Individuals who have loudly petitioned the Chinese state to compensate them for harm they have suffered at the hands of corrupt officials are now going to be paid hush money during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.
During the Summit, which meets Nov. 5 to 11 in Beijing, Shanghai authorities have promised to pay local petitioners in cash daily until APEC finishes—if they don’t go to Beijing to present their grievances.
In a phone interview Shanghai petitioner Gu Guoping told Epoch Times that his older brother, who’s also a petitioner in Shanghai, received a phone call from the local petition office on Oct. 30 that he would be paid 200 yuan (US$33) each day from Nov. 1 to 11 if he doesn’t go to Beijing to petition.
The 11 days of payments totaling 2200 yuan ($363) for each petitioner is called a “subsidy fee for people in difficulties,” but in fact it’s a fee for “maintaining stability,” Gu said. According to a 2013 Peking University study, the average annual income for a family in 2012 in China was 13,000 yuan, and so this “subsidy” represents more than one-sixth of the average family income.
“Maintaining stability” is the Party jargon used for a wide range of policies, many very harsh, used to suppress protest in China.
Gu indicated that the Petition Office didn’t call him this time, because when officials had tried the same thing prior to the 4th Plenum, he had refused the money and told the media about it. That meeting of the top members of the Chinese Communist Party took place October 20-23 in Beijing.
A large number of Chinese petition central authorities to seek justice for grievances left unresolved due to official corruption.
Those who go this route are regularly mistreated, and large numbers of petitioners have told media about being illegally detained and even brutally beaten in an effort to stop them from petitioning.
Gu indicated that the Chinese people have lost trust in communist officials. “Every grievance case of Shanghai petitioners is due to official corruption. Shanghai Party Secretary Hanzheng and Mayor Yang Xiongyang always say good, empty words but take no action [on anti-corruption.] Xi [CCP head Xi Jinping] and Li [Prime Minister Li Keqiang] can’t control it either,” Gu said.
“The Chinese communist officials have boasted for decades, and common people no longer trust them,” Gu said.
After breaking through all kinds of blockades from local authorities, 129 Shanghai petitioners gathered at the State Bureau for Letters and Calls in Beijing—the central appeals office—on Oct. 31 to urge the authorities to put effort into solving petitioners’ grievance cases and to have the Shanghai authorities implement the rule of law, according to the U.S.-based Chinese-language news website Boxun.
On Nov. 1, another group of around 30 Shanghai petitioners held banners in front of the APEC meeting place—the Bairong World Trade Center—telling APEC attendees about their grievances.
Photos from Boxun show petitioners raising banners saying, “APEC attendees, please pay attention to the issues raised by Chinese petitions,” and “Release detained rights-defending petitioners, follow the rule of law.”
Paying petitioners not to protest in Beijing is only one of several steps taken by authorities meant to give the best impression possible of Beijing to the leaders from other countries attending APEC.
A holiday from Nov. 7 to 12 has been issued to all the institutional organizations in Beijing, such as: all the schools from K-12 to universities, state organizations, non-profit organizations, and so on. Businesses and enterprises are on their own to give time off to their employees, the order says. Beijing residents are also encouraged by the authorities to leave Beijing for travel during the time.
On alternate days cars with odd or even license plates are forbidden from driving, in an attempt to reduce congestion and lower the smog levels.
Fearing terror attacks, Beijing has also banned the sale of bottled gas at gas stations during the APEC meetings. Heavily armed police and plainclothes police are on guard outside the conference hall, and security checks for travellers entering Beijing have also been enhanced, according to the Chinese press.
With translation and rewriting by Lu Chen.