The Case of the Chinese Mayor Who Wasn’t There
In China, senior government and Communist party officials vanish all the time without causing so much as a ripple in the domestic media.
Like so many cadres before him, Mr Xu disappeared into the jaws of the Chinese Communist party’s disciplinary inspection commission. The powerful commission’s so-called shuang-gui (or “twin regulation”) powers allow it to detain party officials indefinitely. In theory, officials caught up in this extra-judicial twilight zone are merely making themselves available to party investigators and can be released later without stain. In reality, the commission’s targets are routinely handed over to government prosecutors months or even years later, all but gift-wrapped for summary show trials and sentencing.
In a more famous example of shuang-gui in action, in 2003 the head of Bank of China’s Hong Kong subsidiary disappeared for two years before resurfacing in a courtroom in Changchun, a city in the country’s far north-east. There he was convicted for a corruption spree that had allegedly begun nine years earlier in Shanghai. When it comes to “renditioning” suspects from one jurisdiction to another, the disciplinary inspection commission appears to be as accomplished as the CIA.