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SPC head pledges offensive against crimes threatening national security

(Global Times)    13:07, March 13, 2017

China's top judicial organs listed safeguarding State security and cracking down on corruption as their top priorities, as they vowed to continue pushing for judicial reform in 2017.

Zhou Qiang, head of the Supreme People's Court (SPC), and Cao Jianming, Procurator-General of the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP), delivered their annual work reports to the National People's Congress on Sunday in Beijing.

Both Zhou and Cao pledged a firm offensive against crime that threatens State security, terrorism and cults, and spoke of zero tolerance for corruption.

According to Zhou, Chinese courts in 2016 conducted 1.12 million criminal trials and prosecuted 1.22 million criminals.

"The SPC has severely punished those who threatened State security, prosecuted the subversion case of Zhou Shifeng and others according to law, and increased punishment against terrorism and cults," read the SPC report.

Lawyer Zhou Shifeng from the Fengrui Law Firm was sentenced to seven years in jail for subversion in August 2016. The court document said that since 2011, Zhou has attacked the socialist system and the "one country, two systems" policy and incited confrontations.

The SPC and SPP have also vowed to severely crack down on corruption.

In 2016, 45,000 graft trials were held across China, a 32.35 percent increase from 2015, and 63,000 people were prosecuted, among whom 35 were of ministerial level and above.

The report listed the high-profile trials of Guo Boxiong, former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, and Ling Jihua, former director of the General Office of the Communist Party of China, as two examples of the judicial organ's resolve to fight corruption.

"The anti-corruption drive is a highlight of this year's SPC and SPP reports. Since a new amendment of the Criminal Law took effect in 2015, judicial organs have stepped up punishment not only on those who took the bribes, but also those who offered the bribes," Deng Lianfan, director of the Hunan Provincial Collaborative Innovation Center of Anti-corruption, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Deng said that a new feature is that the amendment stipulates that corrupt officials could face life in jail, which sends out an alarm and serves as a deterrence for corrupt officials.

  Safeguarding heroes

The SPC head also called for the upholding of socialist core values. Zhou named the trials over the "Five Heroes of Langya Mountain" and of Qiu Shaoyun as two examples, adding that "the SPC would resolutely safeguard the image of heroes."

In June, a Beijing court ordered Hong Zhenkuai, a historian, to apologize for his challenges to the tales of "the Five Heroes of Langya Mountain." The five soldiers have been described for decades in textbooks as heroes who chose to leap to their deaths from a mountain in Hebei Province rather than surrender to Japanese troops.

In a separate case, a blogger was ordered to apologize publicly after he challenged the legacy of Qiu Shaoyun, a soldier who was said to have chosen to burn to death during the Korean War (1950-53) rather than betray the positions of his fellow soldiers.

Zhou said the SPC has pushed for reform of maritime trials to make sure legal jurisdiction would cover all maritime territories. According to Zhou, 16,000 maritime trials were conducted in 2016 and the country has strengthened judicial research on maritime law.

The arbitration case on the South China Sea, which was ruled in favor of the Philippines in 2016, has exposed China's lack of maritime law research and relevant experts, analysts previously told the Global Times.

Both the SPC and SPP have emphasized the building of military courts and prosecutors' offices, and cooperation between civilian judicial organs and military ones.

According to the SPC, China has prosecuted 1,678 military-related cases in 2016, including cases involving leaking military secrets and sabotage of military equipment.

  'Decisive battle'

Both Zhou and Cao said they will continue carrying out the judicial reform in 2017.

Zhou said 2017 features a "decisive battle" on deepening judicial reform, and the SPC will continue to push for a standard on evidence and a reform to the criminal litigation system based on trials.

Deng said the reform of the criminal litigation system is to push the courts to make better use of evidence and make better litigation arguments, in an effort to prevent wrong convictions.

Zhi Zhenfeng, a legal expert from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday that this year's SPC and SPP reports stressed judicial transparency where trial videos are regularly made public.

He noted that the courts and prosecutors' offices began to use multimedia to build connections with the public.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Bianji)

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