Voluntary Surrender and Confession in China’s Legal System – From the Empire to the People’s Republic


A magistrate holds court (late 19th century. Author unknown. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

China’s Televised Confessions

On January 17 Gui Minhai, a Chinese-born Swedish citizen, made a high-profile confession on China Central Television (CCTV), saying that he had turned himself to the authorities voluntarily. He confessed to having caused the death of a 20-year-old woman while drunk-driving back in 2003. According to China’s state media, Gui had subsequently fled mainland China with fake documents. “Returning to the Chinese mainland and surrendering was my personal choice and had nothing to do with anyone else”, the 52-year-old said. “I don’t want any individual or institutions, including Sweden, to interfere in anything to do with my return”.

Gui Minhai had mysteriously disappeared from his home in Pattaya, Thailand, on 17 October 2015. A camera in his Thai condo showed him that day as he came back home carrying groceries. Shortly afterwards, he drove away together with a man who had been waiting for him in the garage. According to Gui’s daughter, he suddenly stopped communicating with her. She did not know what had happened until she received an e-mail from Lee Bo, one of her father’s business associates: “Your dad has gone missing”, Lee wrote. “We’re afraid he was taken by Chinese agents for political reasons”. It has been suggested that Gui’s alleged abduction may be part of “Operation Fox Hunt“, launched by Xi Jinping in 2014 with the aim of forcibly repatriating Chinese citizens wanted by the government, including political dissidents. Thailand’s immigration authorities had no record of Gui leaving the country, a circumstance that contradicts Gui’s claim of having returned to China voluntarily.

Gui is a shareholder of Hong Kong-based publishing house Mighty Current, which publishes salacious gossip books about high-rank officials of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Gui was born in China‘s Zhejiang Province and studied history at Beijing University. In 1988 he moved to Sweden and earned a PhD at Gothenburg University. After the Communist Party put down the Tiananmen student protests in 1989, Gui remained in Sweden and became a naturalised citizen. As the political climate relaxed in the 1990s, he returned to China and worked there for a few years, before entering the publishing business in 2012. Four other Mighty Current booksellers disappeared around the same time as Gui. This as well as the fact that Gui was denied access to a lawyer, his family and the Swedish embassy makes the circumstances of his confession appear questionable.

Lam Wing-gei, one of the five booksellers who went missing last year, made a “confession” in February on China’s Phoenix Television. He admitted to “smuggling books” banned in mainland China. “I know that Gui Minhai’s books are fabricated”, he said. “They were downloaded from the Internet, and were pieced together from magazines … They have generated lots of rumours in society and brought a bad influence … I deeply acknowledge my mistakes and am willing to be penalized”.

On June 13 Lam Wing-gei was released and returned to Hong Kong. Three days later, he held a press conference in which he revealed explosive details about his detention. Lam recanted his televised confession and refuted the official version of his case as propagated by China’s state media. At the press conference Lam said that he had not gone to the mainland on his own accord, but that he was in fact kidnapped by mainland agents at a border crossing between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. He was handcuffed, blindfolded and taken to Ningbo, where he was kept in a small room. He was asked to sign a paper agreeing that he would not contact his lawyer or family members. The Communist authorities asked him to go back to Hong Kong and hand them over disks containing the names of customers of Causeway Bay Books, for which Lam works. The bookstore sells titles forbidden in mainland China, which are popular among mainland visitors travelling to Hong Kong. Lam said that first he agreed to comply with the request of the Chinese authorities but changed his mind after arriving in Hong Kong.

“This is not just about me”, Lam said at the news conference. “This is about the freedom of the Hong Kong people. The Chinese government has forced the Hong Kong people into a dead end. I am not worried about my personal safety. I have no plan to go to the mainland again. We Hong Kong people are all in the same boat. It can happen to you, too, if I don’t speak up”. Lam revealed that his televised confession had been carefully set up by the Communist authorities. “It was a show, and I accepted it. They gave me the script. I had to follow the script. If I did not follow it strictly, they would ask for a retake”.

The televised confessions of Gui Minhai and Lam Wing-gei are not isolated cases. According to Hong Kong Free Press, since 2013 China has aired around a dozen televised confessions, including that of a Swedish citizen who admitted to financially supporting Chinese human rights lawyers and activists. He apologised for “causing harm to the Chinese government and hurting the feelings of the Chinese people”. Televised confessions came into fashion after Xi Jinping took over the leadership of the Communist state in 2012 and inaugurated an era of political repression and ideological conformity.

