IP and Law

Frustrated petitioning

The Time magazine China blog has an interesting entry by Susan Jakes about people who come to the magazine's Beijing bureau seeking justice for wrongs they have suffered, usually at the hands of local provincial officials: The Time Magazine Office of Letters and Visits. Excerpt:

Petitioning, as an institution, has existed in China in one form or another for centuries. The idea is that citizens (in the old days, subjects) who suffer harm in their hometowns can appeal to higher levels of of the bureacracy to right the wrongs. In a country where courts are still weak and rarely independent of other arms of government, the petition system is there to function like a kind of court of last resort, and a check on official power.

Jakes goes on to recount the tale of two misguided petioners, one of whom believed that Time journalists had a hotline to Hu Jintao, or at the very least Koffi Annan and George Bush. Many petioners believe that if their cases are reported in the foreign media, they stand a greater chance of getting satisfaction from the government in Beijing.

But as Jakes points out, most petioners simply spend their time waiting in line. Even if they get a sympathetic hearing from someone, it rarely ends in action:

Virtually every official organ in China has a "letter and visits" office at which the aggrieved can lodge complaints. The biggest of these offices are in Beijing and huge numbers of Chinese flock to the capital, with sheaves of documents in hand, hoping for intervention from on high. Last year, according to the State Council 30 million people lodged complaints at Letters and Visits offices throughout the country.

The system plays tricks with people's mind. Sometimes it reminds me a little of the Lottery. The chances of actually winning redress or compensation are tiny--letters and visits offices are hugely overburdened, and moreover often unwilling or unable to intervene with local governments.

There are currently 1 Comments for Frustrated petitioning.

Comments on Frustrated petitioning

Like a lottery. That's a good comparison.

Kind of like The Nanny blocking websites. No real patterns, not always an obvious reason, often totally irrational and seemingly totally random.

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