Editor's note: This is the eighth in a series of articles on Zhongnanhai, the seclusive political enclave in central Beijing, and the power struggles that have transpired within the Communist Party there. The series will appear on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
* * *
BEIJING--Family members of Guan Shaofeng made a series of frantic phone calls to his colleagues and friends on the night of March 7, when the National People’s Congress was in session.
Guan, a senior officer at the quarantine bureau of Dandong, a city in northern Liaoning province, didn’t come home from work that evening.
After failing to reach him for hours, his family tried to find any clue as to his whereabouts from his acquaintances.
One week later, Guan’s family finally received an answer. A notice arrived saying Guan had been detained on suspicion of taking more than 180,000 yuan (2.9 million yen or $29,000) in bribes from a trading company and others.
Guan was seized and investigated by the Communist Party’s Commission for Discipline Inspection. The party’s shadowy internal investigation arm, which operates independently of police and other law-enforcement agencies, interrogates and disciplines party members who have refused to toe the party line or are suspected of engaging in corruption.
In a bill of complaint he later submitted to prosecutors, Guan said he was subjected to a harsh interrogation.
He was grabbed by agents from his workplace on the morning of March 7 and interrogated for seven days, during which he was beaten, kicked and otherwise assaulted, he said.
The violent interrogation led to bleeding from his ears and a fracture in his coccyx.
His interrogators also threatened to give his wife the same treatment unless he confessed to wrongdoing.
Guan was later sent to the prosecutor’s office and indicted on bribe-taking charges in April.
The Commission for Discipline Inspection doesn’t have the authority to arrest and indict suspects under the code of criminal procedure.
Instead, the organization operates according to the party’s rules.
That makes it difficult to charge the commission over an illegal investigation even if it has used violence, threats and other abusive methods.
“Is the Commission for Discipline Inspection an entity that operates above the law?” asked one member of Guan’s family. “Where can we turn to for help?”
Guan is just one of the many party members who fell into the maw of the feared investigation agency.
This spring, a number of party officials died mysteriously after being detained by the local Commission for Discipline Inspection in places like Wenzhou in Zhejiang province and Sanmenxia in Henan province.
Their deaths are suspected to have been caused by violent interrogations.
A lawyer investigating these cases says the Commission for Discipline Inspection is “a symbol of the party’s absolute power.”
On the other hand, it is also true that the commission has demonstrated the party’s ability to clean up the rot within its organization by exposing and punishing corruption among senior party officials.
The gate to the building of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, located in western Beijing, has no sign to identify the organization housed in the building.
But constant streams of citizens visit the building to make complaints about corrupt officials.
In May, Wang Qishan, secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, urged his subordinates to step up their fight against corruption within the party.
“Serve as the party leadership’s 'qianliyan' (clairvoyance) and ferret out both tigers and flies,” said Wang, who is also a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the party’s supreme policymaking organ.
Tigers mean corrupt party bigwigs, while flies indicate corrupt low-ranking party executives. With these words, Wang called for a thorough crackdown on endemic corruption among party officials.
* * *
The previous installments of this series are available at:
- « Prev
- Next »