Chen Renjie, "Ziyou Bao"
Lin Youping, "Ziyou Bao"
Imprisoned: July 1983
In September 1982, Chen, Lin, and Chen Biling wrote and published a
pamphlet titled "Ziyou Bao" (Freedom Report), distributing around 300
copies in Fuzhou, Fujian Province. They were arrested in July 1983,
and authorities accused them of making contact with Taiwanese spy organizations
and publishing a counterrevolutionary pamphlet. According to official
government records of the case, the men used "propaganda and incitement
to encourage the overthrow of the people's democratic dictatorship and
the socialist system." In August 1983, Chen Renjie was sentenced to
life in prison, and Lin Youping was sentenced to death with reprieve.
Chen Biling was sentenced to death and later executed.
Hu Liping, Beijing Ribao
Imprisoned: April 7, 1990
Hu, a staff member of Beijing Ribao (Beijing Daily), was
arrested and charged with "counterrevolutionary incitement and propaganda"
and "trafficking in state secrets," according to a rare release of information
on his case from the Chinese Ministry of Justice in 1998. The Beijing
Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to 10 years in prison on August
15, 1990. Under the terms of his original sentence, Hu should have been
released in 2000, but CPJ has been unable to obtain information about
his legal status.
Chen Yanbin, Tieliu
Imprisoned: September 1990
Chen and Zhang Yafei, both university students, were arrested and
charged with counterrevolutionary incitement and propaganda for publishing
Tieliu (Iron Currents), an underground publication about the
1989 crackdown at Tiananmen Square. Several hundred mimeographed copies
of the publication were distributed. Chen was sentenced to 15 years
in prison and four years without political rights after his release.
Zhang was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years without political
rights after his release. However, Zhang was freed on January 6, 2000,
after showing "genuine repentance and a willingness to reform." In September
2000, the Justice Ministry announced that Chen's sentence had been reduced
by three months for good behavior.
Liu Jingsheng, free-lance
Imprisoned: May 28, 1992
Liu was arrested and charged with "organizing and leading a counterrevolutionary
group and spreading counterrevolutionary propaganda." He was sentenced
to 15 years in prison after being tried secretly in July 1994.
Liu had belonged to labor and pro-democracy groups, including the Liberal
Democratic Party of China, the Free Labor Union of China, and the Chinese
Progressive Alliance, and had written articles supporting the 1989 pro-democracy
demonstrations. During the Democracy Wall movement in 1979, Liu co-edited
the pro-democracy journal Tansuo (Explorations) with dissident
Court documents stated that Liu was involved in organizing and leading
anti-government and pro-democracy activities. Prosecutors also accused
him and other dissidents who were tried on similar charges of writing
and printing political leaflets that were distributed in June 1992,
during the third anniversary of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations.
Liu has had his sentence reduced three times for good behavior, by a
total of one year and eight months. In May 2002, on the 10th anniversary
of her husband's arrest, Liu's wife, Jin Yanming, wrote an account of
his imprisonment, trial, and the subsequent harassment of her family
by security officials. The document was distributed online.
Kang Yuchun, Freedom Forum
Imprisoned: May 1992
Kang disappeared on May 6, 1992, and was presumed arrested, according
to the New Yorkbased advocacy organization Human Rights Watch. In October
1993, in response to an inquiry from the U.N. Working Group on Disappearances,
Chinese authorities said Kang was arrested on May 27, 1992. On July
14, 1994, he was one of 16 individuals tried in a Chinese court for
alleged involvement with underground pro-democracy groups. Kang was
accused, among other charges, of launching Freedom Forum, the
magazine of the Chinese Progressive Alliance, and of commissioning people
to write articles for the magazine. On December 16, 1994, he was sentenced
to 17 years in prison for "disseminating counterrevolutionary propaganda"
and for "organizing and leading a counterrevolutionary group." His sentence
has been reduced three times, by a total of three years and eight months,
for good behavior.
Wu Shishen, Xinhua News Agency
Ma Tao, Zhongguo Jiankang Jiaoyu Bao
Imprisoned: November 6, 1992
Wu, an editor for China's state news agency, Xinhua, was arrested
for allegedly leaking an advance copy of President Jiang Zemin's 14th
Communist Party Congress address to a journalist from the now defunct
Hong Kong newspaper Kuai Bao (Express). His wife, Ma, editor of Zhongguo
Jiankang Jiaoyu Bao (China Health Education News), was arrested
on the same day and accused of acting as Wu's accomplice. The Beijing
Municipal Intermediate People's Court held a closed trial, and on August
30, 1993, sentenced Wu to life imprisonment for "illegally supplying
state secrets to foreigners." Ma was sentenced to six years in prison.
According to the terms of her original sentence, Ma should have been
released in November 1998, but CPJ has been unable to obtain information
on her legal status.
Fan Yingshang, Remen Huati
Sentenced: February 7, 1996
In 1994, Fan and Yang Jianguo printed more than 60,000 copies of
a magazine called Remen Huati (Popular Topics). The men had allegedly
purchased fake printing authorizations from an editor of the Journal
of European Research at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, according
to official Chinese news sources. CPJ was unable to determine the date
of Fan's arrest, but on February 7, 1996, the Chang'an District Court
in Shijiazhuang City sentenced him to 15 years in prison for "engaging
in speculation and profiteering." Authorities termed Remen Huati
a "reactionary" publication. Yang escaped arrest and was not sentenced.
