Page last updated at 15:11 GMT, Wednesday, 19 August 2009 16:11 UK

China bans petitioners in Beijing

By Shirong Chen
BBC News

A Chinese military policeman in front of Beijing's Tiananmen Gate (archive photo)
Chinese petitioners will no longer be able to meet with officials in Beijing

The Chinese government has issued a new regulation to stop petitioners from travelling to the capital, Beijing.

Legal officials from Beijing will now visit people with complaints in the provinces in order to hear their cases.

Petitions can also be filed online and a response or solution is to be given within 60 days.

Officials have previously tried to stop the thousands who go to the capital with complaints about land grabs, police beatings and legal abuses.

It is the first time the highest level of the ruling Communist Party has taken such measures in order to deal with the issue.

'Extremely horrible'

China's army of petitioners flocking to Beijing is a constant embarrassment to the authorities.

The phenomenon has been attributed to China's imperial past, when people sought the emperor seeking justice.

But it reflects a growing distrust of the local courts and officials, with a widespread public perception that the legal system is corrupt.

A top judge with the country's supreme court, Mr Shen Deyong, has described this distrust as "an extremely horrible situation".

Now, the Communist Party says it will send legal officials to areas with a high number of petitioners, to review cases on the spot.

Officials in every province, city and county have also been told to set aside one day every month in order to deal with petitions locally.

People who make repeated trips to Beijing have been warned that if they persist in doing so, their cases may be dismissed without review.

The move is part of a drive to maintain social harmony and stability ahead of the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

Beijing has tightened security and ordered hotels and private landlords not to provide accommodation for petitioners before the celebrations in October.

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