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China's Citizen Complaint System: Prospects for Accountability

Senator Byron Dorgan, Chairman and Representative Sander Levin, Cochairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China presents a roundtable discussion on China's citizen complaint system.

December 4, 2009 2:00pm to 3:30pm

At this CECC Roundtable, a panel of experts will discuss China's citizen complaint system, sometimes called the "petitioning" system or the "xinfang" (letters and visits) system, its role in promoting accountability, its relationship to China's legal institutions, and its prospects for the future. The system, which has imperial roots, is intended to make local officials more accountable and to resolve citizen grievances; on the other hand, petitioners report widespread official disregard of complaints and human rights abuses. Authorities have reportedly harassed petitioners as well as sentenced them to reeducation through labor, and detained them in "black jails" (extralegal detention centers), or psychiatric institutions.


Carl Minzner, Assistant Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, School of Law

Li, Xiaorong, Research Scholar at the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, University of Maryland-College Park

Sara (Meg) Davis, Founder and Executive Director at Asia Catalyst

CECC Roundtables are open to the public and no reservation is required.

For more information on China's complaint system (xinfang system), see Section III—Access to Justice in the Commission's 2009 Annual Report.

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