News / Asia

China Bans Public from Petitioning Beijing Over Local Grievances

Protesters hold banners and placards during a protest outside a Nike shop at a shopping mall during Labor Day in Hong Kong, May 1, 2014 to support workers on strike at Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd. in China.
Protesters hold banners and placards during a protest outside a Nike shop at a shopping mall during Labor Day in Hong Kong, May 1, 2014 to support workers on strike at Yue Yuen Industrial Holdings Ltd. in China.
For decades, China's capital has been the last resort for citizens whose grievances could not be solved through the legal system at the local level.  But starting Thursday, legal reforms ban petitioners from taking their case to higher authorities, in a move that analysts say highlights the leadership's uneasiness with local grievances reaching the capital.

The new rules give local governments up to 60 days to answer petitions.  Those whose issues are not resolved locally are banned from appealing to central authorities.

Policymakers in China said the move is part of a general reform to promote rule of law and efficiency at the local level.

But critics believe authorities have become wary of the potential instability that petitioners can bring to the capital when they visit to file complaints.

Huang Qi is a human rights activist from Sichuan province.

They are not looking for a way to handle these citizens' problems, he said.  He believes the so called "reform of the petitioning system" is done only get rid of petitioners from Beijing and protect the interests of the central authorities.”

Analysts also see the reform as an admission of failure of the system.

Officially established in 1951, the petitioning system assures, on paper, that citizens can appeal to the central government when they perceive injustices in how their cases are handled locally.

But surveys have shown that resolving a grievance through the system is the exception, and most petitions are ignored.

Huang said petitioners come to Beijing because their cases involve local corruption.  Shifting responsibilities back to the local level will not help.

He said the idea local governments can solve the problems of more than 10 million people who petition in China is a very naïve dream of scholars, showing they [scholars] do not know where these grievances come from.

Petitioners have turned to Beijing for personal matters ranging from land grabs, forced eviction or corruption.

In 2002, a local court in Hubei province ruled against Liu Yujie in a divorce proceeding on the grounds her whereabouts where unknown.  Liu said her ex-husband had colluded with the court, and she was left homeless and alone in caring for her disabled child.

She has been petitioning for the court to reverse the ruling, and has made trips to the capital because she said she has exhausted all her other options.

In her last trip to the capital, Hunan authorities found her in Beijing and brought her back to her hometown.

She said we have gotten back to the original point.  If the local government does not accept our cases, and we also cannot go to Beijing anymore, we have no channel left to solve our problem.

Reform of the legal system has become a buzzword in China, where the leadership acknowledges corruption and lack of independence of the courts as a major threat to its legitimacy.

Proposals to reduce local governments' influence on courts by shifting responsibilities over the court's budgets and personnel to higher authorities have been debated for years.

The topic has gained prominence again in the fall, when Xi Jinping announced his blueprint for reform.

Analysts agreed the move might in fact help make courts more independent, and reduce the number of grievances that have not been solved locally.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NYC
May 05, 2014 4:51 PM
By banning petition appeals to Beijing, the CCP will actually increase instability in China. The petition system is traditional and over 1 million Chinese file new petitions each year. Very few are resolved in favor of the petitioner and most are ignored or thrown out by the authorities. Nevertheless for grievances against the govt, the petition system is the first choice of Chinese people. By eliminating their right to appeal to Beijing, this will cause people to turn to street protests or perhaps violence to redress their grievances.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid