Why I Wore A Bullet-Proof Vest For The Last Six Years
For press coverage, see related post. For the big clamp-down and the Fujian authorities' rebuttal, see related post.
The following translated article is not an unusual story for China -- it is yet another corruption case in which officials conspired with commercial developers to defraud the government and the citizens, and that a righteous official encountered numerous obstacles in his investigation, including threats on his life.
What is unusual is that this official wrote about the case and sent it to People's Daily, where it was published on the Internet. Now all of a sudden, according to a media estimate (ChineseNewsNet), this letter has received the support of more than 100,000 netizens (note: by counting 8,000 posts at sohu.com, 10,000 posts at sina.com and so on across all the major portals, BBS's and forums).
Publishing a letter like this in the People's Daily is not a straightforward matter, for two reasons.
First, not all letters should be treated as accurate. As even this letterwriter made clear, when he turned up the heat on the corrupt elements, letters began to circulate about himself -- for example, that he was only interested in conducting class struggles, etc. People's Daily should not be publishing every letter that it receives, because some of them could in fact serve nefarious purposes. To the extent that this letter was published, it meant that the People's Daily must have done its due diligence and came down on the side of the letterwriter. This letter was sent on August 8, People's Daily spoke to the letterwriter briefly (as reported in The Beijing News) but it is not known who else was consulted.
Second, official media exist somewhere in between full control and full transparency. On one hand, in this age, full control and restriction of information to portray a perfect socialist nation would be absurd. On the other hand, full transparency and access to all information may create social instability because people might perceive a world gone totally haywire. So it is a delicate decision to release some information in a controlled fashion. There are some general guidelines (for example, see the ten points from the Central Propaganda Department to all media), but this particular report was subjected to a full discussion prior to release by the People's Daily from whence all other media carried it to feed the firestorm. Specifically, the Beijing News reported that People's Daily followed "all relevant procedures required for these types of articles" (此類文章所要求的所有相關程序).
[translation] A Letter from the Lianjiang County Party Chairman to People's Daily.
I am the Fujian Province Lianjiang County Committee Secretary. During the investigation of a typical corruption case (namely, the Fujian province Lianjiang Country Riverside Road construction project) in which officials conspired with business people to cause the nation to lose more than 60 million yuan and individual citizens to lost almost 3 million yuan, I stuck to the party principles and fulfilled the obligations of my job. I was not surprised that my life was threatened, but I was perplexed by the fact that I encountered numerous obstructions as well as lack of support from my superiors and other related departments!
Previously, I was the Fuzhou City Financial Committee Secretary and I investigated the famous Fuzhou City "Pigs Case" which made me a thorn in some people's sides. In 1998, the Fuzhou City Financial Committee Environmental Department head was investigating the manner in which pigs were being slaughtered, and he was systematically surrounded by evil forces and subsequently physically beaten to death. At the time, certain police cadres inside the Fuzhou City government provided a protective umbrella for those evil forces who were not brought to justice for a long time. Finally, with the approval of the national leadership and two exposés on CCTV's "Focused Interview" program, the case finally moved forward after a four year delay. The two principals were sentenced to death, and more than ten other associates were sentenced to prison terms that ranged from 3 years to life. More than twenty officials from the Fuzhou City Committee Political Department and other related departments were dismissed, disciplined and punished.
During the investigation of the "Pigs Case", I received threatening letters or telephone calls for a total of 26 times. During those years, the Public Security Bureau provided security guards for me to go back and forth from work, with up to nine people to protect my family. I wore a bullet-proof vest when I go to work.
In January 2002, I was transferred as the Fuzhou City Financial Committee Secretary to become Lianjiang County Committee Chairman. I thought that I could move away from that kind of lifestyle. But reality turned out to be very different. In order to recover lost national resources and the citizens' rights, I had to investigate the corruption case of the Lianjiang County Riverside Road construction project. So once again, I was threatened again and I had to wear a bullet-proof vest.
On January 26, 2002, I showed up for work at Lianjiang. My organization remembered the situation about the "Pigs Case" in Fuzhou, and therefore arranged for me to stay at the military post out of consideration of my personal safety. I never imagined that when I went to work on the morning of January 27, I would be blocked by more than 100 citizens at the entrance to the military post. The comrades at the office told me that these were displaced citizens from the Lianjiang County Riverside Road construction project. Since this was a complicated matter that involved the former Lianjiang County Committee Secretary, I calmed the crowd down for the moment. I had no intention of doing anything.
I did not imagine that on the next morning, there would be more than 200 people blocking the gate. On the third day, the crowd grew to more than 300 people. Some of the citizens knew about my background. They said that if I had the courage to tackle the "Pigs Case," then I surely could not be afraid of this little piece of business. At the time, I told them that I needed to do some investigation. On March 15, on the petition day for the entire county, more than 600 people gathered at the reception room of the County Committee Secretary, holding banners and placards and yelling slogans. I and my workers received them, and the citizens presented us with a letter of complaint signed with their handprints. They told us about how the preceding county leaders and cadres conspired with commercial developers to take over national resources and infringe upon the rights of the displaced citizens. The citizen representatives said: The Communist Party wants to talk about the "Three Representatives", so the Committee Secretary and other middle-level cadres cannot ignore the calls of the masses, for otherwise they cannot be said to be "representatives." Afterwards, I spoke with some county leaders and middle-level cadres and I found out that this was a potentially serious case of corruption that affected more than 700 displaced families as well as massive losses in national resources.
At the time, I felt very ambivalent. After having lived dangerously for several years, I really did not want to involved in this type of case. I only wanted to improve the economy of Lianjiang Country. Besides, it is politically sensitive to investigate one's predecessor. But to refrain would be to avoid the conflict and to ignore the interests of the nation and the citizens, and that would be contradictory to the values of party members. I was the County Committee Secretary and the number one person in the county. When the people called for me, I must answer to them. I cannot ignore what the people tell me, and I cannot ignore a case of corruption. So once again the people brought me back into the fold. I reported the matter to the Fuzhou City Committee Secretary, who then asked me to get to the bottom of the case.
Over a period of time, a lead group and related departments made a detailed and serious investigation of the residual problems from the Lianjiang County Riverside Road construction project, and uncovered the shocking details of the losses in national resources and damages to citizen rights.
In 2000, the County had decided to build the an anti-flood levee in Lianjiang County and to reconstruct the Riverside Road. Under the orders of the former County Committee Secretary, the engineering project was valuated at 30 million yuan without any assessment by the related departments. It was also decided to use four pieces of land totaling more than 100 hectares next to the Lianjiang Royal Hotel as compensation. The land was to be sold at the low price of 200,000 yuan per hectare for a total of 26,720,000 yuan to the bid winner in order to pay for the construction work. This low land price was also not assessed by the related departments. The remaining 3,280,000 yuan would be paid for by the County government. According to the former Land Department head, this was figure incorrect because if the land had been auctioned off publicly, it would be sold for more than 40,000 yuan per hectare for total revenues of more than 46,000,000 yuan. But the County Committee Secretary ignored the advice and fast-tracked the decision.
During the bidding process, all other companies were advised to withdraw because this was the County Committee Secretary's personal item and the project was awarded to a company known as the Australian Hsiungbao Company which was formed by several developers (it was reported that they held Australian citizenship) from Fuqing, where the County Chairman came from. Later, these developers formed the Fuzhou City Yuanzheng Real Estate Development Limited Company to operate the Riverside Road reconstruction project.
According to the estimate by the Audit Department, this construction project should cost only 11,960,000 yuan which was different from the set price by a total of 18,040,000 yuan. At the same time, four nationally owned sites were forced to relocate: the Lianjiang County Yinfu Corporation, the Museum, the Phoenix City Clinic and the Cultural Center, causing a total loss of 10,420,000 yuan. Using the Yinfu Corporation as an example, the store used to have 774 square meters in shopping area with 140 square meters for storage, and it was turned into 140 square meters in shopping area with 774 square meters for storage. The net loss was more than 6,000,000 yuan already.
During the reconstruction of the Riverside Road, 41.25 hectares of land were used in order to eliminate the curve and turn the road straight. The land was nationally owned, but the developers took it over without compensation, which was assessed to be worth 17,000,000 yuan. Moreover, the developers did not pay more than 3,000,000 yuan in construction fees as well as taxes of more than 1 million yuan for selling the land back. For the above, the total cost to the national coffers was more than 49 million yuan. Plus the fact that the 100 hectares of land were sold at the low price of 200,000 plus yuan per hectare to the developers, costing another 20 million yuan in losses. In total, the nation lost about 68 million yuan.
Furthermore, the rights of the displaced citizens were also seriously deprived, causing the displaced citizens to petition ceaselessly in groups. At the end of 1995, the rate of compensation for displacement in Lianjiang County was set at 413 yuan per square meter. In 2000, logically speaking, the rate of compensation should have risen up in accordance with the index of living. But in the interests of the developers, under the direction of the former County Committee Secretary, the county government issued document #262 which changed the 1995 rate of compensation down by a further 83 yuan per hectare. This probably made Lianjiang County the only county out of 2,500 plus countries in the whole of China that went in the other direction. But even so, the developers were not satisfied because they short-changed some of the displaced families on the area size of their homes. The total loss to the displaced families was more than 3 million yuan.
In order to properly handle the residual problems from the Riverside Road reconstruction project, I held a meeting of the County Standing Committee on April 1 and formed a special committee to conduct a thorough investigation of the problems. On April 15, I conducted a joint meeting of the leaders of the five related departments and we agreed that there were problems with the Riverside Road reconstruction project and that we would take a realistic and pragmatic approach to seek the facts and support the cadres in their work. We also made the decision to recover the 41.25 hectare of nationally owned land. Later, the Lianjiang government issued documents number 60 and 61 (2002) "Notice concerning the temporary halt in using nationally owned land" to ask the developers to cease using the land that was owned by the nation until they have paid the full amount of money. The developers disagreed with the decision, and appealed to the Fuzhou City Government.
On May 28, personnel from the Fuzhou City Disciplinary Committee came to Lianjiang to investigate the related situation, and thought that this was a typical case of corruption. But I did not anticipate that that after they left, their draft document of June 20 would say that the Lianjiang government was wrong and the developers were right. I was very angry and I demanded that the City Committee and the City Disciplinary Committee should convene a meeting to hear my report. At that meeting, I condemned the City Disciplinary Committee investigators for issuing a report that contradicted the facts.
On June 14, an insider entrepreneur informed me that the developers had discussed a couple of days ago about hiring an assassin to kill me. I reported that to the City Committee. On June 20, the Fuzhou City Public Security Bureau received instructions from the City Committee to form a special 6/20 task force and ordered the Lianjiang Public Security Bureau to provide me with two police officers as protection.
The Fuzhou City task force discovered that the developers did not have Australian citizenship, that their company was not an Australian company, and that the Yuanzheng Company which was formed specifically for the Riverside Road construction project did not really have 10,000,000 million in investment assets. This was a classical "false foreign business, false corporation and false credit" case.
On July 6, acting upon the demand from the City Committee, Lianjiang County formed a special investigation task force for the Riverside Road corruption case. At the time, the developers had fled already and only the deputy general manager Zhou Lungcheng of the Yuanzheng Company was arrested. Zhou admitted that the company paid bribes to several dozens of officials in order to win this project. In the interest of reducing the damage and stabilizing the situation, the County Committee convened a meeting and promised that those officials who turned themselves in would not be punished. In the end, 33 officials who received bribes turned themselves in. Six related officials who did not turn themselves in, including a deputy mayor, the head of the Education Department, the head of the Water Works Department and the mayor of Fungcheng Town were dismissed from their jobs and subjected to the appropriate party discipline.
To recover the losses to the country, to protect the rights of the citizens and to punish corrupt officials should be supported by various leaders and departments. But during the investigation of this case, there were various obstructing forces that covered up this corruption case like a big net. This really troubled me.
On July 26, 2002, I was informed that the Fuzhou City government had issued an administrative document with the signature of the mayor to the developers, but the Lianjiang government was totally ignorant of the fact. In other words, the concerned department at the City government informed the developers but not the Lianjiang County government. This administrative document rescinded Lianjiang County government (2002) documents number 60 and 61 "Notice concerning the temporary halt in using nationally owned land." The Lianjiang government dissented and appealed to the Lianjiang Court. This case was then referred quickly to the Fuzhou City Middle-Level People's Court, where it has not been decided after more than two years.
In August, letters that slandered and attacked me personally were distributed to various provincial, city and county departments and people. Most of the towns, departments and enterprises in Lianjiang County turned in those letters to the office of the Lianjiang County Committee. On August 29, the provincial leaders paid attention to the development of this case and Fuzhou City formed a special 8/29 task force of more than 30 people from the City Disciplinary Committee and the City Public Prosecutor's Office and came to Lianjiang to investigate on September 2. The task force demanded that the Lianjiang case be transferred to the city, but I dissented. On September 12, the Fuzhou City Disciplinary Committee, the City Public Security Bureau and the City Prosecutor's Office leaders came to Lianjiang, and I informed them that the task force was behaving abnormally because it looked as if they were attempting to stop the investigation. At the time, the leaders did not react. On September 13, the task force was withdrawn and reported the conclusion that there was no corruption case in Lianjiang and that only about 3 million yuan was in an unexplained "grey area". At the same time, the rumor that "Huang Jingao loves to fight" began to circulate widely, saying that Huang Jingao likes "class struggle" which he brings with him everywhere that he goes.
This went on until December 26 when the Fuzhou City Committee held a large meeting to discuss this case, with a total of six party chairpersons, two Standing Committee members who were leaders in related departments, the person in charge of the City's special task force and the party and government leaders of Lianjiang County. During the meeting, the special task force leader insisted that there was only 3 million yuan in a "grey area" in Lianjiang. I was very angry and I argued that the conclusions from the special task force were not consistent with the facts and that they were covering up corruption and overlooking the illegal elements who were robbing the national resources and damaging the rights of the 700 displaced families.
Just when this case reached a critical stage, my superiors told me to spend six months to study at the Central Party School. Thereafter, there was a rumor that Huang Jingao was forced to leave Lianjiang for his fighting ways and that he would be transferred away as soon as his studies are completed. During this period, the case was shelved temporarily and even Zhou Lungzheng was released from custody.
In April 2002, Lianjiang County attempted to seek payment for the 3 million yuan for construction fees from the Yuanzheng Company due to the relocation of the people. Over the course of 18 months, in spite of pressure from many places, the County with the approval of the Provincial People's Congress and the Provincial level department obtained a court order from the Lianjiang County Court. However, the Yuanzheng Company refused to pay and even petition the National Petition Office in the hope of having some higher-level authority to step in and let them get off. When the Lianjiang County Court was ready to auction off the company assets, the Fuzhou City Middle-Level Court intervened with a temporary injunction, so that the enforcement has still not be effected at this time.
I am aware that my actions have violated many unwritten rules of officialdom, and this might have caused some people to feel uncomfortable. But it is precisely these unwritten rules that have permitted corruption to rot our political and party systems. Sometimes, these unwritten rules are backed by powerful forces so as to make their opponents' work impossible. During the more than two years of this case, various kinds of rumors as well as overt and hidden obstructions, including threats on my life, have worn me down. But I did not despair from the setbacks that I encountered in this case. I did not give up, because I believe in this: the eyes of the people are clear and the flag of the Communist Party will fly forever.
When the situation got really dangerous, I wrote down my "second" final will and I was determined to risk my position and my life to get to the bottom of this case. When I encountered the forces of obstruction, there was always a warm current to encourage and support me. Some provincial leaders, provincial people's congress representatives, provincial disciplinary committee members and provincial prosecutors continued to encourage me to look into this case. The most comforting fact was that the people of Lianjiang gave me their support and trust and told my superiors many times about the situation. Many Lianjiang citizens say that Huang Jingao is "a good official, a hardworking official and a wearied official" and they used various means to hope that I will continue to fight to the end with the people of Lianjiang.
On December 2, 2003, the Riverside Road case of Lianjiang reached a turning point. The Fuzhou City Committee Secretary came to Lianjiang to inspect the drought situation in the Huangqi Peninsula and he spoke to the county mayor and me. He told us clearly to conclude the case of the land deal and to recover the national resources that were lost on account of improper procedures. Later, the Fuzhou City Prosecutor's Office which originally did not want to "support prosecution" said that it will "support prosecution" by the Lianjiang Prosecutor's Office in the matter of the lost national resources. The court also determined that the Yuanzheng Company should pay back more than 7 million yuan in the compensation for the Yinfu Company and the Fungcheng Clinic, which when added to the more than 3 million yuan for the construction fee for the relocation, meant that the nation recovered more than 10 million yuan. The developer Zhen Daiyiu is now being sought by the Public Security Bureau. But more recently, this case has brought out the fact that certain citizens who were attempting to petition for the rights of the displaced citizens in the Riverside Road reconstruction project were arrested, tortured and sentenced to jail, and their cases have not been vindicated yet.
Compared to the total amount of lost national resources, the more than 10 million yuan is only a small fraction. The case of the 41.25 hectares (which was worth 17 million yuan in 2000) has been sitting in the Fuzhou City Middle-Level Court for more two years without a resolution. In the interest of social stability, the three million yuan due to the citizens has been paid by the government already even as the developers who robbed the national resources have not faced justice yet. Due to the delays by the related City departments, this case has not yet been fully concluded and the lost national resources have not been fully recovered.
At a time when the "Regulations on Inner-Party Supervision of the Communist Party of China" and the "Regulations on the Punishment for the Discipline Violation of the Party" were just declared to be operative, should it really be so difficult for a County Committee Secretary to handle a corruption case within his jurisdiction?
Fujian Province Lianjiang County Committee Secretary Huang Jingao
August 8, 2004.
我在福州市财委主任任上，在查处轰动全国的 福州猪案时，就成为个别人眼中钉、肉中刺。1998年福州市财委保卫处长在查处违法生猪屠宰窝点时，被黑恶团伙势力有组织的围攻、殴打致死，因当时福州市政法系统一些干警充当社会黑恶势力的保护伞，长时间犯罪分子得不到应有的惩处，后经党和国家领导人批示， 中央电视台《焦点访谈》栏目两次曝光披露，案件历时四年才得以浮出水面，依法得到查处，两名主犯被判除死刑，其他10多名涉案人员被判3年至无期徒刑不等，近20名福州市政法系统和相关部门干部因此案被判刑、撤职、处分。在查处猪案期间，我曾26次接到过恐吓信件和电话，对我进行生命威胁。几年时间，由公安部门派出保卫人员护送我上下班，最多时我的家庭有9个保卫人员。我整天穿、带防弹衣上下班。2002年1月，我从福州财委调任连江县委书记，以为可以摆脱这种生活状态，但愿望与事实往往有差距，其原因就是为了挽回流失的国有资产和受损的群众利益，我掀开了连江县江滨路改造建设腐败案件，再次受到威胁，下乡、外出又得都随带防弹衣。
在 《中国共产党党内监督条例（试行）》和 《中国共产党纪律处分条例》颁布实施的今日，一个县委书记查处辖区内的腐败案件，真的这么难吗？！！