SAN FRANCISCO (March 13, 2013) — Dui Hua estimates that more than 1,000 people were indicted on endangering state security (ESS) charges in China in 2012, based on data released this month by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP). Using figures appended to the SPP’s annual work report delivered during the National People’s Congress on March 10, Dui Hua estimates that 1,060 individuals were indicted on ESS charges last year, up 9 percent from 974 indictments in 2011. The appendices aggregate indictment data for ESS, endangering national defense interests, and dereliction of duty by military personnel for the five-year period 2008‒2012. For our estimate, Dui Hua subtracted SPP indictment data reported for the three crimes in previous years and assumed the same percentage of indictments for each crime as reported in China Law Yearbook for 2011.

Source: Dui Hua, China Law Yearbook, Supreme People’s Procuratorate Annual Work Report 2013
Note: * All data are as reported by China Law Yearbook, except the 2012 figure, which is a Dui Hua estimate. We do not provide an estimate for ESS arrests in 2012 because the SPP annual work report omitted relevant arrest data this year.

In contrast with previous years, the SPP did not provide relevant arrest data for ESS crimes. In its 2008 work report, the SPP delivered ESS arrest and indictment data for the five-year period 2003‒2007, amounting to 2,404 arrests and 2,451 indictments. Arrests and indictments already exceeded these five-year totals in the two years ended 2009 and had more than doubled for arrests and rose 92 percent for indictments in the four years ended 2011. Such strong growth may have contributed to decisions to omit and obscure ESS arrest and indictment data in the 2013 report.

Given that indictments are less widely reported than detentions and sentences, Dui Hua is certain of only a handful of individuals indicted in 2012. Zhang Shaofeng (张绍峰) and Chen Pingfu (陈平福) were both charged with inciting subversion in Gansu. Zhang Shaofeng was indicted in October and sentenced in November to 18 months’ imprisonment for using social networking sites to form illegal political organizations and post articles about western democracy; he also joined the China Democracy Party via email. Chen Pingfu was indicted in August and released in December. The laid-off teacher turned street performer posted articles about human rights and democracy on his personal blogs. In a more well-known and less representative case, former Chongqing police chief and vice mayor Wang Lijun (王立军) was indicted of defection; he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for multiple crimes in September.

Awaiting Trial Data

The annual work report of the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) did not include ESS trial data. Xinjiang appears to be the only provincial-level jurisdiction that has published ESS trial data for 2012. Xinjiang reported 314 first- and second-instance ESS trials for an annual decline of 24 percent. Historical data indicates that the number of trials does not necessarily change in step with those of arrests and indictments, due in part to the number of defendants per trial, the timing of arrests, and the length of the investigative stage. Official nationwide tallies of ESS trials, arrests, and indictments are expected to be released later this year in China Law Yearbook.

“More than 5,500 people were indicted for ESS crimes—a category that includes subversion, splittism, incitement of subversion, and incitement of splittism—in the period 2008-2012,” said John Kamm, executive director of The Dui Hua Foundation. “Given the high rate of conviction and the severity of sentences for ESS crimes, most of those indicted during the five years covered by the SPP report are still in prison.”