The Xi Jinping administration is hereby drawing upon the thousand-year-old tradition of Chinese law as well as upon the Communist practices of confession and self-criticism. In this article we shall examine the development of the concepts of voluntary surrender and confession in the legal system of Imperial, Republican and Communist China, and we shall demonstrate that the recent wave of televised confessions has evolved from the combination of two traditions: that of old Imperial China and that of Soviet Russia.

Voluntary Surrender and Confession – From Imperial China to the Republic of China

The legal codes of Imperial China placed great emphasis on voluntary surrender and confession. The first recorded instance of the legal codification of voluntary surrender can be found in a legal code of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) written on 1,155 bamboo strips (see Xin Ren: Tradition of the Law and Law of the Tradition: Law, State, and Social Control in China, 1997, p. 116). The text noted:

An absconder who fled with stolen goods surrendered voluntarily. Should this be adjudicated as a theft? If he voluntarily surrendered, it should be treated as a crime of abscondence; if the absconder was captured, it should be treated as a theft; if the punishment for theft is lighter than that for abscondence, it shall be treated nevertheless as a crime of abscondence (quoted in: ibid.).

This document for the first time mentions voluntary surrender as a mitigating factor in meting out punishments. The term used here for voluntary surrender was ‘zichu’ (自出), which in the legal codes of the Han Dynasty became ‘zigao’ (自告, ‘self-reporting’) (ibid., p. 117). The modern term for voluntary surrender, ‘zishou’ (自首), was already in use by the time of the Qing Dynasty and was inherited by the legal codes of the Republic of China (ROC) and of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). There are three main reasons why the imperial authorities believed in the efficacy of voluntary surrender and confession.

First of all, due to lack of personnel and funds it was hard for a pre-modern state to effectively control such a vast empire. As we have already explained in a previous post about the legal system in imperial China, the late Qing state had only one district magistrate for 200,000 inhabitants. As a result, the government promoted Confucian values and used them to create a self-regulating society in which elderly family members imposed strict hierarchy and obedience to the authorities. This was a cost-effective system that allowed the district magistrate to take care only of the most serious criminal cases. Although major rebellions did occur throughout the history of the Qing Dynasty (as they did during the preceding dynasties), the system of “self-policing” was sufficient to maintain relative stability until Western countries attacked and weakened the empire in the 19th century. Giving criminals the incentive for surrendering themselves obviously saved much work and precious financial resources, which in turn reinforced the system of self-policing. On the other hand, Confucian values were deeply rooted in the minds of the elites and the common people, creating reciprocity between government and governed.

Second, the imperial authorities ruled through the propagation of moral precepts. In the ideal case, a criminal would repent, confess his crimes and be morally reformed, whereby his reformation would serve as an example for the whole society. A criminal act was considered a grave disruption of social order, and it was in the interest of the authorities to “re-establish” the sanctioned order. Voluntary surrender and confession were, from this perspective, a perfect way for the state to reaffirm the morality of the system. An interesting example of the “moral character” of imperial China’s legal system is to be fund in a case of attempted rape that led to murder recorded in the year 1803. The local magistrate, after establishing the guilt of the main suspect, Cao Ligong, sent a report to the Prefect of Hejian. He wrote:

I recommend that [Cao Ligong] be punished according to the law concerning the immediate murder of a woman after failing in an attempt to rape her, the penalty for which is beheading without delay. In accordance with the substatute, the culprit should first have the characters “vicious criminal” … tattooed on the left side of his face. Because she had resisted rape even unto her wrongful death, Mrs. Cao Wang was most certainly an exemplar of chastity. Therefore, I recommend that the request be appended that imperial recognition be awarded her in order to further public morality (quoted in: Robert E Hegel: True Crimes in Eighteenth-Century China: Twenty Case Histories, 2011, p. 73).

This case shows that the Imperial legal system aimed to uphold Confucian values by punishments and rewards. Sentencing the guilty was not sufficient in the eyes of the magistrate. While the murderer had disrupted proper social order, the chaste wife had by her resistance sacrificed her life to defend public morality. Her Confucian behaviour had to be emphasized and rewarded so as to propagate what the state deemed the right values. The degenerate was vilified and eliminated, the virtuous was celebrated and honoured.

