The Adventures of Zhao Zuohai

Being disappeared” is nothing new in China. But “being confessed, pledged guilty, sentenced, declared innocent and touristed” – which is how a netizens sums up the tale of misfortunes that Zhao Zuohai was subjected to – is very telling of why of the unassuming grammatical particle bei (被) that indicates the passive voice became the word of the year 2009.

The trigger of the newest wave of discussion about the shortcomings of the public security organs and the legal system is”Zhao Zuohai, who was sentenced for murder 11 years ago and was only declared innocent when his “victim” turned up alive recently. An ironic twist is added to this case by the fact that the alleged murder victim fled his hometown in the belief the he himself had killed Zhao Zuohai in an altercation. While the “happy ending” of the story should have been that he was finally able to return to his family, the story took another turn when he never made it there after his release, adding fuel to suspicions that he was forced into confessing and pleading guilty.

While the mainland media do face a lot of restriction there is also plenty of proof that there are critical and witty journalists out there, like Wang Xuejin, who writes about the origin of the new hot word on the net and shares his “guesses” about the dealings behind it. “This commentary from Shenyang Evening News was also carried on “Xinhua.

Endless guesses about Zhao Zuohai “being touristed”

by Wang Xuejin
Shenyang Evening News, May 11th 2010

Zhao Zuohai, who has already served a prison sentence of 11 years, was finally declared innocent and released on May 9th. Strangely enough though, Zhao vanished into thin air after leaving the prison. His brother in law Yu Fangxin hurried to Kaifeng on the evening of the 8th to await Zhao when he comes out, but as is the case with Zhao, there has been no sign of him either. So where did Zhao Zuohai go? Even his elder sister and his uncle Zhao Zhenju don’t know their whereabouts. Zhao Zhenju, who received a call from the public security bureau, told us: “They said they took Zhao out on a trip”. (According to “an article in Southern Weekend the officer said: “Zhao is together with officials from Zhecheng County, the party secretary wanted to take him on a trip.”)

This seems to be a painstakingly arranged situation. At this very moment Zhao will be all but in the mood for traveling, he must have been “asked away” by the people of the relevant departments of Zhecheng County, who came to pick him up. The question if he really was invited to some scenic tourist spot can not be answered for now. But no matter what mysterious location Zhao was taken to by above-mentioned VIPs, may it be an office, a hotel or scenic spot – among those undoubtedly some well-known places – one thing is certain: People well have reason to wonder and guess what is happening.

Guess No. 1: Seeing that this case already gripped the attention of the entire nation, the local leaders immediately picked up the freshly released Zhao to be able to avoid him being surrounded and pursued by journalists from all over the country who got wind of his case. This would effectively prevent him from receiving interviews by the media as he likes and guarantee that he doesn’t leak the truth about details of the case, to avoid that local public security and legal organs and county officials are once again being sucked into the maelstrom of public opinion as the passive subject suffering blame.
Guess No. 2: Zhao is currently being enlightened by officials and entertained with good wine and cigarettes. He is under their patient and systematic guidance. They appeal to his reason and move his emotions, telling him what to say and what not to say, as there should be a coordinated line of action. They are immediately giving him the “seal your mouth” education.

Guess No. 3: If Zhao Zuohai can talk to others according to the line agreed on with the officials, they will represent the government in promising him that he can not only get a huge compensation, but also a lot of other benefits. The premise being that he listens to them and follows their plans.
To put it bluntly, this “being touristed” is a fake, (them) reaching some kind of deal (right now) is the reality.

You cannot but admire the brilliance of the public security and legal organs and the local leaders! With this arrangement they can at least achieve these various results:
One is to protect a group of people; especially those who were the officials in charge of Zhaos case, like Zhu Peijun, who was promoted to the branch director of the public security bureau of the Shangqui new investment and economic zone and who back then was the one who arrested Zhao for murder. Or Ding Zhongqiu, who has already risen to vice director of the Zhecheng county public security bureau and who was the one responsible for the investigation of the crime.

The second is to cover up the most suspicions aspects of the case. Was Zhao subjected to torture to extort a confession? It’s hard to imagine that a person who is not a murderer will make nine depositions stating that he is guilty. A few days ago Zhao Zuolan, Zhaos younger brother, went to visit him and asked why he originally decided to admit that he had committed murder. Zhao replied: “I won’t say, if I’d say they’d kill me.” (But) In order to show that he was beaten Zhao Zuohai pointed to the scars on his head, saying these were inflicted with rods and pistol grips. If this would be verified, this matter would become more and more troublesome and would bring about some very serious consequences.

The third is that they can mitigate a rash criticism from the public concerning how the police handle cases. After all, this case without a corpse was not yet cracked, now that Zhao has emerged from this all not as a party involved but simultaneously as the victim. If the public security forces gained a confession from torture to solve the crime, the judgment of the public opinion would not let go of the ones responsible.

In the middle of so many vested interests, can the local and public security organs and the leaders lightly let Zhao Zuohai gain his freedom? They have to use the so-called “courteous treatment” – which in fact means restricting a person’s freedom – to take away Zhao and look after him for a few days. And after making sure that he consents to their arrangements, they will let him go back home. No doubt that this was a smart plan, but since this case has already become a hot topic on the internet and for journalists, the real circumstances of the case will eventually come out in the open, no matter how well this act of “being touristed” was directed. The outcome will simply be that the more one hides, the more one will be exposed, they basically outsmarted themselves. The truth will come out since it only relies on itself and can’t be fended off by this “being touristed” (sheme) that was considered skillful.

Well, it seems that for a change the writer of this commentary was “right with his optimistic assessment that the truth will attend to itself…

New on ChinaGeeks

This section of the post was written by C. Custer
You may not care, but my writing in general and ChinaGeeks in specific has been chosen as a Danwei model worker! I am extremely pleased with this, as I have been coveting the shiny badge you see at left since I started blogging (I am not joking). In any event, thanks are due on this occasion to all of our ChinaGeeks contributors, including the newest one and this post’s author and translator Katja Drinhausen. All of these people have been extremely consistent in turning in absolutely outstanding posts, and I am extremely grateful to them. Extremely.

0 thoughts on “The Adventures of Zhao Zuohai”

  1. Regardless of what other unfortunate events are happening to Zhao right now, I can’t help but get a great feeling whenever I read about people with long prison sentences that are found innocent (though maybe I should have a bad feeling since he already spent 11 years in prison for nothing? It’s a confusing emotion).


  2. Have you ever thought about writing an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs? I have a blog based upon on the same subjects you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my readers would appreciate your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e-mail.


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