Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

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Saturday, November 5, 2005

Political abuse of psychiatry

After 13 years in the Ankang (安康) system of psychiatric facilities operated by the Ministry of Public Security, Wang Wanxing was released last August and immediately exiled to Germany. This news came from Human Rights Watch on November 2. As the Human Rights Watch press release (well worth reading in its entirety) states, "Wang Wanxing is the first known released inmate of China's notorious Ankang system, out of an estimated 3,000 or more political detainees held in police-run psychiatric custody since the early 1980s, to have left China and be in a position to speak out about his experiences."

Wang's release is not, however, our first look into the Ankang system. Robin Munro has been working this territory for some time now, and in 2002 published Dangerous Minds: Political Psychiatry in China Today and Its Origins in the Mao Era (reviewed in the New York Review of Books by Jonathan Mirsky). An earlier article containing his research is "Judicial Psychiatry in China and Its Political Abuses," Journal of Asian Law, Vol. 14, No. 1 (Fall 2000). The most thorough and up-to-date study that I know of is Dr. Munro's University of London PhD dissertation (Department of Law, School of Oriental and African Studies, Jan. 2005).

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