China busts 'shadow army', seven arrested

Chinese police claimed to have cracked down on?a "shadow army" and arrested seven people who were allegedly planning an "armed rebellion" to overthrow the one-party political system headed by the ruling Communist Party.

PTI| Updated: Nov 07, 2015, 15:29 PM IST

Beijing : Chinese police claimed to have cracked down on?a "shadow army" and arrested seven people who were allegedly planning an "armed rebellion" to overthrow the one-party political system headed by the ruling Communist Party.

Police have arrested the seven suspects for making explosives and planning to detonate them to cause turmoil through a "shadow army", state-run Xinhua news agency reported today.

The arrests followed after police probed "online tip offs" received in March in Guangdong Province after a person started a "shadow army" through the social-networking platforms in order to carry out sabotage activities.

Ensuing investigations identified the person as 41-year-old Xiang Fengxuan, who had been in jail for five years for theft and had "far greater political ambitions" than the laundry service he opened after his jail time, the Xinhua report said.

"Xiang claimed that he planned to overthrow the current system through armed rebellion to walk the path of a 'democratic constitution' and attempted to recruit those who agreed with his idea in various online chat groups by promising free accommodations and high positions after he became president," the report quoting police said.

This is perhaps the first time in recent years official media reported attempts to overthrow the rule of the CPC, which came to power in 1949 and became the only Communist Party in the world to remain in power for a longest duration.

The party headed by President Xi Jinping has carried out massive anti-corruption campaign in the last two years in which thousand of top, middle and lower rung officials including those in the military were punished.

According to Xinhua report, among those who recruited was Ma Ji, 65, who told Xinhua in an interview that he could have been "a blue blood descendant from the Qing Dynasty and longed for the imperial past when men had multiple wives and mistresses." ? ?

The group also handed out or sold nearly 4,000 illegal pamphlets to expand their influence under the guise of literature magazines.

Each of the seven members arrested had different "specialties", ranging from fortune-telling and explosives to law. Most of them were not satisfied with their own lives and marriages and had criminal records, the report said.

By the time of arrest, the group was already making explosives and planned to kidnap rich people and fund their activities with ransom, before eventually triggering explosions in the public, it said.  

Zhang Liumao, the explosive expert in the group, stole a

large batch of chemical materials and equipment from the factory where he had worked and was in the process of experimenting and making TNT.

When police raided Zhang's house, explosive remains, hand-written instructions for making explosives and detonators were found in the toilet, it said. Chemical experts later described Zhang's bomb construction methods as "exceptional".

Following the seven arrests and the confiscation of more than 50 kilograms of explosives and raw materials in August in a single raid, police seized another 14 suspects related to the plan, "basically eliminating the group's potential to harm," police said.

Zhang claimed to have nasopharyngeal cancer as a result of long-term exposure to chemicals when he was arrested and police confirmed the disease after a health check.

Under medical supervision, Zhang showed no symptoms during detention until October 11, when he started nose bleeding and was sent to a hospital.

According to police, Zhang died on November 4 of massive haemorrhage after treatments failed.

"Back then I only thought of money and making my child's life better, but I never thought of the harm those explosives would have when they were used in the public...I regret it so much," Xinhua quoted Zhang as saying.