[xtypo_dropcap]P[/xtypo_dropcap]etitioners that arrive in Beijing from around China have been through it for years. They are approached by men wearing security badges, bundled into a car, their cell phones and IDs confiscated, and then they wind up in a “black jail.” Days, weeks, or months pass until officials from their hometowns have them escorted back home with the help of a special security officer.
Black jails sound bad, and they are bad. Held there without the knowledge of their families or friends, those detained in them may be beaten, tortured, tied up, raped, etc. Conditions are squalid; food is terrible, toilets foul.
While some are forcefully repatriated to their native provinces, other petitioners may be set free in Beijing. While many never find out where they were detained, some piece together a picture of the locations based on the road signs and their memories. Some of these individuals were recently interviewed by journalists from Caijing, a well-known magazine based in Beijing.
A series of these petitioners’ accounts all pointed to a security company with some prestige and clout in China, the reporters discovered: the Beijing Anyuanding Security and Protective Technical Service Co., Ltd. They reported their findings in a Sept. 13 article titled “Security Company Specially Employed to Intercept Petitioners.”
“Petitioning” refers to a system of seeking redress for grievances outside the court system. Petitioners present their cases to the State Bureau for Letters and Visits (commonly referred to as the Appeals Office, by any name it is ineffectual and largely impotent), first at the local level, before escalating by bringing their petitions to Beijing.
The mass of people swarming into Beijing has been a constant headache for central authorities. And since Party leaders have put such emphasis on tamping down the number of petitioners, it is in the interest of provincial governments to prevent disaffected citizens from their areas making the trip to the capital and adding to the mass of discontent.
Providing Provinces Muscle
Yet the provinces do not have their own police forces stationed in the capital. That’s where the Anyuanding security group comes in.
According to Anyuanding’s website, it was approved by the Beijing Municipal Committee of Development & Reform, the Department of Public Security of Beijing, and the Beijing Security Service General Company to be a subsidiary security-service provider for the latter (which has deep ties to the regime, having handled security for the 2008 Olympic Games).
In six short years Anyuanding has achieved numerous “glorious accomplishments,” according to its website. In 2007 it was awarded the honor of being one of the “Ten Most Influential Brands” in security services, chosen by 12 organizers including the People’s Daily. In 2008, it was rated an “A Grade” security group by the Beijing Security Service General Company. It officially employs over 3000 security staff.
Through hanging out with dangerous security types and downtrodden, dispossessed petitioners, Caijing reporters have sketched a damaging portrait of the incestuous relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and this private enterprise.
On the afternoon of Aug. 11, journalists at the north square of a train station in west Beijing caught sight of a typical exchange. A member of the “special forces” personnel was standing on the side of the road; a car pulled up and dropped him a bundle of cash; soon after a petitioner was taken to the railway platform, where a number of Guizhou officials were waiting to receive him and whisk the man home.
Typically for corrupt activities in China, the business relationship between Anyuanding and the provincial governments and Public Security Bureaus is not formally settled. Contracts aren’t signed, and there was no official handover of the work of interception and detainment. Such activities are illegal to begin with; so instead the system rests on a series of verbal agreements, sometimes on the actions of individual security personnel, and always the pursuit of profit.
The dirty deeds that Anyuanding does for local governments do not come dirt cheap, either.
Continued on the next page…