Practice Relating to Rule 52. Pillage
China’s PLA Rules of Discipline (1947) instructs: “Do not take a single needle or piece of thread from the masses – Turn in everything captured.”
China’s Law Governing the Trial of War Criminals (1946) provides that “robbing” constitutes a war crime.
China’s Criminal Law (1979), as amended in 1997, states:
Any serviceman who, during wartime, cruelly injures innocent residents in an area of military operation or plunders their money or property shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years; if the circumstances are serious, he shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than five years but not more than 10 years; if the circumstances are especially serious, he shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than 10 years, life imprisonment or death.
In the Takashi Sakai case
in 1946, a Chinese Military Tribunal found the accused, a Japanese military commander in China during the Second World War, guilty, inter alia
, of “inciting or permitting his subordinates to … plunder … civilians”, notably rice, poultry and other foods. The Tribunal said that, in so doing, “he had violated the [1907 Hague Regulations] … These offences are war crimes and crimes against humanity.” It found that Articles 28 and 47 of the 1907 Hague Regulations had been violated.
In the context of the Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), the Chinese Communist Party condemned looting by Japanese troops. According to the Report on the Practice of China, these acts of looting were considered as part of a deliberate “barbarous policy” of the Japanese authorities.