Third, it appears that the Imperial legal system was based on the assumption that there existed factual guilt. Any means, including torture, were allowed to uncover what was considered the objective truth. The principle of factual guilt differs from that of legal guilt developed in liberal Western states. Legal guilt is based on the evidence which is discovered during the investigation and the trial. Therefore, legal guilt is incomplete, and a criminal may be acquitted for lack of evidence even when there is a strong suspicion that he may have committed the crime. Factual guilt, by contrast, assumes that there is always an objective truth and responsibility, and that a capable magistrate can find out the identity of the wrongdoer, even by using force or the threat of it. A confession extracted by torture was therefore considered “truthful” (see Xin 1997, p. 118) .

An interesting example of the function of torture in Imperial China’s legal proceedings can be found in a case of adultery that ended in murder which happened in Shandong Province in 1696. Let us examine a passage from the report compiled by the judicial authorities:

Interrogation of Du Huailiang: “In previous interrogations, you said that you were sleeping in the courtyard when Chen Wenxian came to your room to have illicit sex with your wife. You heard someone talking inside, and you went into the room and killed them. If you were sleeping in the courtyard, Chen Wenxian naturally would have seen you when he came in. How did he dare go into your room to have illicit sex? How did he dare to talk aloud in your room? Clearly, you’re just making this up. Tell the truth about why you killed Chen Wenxian, and you can avoid the instruments of torture.” Du further testified: “You don’t need to squeeze me – I’ll tell the truth, that’s for sure! …” (quoted in: Hegel 2011, p. 83).

Interestingly, the magistrate does not torture the suspect, but simply threatens to do so. It appears that officials in Imperial China believed that a person who was not guilty of a crime would not confess even under torture. They did not take into consideration the possibility that a suspect would confess a crime even when not guilty only to avoid torture. And if they were aware of this possibility, they did not try to change the system of interrogation by granting protection to suspects.

In order to uphold social order, the Imperial authorities believed that criminals should have the chance to realise the immorality of their actions and repent. According to Article 25 of the Qing legal code, whoever committed a crime and surrendered himself or herself before that crime had been discovered by the authorities (凡犯罪未發而自首者免其罪) was eligible for a penalty reduction. Following Confucian social hierarchy, however, if a relative of inferior rank made a confession accusing a relative of superior rank (e.g. if a son accused his father), the relative of superior rank would not be punished. Even cases of treason were dealt with leniently by a reduction of punishment by two degrees if the offender confessed.

In 1911 the Qing Dynasty was overthrown and the Republic of China (ROC) was proclaimed. Lack of funds and internal chaos compelled the new Republic to continue applying the Qing legal codes, albeit with some modifications. It was only after the Guomindang under Chiang Kai-shek‘s leadership had seized power in 1927 that the government could set about the task of compiling a new criminal code, which was promulgated in 1935. The 1935 criminal code incorporated voluntary surrender and confession as mitigating factors in punishing criminals. For instance, Article 102 stipulated that whoever attempted to sabotage the state system, to undermine the country’s territorial sovereignty, or to unlawfully subvert the constitution or the government, and whoever committed a crime of rebellion (暴動) would have his or her sentence reduced or remitted if he or she voluntarily surrendered to the authorities. Since the Chinese civil war and the victory of the Communists led by Mao Zedong the ROC legal code has remained in force in Taiwan and, despite numerous amendments, it has preserved its articles dealing with voluntary surrender.

Communism and Voluntary Surrender

The legal principles of voluntary surrender and confession received a new interesting adaptation when they came into contact with Soviet-style Communism. Imperial China had used them as means to maintain a Confucian-inspired moral and social order. In the Soviet Union, on the contrary, they served as tools of one-party terror, widely used during the numerous “purges” under Lenin and, on a far larger and brutal scale, Stalin.

The first use of the term “purge” in the context of the Russian Soviet dictatorship appears to have occurred as early as 1921. That year, the Communist Party decided to carry out a “cleansing” campaign to expel members who were suspected of having “infiltrated” the Party’s ranks during the Civil War. It is estimated that as a result about 24% of all Party members were expelled (Oleg Kharkhordin: The Collective and the Individual in Russia: A Study of Practices, p. 133). Subsequent purges were implemented in 1924-25, 1926 and 1929 and 1933. All of these purges were usually carried out shortly before important economic and social reforms were launched, such as land collectivisation and forced industrialisation.

