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Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Did Li Zhuang plant a hidden message in his confession?

There's been a lot of discussion on the Chinese internet over whether Li Zhuang planted a hidden message in the six-point confession he delivered orally during his appeal. There is unfortunately no authoritative text of this confession, so the alleged message might in part be the creativity of people who have changed a character here or there to get it. The idea is to take the first character of each sentence to make one phrase, and then take the last character of each sentence to make another. (In the text I have, you have to skip the last character of the 5th sentence and take the last two characters of the 6th sentence.) OK. let's try it out:

  一、刑事拘留以来,对我的思想触动很大,在各级组织各级领导的耐心教育下,我逐渐认识到了自己的所作所为玷污了律师的职责,缺失了一名法律工作者应有的职业道德基


  二、较其他民事代理人,刑事辩护人更应该顾大局、识大体,与党中央保持一致。今后我要努力学习,彻底诀别过

  三、真反思(这里我要插一句话,我确确实实没有说过龚刚模被樊奇航敲诈,只说他被黑社会敲诈),龚刚模案,浪费了极其宝贵的司法时间,属于思想不纯立场不

  四、行法定,这是基本原则。作为法律工作者应注重事实、法律研究,不应偏听偏信,甚至在大是大非面前执迷不

  五、慢的思想转变,为此付出了沉重的代价,也为今后的人生吸取了丰富经验。我要吸取教训,追求未来应有的精神境界。

  六、《法》的宗旨是惩罚罪犯保护人民,我将永远牢记在心。这也是公民应遵守的基本准则。今后无论如何我将为社会做积极贡献。希望二审慎重对待我的上诉

I've translated the content of some of this in an earlier post. If you take the first characters of each sentence and then the last characters (with the adjustment mentioned above), this gives you "被比(逼)认罪缓刑,础(出)去坚决上诉" (forced to confess to get a suspended sentence, will insistently appeal after release).

Is this plausible? I'm not the conspiracy-theorist type, but it looks plausible to me. The Chinese is a little odd in places; for example, one commonly says 立场不稳, not 立场不坚. And why should the fourth sentence start with "罪行法定,这是基本原则"? That principle of criminal law has nothing to do with the case in question. I guess we will find out when he's free to speak his mind. Not that it really matters.

Here's a story in English about it from Caixin.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/china_law_prof_blog/2010/02/did-li-zhuang-plant-a-hidden-message-in-his-confession.html

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Comments

Others suggest a different reading that would employ the first and second character of all the lines.
被比认罪缓刑 = 被逼认罪缓刑
础去坚决界诉 = 出去坚决揭诉 (揭 as in "expose" or "uncover")
http://www.tianya.cn/publicforum/content/law/1/203895.shtml - the very interesting discussions below the first posting on Tianya reveals that there are two different versions of the confession in circulation.
O

Posted by: Otto | Feb 10, 2010 7:16:31 PM

Interesting theory, but the problem is that 揭诉 is a neologism - it appears only 888 times on Google, and all of those seem to be instances of this particular sentence. Of course, one could understand it to mean "expose what was going on in this litigation", but to me the idea of the deliberately hidden riddle is more convincing if it doesn't contain neologisms. Those make it look more like the work of the reader instead of the writer.

Posted by: Don Clarke | Feb 10, 2010 7:47:07 PM

Good point. Your interpretation has a clearer message, the other is more elegant (although with a neologism), still a very important message. Caixin has an interesting article on it as well - that also agrees with you: http://policy.caing.com/2010-02-09/100116950.html

Posted by: Otto | Feb 11, 2010 11:57:13 PM

http://news.jcrb.com/jxsw/201002/t20100204_319832.html

Jiancha Ribao has also posted Li Zhuang's confession. The six sentences are exactly the same as what you posted.

Posted by: Patience | Feb 12, 2010 11:31:18 AM

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