The Root of Juvenile Crime in China

Several cases of killing have occurred in China recently, all with underage perpetrators.

Liu, a 14-year-old middle school student in Bayan County of Heilongjiang Province, killed her mother when her mother asked her to go to school. Yang, a 13-year-old middle school student, killed Chengcheng, a six-year-old boy in the same neighborhood. Wu, a 12-year-boy from Yiyang City of Hu’nan Province stabbed his mother to death. Shao, a 13-year-old boy in Jianhu County of Jiangsu Province also committed matricide.

Over the past 20 years, there have been about 60 cases in which parents were killed by their own children aged 16 or younger. In 2020 alone, there were four reported cases of mothers murdered by underaged children.

Amendment 11 to China’s Criminal Law, passed at the end of 2020, lowers the age of criminal responsibility from 14 to 12, indicating the deteriorating social morality and condition of China’s youth.

In this article, we will explore possible causes of this moral decline, along with some potential solutions.


The Communist Party Forced Children to Watch Slaughters

Raymond J. de Jaegher, a Catholic missionary who was in China between 1931 and 1945, had described the horrors of how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) forced children to watch the killing of other people.

His book, The Enemy Within: An Eyewitness Account of the Communist Conquest of China, was once said by former U.S. president Herbert Hoover to be “the reality of communism in action in all its naked horror. I recommend it to my fellow Americans who want to see and know, in close-up, the demonic force now loose in our world.”

In one account in the book, the CCP drove every villager to a public square. The village children were also led there by their teachers to watch the executions of 13 young people condemned for opposing the CCP. After announcing some groundless claims, officials ordered the teachers – who had turned pale with fright – to instruct their students to sing pro-CCP songs. As they sang, a communist soldier wielding a steel machete came on the scene.

Walking towards the first victim, the soldier held the machete with both arms and chopped off the victim’s head in one stroke. The head rolled on the ground, spurting blood. The children’s hysterical singing broke into uncoordinated chaos, while the teachers tried to keep them on the beat.

The soldier waved his machete 13 times, and 13 heads rolled. Other soldiers then joined in, cutting open the bodies to remove the victims’ hearts for cooking. All of this happened in front of the children. The students were pale with fright, with some beginning to vomit. The teachers reprimanded these students while lining them back up to return to school.

According to de Jaegher, the children were forced to watch these executions multiple times. They soon became numb to the violence and gore; some even found joy from this “entertainment.”


Land Reform: A Son Drags His Father Like an Ox

One year after taking power in 1949, the CCP started a brutal campaign of “land reform,” where they encouraged Chinese peasants to “seize back” their land from the landlords. “Battles will beak out in every household; blood will flow in every village,” said a slogan at the time. At least two million landlords lost their lives in the tragedy.

An article in Dangdai Zhongguo Yanjiu (Modern China Studies) reviewed some facts during the land reform campaign in Xupu County, Hunan Province. According to Guo Jingqiu, deputy general manager of land reform at Qiaojiang District, any CCP official had the power to arbitrarily decide who would be killed at the time. Officials who failed to meet their killing quotas would be labeled as “rightists” and became targets themselves.

Zhou Chiping, Party Secretary of Xiangxi District, said that officials “should not miss a single target, even if they have to kill 100 innocents by mistake.” This became the guideline for lower officials to implement the policy. After a man named Chen Renling was killed, the villagers removed the muscles and internal organs from his corpse for cooking. In a short time, there was only a skeleton left.

Niu Youlan, a wealthy gentleman in Xing County of Shanxi Province, was well-respected in the region. In addition to donating nearly all his belongings to the CCP, he also sent his children to join the CCP army. But during the land reform campaign in 1947, officials designed Niu Youlan as a target and pierced a metal wire through his nose. They then ordered his son, Niu Guanyin, to lead his father through the streets as if he were leading an ox.

During this macabre parade, the fragile bone in Niu Youlan’s nose broke and he bled. Upon arriving back home, the elder Niu refused to eat and died three days later.

According to a record at the time, as of June 1948, 1050 people were killed across 209 villages. They included 380 landlords, 382 rich peasants, 345 middle peasants, and 40 poor peasants. There are about 2,000 counties in China, so if this level of destruction were extrapolated to the whole country, we can imagine the extent of the brutality that was inundating the nation—and its youth.


The attacking and humiliation of Niu Youlan


Cannibalism in the Great Famine

Historian Yu Xiguang had once found a shocking picture from the Liling Police Department in Hunan Province. It was evidence of a father eating his son during the Great Chinese Famine between 1959 and 1961.

Liu Jiayuan, the father, was handcuffed before his execution with his son’s skull and skeleton by the side. There was also an iron cooking pot – Liu had cut meat from his dying son and stewed it together with carrots. This picture of father and son was saved for the record.

According to Mao’s Great Famine by historian and professor Frank Dikötter at the University of Hong Kong, at least 45 million people had died in the famine. Sichuan, a province of 70 million people, lost a population of 10 million. Tongwei County, Gansu Province, lost about one-third of its population. When there was no food at all, eating dead people happened from time to time. One report in 1961 from the Anhui Province police department found that 1,289 incidents of cannibalism had occurred in the region since 1959.

