Every generation a story emerges which perfectly encapsulates the mood of the times. Euripides perfectly summarised the Ancient Greek love of murdering all of your immediate family members in Medea. The Canterbury Tales provides a fascinating insight into medieval life. Capturing life in Regency Period Britain for the upper middle-classes was Jane Austen’s speciality. And, of course, Keeping Up With The Kardashians perfectly displays our modern degeneracy and descent into a society of soulless harridans with plastic injected into our grotesquely oversized buttocks.
Yet what magnum opus has China pumped out to capture a window on its society as it entered the new Millennium? Some might say Shanghai Baby by Wei Hui. To those people I spit in their faces and later throw their children down disused mine shafts. Nay, the greatest work of literature produced in China around the year 2000 was the epic The Contest of Love and the Law produced by the Beijing Police and stuck on billboards across the city. Thought lost to the world for the last 15 years, luckily a copy has finally re-emerged. Originally stolen by a drunk British student on his way home from The Den in 2002, this blog is proud to present a translated performance of…
The Contest of Love and the Law
Don’t Marry That Man From Jinan Who Didn’t Go To University
The Contest of Love and the Law.
This is how the masterpiece looks in its glorious entirety.
Edited by notable and acclaimed turn of the century police poet: Liu Renqing. We salute you.
In 1980, 18 year old Cheng Ming graduated from a certain Beijing upper secondary school. He didn’t get into university, but managed to find himself a girlfriend. Xiao Qing was a much-liked girl. As soon as Cheng Ming knew her, he became deeply attracted to her. He appeared to be a real manly man, occasionally acting as her guardian angel. He was considerate towards her and even spent money on anything for her. Xiao Qing was conquered by Cheng Ming’s love, so the couple started seeing one another.
However, after meeting Cheng Ming, Xiao Qing’s parents really didn’t like him. Every time Cheng Ming would visit the house, the parents were indifferent to him. Cheng Ming would always buy them presents on his visits in order to impress his future father and mother in law. Yet no matter how hard Cheng Ming tried, Xiao Qing’s parents still wouldn’t agree for them to be together. Since Cheng Ming was kind to her, Xiao Qing decided not to let her parents’ disapproval stop her. They still remained a couple. After several years, Cheng Ming couldn’t leave Xiao Qing’s side.
However, without the approval of her parents, Xiao Qing wasn’t prepared to marry Cheng Ming. Cheng Ming harboured a deep grudge towards Xiao Qing’s parents because of this. Following this understanding, the relationship between Xiao Qing and Cheng Ming entered into a crisis. Xiao Qing realised that Cheng Ming wasn’t the man she thought he was, and that they had very different personalities. They began to argue frequently over small things. After several arguments, Xiao Qing decided that things were too hard, and was increasingly disappointed in Cheng Ming. Thus she decided to break up with him.
One day in 1985 Xiao Qing passed Cheng Ming a break-up letter, saying that her parents didn’t agree with them being together and that she must listen to her parents.
Cheng Ming was very angry and thought that Xiao Qing had led him on; concluding that this was all due to her parents’ meddling. At the same time, he also felt that he had spent a lot of money on Xiao Qing and her family. He thought: “Although you lot have not been benevolent, I have not been righteous! I want all my money back. I’m not losing both my girlfriend AND my money.”
On November 16th 1985, Cheng Ming brought a dagger and entered the house of Xiao Qing’s parents in Beijing’s Fengtai District. At the time her parents were not home, so Cheng Ming used a key he had previously copied to open the door and enter the house. Then Xiao Qing’s father returned home, and upon seeing Cheng Ming in the house asked him what he was doing. Cheng Ming said: “I have come to get my money back.” Xiao Qing’s father said: “We don’t owe you any money, get out.” Cheng Ming said: “I bought many things for Xiao Qing and you two. Now she won’t stay with me. I have come back to settle the score.” Xiao Qing’s father said: “You’re talking nonsense. Your relationship with Xiao Qing is your own doing, we don’t owe you anything.”
The two of them argued back and forth. Cheng Ming thought back to all the attitude that Xiao Qing’s parents had given him in the past, all of their absolute opposition to him being with Xiao Qing, and he couldn’t help but to be full of hate towards Xiao Qing’s father. In his eyes, Xiao Qing was the enemy standing in his way of happiness, and he became filled with murderous rage. He turned around and pulled out a hammer that he kept on his person, and violently hit Xiao Qing’s father three times on the head. Xiao Qing’s father collapsed onto the floor. Fearing that he wasn’t dead, Cheng Ming pulled out a knife and slashed him several times across the neck, also stabbing him several times in the chest with his dagger, until Xiao Qing’s father was dead.
(Can I just say how completely implausible it is that Cheng Ming would have not one, but THREE murder weapons about his person. A glass of cold water would probably have been sufficient.)
