Sun Dawu, July 28, 2021, in Gaobeidian Court, Baoding City, Hebei Province
I thank this court for allowing me the opportunity to present my case.
I would like to start with an overview of Dawu Group’s history. Dawu began when my wife raised 50 pigs and 1,000 chickens. I was an army veteran. In 1988 I founded the Dawu Group with my wife, Liu Huiru (刘会茹). She should be considered the real founder of the company. Dawu is an enterprise based on agriculture and animal husbandry. We focused on raising pigs and chickens, as well as making animal feed. It’s very emotional to look back at it all (Sun chokes up).
The Dawu poultry breeding company, which started out with 1,000 chickens, ranks among the best in our country. But we pay very little tax to the state, because raising chickens and pigs and making feed are not taxed, and we also enjoy the support of the government. Of course, both our schools and our business philosophy are also supported by the state. What I mean to say is that the Dawu Group has achieved great things. We must be very grateful. We must be grateful to the country’s reform and opening up. It’s true that we have worked hard, but I am fully aware that, without the reform and opening up, without the support of the Party and the government — it need hardly be said — no matter how much we have achieved by ourselves, without the support of the government, it would have been impossible for us to do well. In many regards we did not get governmental approval, but in the main, the government has supported private enterprises, and the problems were relatively few in comparison.
For a 38-year-old business, what was alleged in court is still something I consider trivial. Dawu Group does have its faults, and the fault lies with me alone. Over the many years of Dawu Group’s development, I was at the helm, and I had an effect on the direction of the company. In this regard though it can be said that my influence was not always “correct,” but not “crooked.” I will start with the facts first, and then the reasoning, and then the system behind it all. If we cast aside the facts and engage in reasoning, then we’ll get embroiled in endless arguments, as it’s said, “the husband has his reasons and the wife has her reasons.” But if we lay out the facts first, then the right and wrong will be clear, and will not be decided by whoever is the highest ranking official.
I learned a lot in the course of this trial. The court investigation is firstly about fact finding. But that’s not how it works in society. For example, in the June 21  incident, they [Dawu employees] demanded for a legal explanation because they were taught that if they had a case to make we should make it in court. That’s why I said that my influence led to errors. But this is the way all Dawu executives handle things. Dawu employees first tried to stop [the state-own farm personnel] from demolishing Dawu Group’s enclosure fence and mobile houses, and later they went to the Public Security Bureau to petition — all guided by such a way of thinking. Same with the September 14  road-blocking incident.
I’m grateful to the lawyers for defending us. As lawyer Song [Xiaojiang, 宋晓江] said, “there are many things on which I do not agree with Sun Dawu.” I also disagree with myself and take a critical attitude to myself. For example, with the September 14 road blocking incident, if others blocked the road, should we clean up? From my own point of view, we shouldn’t, because if everyone does what we did to clean it up, where is the social order? I asked the police chief of Gaolin Township that day, “why didn’t you clean it up?” He replied that they only had nine police officers, so I said I would have people clear up the road. He didn’t say anything. Had he replied to me and gave me the green light, I would have been authorized to clean it up.
(Sobbing) My apologies. Sometimes I don’t dare bring up these memories.
It’s like the fight against bandits. In the absence of government authorization, it’s private power against private power, even though you are in the right, even though there is collusion between the government and the bandits, you still can’t do it. I do recognize that. So I say that the Dawu Group is at major fault, it’s all my fault alone.
In the August 4  incident, why did the Dawu employees even bother to detain that vehicle of the state farm? Because Cui Chao (崔超) didn’t call either Sun Meng (孙萌, Dawu Chairman) or his dad (a Dawu senior executive), Dawu employees demonstrated in fron the PSB. When the PSB director came out, you should have stopped shouting your demands. You all admitted guilt for “gathering a crowd to assaust a state agency,” but did you really do that? Do you sincerely believe you have committed that crime? You know very well that you didn’t, and you will be resentful after you are released from prison, will you not? [Ed. Note: Cui Chao is the deputy director of Xushui PSB who led the police to pepper spray and tear gas Dawu employees who confronted the state farm personnel on the morning of August 4, 2020. See Briefing on the Fourth Day of Dawu Trial, Briefing on the Seventh Day of Dawu Trial]
But I hope that when you are released or otherwise, you can truly understand where you’ve gone wrong. If you feel aggrieved, then blame me. If in the course of this matter, in our 9-month-long detention, when this is all over, we can get into a healthy mindset, then in future we can really start over again.
