Reporters on the Job

Quest for Justice: Correspondent Simon Montlake was impressed by the lengths the Chinese father was willing to go to right a wrong done to his child (see story). In order to get his case heard, Liang Yongli hopped on a bicycle and rode 37 days from his home in southern China to Beijing. He also traveled to Hong Kong to publicize the case, because the media tends to be freer and more critical of the government.

The man's dedication reminded him of a story he did last year about the armies of Chinese petitioners who arrive in Beijing seeking redress for grievances.

"China's modern petitioning system – called xinfang, or 'letters and visits' – has its roots in dynastic times when commoners could seek the intervention of the emperor and his mandarins in their local affairs," Simon wrote.

This father had the same intensity of the petitioners in his previous story. And he carried a similar briefcase full of dog-eared papers and news clippings.

"When I asked him if the government came to him and said, 'Here's the money to compensate you, would you stop your quest, stop your legal proceedings?' He told me no, that it was about justice and protecting other families," says Simon. "But his wife nodded and looked down at her daughter. Her expression indicated that she just wanted what was best for their daughter."

– David Clark Scott
World editor

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