According to a statute adopted in 1924, the Central Control Commission of the Communist Party (CCC)  had the function of “verifying the ranks of the Party; purging … the Party of ideologically alien, harmful, and corrupting elements” (ibid. p. 136).  The Party leadership obviously believed that in order to implement such heavy-handed, and often unpopular, top-to-bottom policies it was necessary that all Party members should be completely devoted to the cause and the methods decided upon by the central government. At that time purges generally still did not involve bloodshed and were simple inner-party administrative measures.

This changed radically after Josef Stalin seized power and launched his Great Purge (also called Great Terror), which lasted from 1936 to 1938. It is not clear how many people died or were arrested during the purge, which struck not only Party members, but also countless civilians. According to some estimates, between 1937 and 1938 approximately 7 million people were arrested and 1 million people were executed, while about 8 million people were imprisoned in gulags (labour camps) between 1936 and 1938 (see Robert Conquest: The Great Terror: A Reassessment, 1991, p. 485). Other sources give different estimates, but they all agree that Stalin’s terror caused millions of deaths..

The Party leadership and the intellectual elite of the country were decimated by Stalin’s purges. 70% of the 139 members and candidate members of the Central Committee of 1934 were executed in this period. All of Lenin’s close associates were arrested and executed, and all of them “confessed” to crimes such as espionage, terrorism and attempts to overthrow the Soviet Union and restore capitalism (Richard Pipes: Communism: A History, 2001). The first Politburo, established in 1917, had seven members: Lenin, Grigorij Zinov’jev, Lev Kamenev, Leon Trotsky, Josef Stalin, Grigorij Sokolnikov and and Andrej Bubnov. After Lenin’s death, Stalin eliminated all of his former associates. Trotsky was expelled from the Communist Party in 1927, went into exile and was assassinated in 1940 on Stalin’s orders. Zinov’jev and Kamenev were arrested in 1934 and executed in 1936. Sokolnikov was arrested in 1937 and sentenced to ten years of imprisonment, during which he was killed under mysterious circumstances. Bubnov was arrested in 1937 and shot the next year.

The secret police and the judiciary fabricated false accusations and then forced the indicted to “confess” their crimes. In some cases, like that of Zinov’jev and Kamenev, Stalin agreed that they would not be sentenced to death if they confessed, but broke his promise soon after they had confessed and had them executed. Such procedures allowed Stalin to purge virtually anyone without conclusive evidence. Let us examine one case which demonstrates how innocent individuals were forced under duress to confess crimes they had not committed.

Isaac Babel, one of the most brilliant and influential writers of the Soviet Union, was arrested on May 15, 1939 and held in Lubjanka and Butyrka prisons in Moscow for eight months on charges of Trotskyism, terrorism, and spying for Austria and France. At the initial interrogation in late May he denied any wrongdoing, but three days later he “confessed” and named several other people as “co-conspirators”. However, in October he suddenly refuted his previous confessions. “I ask the inquiry to take into account that, though in prison, I committed a crime. I slandered several people”, he said. He wrote letters to Soviet politicians, but he did not receive any reply, and he repeatedly expressed repentance for having incriminated people, including his friend Ilja Erenburg. Babel was sentenced to death in a twenty-minute trial on January 26, 1940, and executed the next day (see A. N. Pirozhkova: At His Side: The Last Years of Isaac Babel, trans. Anne Frydman and Robert L. Busch, 1996, pp. xxix-xxx).

It is obvious that in the Soviet Union under Stalin “confessions” were simply a method for suppressing dissent by force. These confessions were routinely extracted by torture or threats to the accused’s family members. From a legal point of view, such confessions cannot be admitted as evidence. Since the judiciary was subordinated to the Communist Party, a fair trial was per definition impossible.

The Chinese Communists readily adopted Soviet methods of removing opposition and purging their own ranks by forcing individuals to “confess” their crimes. However, they adapted confessions and voluntary surrender to the old practice of Confucian-inspired collective self-policing.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, power struggles and social campaigns resulted in the first purge among China’s Communists. When the alliance between the Guomindang and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), on which Moscow had insisted, failed, Stalin put the blame on Chen Duxiu (陳獨秀), who had been one of the original founders of the CCP in 1921 alongside Li Dazhao (李大釗). Chen was denounced as a Trotskyist and expelled from the Party. Wang Ming and Mao Zedong profited from Chen’s demise in order to consolidate their leadership position. Both Wang and Mao used Soviet-style attacks on opponents to impose their own political line (see James Z. Gao: Historical Dictionary of Modern China 1800-1949, 2009, p. 370; and James Chieh Hsiung: Ideology and Practice: The Evolution of Chinese Communism, 1970, p. 46).

