Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

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:







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.

News - Chinese Law, People and Institutions | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Did Li Zhuang plant a hidden message in his confession?:


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") - the very interesting discussions below the first posting on Tianya reveals that there are two different versions of the confession in circulation.

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:

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

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

Post a comment