These cases were among dozens Amnesty International cited in a report Monday that said torture and ill treatment of prisoners and detainees "is widespread and systemic" in China. The London-based rights group said the government is not doing enough to combat the problem.
Those perpetrating abuses include not only police and prison officers, but also those outside the criminal justice system: business security guards who tortured and killed complaining customers, tax collectors, family planners, neighborhood watch groups and even park attendants who beat a man with an electric baton for walking on the grass, Amnesty said.
In southern China, birth control officials tortured 30-year-old farmer Zhou Jianxiong to death in 1998, beating and burning him and ripping off his genitals, to extract the whereabouts of his wife, whom they suspected of having an unauthorized pregnancy, Amnesty said.
China's government says it opposes torture and is working to curb it. China's wholly state-run media has in recent years been allowed a somewhat freer hand to report on police and official abuses of people not accused of political crimes, helping in some cases to bring perpetrators to justice.
The labor camp official in east China who ordered colleagues to beat Chen Chungui to punish his escape attempt was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1998 for causing his death, Amnesty cited a newspaper as saying.
But it said Chinese laws against torture contain loopholes, abuses are rarely punished and torture to extract confessions "remains commonplace."
State media also almost never report allegations of abuse in political cases.
"Torture in China remains a major human rights concern. The range of officials resorting to it is expanding, as is the circle of victims," Amnesty said in a separate statement. "The government has acknowledged for many years that torture is a serious problem but has done little about it."
Amnesty published the report less than two weeks before International Olympic Committee inspectors are to visit Beijing to assess its bid for the 2008 Olympic Games. Concerns over rights abuses contributed to Beijing's narrow loss in 1993 to Sydney for the 2000 Games.
The banned Falun Gong spiritual movement says its followers have been widely targeted for abuse and torture in the government's relentless 18-month crackdown on the group. Falun Gong says 143 practitioners have died. A Hong Kong-based rights group says it has tallied at least 112 deaths.
Amnesty said the government's denials that followers have been abused are unconvincing. There are few signs that allegations of wrongdoing have been thoroughly investigated, which "may be interpreted as official acquiescnce in torture and ill treatment when it is undertaken during national priority campaigns," the group said.
Widespread allegations of torture have also been reported in China's efforts to suppress separatist activity in Tibet and Xinjiang, regions with ethnic minorities that chafe under Chinese rule.
Amnesty said Zulikar Memet, an ethnic Uighur in Xinjiang tried on separatism charges, was executed last June even after he showed the court missing fingernails extracted by torturers who he said forced his confession.
Police also torture, rape, sexually abuse and humiliate suspected prostitutes to extract fines and alleged clients' names for blackmail, Amnesty said.
Before gagging one woman with a sock and sexually assaulting her, police and a security guard in central Henan province shocked her chest and thighs with an electric baton, Amnesty quoted a state newspaper as saying. Before releasing her on bail, the officers threatened to send her to a labor camp if she talked about what they did.