Academic journal article Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology

Yanda 2001: Form and Strategy in a Chinese Anti-Crime Campaign

Academic journal article Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology

Yanda 2001: Form and Strategy in a Chinese Anti-Crime Campaign

Article excerpt

This paper is about an anti-crime campaign in the People's Republic of China (PRC) which began in April 2001. It seeks to address the "what, when, where, how and why" of the first months of China's latest "Strike Hard" (Yanda) anti-crime campaign by examining four strategies of Yanda 2001 in relation to their precedents in China's first and bloodiest Yanda Campaign in 1983. This paper finds that although operations are more sophisticated and specialised, the broad strategies of the first months of Yanda 2001 do not differ significantly in approach from those employed in the first campaign 20 years ago. This is despite the increasing expectations of professionalism placed on the police, prosecuting bodies and courts in China over the last decade.

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In a recent theft case adjudicated in No. 1 Criminal Division of the Haidian Basic People's Court in Beijing, China, the collegial bench, comprising two judges and a "people's assessor" (1), took 18 minutes to try a case that would normally take at least 2 to 3 hours to adjudicate. The defendant, Tan Ke, a hotel worker, was accused of stealing more than 13,000 yuan (approx. US$1400) in goods and cash from hotel guests. Adjudication proceedings began with the prosecution's recital of a brief indictment. The presiding judge asked the defendant to indicate whether he disputed the claims in the indictment and then went on to ask if the defendant objected to the court using "simplified procedures" (jianyi chengxu) to adjudicate the case. The defendant agreed, (almost certainly) assuming that his objection would result in a longer sentence. The prosecution did not present any material evidence to the court and the "debate" stage of the trial, in which the defence usually has the opportunity to present mitigating argument, was eliminated from proceedings. The court jumped to the final stage of the hearing, the defendant's final statement. In all, the trial procedure took 12 minutes, the presiding judge then calling for a period of deliberation that took 5 minutes. The collegial bench returned a guilty verdict, giving Tan a 3-year jail term and a 3000 yuan fine. Judgement took one minute to announce, thus completing the entire trial in 18 minutes. (2)

While the decision of the judges in this trial to simplify the procedural regulations set out in the Criminal Procedure Law may raise questions about Chinese human rights and rule of law, there is a different motivation for its inclusion in the introduction to this paper. This is an example of a particular strategy taken by a local court during China's latest Yanda (Strike Hard) anti-crime campaign which began in April 2001. The simplified procedure described above was the innovation of the local Beijing district court, adopted in order to cope with the demands of the campaign. It is an example of what happens when police, prosecuting bodies and courts in China are encouraged to simplify practices in order to be creative, flexible and efficient in their crime control campaign activities. This paper examines the events of the first weeks of a contemporary Yanda campaign, Yanda 2001. The focus is on the format and strategies of the campaign in the first months of its implementation. Traditionally, the first months of a Yanda campaign in China are the most significant, both in terms of the scope of anti-crime activities, the pronouncements of campaign rationales and targets and in terms of measures implemented to encourage public awareness and support for the campaign.

Yanda is a type of anti-crime campaign in which the three agencies of criminal justice (the public security bureau [PSB], the procuratorate and the courts) come together for a specified period of time in an all-out attack on crime. Periodic anticrime campaigns have been employed as China's key weapon against crime in the last 20 years since the start of the open-door reforms in 1979. Broadly modelled on the activities and events of the mass political campaigns of the 1950s, campaign activities include mass arrests, "swift and severe punishment" and mass rallies. …

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