One of the things I’ve done since the inception of this blog is try to help young people in trouble in China. Mostly this has involved my telling thousands of English teachers NOT to cause a stink with their employers that have not paid them. I tell them I understand why they are angering at having gone months without a paycheck, but that battling in any way with their employer will likely only make matters worse.
I then tell them about how I often get emails from English teachers who have complained about non-payment and then get arrested, put in jail for 15-30 days and then deported. Not exactly what you want on your record if you are a 23-year old just starting in your career. I then tell them that even if they were to sue their employer, they have almost no shot at prevailing and in the meantime, they will be stuck in China with no job. My advice nine times out of ten is to leave China as quickly as possible and never return, and get a teacher job elsewhere. Anywhere else really. See Leave China Now! for more on this.
Then there are the kids caught with cannabis. I tell them to get a good Chinese criminal lawyer as quickly as possible and in cities in which I know such lawyers, I give them names. I also tell them how China’s court system is very different from the West’s and how if they have any issues about the advice they are getting from their lawyers, to feel free to discuss that with me. Most importantly I tell them that the usual thing is to be put in jail for 15-30 days and then deported, without any trial.
I have spent the last week or so cleaning up my email box and that involves writing people for updates. I sought updates from a number of people arrested in China for cannabis violations and in the last week I have received incredibly disquieting information from three of them. These three people told me that their judges (in different cities) had initially told them not to worry because they were merely facing deportation, but within the last two months they have been told by their judges — somewhat apologetically — that they [the judges] have been “notified that all cases with people from – Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada now need to go through the court. In other words, people from these countries are being singled out for full-blown criminal trials and I very much fear the results of that. I greatly fear that these people are going to be sentenced to 2-5 years for cannabis possession.
Now I know many of you are going to be saying that if these people did the crime they should do the time, and though I believe cannabis should be fully legalized, I can at least somewhat understand this position if trial and sentencing were actually based on the crime and not on one’s ethnicity/nationality.
What this latest news tells me only reinforces what I have known to be true for a long, long time. China is willing to sacrifice what little fairness and due process it has in its court system to extract revenge against the countries it does not like on any given day. This latest news also reinforces that the countries at the top of the CCP’s hate list are the US, the UK, Australia and Canada. On October 17, 2019, in China Detains 2 Americans Amid Growing Scrutiny of Foreigners, the New York Times wrote the following:
“China has become a risky place,” Dan Harris, a lawyer at Harris Bricken . . . . says. If you are going to do business there you had better know what the laws are and you had better follow them, because China is not going to let anyone slide, especially not an American or a Canadian. Little things that were virtually ignored for years are leading to foreigners going to jail.”
It sure has and if you are American, Australian, British or Canadian, you better recognize this and try to spend as little time as possible in China and to scrupulously follow every single aspect of Chinese law. On top of that, if you are from the United States, Australia, Great Britain or Canada, and you were a diplomat, in the military, or tied to an NGO, like Michael Korvig and Michael Spavor — you run an increased risk of being arrested for nothing more than for who you were.
What are you seeing out there?