Beijing has detained 1.43 million Chinese in a three-month security campaign ahead of the Party’s national meeting. However, not all those arrested were criminals.
Tightened security is required as the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), scheduled for October, approaches. The regime set up a “100-day Operation” that started on June 25.
In a press conference on Sept. 27, the Ministry of Public Security touted the campaign’s success: To date, the operation has resolved more than 640,000 criminal cases and arrested more than 1.43 million people.
However, many so-called suspects are simply ordinary Chinese citizens, such as dissidents, activists, petitioners, Christians, and Falun Gong adherents.
Enemies of the People
The regime claims the operation was the “hard fists” needed to protect vulnerable groups, such, as women, minors, the elderly, and the disabled.
The Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times learned that police targeted many non-criminals, including people who dare to speak up and defend the interests of citizens in need.
For instance, lawyer Chen Jiahong has been missing since Sept. 24 when the police visited his home in Guangxi Province in southern China.
Chen was previously imprisoned on a charge of “inciting subversion of state power” for voicing his support of victims of the “709 Crackdown,” a 2015 mass arrest of civil rights lawyers and rights activists.
Xiang Jinfeng, an outspoken rights activist from Fujian Province on China’s southeastern coast, was detained by local police in Longyan City on Sept. 1 on an unknown charge. The family was only told that his detention would last a month, Xiang’s brother told The Epoch Times.
CCP’s Societal Risk Factor: Petitioners
Petitioning the government in Beijing has become routine for many Chinese who believe their voices need to be heard by the authorities. However, they too have become targets of the latest operation.
Hu Jianguo, for example, is a Shanghai activist, who once said, “By defending our rights, we are fighting for democracy and freedom, which is our greatest hope in life.”
He revealed to The Epoch Times on Sept. 28 that the police have been stationed in his garage, watching him day and night, for two weeks, just to prevent him from going to Beijing to petition the government.
According to Hu, some of the other Shanghai petitioners such as Yang Yonglan, Gu Guoping, and Peng Miaolin and her daughter Peng Jun, are also under 24-hour police surveillance.
He said, “I told those communists that they are all embezzlers and thieves who keep money abroad and bully the people. For that, they sent a few more people [to my home], even a van was parked right outside watching us.”
Since 2005, the annual number of petitions in China has remained as high as 10 million, according to a 2013 book titled, “Petitions, Democracy, and the Rule of Law: China Topics,” by City University of HK Press,
In fact, the total number of complaints about the regime’s governance reached 10.24 million nationally in 2000, according to a 2005 research paper by Xiong Yihan, a researcher at Political Science, Fudan University.
Zero-COVID Versus Zero-Petitioners
In 2021 alone, there were more than 3.8 million complaints specifically addressed to the state anti-corruption offices, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervision Commission.
The regime claimed that corrupt officials at the grass-roots level are the major cause of mass incidents.
To crack down on corruption, local officials initiated the “zero-petitioners” campaign.
For example, Shanxi Province adopted the zero-petitioners initiative in 2020 as one of the main tasks of the provincial standing committee of the CCP.
This year, the Education Bureau of Jiyuan, Henan Province, also promoted the zero-petition initiative to ensure proper implementation of the zero-COVID policy.
Wu Shaoping, a human rights lawyer in the United States, said that the CCP’s harsh controls put the entire society in a state of tension and anxiety. The pandemic is only an excuse to control people.
He believes the CCP is fully aware that “people’s madness [anger] and protests may lead to the collapse of the regime,” he said.
In a 2009 interview with the Voice of America, human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong said that many petitioners were finally “enlightened” through decades of petitioning.
He said, “They realized it’s not just the grass-roots officials who are corrupt, but the further they went on with their petitionings, the darker it would get.”
Jiang, also a victim of the 709 Crackdown, has been under house arrest and 24-hour police watch since he was released in 2019 after two years of imprisonment.
Haizhong Ning and Chang Chun contributed to this report.