Cablegate: Shenzhen Tightens Limits On Petitioner Activity
RR RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHGZ #0689/01 3550321
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210321Z DEC 09
FM AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1189
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE 0387
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0953
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0313
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 0312
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0322
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0382
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0286
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC 0360
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC 0356
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0042
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0008
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 GUANGZHOU 000689
STATE FOR EAP/CM and DRL
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV ECON SOCI PHUM CH
SUBJECT: Shenzhen Tightens Limits on Petitioner Activity
GUANGZHOU 00000689 001.2 OF 003
This report is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
1. (U) Summary: The Shenzhen Intermediate People's Court,
Procuratorate (prosecutor's office), Public Security Bureau and
Judicial Bureau in November jointly issued a "Notice on Dealing with
Abnormal Petition Behaviors in Accordance with the Law" and defined
14 behaviors as "abnormal petition behaviors." Seven of the 14
limitations (listed in final para) are new additions to preexisting
national-level restrictions. The new policy says that repeat
offenders may be punishable by the extrajudicial reeducation through
labor (laojiao) system. The document has sparked wide controversy,
causing some on the Internet to question whether Shenzhen
authorities have overstepped their limits while official contacts
say the new restrictions, along with better public service at the
local level, will promote social harmony. Post's initial analysis
follows in para 2. End summary.
2. (SBU) Comment: Shenzhen's expanded list of prohibited petitioner
activities might be the stick to a new carrot; the city claims that
a newly inaugurated petition hall will serve as a one-stop-shop for
petitioners. The Shenzhen Government likely hopes to avoid the
embarrassment of petitioners pleading their case in the provincial
capital Guangzhou or Beijing by providing better services in
Shenzhen. To the extent that local remedies still leave petitioners
dissatisfied, though, it is unlikely that either the new petition
center or the new restrictions will stem the flow of petitioners
seeking assistance from higher-level authorities elsewhere. Post
will monitor whether the new rules are honored, ignored or enforced,
reporting accordingly. Having the rules on the books makes
enforcement easier later on, should that be necessary. It's unclear
whether this is strictly a local initiative or part of a centrally
driven trial balloon. End comment.
From Six to Fourteen
3. (U) The Regulations on Petitions at the national level forbid six
petitioner behaviors, but the Shenzhen Notice released in early
November has expanded the forbidden behaviors to 14. (Note: The
Shenzhen list actually only adds seven new restrictions; one of the
original six has been split in two. See paragraph eight for a
complete list. End note.) The Shenzhen Notice says that repeat
offenders will be punishable by reeducation through labor, an
extralegal system of imprisonment and work that skirts the
conventional legal system.
Dear Petitioner, Please Consider a Staycation
4. (U) Hong Kong-based newspaper Ming Pao reported early December
that Shenzhen Party Secretary Liu Yupu visited Shenzhen's Yantian
District Petition Hall and ordered that a glass wall separating
petitioners from petition office staff be dismantled. Liu
reportedly encouraged petition office staff to enhance their sense
of service and devote themselves to resolving petitioners'
difficulties. The newspaper commented that Liu's visit and
statements were meant to mitigate negative public opinion following
publication of the new regulations.
5. (U) Similarly, the Shenzhen Government inaugurated the city's new
Petition Hall November 19. In all, 16 government agencies,
including the Land Resources and Housing Bureau, Population and
Family Planning Office, Communications Bureau, Education Bureau and
the Public Security Bureau, will have their representatives
stationed at the hall to deal with petitioners. Staff of the
Supervision Bureau and Judicial Bureau will also be present in the
hall to supervise the petition process, according to official media
reports. In the past, said a spokesman with the Shenzhen municipal
government, petitioners had to visit various government departments
to make petitions, but the new petition hall will provide "one stop"
service to petitioners. The spokesman also said that each petition
case would receive prompt processing and that petitioners would
receive official replies to their queries.
Netizens Speak Out
GUANGZHOU 00000689 002.2 OF 003
6. (U) Online discussion of Shenzhen's new petition guidelines
largely has had a negative tone. Netizens have noted that the new
guidelines set increased restrictions on common citizens but do not
define acceptable behavior by government entities. Numerous
netizens rhetorically asked what petitioners should do when their
petitions fall on deaf ears, and one writer suggested that the
regulations were "aimed at blocking the last remaining channel
through which justice might be sought." Several writers implied
that Shenzhen officials had overstepped their authority by issuing
restrictions more stringent than national-level law.
The Party Line: This is better. Trust us.
7. (SBU) According to Guangdong Academy of Social Sciences'
Scientific Research Department Director Liang Jun, the new
regulations reflect the Chinese Government's desire to resolve
petition cases locally. Jun said that Chinese tend to believe that
it will be easier to coax the government into settling a dispute if
the case is made to look serious enough. Therefore, said Jun, many
petitioners decide to travel to the capital city of their province
or to Beijing to get attention from higher-level governments. Jun
characterized this custom as "chaos" and said that the preference
was to resolve disputes locally whenever possible.
Prohibited Petitioner Behavior
8. (U) Of the 14 "abnormal petition behaviors," the first seven are
Regulations on Petitions at the national level and the final seven
constitute Shenzhen's new restrictions:
-- Gathering or occupying petition offices; leaving aged people,
sick people, handicapped people, infants or other disabled people at
-- Gathering at office buildings of the party committee or at the
Citizens Center, or the neighboring areas, or exhibition halls
during major events, to block the entrance and exit of the
above-mentioned places, and other behaviors disrupting public
-- Stopping or forcibly entering into vehicles with the goal of
obstructing or blocking traffic.
-- Carrying guns, gun powder, explosives or inflammable or
radioactive items during petitions.
-- Insulting or attacking civil servants or threatening killings,
kidnappings, arson, etc.
-- Instigating or organizing mass petitions or enticing others to
join mass petitions by offering money.
-- Performing any other behaviors that disrupt public order or
jeopardize public or national security.
Shenzhen's additions follow:
-- Petitioning at politically-sensitive venues such as Zhongnanhai,
Tiananmen, Xinhuamen, embassies and consulates, or other venues not
approved by the Regulations on Petitions.
-- Shouting slogans, holding up banners or wearing "petition
clothes;" distributing petition letters to pedestrians.
-- Obstructing or disturbing normal production or the operation of
enterprises or schools using petitioning as an excuse.
-- Attempting self-injury, suicide, floor-jumping, or threatening to
spread infectious diseases such as AIDS; placing dead bodies or
funerary caskets in public places so as to arouse public panic.
-- Preventing civil servants from performing their duties; breaking
through police cordons.
-- Fabricating or distorting facts in order to defame other people.
GUANGZHOU 00000689 003.2 OF 003
-- Intentionally vandalizing public property while petitioning.