Shanghaied: A Conversation with Peter Humphrey
In 2013, fraud investigator and former journalist Peter Humphrey was detained in China and charged with “illegally acquiring personal information” of Chinese nationals. The British investigator was hired to investigate an alleged smear campaign against the Anglo-American pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, but soon found himself embroiled in a much larger drama when the Chinese government announced a bribery investigation against GSK China. Peter and his American wife Yingzeng Yu were arrested and detained. Their nightmare in the Chinese prison system would last almost two years: He was paraded on state TV, forced to stand trial, and was sentenced to thirty months in jail on a false conviction.
In June 2015, Chinese authorities finally released Humphrey and his wife in response to mounting diplomatic pressure and international media attention around Peter's health. He had developed cancer and proper medical treatment was denied him while in captivity. In this seminar, Peter will recount his ordeal. We will take his narrative as a starting point for a discussion of human rights in the criminal process in China.
Peter Humphrey is the founder of ChinaWhys, a risk management consultancy which specialised in China fraud prevention for corporate clients until it was arbitrarily shut down by Shanghai police in 2013. He and his partner and wife Yingzeng Yu were incarcerated for 23 months on trumped-up charges of “illegally obtaining citizens’ information”, their 10-year-old business was destroyed, and he developed cancer due to the denial of necessary medical treatment in captivity.
Peter decided to study Chinese when he was 15 years old and went on to obtain First Class Hons in Chinese Studies at Durham University in 1979. His love affair with China has lasted over 40 years in which time his career has spanned the fields of academia, journalism and corporate investigation, and the geographies of China, Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Before entering business he spent two decades as a foreign correspondent with Reuters, which he exited in 1998 after covering Hong Kong’s return to China. He then served as China head for the American sleuthing consultancy Kroll and as head of China investigations at PwC, as well as undertaking a number of humanitarian assignments.
In addition to holding his sinology degree, Peter was a fellow of Harvard University’s Russian Research Center in 1994-1995 and was an honorary professor of the University of St Gallen China EMBA Program and of the forensic accounting department of the China University of Politics and Law in Beijing 2008-2013. He is fluent in Mandarin and reads and writes Chinese and several other foreign languages. He was Founding President of the China Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. He is currently a member of Chatham House and the Society of Authors of Great Britain, and is an external research affiliate of King’s College London and of Harvard University’s Fairbank Center.
About the Human Rights, Development and Global Justice Series
Our series aims to create an open, interdisciplinary academic platform for the discussion of issues related to human rights, development and global justice. Special attention is given to the global south, but not to the exclusion of other places.
We hope to generate exchanges furthering academic insight and creativity, to strengthen the School’s connections with scholars around the world, and to enrich undergraduate and postgraduate teaching curricula among the School’s wide offering of modules related to the jurisprudence of human rights, transnational human rights, and global justice more widely.
The events series is currently convened by Professor Eva Pils. It is supported by funding provided by The Dickson Poon School of Law. For information about other events in the series, please visit the King's College London website.