Peter Humphrey | Hong Kong Free Press

Last week, I wrote a lengthy article about my fight against Beijing’s abusive practice of using forced and falsified televised confessions extracted from prisoners under duress and torture to pervert the course of justice. I remarked that, since my unprecedented filing of a regulatory complaint against Chinese state television in London last November, China had not paraded another foreigner on TV in this manner.

At the moment my article was published in The Diplomat magazine, I was proven wrong. They did it again. They aired a crude video clip of Simon Cheng, former UK Consulate worker in Hong Kong, falsely and forcibly “confessing” to some peculiar alleged crimes. Cheng vanished during a business trip to Shenzhen across the border in August. He was detained incognito and released a fortnight or so later after a diplomatic contest with London.

This broadcast was carried by CGTN, the international offshoot of China Central Television (CCTV), a propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party. It was CCTV and CGTN that I filed a complaint against a year ago over their broadcasts of me locked in a cage forcibly and falsely “confessing” to crimes I had not committed, in 2013 and 2014.

The British broadcast regulator Ofcom is still investigating my complaint along with a subsequent complaint filed by Angela Gui, the daughter of publisher Gui Minhai. On Ofcom’s own initiative, it is also investigating CGTN’s broadcasting of fake news about Hong Kong.

The Simon Cheng broadcast was intended to counter a slew of articles in the international media revealing that he was tortured, as he was forced to sign false confessions related to soliciting prostitutes. The combating of accurate and factual news in international media about why I had been detained, as well as to falsely incriminate me, was also the reason for my own false TV confession in 2013.

Apart from being illegal, the Cheng broadcast was also revealing in ways that his Chinese police captors and tormentors may not have realised – or cared about – at the time.

Cheng’s brutal treatment tells us much about the Chinese dictatorship’s approach to justice. His mistreatment globally decried as a human rights abuse, and his false charge, absolutely typifies the Chinese police methodology – both by the Public Security Bureau (the police) and the Ministry of State Security. It is fully representative of their coercive and abusive legal system. To me, Cheng’s story which he told to media a few days before the CGTN broadcast, is totally credible because “I have been there”.

The abuse described by Cheng is the pervasive norm of Chinese police behavior. They know no other way. The Public Security Bureaus and the Ministry of State Security rely exclusively on forcing confessions and statements from detainees and from so-called witnesses to obtain a conviction at any cost. They do not rely on any forensic or real police investigative skills; they rely on menace, duress, and torture.

The entire legal system in China is one of coercive force, not of the judicial process.


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