The most notorious large-scale Communist purge prior to the founding of the People’s Republic occurred in the early 1940s in Yan’an, where the Communists, now led by Mao Zedong, had established a Chinese Soviet proto-state. Mao was worried about the existence in the Party of “undesirable tendencies”, and especially of what he called “dogmatism, sectarianism and bureaucratism”. In 1942 he ordered a screening of cadres and a series of “discussion” and “study” sessions which eventually culminated in the so-called Yan’an rectification movement (see Chen Yung-Fa: Suspect History and the Mass Line: Another “Yan’An Way”,” in: Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom [ed.]: Twentieth-Century China: New Approaches, 2002, p. 171). During this campaign, a large number of people were criticised and attacked in mass forums and forced to admit their “wrong” views. There were cases of physical abuse and of people driven to suicide (Jonathan D. Spence: The Search for Modern China, 1999, p. 447).

During the rectification campaign, Mao managed not only to oust Wang Ming, who after the dismissal of Chen Duxiu was his only political rival, but also to impose his vision of a Communist society and of Communist art and literature. In his speeches held at the Yan’an Forum of Literature and Art in 1942, Mao lectured the attendees on the need for art to serve the Party and the revolution. He rejected the idea of subjective and free artistic creation, because he saw society from the dogmatic point of view of Communist doctrine. He described literature and art as ideological weapons which had to play a major role in achieving the goals of the revolution:

In our struggle for the liberation of the Chinese people there are various fronts, among which there are the fronts of the pen and of the gun, the cultural and the military fronts … In the world today all culture, all literature and art belong to definite classes and are geared to definite political lines. There is in fact no such thing as art for art’s sake, art that stands above classes or art that is detached from or independent of politics. Proletarian literature and art are part of the whole proletarian revolutionary cause …

Literature and art are subordinate to politics, but in their turn exert a great influence on politics. Revolutionary literature and art are part of the whole revolutionary cause. [Marxism] definitely destroys creative moods that are feudal, bourgeois, petty-bourgeois, liberalistic, individualist, nihilist, art-for-art’s sake, aristocratic, decadent or pessimistic, and every other creative mood that is alien to the masses of the people and to the proletariat (Mao Zedong: Talk at the Yan’an Forum on Literature and Art, 1942).

One of the victims of Mao’s ideological principles and vaguely defined guidelines was the famous leftist female writer Ding Ling. Ding’s husband, Hu Yepin, had been killed by the Guomindang in 1931 and later she was herself arrested and kept under house arrest for three years in Nanjing. In 1936 Ding managed to escape and joined the Communists in Yan’an. However, she soon began writing stories critical of the CCP and especially of the treatment of women (see ibid.p. 488). During the rectification campaign, Ding Ling’s works and ideas were condemned by Mao. In 1942 she made a public self-criticism and went to the countryside to “reform herself”. This was a case – Timothy Cheek writes – of Stalinist-style “manufactured dissent” in which “a loyal critic” of the Party was treated as “an implacable opponent” of Communism (Timothy Cheek: The Intellectual in Modern Chinese History, 2016, p. 144).

Mao Zedong entrusted the organisation of the rectification campaign to Kang Sheng, a native of Shandong Province who had been trained in Moscow by the NKVD, the secret police and intelligence agency of the Soviet Union. After having learnt the methods of Stalin’s dictatorship, Kang returned to China and founded the CCP’s security system. The appointment of Kang reveals that the rectification campaign was hardly a spontaneous and voluntary movement (Chen 2002, p. 172).

In order to show how the campaign was conducted, let us examine the case of Zhang Keqin, a 19-year-old Party member. It was discovered that Zhang’s father had joined the Communist Party shortly after having been released from prison by the Guomindang authorities, a circumstance that was considered “suspicious”. Furthermore, Zhang had once criticised his Party superiors. These two facts alone sufficed to give credit to the testimony of a friend who denounced Zhang Keqin as a Guomindang spy.

Zhang was arrested and interrogated. Five high-ranking security cadres were assigned to his case, and eventually he made a confession. However, the way in which he was treated after his confession and used for political purposes reveals the nature of the CCP’s practices, which were quite different from those of its Russian counterpart. Zhang Keqin was not shot or sent to a labour camp, but he was publicly paraded at a mass meeting as a “model” Party member who had erred but then admitted to his wrongdoings. At the meeting, Zhang said the Guomindang government had misled him. He thanked the Party for delivering him from the Guomindang “hell” and encouraged other Party members to confess and repent as he had done. As a result, dozens of people suddenly confessed to various crimes in order to emulate him (ibid., pp. 172-173).

