - yes, thanks for the correction! The correct URL is: http://freedominourtime.blogspot.com/

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