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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Protesting Sterilization Was Revenge, not Politcal

ST. LOUIS (CN) - The 8th Circuit denied asylum to a man who beat a Chinese government official in retaliation, rather than as a political act, after his wife was sterilized.

In 1984, Ze Bei Zheng and his wife had a second child in violation of Chinese law. Zheng and his wife escaped to another city to avoid arrest, but government officials confiscated their furniture while they were gone. When the couple returned home, officials arrested Zheng's wife and Zheng escaped by jumping out of a second-story window. Zheng's wife was then taken to a hospital and underwent forced sterilization.

Zheng returned and went to the family-planning office to demand the return of his furniture, since he had paid a fine and his wife had been sterilized. When officials refused to return the furniture, Zheng went to the home of the head official, waited outside and then attacked when he caught sight of the man. Zheng pushed the official off of his bicycle and beat him with a stick until he was bloodied. He fled to America after spending eight years hiding in another city.

Zheng entered the United States in 1993 and sought asylum. He demanded protection under the Convention Against Torture Act after the government started removal proceedings in 2005.

An immigration judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals denied Zheng's request, and the 8th Circuit affirmed Wednesday.

"Turning to the IJ's factual findings as upheld by the BIA, the IJ explicitly found that Zheng's assault of the family planning official was not a political response to China's family planning policy," Judge James Loken wrote for a three-member panel. "Rather, it was motivated by the official's refusal to return Zheng's property. This finding is supported by Zheng's testimony that he lay in wait and beat the official because he refused to return Zheng's property after his wife was involuntarily sterilized and he paid a fine. Of course, the incident resulted from vigorous enforcement of China's family planning policies (or perhaps from corruption or graft), but that remote causal link does not compel a finding that an after-hours planned assault of one official was part of Zheng's 'other resistance.'"

Judges Raymond Gruender and Duane Benton concurred with Loken.

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