During a research trip to China and Hong Kong in April, Dui Hua uncovered a previously unknown account of a major incitement case from 1998. According to the Zengcheng City Public Security Records, Liao Yexiang (廖叶祥), from Longmen County in Guangdong Province, allegedly posted a series of more than 100 inflammatory political slogans throughout locations in central Guangdong from August to November 1998 before being taken into custody by police. (The brief account of this case was reprinted in the most recent volume of Dui Hua’s Occasional Publications series, Selection of Cases from the Criminal Law , published in May.)
In following up on this case, Dui Hua recently obtained additional details about Liao’s case in an article entitled “A View on the Handwriting Characteristics of the Mentally Ill and its Verification,” published in the Chinese journal Guangdong Public Security Science and Technology in 2000. In this article, authors associated with the Guangdong Province Public Security Department identify Liao as someone suffering from “mild schizophrenia” who allegedly became delusional about being followed and watched by the “security bureau” and a certain “Vicious Mr. He” after being picked up for “vagrancy” (a term that could simply describe unauthorized urban residence by rural people) in 1994. When signs of these delusions began reappearing in the hand-painted slogans that began appearing beside major provincial highways, police were able to identify Liao and take him into custody.
It is unlikely, under the circumstances, that Liao was ever put on trial for actions that otherwise would be punishable by imprisonment of five years or less under Chinese laws against “inciting subversion.” Instead, Liao was likely sent to one of the “Ankang” psychiatric hospitals run by the Ministry of Public Security. Dui Hua is seeking to find out whether or not Liao, now 43 years old, remains institutionalized nearly a decade after being taken into custody.