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An Interview about shuanggui

Julie Zaugg, a journalist with the French newspaper Les Echos, kindly contacted me asking if I could give an interview about shuanggui. 

It was a great pleasure to accept the interview, as I have not talked to the press in some time, due to various overlapping commitments. 

The full text of the interview can be found below, after a brief explanation of what 'shuanggui' is. The interview will be published in Les Echos Weekend.


'Shuanggui' is a Chinese colloquialism that has entered the English language, and it is used to refer to 'lianggui'. 'Lianggui' is a technical term in the law of the Chinese Communist Party. 

According to Li Yongzhong, the famous scholar of Party legislation who is also the top expert on 'lianggui', between the late 1980s and the early 1990s some officials began obstacling Party investigation of corruption cases, whenever investigations involved them or their clients. 

The Party's Commissions for Discipline Inspection had no other choice but creating (or reviving) an organizational measure and an investigative measure, known respectively as 'lianggui' and 'liangzhi'. As I have written elsewhere, 'lianggui' was based on the 1994 CCP Regulations on the Work of Case Investigation (中国共产党纪律检查机关案件检查工作条例), while 'liangzhi' was based on the Administrative Supervision Law (行政监察法). Therefore, 'lianggui' is coherent with the Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party, and 'liangzhi' is coherent with the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. 

Legal documents related to 'lianggui' are many. The most recent legal document is the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Regulations on Using 'Lianggui' (中央纪委关于适用两规措施的规定). I have not seen this document, because it has not been published yet. 


An Interview with Julie Zaugg
27 February 2016


How does the chain of command of the Shuanggui system work? Who decides to make an arrest? Who carries it out?

The procedure to approve 'lianggui' is set by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Regulations on Using Lianggui, which were enacted in 2012. The procedure I have described in my earlier works has been superseded by these new regulations, and therefore is no longer in effect. 

I have not seen the Regulations on Using Lianggui but, based on public documents I have consulted, I believe that the procedure to approve 'lianggui' is very complex, that it involves mechanisms to check and restrain the arbitrary use of power, and that these mechanisms are coherent with rule of law guarantees as they exist in China. 

Arrest is an entirely different measure, based on the Criminal Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China. Arrest is approved by the People's Procuratorate, and enforced by public security organs. 'Lianggui' is formally and substantively distinct from arrest. 

Where is the person then taken to? What happens to the person?

The person is taken to a specific facility and, once there, he is interviewed by Party discipline officials. 


Does anyone have to be notified or can someone just "disappear" into that system?

Notification requirements exist. 'Lianggui' was not designed to make persons 'disappear' into the legal system. The fact a high ranking official, or an entrepreneur, may not make television appearances, or he may not be on social media if he is under 'lianggui' is entirely normal. This does not mean that the person has 'disappeared', it just means he cannot attend public events as he is involved in an investigation. 


Is torture common in the Shuanggui system?

Incidents have been reported by the Chinese press, in the past. The will to curb those incidents, to make them never happen again, and to use 'lianggui' cautiously and only if necessary, has provided a powerful impulse to reform 'lianggui'. 

When someone disappears and then reappears without being charged (like Fosun boss Guo), does that mean they were collaborating on a case or providing evidence on someone else?

'Lianggui' can have many purposes. One of them is allowing witnesses to provide evidence without undergoing retaliation. In this sense, 'lianggui' is a very effective witness protection measure. If the persons who are under investigations are not aware of your location, or the fact you are collaborating with investigators, it will be much, much more difficult for them to retaliate against you.

If a person is instead investigated, and at the end of 'lianggui' she does not receive Party discipline punishments, state discipline punishments, and is not charged, then it means the Discipline Inspection Commission did not find any evidence against this person. 

Is it common in such a case for the person to be exonerated from any charges in exchange for his collaboration (ie to make a deal)?

Discipline Inspection Commissions are the most professional, and severe, organs in China's legal system. I do not believe that making a deal with them is possible. I believe that, if you a person is exonerated from any charges, then it means no evidence against them was found. 








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