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Colonial Cases

Chen Ping, 1866

[extortion from brothels]

Chen Ping

Mixed Court, Shanghai
Source: The North-China Herald, 5 May 1866



Before CHEN FU-SHUN, Taotai's Deputy; C. ALABASTER, H.B.M.'s Vice-Consul, and B. JENKINS, Interpreter and Assessors, American Consulate General.

Chen-ping was charged with having endeavoured to levy certain squeezes from various brothel keepers in the settlement.

The prisoner, who was brought before the Court at the instance of H.M. Consul, in consequence of a public statement made at the Land renters' meeting, was alleged to have made demands on various brothels and on the refusal to satisfy these demands, to have falsely charged the proprietors with abduction and assault, obtaining a summons against them.

Examination of the summons shewed the action to have been brought by one Cheong-mow, who was declared by the Municipal police to be identical with Chen-ping.  At the second hearing of the case, however, Cheong-mow was produced.

The brothel-keepers being examined, stated that Chen-ping had for many years received fees from them which they had paid rather than incur his enmity, as he threatened that if they did not pay he would injure them.

In consequence of the Consular and Municipal Notifications relative to squeezes, they refused to pay last periodical demand, which was for the sum of $2, and he had in revenge entered an action in the District magistrates' yamen charging them with the abduction of a girl named Hsui-chu, the supposed daughter of one Cheong-mow, and committing an assault upon the latter in his attempting to recover his child.  This action, he had, after summonsed had been issued, endeavoured to induce them to compromise by payment of $5.

Chen ping simply denied the charge in toto.

Cheong declared himself to be a rice seller.  He had lost a daughter named Hsui-chu, and seeing her some months after entering a brothel, he had attempted to take her away, and was thereupon attacked and beaten by the brothel keeper and his friends.  He subsequently leant from the tephou that another brothel keeper was implicated in the abduction, and he therefore brought an action in the Che-hsien's Court against all engaged.

Both Chen ping and Cheong now denied having any connection with the City police, and were repudiated by the District Magistrate, but their appearance and several facts which came out during the investigation, shewed them to be allies with the recognized police, and to be hangers on of the Court if only in a position tantamount to that held by certain low attorneys at home in respect of the Courts there.

After a patient investigation, lasting four sittings, the Court was unanimously of opinion that the charges brought against the brothel keepers was false, and that the charges of attempted extortion and false accusation on which H.M. Consul had brought the prisoners up, were proved.

As the prisoners were both beyond the age within which the punishment of hard labor can be given, and the age of Chen-ping especially precluded the possibility of the infliction of severe punishment, they were sentenced, Chen-ping to 14 days imprisonment, Cheong-mow to 14 days cangue; and they were both warned that the more severe punishment their crimes merited was remitted solely in consequence of their inability to suffer it.

The Court also condemned the conduct of the brothel keepers in failing to prosecute until compelled to do so by the action of H.M. Consul, and directed the publication of the facts of the case, in the hope that it being pointed out that it is impossible to give protection unless the persons requiring it come forward to invoke it.  In future cases where squeezes are sought to be levied the offenders may be brought before the Court by the persons aggrieved.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School