Dialogue — Issue 34, Winter 2009
This year, the People’s Republic of China turns 60—a particularly significant milestone in Chinese tradition. Following the ancient counting system of “heavenly stems” and “earthly branches,” 60 represents a full cycle, an occasion to reflect on past accomplishments, and an auspicious moment to embark on fresh endeavors. Whereas last year’s Olympic celebrations were an opportunity for the Chinese government to show its best face to the international community, October 1 is in many ways an opportunity for the government to show its best face to the Chinese people.
The pardons recently issued by outgoing President George Bush set off public discussions about executive clemency powers in the United States. This comes as no surprise; presidents often issue pardons that spark controversy at the end of their terms, with the lame duck period after the election of a new president bringing with it debates over the scope and propriety of the power to pardon.
The Dui Hua Foundation has received confirmation from authoritative sources inside China about sentence reductions for prominent activists serving sentences for “endangering state security” in Sichuan Province as well as lesser-known individuals incarcerated in the province. The information was provided in response to a request for updates on long-serving prisoners in Sichuan.
Annual statistics released by the Chinese government show that arrests and trials for endangering state security (ESS) are again on the rise, approaching their highest levels for the past decade. The data from the China Law Yearbook, which has been compiled into the accompanying table, offer a rare look into the way that Chinese law enforcement agencies handle this category of crime—which includes subversion, separatism, espionage, and trafficking in state secrets, among other political crimes.
Dui Hua turns ten in year of anniversaries; Dui Hua takes part in UN’s Universal Periodic Review of China; Kamm surveys transition in the capital.