I said I have run the business with aspiration and an ideal, and my ideal is the prosperity of the community. I can say that I am very rich, a very rich tycoon, or I can say that I am a rich man who in fact has nothing. Right now we have 328 million in the bank, if we count the 50 million frozen by the court, we have 380 million, and we don’t owe a penny of debt. What a good business it is! We still have thousands of apartments in our recreational complexes. We have been developing for 38 years, we just want to pursue shared prosperity according to each individual’s ability and conditions. We never set up a shareholding system. No company that had a shareholding system lasted more than 30 years, because they are fighting for money, they are using limited funds in an attempt to rake in unlimited social profits. The constitution of Dawu Group is set up to limit the powers of myself, my sons, my descendants, and the executives.
Today, our lawyers defended our senior management, stating that they have no decision making power. Then we [the Suns] do not have decision-making power either. Dawu Group is a constitutional system with a bottom-up power structure born from an election process. Amongst our 6,000 full-time employees, a little over 1,000 have the right to be voted in. These candidates must have worked in the Group for ten years or more. In the case of an extremely competent employee, they can earn candidacy after only one year with the Group. Would you say this kind of experiment by Dawu Group is meaningless? We delegate real power to the people on the front line, when there are no complaints from those below, then the opinions of those above are all erroneous. Our management system decentralizes, defines and restricts power. There are many projects in the Dawu Group that are unknown to me. When I told the judge that I had no idea that Dawu Hospital had already paid more than 4 million yuan in land transfer fees, the judge said that I was really rich. However, due to the scale of Dawu Group, I am often unaware of the movement of tens of millions of yuan, let alone a few million yuan.
I didn’t expect Dawu Group to grow this well. Before I was detained, we had less than 300 million yuan of deposit in the bank. Now, because our system is working with a management model deeply rooted in the masses, it has grown by another 100 million yuan.
I was prone to utopian fantasies, but I knew that utopia is ultimately just involuntary equality. We visited Huaxi Village (华西村, a “model” communist community in eastern China) multiple times. We held a board of directors meeting in Huaxi Village to discuss whether their approach is suitable for Dawu Group. This path that we have made for ourselves has not been easy. I knew we couldn’t model on the utopian, and we had to walk our own path.
In our so-called “Peach Blossom Spring” (桃花源, reference to an idyllic community imagined in ancient China), differences are allowed to exist but the gaps cannot be too great. Accordingly, our wage system is one of guaranteed minimums and capped maximums. Annual incomes of middle and high-level employees, who are also standing trial with me today, are not permitted to exceed ten times that of the workers. If you (middle and high-level employees) want to increase your salary, then the salaries of the workers must be taken care of first. This is the difference between the “peach blossom spring” and “utopia.” I don’t want to achieve absolute equal wealth, but rather, a differentiated wealth, one of which clearly reflects the contributions of the individual cadres. Dawu Group functions like an ecology.
I digress. After nine months in detention, I still want to tell the senior managers that they are not at fault, and that the fault is all mine. So I’m saying that I am not afraid of being sentenced. I got emotional yesterday, I’m not afraid of what sentence you hand me. I implore the collegial panel to acquit the executives in accordance with the law and the facts. I want to tell the procuratorate that we are guilty, but it is best to avoid prosecution. You are claiming that the 38 years of Dawu Group history is 38 years of criminal history. How does that make sense? I have been a Party member for 50 years. I resigned from public office with the seal of my handprint. I have paid one hundred thousand yuan in party dues, which was remitted and returned.
If our country were at war, I would have been one of the first to give my life. They say that character determines fate, I think this makes a lot of sense. My personality dictates that I cannot give an obsequious smile, and that determines my fate. I can have accomplishments, yet others will judge me for them. I was thinking about Yue Fei (岳飞), how he dedicated himself to serving the country. Yue Fei’s Manjianghong (滿江紅) poem says, “Looking up to the sky with a long roar, passionate and fierce.” That Yue Fei who swept the world ultimately met his end in Fengbo Pavillion [conspired against by a corrupt official]. It just goes to show that even though one serves the country with loyalty, one may not necessarily meet a good end. This is what I mean when I say I’m dissatisfied with myself. However, some things seemed to have been predetermined, no matter how much one tried to avoid them.
To put it bluntly, why did Yue Fei die? It wasn’t because the imperial court didn’t know of his fierce loyalty to the country. It was because his master felt threatened by his great achievements and the power his clan wielded over the army! The public prosecutors cited concerns for political security in their prosecution of the Dawu case. So I am calmly reflecting: we shouldn’t have caused our leaders to have such concerns about us, such a large enterprise. On top of stigmatizing me personally, the public prosecutors also said that I’m all for my personal benefit. I can accept all the other things that they said. However, I have said from the outset that we are family. Whether it’s the public persecutors or anyone else, don’t we all wish for the betterment of society?
I’m keenly aware that my lawyers did not receive much in attorney fees. They are contributing from their own pockets, and for that I am deeply grateful. Lawyer Wang Shihua (王誓华), your voice has become hoarse. How many documents must you have studied to have done so much for me. There is also Sun Meng’s lawyer, Lawyer Hao Yachao (郝亚超). And there are also those lawyers who didn’t speak much, but your arguments were clear and logical. You have all done so much for me. You respect and perfect the law so that procedural justice can be achieved.
