China to grant rare prisoner amnesties for war anniversary

Chinese workers installing banners for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Beijing on Aug 23, 2015.
Chinese workers installing banners for the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Beijing on Aug 23, 2015.PHOTO: EPA

BEIJING (Reuters) - China plans to grant prisoner amnesties to mark this year's commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, only the eighth time this has happened since the Communists took power in 1949, state news agency Xinhua said on Monday (Aug 24).

Four categories of prisoners - mostly elderly - who do not pose a threat to society will be given a special amnesty, Xinhua quoted Li Shishi, head of the Chinese parliament's standing committee, as saying.

That will include prisoners who fought in the war against the Japanese, or who fought in wars post 1949 to "protect the country's sovereignty, security and territorial integrity", or who are older than 75, Xinhua said.

It did not say how many people would be set free as a result of this amnesty, and Li said that exceptions will apply to people convicted of serious crimes like murder, rape, bribery or terror offences.

There have only been seven previous instances of these special amnesties since the Communist takeover, Xinhua said.

The move is in line with international practice and will help increase popular confidence in the party's efforts to boost the rule of law, it added.

More than 10,000 troops - mostly Chinese but with contingents from Russia, Mongolia and a few other countries - will march through central Beijing on Sept 3 in a military parade that will be the highlight of events marking the war's end.