Cheng Ming dragged the body into the bedroom and placed it next to the bed, then covered the body with a blanket. After killing Xiao Qing’s father, Cheng Ming still felt it wasn’t enough. So he hid in Xiao Qing’s house waiting for her mother to return. After some time, Xiao Qing’s mother came home. Before she could even speak, Cheng Ming leapt over and viciously stabbed her in the chest and neck with his dagger. Xiao Qing’s mother fell into a pool of blood. Cheng Ming dragged Xiao Qing’s mother’s body into the bedroom, covered it with a towel, then sat in the outer room waiting for Xiao Qing to come home.
That evening after six o’clock, Xiao Qing finished work and came home. When she opened the door she saw Cheng Ming approaching her from the north room with a dagger in his hand – she couldn’t help but be shocked. Cheng Ming said to her: “Don’t move, come with me into the room.” Xiao Qing was terrified as she followed him in. After entering the room she said: “What the hell has happened here?” Cheng Ming said to her angrily: “I will tell you straight, I have killed your parents. Listen to me, I cannot let you go.”
To stop Xiao Qing from running away, Cheng Ming used a rope to tie one of her hands to the bed. He tied the other hand to himself. The next afternoon Cheng Ming decided that he could stay in the house no longer, and told Xiao Qing that she was to go with him back to his hometown. Xiao Qing was afraid that he would kill her, so she could only say yes. After arriving at Beijing train station, Cheng Ming bought two train tickets to Jinan. After boarding the train, Cheng Ming felt that Xiao Qing couldn’t possibly run away, so he leant over the table and went to sleep. As soon as the train arrived at a station, Xiao Qing seized her chance and ran off the train and straight to a police station to make a report.
After waking up, Cheng Ming realised that Xiao Qing had run away. He knew she would go report to the police. Therefore he decided to change trains and fled to Longhua town in the Jing County of Hebei Province. Changing his name to Cheng Chen he hid for awhile. At the beginning, Cheng Ming was nervous all day and night. He realised that he had committed a fatal crime, if he was caught there was no doubt that he’d be executed. Hence he started to have nightmares every day. In his dreams the police would suddenly appear in front of him before locking him in handcuffs and dragging him off to a police car. Occasionally when walking down the street, if he spotted a uniformed police officer, even if it was just a security guard, he would think that they had come to arrest him.
In his extreme fear, the days slowly passed. Cheng Ming realised that nobody knew he was a murderer on the run – the police hadn’t taken any action against him. Hence he gradually recovered his courage. No longer did he spend the whole day hiding in a small rented room; he began to go out everywhere. Not long after he found himself a job and built up the appearance of being a very honest person. In his job he was more hard-working than others. Whenever his neighbours needed help he would always gladly assist. Normally he was a quiet person, somebody who didn’t want to cause any trouble. Everybody considered him to be a practical, capable and honest person: somebody who could be a friend and help out in time of need.
Before he knew it, several years passed by, and Cheng Ming had settled down in Jing County. In his heart he thought: “Several years have gone by, the police have probably forgotten about me. I hope that Heaven can protect me and let me continue my life this way.” Now that his work and life were in place, the almost 30 year old Cheng Ming decided to seek out marriage. Before long a woman called Feng Jie was introduced to him. As soon as they met they had a good impression of one another. Feng Jie really liked his Beijing accent and thought he was cultured, polite, honest and capable. Cheng Ming also wasn’t too picky about Feng Jie, as long as a woman liked him and was willing to spend her life with him he thought it was enough. Cheng Ming kept his past a secret and after one year they were married.
(There seems to be some inconsistency here in Cheng Ming’s back story. Here it says he has a Beijing accent, but earlier it says his hometown is Jinan. Also, why did he choose Hebei as his place to hide out? Come on Beijing Police, get your facts straight!)
After getting married, Cheng Ming was thoughtful towards Feng Jie in all ways, and after the birth of their son, he was a shining beacon to Feng Jie and his son and carried out the role of a good husband and father well. In order to give his wife and son a better life he thought of many ways to earn some extra money. Afterwards, they purchased a house in his work unit and also a tractor. The money in their pocket was growing bigger all the time. They bought several appliances for the house. Feng Jie also started to spend lots of money and would often buy fashionable clothes; because of this their neighbours started to envy them.
Cheng Ming was secretly proud of the fact that he had evaded the law and was living a happy life, however in 1999 the whole country carried out the task of looking for him. One day in September the Fengtai District police received news from the Jing County police that the missing murderer Cheng Ming had appeared in Jing County. On hearing this the officers quickly arrived in Jing County and prepared to catch Cheng Ming. However, it was as if the crafty Cheng Ming had smelled them coming, and he had already hidden elsewhere. The officers found nothing at Cheng Ming’s house. When they asked Feng Jie she said she wasn’t clear where her husband was, and the officers could only leave empty-handed.