We were able to watch television in the detention center and I was fortunate to watch Chairman Xi’s speech on July 1. I had never imagined that Chairman Xi could have such a grand vision. If this country can continue like this for the next century, then there is hope for the country yet. We were overzealous in The Great Leap Forward of 1958, but that too, was part of the experiential process. I disagree with what they said yesterday about overtaking the USA by 2025. We can overtake England, but not America in that timeframe.
Is it dangerous for private enterprises to grow large? Are state-owned enterprises not dangerous if they become bigger? How can such theories stand? State-owned enterprises are the foundation of communism, and the management system of state-owned enterprises is not as efficient as that of private enterprises. Chairman Xi’s speech was in affirmation of private enterprises, he was affirming Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour. I truly hope that the Dawu Group system will show Chairman Xi that socialism can work in practice, and it’s something that can be tested by everyone. Not the testing of the Public Security Bureau, but rather, something that can be tested by every consumer. We can withstand the test of time. By blurring ownership while validating the right of use, we turned a family business into an enterprise, and made that enterprise a cause. We have turned an enterprise into a breathing living society. I believe that to us, this ordeal too is part of the process towards betterment. We will not harbor grievances.
The question is, what will happen from now on? I can take on all the guilt, but I ask you to let my senior management go. Acquit them. I will bear the fault in exchange for their release without prosecution, and do so without making it public. Do you think I am unaware of what you are slapping me with? You want to make a case against me for being a mafia leader, for collusion with foreign forces. But do you really understand what my thoughts are? Do you even know what I am doing?
Lastly, in order to give Dawu Group a fighting chance, it is best that I plead guilty. I will admit all wrongdoing and take on all responsibility, I will give closure to society.
There are three major things in my life. The first being Dawu City. It’s been established now and will gradually evolve upon its current foundation, so I’m not worried about it. The second is the experiment of Dawu’s corporate governance system, which I believe is only half accomplished. This will require further exploration from you guys. Third is my archaeological achievements. The government has been supporting my archaeology by granting me 300,000 yuan every year. My findings include discoveries of the dragon totem (龙图腾), how our Han ethnicity is a mixed race, how the Han ethnicity was a territorial concept of Emperor Wu of Han (汉武帝). There is the Fushan Mountain in Xushui (徐水釜山). Were it not for my arrest this year, my sixth book would have already been published. [Ed. Note: Fushan is believed by recent archaeology to be the place where, 5,000 years ago, the Yellow Emperor entered an alliance with other tribes.]
I may not have any opportunities left, nor do I think about it anymore. Yet, I still hope we are given a chance, without further aggravation. If they [the Dawu subordinates] can leave this place to look for freedom, even if they resent what has happened to them, they will still be grateful to the government.
You, the court, should respect and revere the law, like the way our lawyers do.
Translated by China Change from 孙大午法庭最后陈述
Statement of the Dawu Legal Team on the Verdict and Sentences in the Dawu Case, Dawu Legal Team, July 28, 2021.
Response to a Journalist’s Query Regarding the Sun Dawu Verdict, Yaxue Cao, July 28, 2021.
Briefing on the Eleventh Day of Dawu Trial — 10 Questions and 10 Answers, Dawu Legal Team, July 25, 2021.
Briefing on the Ninth Day of Dawu Trial, Dawu Legal Team, July 23, 2021.
Briefing on the Eighth Day of Dawu Trial, Dawu Legal Team, July 22, 2021.
Briefing on the Seventh Day of Dawu Trial, Dawu Legal Team, July 21, 2021.
Briefing on the Sixth Day of Dawu Trial, Dawu Legal Team, July 20, 2021.
Briefing on the Fifth Day of Dawu Trial, Dawu Legal Team, July 19, 2021.
Briefing on the Fourth Day of Dawu Trial — ‘I Want to Dig a Window’, Dawu Legal Team, July 18, 2021.
Briefing on the Third Day of Dawu Trial, Dawu Legal Team, July 17, 2021.
Briefing on the Second Day of Dawu Trial, Dawu Legal Team, July 15, 2021.
Briefing on the First Day of Dawu Trial, Dawu Legal Team, July 15, 2021.
Latest Development of the Dawu Case: Charges Brought to Court, Dawu Legal Team, May 12, 2021
Sun Dawu: A Chinese Agricultural Entrepreneur’s 36-year Dream in the Era of Reform and Opening Up (Part One), Yaxue Cao, March 30, 2021.
Sun Dawu: A Chinese Agricultural Entrepreneur’s 36-year Dream in the Era of Reform and Opening Up (Part Two), Yaxue Cao, April 2, 2021.