The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has always been suspicious of its critics, whether they be intellectuals, activists, religious followers, or whistle-blowers, and sought ways to control and suppress them. There is abundant evidence that one of these is the involuntary commitment into a psychiatric facility with no medical justification.

For the first few decades after the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, political targets were regularly diagnosed insane and committed to prison hospitals. This enshrined the official belief, borrowed from similar practices in the then Soviet Union, that anyone holding a conflicting ideology to that of the CCP’s must be suffering from a mental illness. This practice was institutionalized in 1988, when the country established Ankang (安康, literally
meaning peace and health) asylums, a network of Ministry of Public Security-run psychiatric facilities for the “criminally insane”. Although they have since been renamed qiangzhi yiliao suo (强制医疗所, literally meaning compulsory treatment facility),6 they are often still known as Ankang. Ultimately less than 30 were ever built, so political targets are also routinely committed to civilian psychiatric hospitals or psychiatric departments in general hospitals, for compulsory treatment.

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