Chinese court puts up 'wall of shame' for overdue fines

This screen grab from Chinese state television shows the billboard outside Changsha railway station and reads that the court is outing a list of "dishonest persons."

Story highlights

  • A Chinese court published personal details of 50 individuals and four companies who dodged fines
  • The amount of outstanding fines listed are up to $4.5 million
  • The "wall of shame" will run for two weeks or until the debtors have settled their fines

Hong Kong (CNN)In a modern twist of public square shaming, a Chinese court has blazoned the names and offenses of 50 individuals and four companies that have dodged paying fines.

Their photos and personal details have been splashed across a giant electronic screen outside a major train station in Changsha city in China's southern province, Hunan.
Curious onlookers and commuters gathered outside the bustling train station as a series of individual headshots, identity numbers, their offenses and amounts of outstanding court fines rolled across a massive electronic billboard, one after the other, as shown on Chinese state television.
    Instead of flashing ads, it serves as a public "wall of shame" for those that failed to pay court-ordered fines for violating property disclosure laws, disobeying court orders or failing to respond to subpoenas.
    The amount of outstanding fines range from 10,000 yuan ($1,600) up to 29 million yuan ($4.5 million).
    Wang Lifu, a court official, told Hunan city's largest newspaper, Xiaoxiang Morning Post on Wednesday, that it was part of a campaign in the new year to beef up policy implementation measures.
    Wang added that it was doing a "public service" by exposing the details.
    According to Chinese Supreme Court regulations, it is legal for local courts to publish private information of people or organizations who have disobeyed court orders.

    'Nowhere to hide'

    The advertising agency that manages the billboard confirmed with CNN that the court has authorized them to publish personal details of the individuals and companies for two weeks until they pay off their debts.
    "As of today, we have taken down information of one company and two individuals because they have settled their debts with the courts," said Chen Kai, general manager of Changsha Gaoxun Advertising Company.
    He added that they did not charge the courts for any advertising fees in support of the court's decision to force debtors to pay.
    For now, the public also seems to support the court's pressurizing tactics.
    "Now those people who are dishonest have nowhere to hide, and dare not do it again," Zhou Ya, a man standing outside the railway station told Hunan TV, a local channel.
    "The court has played hardball by exposing these cheaters, well done!" one passerby told local media.