After hiding out, Cheng Ming realised that there were no further movements so decided to return home. Feng Jie asked him: “Why do the police want you? What have you done wrong?” Cheng Ming replied with an understatement: “I had a fight with somebody and beat them into a vegetable state.” Feng Jie said: “Is it really because of this? Are you lying to me?” Cheng Ming said: “How could I lie to you?” However, don’t tell anybody else about this. If I’m really arrested, what would happen to you and our son? What would happen to our family? I can’t bear to be without you and our son. Right now only you can help me. As long as you don’t tell the police they won’t be able to find me.”
When she heard that her husband had really committed a crime, Feng Jie felt extremely nervous. She considered urging her husband to surrender himself so that he would receive a lenient punishment. However, after thinking it over, she felt her husband was speaking the truth. He was the foundation of this family, the whole family depended on him. If he was really arrested, what would happen to her and her son? Furthermore, if other people knew her husband was a criminal, where would she be able to show her face? When she thought of that she decided to keep her silence and not go to the police. Although Feng Jie had said she wouldn’t go to the police, Cheng Ming thought that there were too many eyes nearby watching him, so he decided to go and hide out temporarily in the city of Puyang in Henan Province.
In Puyang, Cheng Ming pondered that he could no longer stay in Jing County. Since the police had already been to his house to look for him, there were definitely people who knew he was a criminal on the run. If he appeared at home again, he couldn’t be certain that nobody would report him. After much consideration, he decided to let Feng Jie sell of all the household items and come with him to Puyang. He gave Feng Jie a phone call: “I am now in Henan. Sell the house and the tractor and bring yourself and our son to Henan.” Feng Jie asked: “It sounds like you’ve committed a serious crime. Why won’t you dare to come home?” Cheng Ming said: “Look how we’ve bought a house and a vehicle, other people misbelieve that we have a lot of money. Some people can get very jealous and you can’t be sure they won’t try to blackmail us. It’s better that we change location and save ourselves the trouble.”
Feng Jie asked: “Is it really because of this?” Seeing that Feng Jie didn’t quite believe him, Cheng Ming simply and openly said to her: “I have committed a serious crime, but I have already reformed into a better person. I really can’t bear to lose you and our son, I don’t won’t you both to become a widow and orphan. I love you too much. In this world I only have one person close to me. Only you can help me. We are husband and wife, bring our son and come to Henan.” Cheng Ming’s words moved Feng Jie so she agreed to Cheng Ming’s request. She quickly sold the house for 35,000 yuan and also sold the tractor plus all the other household belongings that were worth money. Then she brought their son and went to Puyang together to be reunited with Cheng Ming.
After Cheng Ming’s family disappeared from Jing County, the police did not rest in tracking him down. After much investigation, they finally found out Cheng Ming’s new address. On the night of April 24th 2001, the police in Henan’s Puyang City arrested Cheng Ming and Feng Jie and returned them to Beijing. On August 30th 2001 the No.2 Beijing People’s Procuratorate charged Cheng Ming with the crime of murder and Feng Jie with the crime of harbouring him, and sent them to the No. 2 Beijing People’s Middle Court for trial. The Court thought that Cheng Ming had disregarded the state law, and had carried out cruel means to deliberately take the lives of others resulting in two people dead. This behaviour already amounted to the charge of murder, but his criminal nature was especially evil, deceitful, and ended in serious results. He represented a serious danger to society and should be punished in full accordance of the law.
Feng Jie knew clearly that Cheng Ming had committed a crime. When the police sought to arrest him, she aided Cheng Ming in evading the sanctions of the law. These actions were enough to amount to the crime of harbouring and should be punished in full accordance of the law. On 17th September 2001 the No. 2 Beijing People’s Middle Court sentenced Cheng Ming to death according to the law and to be deprived of all of his political rights to the end of his life. Feng Jie was sentenced to two years detention, with a suspension of two years. The master criminal Cheng Ming finally received the full punishment of the law a whole 15 years after his crime. As for Feng Jie who should have had enough of an average citizen’s consciousness of the law to report Cheng Ming to the police, her regard for the law was weak so she helped her husband to escape. Thus she also received due punishment. This should give cause for everybody to consider: between love and the law, which one should you choose?
The Law of the People’s Republic of China.
Section 232: The crime of murder is punishable by death, life imprisonment or a minimum of ten years imprisonment. If the motives are lighter, it carries a sentence of between 3 to 10 years imprisonment.
Section 310: The crime of knowingly harbouring a criminal from justice, either financially or through other means, carries a sentence of 3 years or less imprisonment. If the crime is more serious, it can receive a sentence of 3 to 10 years imprisonment. For repeat offences, cases will be considered individually.
THIS IS WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER MARRY A MAN FROM JINAN WHO HASN’T BEEN TO A GOOD UNIVERSITY AND DOESN’T OWN HIS OWN HOUSE.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.