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Hong Kong Resident Petitions Chinese Leaders over Shanghai Redevelopment Scandal

June 24, 2003

For Immediate Release

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has received a copy of an open letter written by a Hong Kong resident, Shen Ting (Sum Ting) calling for China’s central government to intervene in the ongoing Shanghai redevelopment scandal.

In her letter to Chinese president Hu Jintao and premier Wen Jiabao (appended in full to the Chinese press release), Shen charges that government officials colluded with a wealthy businessman, Zhou Zhengyi, to illegally force residents from a redevelopment zone and defraud them of their rightful compensation. Among the victims are Shen’s parents, Shen Junsheng and Mo Zhujie, who lost the home they had lived in for more than 60 years.

Shen further observes that many householders benefited from the counsel of Zheng Enchong, a lawyer who had earlier lost his license after helping many other residents in redevelopment cases. Zheng Enchong succeeded in bringing the case of Shen’s parents and others to court, and at the same time had uncovered the scandal of alleged official collusion with developer Zhou Zhengyi, only to be arrested himself a week later on charges of stealing state secrets. In her open letter Shen expresses great anger at Zheng Enchong’s arrest, saying, “If even a lawyer such as Zheng Enchong is not allowed to speak for the people, what hope do we have? Without such a righteous and honest lawyer as Zheng Enchong, who else can we go to? Does the Shanghai government want to prevent us from continuing our lawsuit?” At the end of her letter Shen pleads, “Central government, please show concern for this matter.”

According to sources in China, the arrest of Zheng Enchong has not discouraged displaced householders from further action over the redevelopment projects. Several dozen representatives are currently in Beijing while monitoring the situation in Shanghai, and Shen Ting has returned to Hong Kong to ensure that she is able to maintain unrestricted contact with the outside world.

“The Chinese government needs to take an objective position on the Shanghai redevelopment issue, which is reaching a crisis point,” said HRIC president Liu Qing. “The government should be more concerned with ensuring that justice is done than with persecuting fraud victims and honorable people such as Zheng Enchong who try to help them.”

For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher (English) 212-268-9074
Liu Qing (Chinese) 212-239-4495