A former rising cadre of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), who was appointed as deputy head of a major city police station at the age of 35, recently received a heavy prison sentence for his corruption charges. However, he has committed a more egregious crime that the Chinese authorities failed to mention, according to a U.S.-based nonprofit organization.
On June 7, the Chuxiong City Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Du Min—who had a long tenure in Kunming City in the southwestern province of Yunnan as former deputy mayor; deputy, then head police chief; party secretary of the city’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission; and party chief of the Yunnan police academy—was sentenced to 11 years in prison and fined 1 million yuan (about $156,174) for corruption, according to the website of state-run newspaper Yunnan’s Legal Daily.
Du was found to have pocketed over 11.1 million yuan (about $1.7 million) in bribes from local businessmen to help them perform favors.
After becoming acquainted with Du in 2008, a businessman surnamed Zhao began regularly gifting cash to Du on Chinese holidays, including the Mid-Autumn Festival and Lunar New Year. Zhao also paid for Du’s plane tickets when he traveled to study. In return, Du helped Zhao acquire a piece of land in Guandu District in Kunming to build a warehouse. Later, Du invested 1 million yuan in Zhao’s warehouse business and was promised 40 percent of the business’s profit.
When city authorities discovered that Zhao’s warehouse violated construction codes and the local land and resources bureau ordered the structure to be torn down, Du stepped in to smooth things over. The warehouse remained.
In 2011, Du made friends with a local real estate developer surnamed Chen, who then set up a joint business venture with Du’s wife, surnamed Yan, a firm that manufactures equipment for building solar panels. Chen provided all the initial funding—5 million yuan ($780,579)—even though Yan held 51 percent controlling interest of the company. In return, Du helped Chen get acquainted with the heads of several local banks. Chen would get preferential treatment when applying for loans at those banks.
Du also helped a trucking businessman surnamed Yang acquire a business deal, after Yang bribed Du regularly with Chinese holiday red envelopes, beginning in 1998.
Before Du was officially placed under investigation in March 2016, he was wary of spending his loot or depositing the money in banks. Instead, Du took out 10 million yuan (about $1.56 million) and had a businessman surnamed Zhong manage it, including using the money to provide corporate loans to others.
In Du’s role as head of the Kunming police station and the local Political and Legal Commission—an entity that once had the power to mobilize local security apparatuses across the country—he ordered the arrests and torturing of local citizens who practiced Falun Gong, according to U.S.-based organization The World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong.
Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a spiritual discipline based on the moral principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, with five sets of slow, meditative exercises. The practice was hugely popular in the 1990s, with official estimates of about 70 to 100 million adherents in China.
In the eyes of then-Chinese Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin, the popular practice was an ideological threat to communist rule. He mobilized the state’s security apparatus to begin a nationwide persecution against the group beginning on July 20, 1999. Since then, hundreds of thousands of Falun Gong adherents have been subject to abuse, torture, and forced labor while being incarcerated in prisons, brainwashing centers, and psychiatric wards.
For example, on Aug. 27, 2010, Wu Yun, 43, a Kunming resident, had her home ransacked by officials from local police stations and the “610 Office,” an extralegal secret police force created by Jiang for the sole purpose of carrying out the persecution of Falun Gong, according to Minghui.org.
About six months later, Wu was handed a three-year prison sentence and sent to Yunnan’s Second Women’s Prison, where she performed about 16 hours of labor every day. Wu was tortured by prison guards. She was forced to sit on a small stool for hours on end while two inmates were instructed to watch her so she could not move or change her position.
It is unclear whether Wu has been released, given how adherents sometimes see their prison terms arbitrarily extended without any formal legal proceedings.
As of June 10, more than 3,275 adherents have been killed in China, and hundreds of thousands of others incarcerated, according to Minghui.org, a website that carries first-hand information about the persecution. The true death toll is estimated to be much higher, given the difficulty of transmitting sensitive information out of China.