Twelve men accused of ESS are publicly sentenced in Yili (Ili) Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang, September 18, 2008. Photo credit: iyaxin.com
China arrested 1,105 people for “endangering state security” (ESS) crimes in 2012, up 19 percent from 2011, according to official statistics released in China Law Yearbook 2013. The number of people indicted rose 8 percent to 1,049.
ESS trials involved more people per case allowing for a decline in ESS trials amid increases in arrests and indictments. The number of first-instance ESS cases received by Chinese courts across the country fell 13.58 percent year-on-year to 369 in 2012, the yearbook said. An average of 2.7 people were indicted per ESS case—compared with a person-per-case ratio of 1.5 for all types of indictments (including ESS) in 2012 and of 2.6 for ESS indictments in 2011 (Table 1).
Dui Hua estimates that Xinjiang accounted for 75 percent of ESS trials in 2012 and 86 percent of ESS trials in 2011. (This revises lower Dui Hua estimates based on disaggregated national data.) Xinjiang's high court reported in January that 314 ESS trials of first and second instance were concluded in the autonomous region in 2012. Xinjiang Yearbook, an official compendium, reported that courts in the region concluded 366 first-instance ESS trials in 2011. In consideration of recent national data and historical regional statistics, Dui Hua does not believe that the annual decrease in the number of ESS trials in Xinjiang corresponds with declines in the number of people arrested or indicted for ESS during the year. Splittism trials in Xinjiang have been known to include scores of defendants.
|First-Instance ESS Trials*|
|No. of Trials||No. of Trials||% of National|
* Nationwide data is given as cases received. Xinjiang data is given as cases concluded.
† Based on the number of aggregated first and second instance trials, this Dui Hua estimate assumes that 88.4 percent of trials were in the first instance, as was the case in 2011 according to a comparison of aggregated data in the Xinjiang Courts Annual Work Report and disaggregated first instance trial data in Xinjiang Yearbook.
In contextualizing the crackdown on ESS, China Law Yearbook said there had been an increase in violent terrorism and extremist events in recent years. It underscored the need to keep “high pressure” on ESS crimes and “resolutely fight the crimes of splittism, subversion, terrorism and all kinds of cult organizations in accordance with the law to maintain state security and social and political stability, consolidate the party’s ruling position, and defend the socialist regime.” (……坚决依法打击分裂国家、颠覆国家政权、恐怖犯罪和形形色色的邪教组织犯罪，维护国家安全和社会政治稳定，巩固党的执政地位，捍卫社会主义政权……)
According to local public security statistics cited by Xinhua’s weekly magazine Outlook (瞭望), violent terrorist incidents increased significantly in Xinjiang in 2012 to exceed 190 incidents. In Tibetan regions, the frequency of self-immolations increased dramatically ahead of the 18th Party Congress in November 2012. During China’s Universal Periodic Review, the Chinese delegation blamed the “Dalai Lama clique” for organizing the immolations.
In the resolution on deepening reform efforts passed at its 3rd Plenum on November 12, 2013, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China said it would establish a state security committee. The committee is expected to primarily focus on internal threats, particularly in Xinjiang and Tibetan regions. Due to real and perceived independence movements, Uyghurs and ethnic Tibetans bear the brunt of crackdowns on splittism and terrorism—the latter is not an ESS crime.
Information on ESS cases is classified as state secrets, and Dui Hua’s Political Prisoner Database has information on just 17 individuals tried or convicted of ESS in 2012: five Han Chinese, five Uyghurs, five Tibetans, and two ethnic Mongolians (Table 2). All five Han Chinese were charged with subversion or inciting subversion. Zhu Yufu (朱虞夫) and Zhang Shaofeng (张绍峰) allegedly circulated online calls for “Jasmine Revolution.” Li Tie (李铁) and Cao Haibo (曹海波) were convicted of organizing banned political groups that criticized one-party rule. Chen Pingfu (陈平福) was accused of writing articles critical of the Chinese government; his case was withdrawn due to insufficient evidence.
Bo Xilai’s Chongqing public security bureau chief Wang Lijun was one of two ethnic Mongolians known to be convicted of ESS for his defection to the US Consulate in Chengdu in February 2012. Govruud Huuchinhuu, a member of the Southern Mongolian Democratic Alliance which advocates for Mongolian self-determination, received a suspended sentence for allegedly leaking state secrets.
Tibetans accused of being involved in pro-independence or self-immolation protests were convicted of splittism or state secrets charges. The outcome of Jigme Guri’s case remains unclear. He has been detained multiple times since releasing an online video in 2008 deploring religious suppression in Tibet.
Uyghurs faced charges of splittism or inciting splittism. In August, official news media widely publicized the conviction of Abdirahman Yimer. He allegedly used USBs and CD-ROMs to disseminate “jihad,” “religious extremism,” and separatist ideas. Kurban Haji was one of 11 Uyghurs deported from Malaysia and sentenced to 11 months to 15 years in prison for splittism or terrorism, according to Radio Free Asia. A court in Kashgar Prefecture reported in 2012 that Mehmet Zunun Awut was tried in a splittism case alongside 22 other defendants. Sidik Kurban, a Muslim leader who ran religious homeschools throughout Xinjiang, received a 15-year sentence for inciting splittism.
|Li Tie||李铁||Hubei||Subversion||10 yrs||1/18/12|
|Zhu Yufu||朱虞夫||Zhejiang||Inciting subversion||7 yrs||2/10/12|
|Zhang Shaofeng||张绍峰||Gansu||Inciting subversion||1.5 yrs||11/7/12|
|Cao Haibo||曹海波||Yunnan||Subversion or inciting subversion||8 yrs||10/30/12|
|Chen Pingfu||陈平福||Gansu||Inciting subversion||Withdrawn|
|高布如特•胡琴呼||Inner Mongolia||Leaking state secrets||Suspended||11/28/12|
|Wang Lijun||王立军||Sichuan||Defection (and other crimes)||15 yrs||9/24/12|
|Tseyang||才央||Sichuan||Inciting splittism||7 yrs||4/12|
|Yonten Gyatso||云丹嘉措||Sichuan||Illegally procuring state |
secrets for foreign entities
|Lobsang Tashi||洛桑扎西||Sichuan||Illegally procuring state |
secrets for foreign entities
|Bu Thupdor||图多尔||Sichuan||Illegally procuring state |
secrets for foreign entities
|Jigme Drolma||晋美卓玛||Sichuan||Inciting splittism||3 yrs||2012|
|Sidik Kurban||斯迪克•库尔班||Xinjiang||Inciting splittism||15 yrs||5/13/12|
|Kurban Haji||库尔班•哈吉||Xinjiang||Splittism||6 yrs, reduced to 3 yrs||7/12|
|Abdirahman Yimer||阿布都热合曼•依米尔||Xinjiang||Inciting splittism||13 yrs||2012|
|Jigme Guri||久美嘉措||Gansu||Inciting splittism||-||-|
|Mehmet Zunun Awut||麦麦提祖农•阿吾提||Xinjiang||Splittism||-||-|