Another document from the Gansu Province government in 1961 recorded the following:“Poor peasant Yang Zhanlin dug dead bodies and cooked them to eat.”“Poor peasant Jiao Wenzong found a fetus from a miscarriage and cooked it to eat.”“Poor peasant Kang Zamai killed someone with an ax, cooked the body, and ate it.”[Editor’s note: In the CCP’s terminology at the time, “poor peasants” were the leading and most advanced class in society. Other people, especially landlords and other wealthy individuals are targeted as “enemies of society.”]

According to Dikötter, the Great Chinese Famine is one of the worst tragedies in the 20th century, along with the Soviet gulags and the Nazi Holocaust. Song Yongyi, a Chinese American historian, also believed it to be one of the most tragic chapters in Chinese history. What’s more, this cannibalism occurred right in the middle of the CCP’s Great Leap Forward campaign in a time without war.


A picture from historian Yu Xiguang


Cultural Revolution: An Era with Chaos

The hateful propaganda reached new heights after the Cultural Revolution started in 1966. When Ms. Fang Zhongmou criticised the absurdity of the revolution in her home, she was reported to the authorities by her husband Zhang Yuesheng and 16-year-old son, Zhang Hongbing. Two months later, Fang was executed as a counter-revolutionary. Zhang Hongbing also attended his mother’s public trial, along with thousands of spectators.

Zhang Hongbing became famous overnight. Like how the Soviets propagandised Pavlik Morozov, a man who turned in his father, Zhang’s experience was displayed in the county museum as a shining example of CCP ideology.

It was not until 1979 when Zhang and his father learned of many wrongfully charged cases during the Cultural Revolution—including one of Zhang Zhixin, a woman gang-raped with her throat cut open before her execution—that he realized he made a terrible mistake. Since then, he often dreamed of his mother and burst into tears upon waking up. The saddest part was that, no matter how remorseful he was, his mother would not come back.

More than 40 years later, Zhang openly apologised for his mother’s death during an interview in 2013. Already over 60 and working as a lawyer, Zhang said that what happened in his family was a norm across China because people had turned insane after the government’s intensive brainwashing. As a result, they viewed Mao as being closer to them than their own parents; whoever opposed Mao’s ideology was a class enemy, no questions asked.

“If you go against our dear Chairman Mao, I will smash your dog head,” Zhang had said to his mother.

The internal fights within families destroyed millennia of Chinese culture and moral values. People’s humanity was replaced with Party character and class hatred. It wasn’t until recently that Zhang realised how absurd things have become. All of the brainwashing the people had been subjected to was like a hallucinatory drug, misleading people into committing atrocities against false enemies.

He then goes on to explain that respect for human life and family are the most important values in a society. When the CCP’s doctrines took control over people, the traditional Chinese culture that has sustained the nation for thousands of years was lost—which he believes has put the Chinese people and their future at risk.


The Transformation of a Delinquent

An article from Minghui talks about a lawyer’s encounter with a Falun Gong practitioner. The lawyer often defended practitioners. Once, for safety reasons, he invited a practitioner (“Nathan”) to stay at his place before his court appearance. After Nathan took a shower, the lawyer happened to see a long scar that went all the way from Nathan’s chest to his stomach.

“Because of my medical background, I knew that there wasn’t any surgery that requires such a long incision,” he recalled. Out of curiosity, he asked Nathan where the scar came from.

It turned out the scar came from a wound sustained in a gang fight many years ago. At the time, Nathan was a gang member. He was wounded so badly that his intestines had fallen out and four of his ribs were broken.

In fact, Nathan had come across Falun Gong while he was in prison for theft, violence, and drug possession. In prison, he saw that Falun Gong practitioners were mistreated, beaten, and tortured by the guards in an effort to force them to renounce their belief.

Even Nathan was disturbed by the cruelty the practitioners were subjected to.

“They were treated so badly that even a gang member such as I thought it was too much,” he said. “But they didn’t swear or fight back. And it wasn’t just one or two practitioners who were like that; almost all of them behaved that way. I was very impressed by the courage I witnessed.”

The practitioners talked to Nathan about their faith and about the persecution. In addition, they demonstrated respect and care for him, without any judgment of his background.

“Before then,” he said, “I was heartless and no one liked me. From the behavior of these practitioners, I understood that Falun Gong was something out of the ordinary because these practitioners were so kind. That is why I wanted to practice Falun Gong.”

Practicing Falun Gong was forbidden in the prison and officials tried everything in their power to “transform” practitioners. Nonetheless, when Nathan told an officer that he wanted to practice Falun Gong, to his surprise, the officer did not stop him.

“People like you want to practice Falun Gong? Fine with me! Maybe you’ll even be released earlier,” replied the officer.

Since then, Nathan turned his life around and became a good person (as a matter of fact, he was actually granted an early release). After he returned home, his mother was nervous, worried that her son would bring problems to the family again. Soon, she was pleased to see that her son had changed and renounced his bad habits. His wife and child, who had left him earlier, returned and also began practicing Falun Gong.

After talking to Nathan, the lawyer said he could not sleep that night. His head reeled.

He said, “There is no hope for the Chinese communist system. Just think about it: in the entire system, nobody knew how to deal with a gang member like Nathan. And yet, he turned into a good person in a such short time because of Falun Gong. Such a gangster was a headache for society and a big problem for his family. But Falun Gong changed all that.”

Around the world, people have the freedom to enjoy their normal lives. But in China, tens of millions of people are being mistreated for their belief in Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance. The persecution has lasted 22 years since 1999 and still continues to this day. Were we to take a step back, rethink the current situation, and take efforts to embrace conscience and support the upright, we may find renewed hope for the future.


Chinese version available