Shanghai courts, procuratorates kept busy in 2022
Courts and procuratorates in Shanghai handled a diverse variety of cases in 2022, from those involving minors and the sale of wild animals to theft of cultural artefacts.
The following are some of the "cases of the year."
Tattooing a juvenile
A young man surnamed Cheng went to a tattoo shop in June, when he was just 17. But the tattooist, surnamed Li, did not check Cheng's identification card before tattooing, as required by Chinese law.
Tattoo services for minors are not permitted under the regulations issued in June by the State Council's leading group on minor protection.
The full-arm tattoos set Cheng back 800 yuan (US$114.64).
He at first thought it was cool, but soon regretted the decision. Due to the traditional view on tattoos, Cheng believed that having his arm covered with permanent tattoos would prevent him from finding a decent job. He wanted to remove the tattoo but found it expensive.
He then sued the tattoo shop owner, claiming that Li illegally tattooed a juvenile and did not persuade him not to do it. He demanded an apology, a refund and 20,000 yuan for removing the tattoo from Li. Cheng was 18 then.
The case was accepted and heard by the Hongkou District People's Court in December. Li apologized in court for what he did, but he thought Cheng's compensation demand was excessive. During the hearing, Cheng also admitted that he had acted on impulse.
The court sided with the plaintiff because Cheng was immature and impulsive as he was a minor at the time. Li failed to fulfil his obligations of verification.
They reached an agreement after mediation. Li reimbursed the tattooing fee and compensated 5,000 yuan.
More to know:
In March, Shanghai government issued a new regulation pertaining to the protection of minors. It specifies that the following items, locations and services cannot be sold, opened, or offered to minors:
1. Medical beauty treatments (without the consent of the minor's parents or other guardians);
2. Cigarettes, alcoholic beverages and lottery tickets (minors cannot cash the lottery tickets as well);
3. Gaming machine at an amusement arcade (except on national holidays);
4. Karaoke parlor and dance hall for profit, bar, and cybercafé;
5. Children under the age of 12 are also banned from riding bicycles on the road.
The bushmeat case
Smoked toad, or xunlasi, used to be a popular snack in Shanghai, before the local authority stated in 2020 that all toads in the city are wild rather than farm-raised.
Because of its importance to ecology, the toad has since been listed as nationally protected wildlife; China banned eating, buying and selling wild animals in 2020.
Although bullfrog has since then replaced toad on local dining tables, some people continue to trade wild toads.
In March, the Jinshan District Court announced that it had recently closed a case of illegally trading and killing the toad species Bufo gargarizans. Two lawbreakers, Lu and Sun, were sentenced to six and four months in prison, respectively, with seven and five months of probation.
For a long time, Lu and her husband sold wild toads as xunlasi raw material. Lu hired Sun in April 2021 to assist her husband in killing and processing approximately 300 toads.
The court ruled that Lu and Sun violated wildlife protection laws. They received lenient sentences because they had confessed to their crimes during the investigation.
Lu's husband will be dealt with separately, the court said.
More to know:
A 2018 Shanghai regulation prohibits selling a variety of aquatic species and products for food safety reasons, such as:
1. Blood clam 毛蚶
2. Qiangxia 炝虾: live shrimps soaked in the strong liquor baijiu and seasonings such as minced garlic, sugar and soy sauce
3. Dead soft-shelled turtle 死甲鱼
From May 1 to October 31 when Shanghai suffers high temperatures and has a high risk of food-borne illness, the following foods cannot be produced and sold in the city as well:
1. Zuixia 醉虾: live shrimps are soaked in the strong liquor baijiu and salt
2. Salted crab 咸蟹
3. Liquor-saturated crab 醉蟹
Fake nucleic acid test reports
A man surnamed Liu was sentenced to one year and 10 months in prison for fabricating and selling fake negative COVID-19 nucleic acid test reports and medical examination reports.
In 2021, the police apprehended Liu after discovering that he sold medical reports from many national first-class hospitals on the e-commerce platform Taobao and created false digital images of hospital seals. He pleaded guilty.
Each report was priced between 80 yuan and 120 yuan. He made a total profit of over 40,000 yuan.
During further investigation, the Qingpu District People's Procuratorate discovered that after the outbreak of the pandemic in 2020, Liu pursued new business on fake PCR test reports.
He was released on bail pending trial and got himself admitted to an asylum in his hometown in Shandong Province. To avoid punishment, he attempted to obtain probation reports by feigning mental sickness.
The Qingpu procurators brought Liu to a hospital in Shanghai for reexamination and the fact put paid to the fallacy.
Liu was also fined 20,000 yuan and ordered to return all illegal profits.
More to know:
Previous reports about COVID-related cases in the city this year:
1. Market watchdog on alert over gift pack product quality
2. Local fraudsters to do hard time for exploiting surge
3. Baoshan official jailed, fined for selling tons of donated vegetables
Smuggling of cultural relics
The Xuhui District People's Procuratorate sentenced five people to prison terms in December, ranging from six years to three years and four months, for smuggling national precious cultural relics.
The case was discovered in March after eight lost pieces of Chinese bronzeware dating back over 2,500 years were seen in a Japanese auction catalogue in 2019. The auction was then halted, and the artefacts were soon returned to China.
According to the investigation, the pieces were resold by the five antique dealers for more than 7 million yuan to over 10 million yuan since 2012.
In a press conference in 2019, the National Cultural Heritage Administration stated that the artefacts date from the early stages of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). Its 330 characters of inscriptions revealed that the wares came from an earl's tomb in Zeng, a vassal state in today's Hubei Province.
An expert panel of Peking University and Hubei Provincial Museum said the pieces filled a gap in historical studies of the Zeng state.
From the early Western Zhou Dynasty (c.11th century-771 BC) to the mid-Warring States Period, Zeng existed for over seven centuries.
More to know:
Many cultural relics have been recovered in China as a result of joint national and regional efforts, including:
1. A pair of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) pottery figurines donated by a US citizen last year. It is now housed at the Shanghai Museum.
2. A stone Buddha head. It was stolen from one of the statues in northern China's Tianlongshan Grottoes in Shanxi Province. In 2020, it was returned to China after being smuggled to Japan about a century ago.
3. A bronze sculpture of a horse's head. Returned to Beijing in 2020, it was one of 12 Chinese zodiac signs adorning a waterclock fountain looted from the Old Summer Palace, or Yuanmingyuan, by Anglo-French allied forces in 1860. The late Macau business magnate Stanley Ho Hung-sun purchased it in 2007 and donated it to the National Cultural Heritage Administration in 2019.