Human Rights Watch Report Reveals Chinese President Xi Jinping is ‘Using Torture’ in his Anti-Corruption Campaign

China’s President Xi Jinping rose to power using the promise to “combat corruption” as a major platform during his election campaign – and he has stood by that stance in the four years he has led the Communist Party. Fighting corruption must mean something entirely different to President Xi than it does to the rest of the world, however.  China’s infamy on the world-stage as a top violator of human rights remains – even with President Xi’s “anti-corruption campaign”. In fact, his Communist leadership is up front and center in committing these heinous violations.

China was in the news again this week for its inhumane crimes. The non-profit global human rights organization Human Rights Watch published a new report Tuesday saying that China is “using torture” in its war on corruption. Irony at its best (or worst, rather). The report said that government officials caught up in President Xi’s corruption crackdown are beaten, forced into stress positions for hours on end, and deprived of sleep, food, and water. The report also stated that these torture tactics are commonplace in China’s parallel extrajudicial justice system.  

Extrajudicial punishment oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with politically authoritarian regimes, sadly. In China, this system has punished more than one million officials in the four years since President Xi took office, British news source The Telegraph reported. Chinese state media said at least eleven people have died since 2010 in this horrific parallel system.

President Xi’s massive campaign to “break corruption” makes all 88 members of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) vulnerable to his conniving parallel system and its disturbing acts of torture. Many experts criticize the lack of transparency of Xi’s campaign, and also claim he uses it as a front so he may remove rivals from key government positions.

Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said, “President Xi has built his anti-corruption campaign on an abusive and illegal detention system.”

“Torturing suspects to confess won’t bring an end to corruption, but will end any confidence in China’s judicial system,” she added.

HRW’s report on the matter, titled “‘Special Measures’: Detention and Torture in Chinese Communist Party’s Shuanggui System,” stated that officials often detain people without notifying their family or friends, forcing them into padded cells without windows.

A former detainee spoke to Human Rights Watch, detailing the hellish experience: “If you sit, you have to sit for 12 hours straight, if you stand then you have to stand for 12 hours as well. My legs became swollen, and my buttocks were raw and started oozing puss,” the detainee said.

Another prisoner spoke to a Beijing-based lawyer, telling him that he was forced to stand for 23 hours a day for more than a week with a book on his head until he confessed.

“After he said it, he was allowed two hours of sleep every day,” the lawyer said.

“At that point his feet were swollen like an elephant’s, and he could no longer urinate.”

This parallel justice system – which is anything but just – is called “shuanggui”, which translates in Mandarin to having to report to authorities at a “designated time” and “designated location”.

Hopefully the Human Rights Watch’s 102-page report will shed light on “Shuanggui”, putting President Xi’s system of torture and cruelty in the global spotlight and force him to be held accountable for his human rights violations.