By John Kusumi
Through newswires, the world has just learned of the jail sentence handed to Tiananmen Square student leader Zhou Yongjun, in a case that represents the triumph of gangsterism over the rule of law in Communist China. By arbitrary fiat, the Chinese government rendered a sentence that is unjust and purely political. This arbitrary punishment of Zhou Yongjun is supported only by political enmity — a grudge — rather than by law or merits in the case at hand.
This may also be an attempt by the government of China to remind the Chinese people that they are not free. The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China ostensibly protects (in Article 35) freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration. In Article 36, it protects freedom of religion. And in Article 41, it protects the “right to criticize and make suggestions to any state organ or functionary.”
To its people and to the international community, the Communist Party (CCP) is displaying to one and all that they hold themselves above the Constitution. Observers can infer the following message: “Don’t take seriously those rights from Articles 35, 36, and 41. If you rely on the Constitution, you may end up like Zhou Yongjun or Liu Xiaobo or Wang Bingzhang or Gao Zhisheng.” The CCP is also thumbing its nose at international law, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.
The Chinese government has also repudiated its former leader, the late Deng Xiaoping, in multiple ways as will be expressed below. By undoing reforms of Deng Xiaoping, the current leadership of China has taken a step backwards towards Maoism.
In the particular case of Zhou Yongjun, we know that he lived in the United States from 2002-2008, and was attempting a return to China when he was intercepted by Hong Kong authorities, who oddly performed a “secret rendition” of Zhou — handing him over to Mainland authorities in contravention of standard procedures and the “one country, two systems” formula which is meant to protect rights in Hong Kong.
The present case is therefore ominous for Hong Kong as well. And, the author of the “one country, two systems” concept was Deng Xiaoping. Hence, we see the first way in which today’s action contravenes Deng.
The Associated Press correctly noted that “Details of the charges against Zhou remain murky.” The AP also noted that the charge was “attempted fraud.” The charge itself implies an unconsummated transaction. There is no charge of actual fraud, merely of “an attempt.” So, there is no actual crime; Zhou stands accused of attempting one.
Let’s reiterate: Zhou stands accused of attempting a crime. But, Zhou was not in China from 2002-2008, and he was intercepted before he set foot on Chinese soil. Zhou could not have committed a crime on Chinese soil; Zhou could not even have attempted a crime on Chinese soil; at the time of his accused attempt, Zhou had yet to set foot on Chinese soil! That is why Zhou’s attorneys have argued that Mainland China authorities lack jurisdiction even to prosecute the allegation of the attempt of which Zhou stands accused.
The prosecution of Zhou Yongjun was a grasp on top of a reach after a stretch. Mainland authorities lack jurisdiction to bring this case, but they did so anyway — and they went to the extreme of illogic in convicting Zhou, and now they have sentenced him to nine years in prison. (And, they slapped him with a fine of 80,000 yuan.)
The Eighth Party Congress called for a well structured legal system, and Deng Xiaoping advocated the rule of law and championed Chinese legal reform. The illogic in the Zhou Yongjun case highlights Chinese authorities’ departure from the rule of law. Prior to Deng, China experienced Maoist legal nihilism, and now it’s 1977 all over again. This is the second way in which today’s action contravenes Deng.
Of course, we know that the real grudge of the Chinese government is due to the Tiananmen Square uprising of 1989, where Zhou Yongjun was a prominent leader. The only message that observers can read out of the CCP’s conviction and sentencing of Zhou is one of mindless self-assertion such as, “We’re lawless, we’re given to gangsterism, and we get away with it!”
It is true that Chinese Communist leaders get to do their misdeeds with no parental supervision. And that circumstance is regrettable, because these authorities need some other authorities to check against their lawless exploitation of the Chinese nation.
Just as with the Tiananmen Square crackdown, the China Support Network (CSN) condemns this persecution, prosecution, conviction, and sentencing. And, the CSN calls upon Chinese authorities to release Zhou Yongjun and political prisoners similarly situated; and CSN calls upon the international community such as the UN, EU, and US to apply pressure and sanctions to the Chinese government until such time as this Tiananmen Square persecution has ended.