On Mao’s orders the rectification campaign intensified in April 1943, when as many as 260 suspects were arrested in one night. Work units were encouraged to hold mass meetings and urge suspects to “confess” their sins. Zhang Keqin appeared at one of those meetings, riding on a horse and wearing a red flower on his chest, and he tried to persuade others to repent and follow his example (ibid., pp. 174-175).

The Yan’an mass campaigns were only a prelude to the far more brutal persecutions of alleged enemies of the Party which would be carried out after 1949. It is beyond the scope of the present article to describe the ordeals countless people suffered in the Mao era. The Yan’an purges and mass campaigns are a sufficiently clear example of how the Chinese Communist Party adapted old Confucian practices and Soviet-style repression. In this respect it is important to out point some major differences between Stalin and Mao in the way they dealt with Party purges.

Stalin’s main goal was to get rid of potential political rival and to terrorise the people in order suppress any potential opposition to his rule. That is why the period 1936-1938 is called the “Great Terror”. The persecution of rivals or innocent people was usually carried out by military, police and judicial personnel. Mass participation was rare or happened in the form of orchestrated demonstrations. Much of what happened under Stalin was enshrouded in mystery, and when the terror was made public, as during the show trials, it was only because Stalin needed to justify the murder of so many senior Party cadres by forcing them to “confess” their crimes, so that public opinion both at home and abroad would be convinced of their guilt.

Mao, by contrast, carried out his purges publicly, and he demanded the active participation of the masses. Moreover, he seemed to have placed great importance on repentance, reformation and public display of self-criticism. While Stalin eliminated anyone whom he deemed dangerous, even people who had not even criticised him, Mao gave many of his opponents a chance to survive, as long as they were willing to accept his political line and propagate it publicly.

We can see in the practice of Mao’s ideological campaigns the echo of the traditional collective Chinese ethos, in which society was strictly and hierarchically organised, and in which social units had to fulfill the function of self-policing agents. As we have already explained in a previous post, the Imperial government created a system in which the family and its head were responsible for maintaining order, and in which the subjects watched over each other and denounced each other. Fear went hand in hand with active participation of the population in the maintenance of social order. Similarly, Mao did not simply purge behind closed doors. He wanted to remould the minds of the people, turning them into active enforcers of the Party line.

As a Neo-Maoist, Xi Jinping seems to endorse the “Yan’an way”: the remoulding of society through the imposition of thought conformity. The recent phenomenon of televised confessions is an interesting technological rivisitation of the methods the CCP experimented with in Yan’an. Just like in the 1940s, individuals are not only compelled under duress to confess their crimes, but they must also become active agents for the propagation of Party’s values and policies.

Yet in the end this system is self-destructive. However skilfully fabricated, confessions and self-criticism, as well as testimonies by third parties, cannot be valid if the judicial procedure itself is not transparent and fair. For instance, even if Lam Wing-gei had not revealed the truth about his confession, there could have been no doubt that a self-incriminatory statement made by someone who is not allowed to see his lawyers, his family and who cannot defend himself in a fair and open trial, has no meaning whatsoever. As history has shown, such methods will in the end only backfire and draw condemnation on those who applied them.


Appendix: Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China

Chapter II Section 3: Voluntary Surrender and Meritorious Performance

Article 67 Voluntary surrender refers to the act of voluntarily delivering oneself up to justice and truthfully confessing one’s crime after one has committed the crime. Any criminal who voluntarily surrenders may be given a lighter or mitigated punishment. The ones whose crimes are relatively minor may be exempted from punishment.

If a criminal suspect or a defendant under compulsory measures or a criminal serving a sentence truthfully confesses his other crimes that the judicial organ does not know, his act shall be regarded as voluntary surrender.

Article 68 Any criminal who performs such meritorious services as exposing an offence committed by another, which is verified through investigation, or producing important clues for solving other cases may be given a lighter or mitigated punishment. Any criminal who performs major meritorious services may be given a mitigated punishment or be exempted from punishment.

Any criminal who not only voluntarily surrenders after committing the crime but also performs major meritorious services shall be given a mitigated punishment or be exempted from punishment.



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