Yu Jianrong: Who Bears the Costs of Intercepting Petitioners?
Petition-interception (截访) mainly refers to the conducts of local officials adopting certain means to intercept petitioners outside the letters and visits (信访) registration offices of central or higher-level authorities and to coerce petitioners back to where they visit from. Evolved from open rules in the 1950s and 60s, petition-interception has become a tacitly allowed work method in China’s actual political life and is an important part to the work of “receiving petitioners (接访).” Its purpose is to reduce the number of petitioners held up in Beijing and the number of petitions registered to one’s locality.
With Hu-Wen administration’s “people-first” policies in recent years, especially after the abolition of custody and repatriation administrative procedure, receiving petitioners by coercion has lost its legitimacy, but has not for this reason disappeared. Petition-interception remains a main form of receiving petitioners. With each “sensitive” period comes, tens of thousands of petition-receivers land in Beijing’s petitioner village (上访村) or go directly to the doorways of State Bureau for Letters and Calls and other state organs to intercept visiting petitioners.