Hua Di, free-lance
Imprisoned: January 5, 1998
Hua, a permanent resident of the United States, was arrested while visiting
China and charged with revealing state secrets. The charge is believed
to stem from articles that Hua, a scientist at Stanford University,
had written about China's missile defense system.
On November 25, 1999, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court
held a closed trial and sentenced Hua to 15 years in prison, according
to the Hong Kongbased Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
In March 2000, the Beijing High People's Court overturned Hua's conviction
and ordered that the case be retried. This judicial reversal was extraordinary,
particularly for a high-profile political case. Nevertheless, in April
2000, the Beijing State Security Bureau rejected a request for Hua to
be released on medical parole; he suffers from a rare form of male breast
On November 23, 2000, after a retrial, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate
People's Court issued a slightly modified verdict, sentencing Hua to
10 years in prison. News of Hua's sentencing broke in February 2001,
when a relative gave the information to foreign correspondents based
in Beijing. In late 2001, Hua was moved to Tilanqiao Prison in Shanghai,
according to CPJ sources.
Gao Qinrong, Xinhua News Agency
Imprisoned: December 4, 1998
Gao, a reporter for China's state news agency, Xinhua, was jailed for
reporting on a corrupt irrigation scheme in drought-plagued Yuncheng,
Shanxi Province. Xinhua never carried Gao's article, which was finally
published on May 27, 1998, in an internal reference edition of the official
People's Daily that is distributed only among a select group of party
leaders. But by fall 1998, the irrigation scandal had become national
news, with reports appearing in the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Zhoumo
(Southern Weekend) and on China Central Television. Gao's wife, Duan
Maoying, said that local officials blamed Gao for the flurry of media
interest and arranged for his prosecution on false charges.
Gao was arrested on December 4, 1998, and eventually charged with crimes
including bribery, embezzlement, and pimping, according to Duan. On
April 28, 1999, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison after a closed,
one-day trial. He is being held in a prison in Qixian, Shanxi Province,
according to CPJ sources.
In September 2001, Gao wrote to Mary Robinson, then the U.N. high commissioner
for human rights, and asked her to intercede with the Chinese government
on his behalf. Gao has received support from several members of the
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference of the National People's
Congress, who issued a motion at its annual parliamentary meeting in
March 2001 urging the Central Discipline Committee and Supreme People's
Court to reopen his case. But there has been no change in his legal
Yue Tianxiang, Zhongguo Gongren Guancha
Imprisoned: January 1999
The Tianshui People's Intermediate Court in Gansu Province sentenced
Yue to 10 years in prison on July 5, 1999. The journalist was charged
with "subverting state power," according to the Hong Kongbased Information
Center for Human Rights and Democracy. Yue was arrested along with two
colleagues—Wang Fengshan and Guo Xinmin—both of whom were sentenced
to two years' imprisonment and have since been released. According to
the Hong Kongbased daily South China Morning Post, Yue, Guo, and Wang
were arrested in January 1999 for publishing Zhongguo Gongren Guancha
(China Workers' Monitor), a journal that campaigned for workers' rights.
With help from Wang, Yue and Guo started the journal after they were
unable to get compensation from the Tianshui City Transport Agency following
their dismissal from the company in 1995. All three men were reportedly
members of the outlawed China Democracy Party, a dissident group, and
were forming an organization to protect the rights of laid-off workers.
The first issue of Zhongguo Gongren Guancha exposed extensive
corruption among officials at the Tianshui City Transport Agency. Only
two issues were ever published.
Wang Yingzheng, free-lance
Imprisoned: February 26, 1999
Police arrested Wang in the city of Xuzhou, in eastern Jiangsu Province,
as he was photocopying an article he had written about political reform.
The article was based on an open letter that the 19-year-old Wang had
addressed to Chinese president Jiang Zemin. In the letter, Wang wrote—as
translated by Agence France-Presse—"Many Chinese are discontented with
the government's inability to squash corruption. This is largely due
to a lack of opposition parties and a lack of press freedom."
About five months earlier, in September 1998, Wang had been imprisoned
for two weeks, during which time authorities questioned him about his
association with Qin Yongmin, a key leader of the China Democracy Party
who received a 12-year prison sentence in December 1998.
On December 10, 1999, Wang was convicted of subversion and sentenced
to three years in prison. His trial was closed, but his family was notified
of the verdict by letter, according to the Hong Kongbased Information
Center for Human Rights and Democracy. According to the original terms
of his sentence, Wang should have been released in February 2002, but
CPJ has been unable to determine his legal status.
Wu Yilong, Zaiye Dang
Imprisoned: April 26, 1999
Mao Qingxiang, Zaiye Dang
Zhu Yufu, Zaiye Dang
Xu Guang, Zaiye Dang
Imprisoned: June 1999
Wu, an organizer for the banned China Democracy Party (CDP), was detained
by police in Guangzhou on April 26, 1999. Mao, Zhu, and Xu, also leading
CDP activists, were reportedly detained sometime around June 4, the
10th anniversary of the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations
in Tiananmen Square. The four were later charged with subversion for,
among other things, establishing a magazine called Zaiye Dang
(Opposition Party) and circulating pro-democracy writings online.
On October 25, 1999, the Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court in Zhejiang
Province conducted what The New York Times described as a "sham trial."
On November 9, 1999, all four journalists were convicted of subversion.
Wu was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Mao was sentenced to eight years
in prison; Zhu, to seven years; and Xu, to five years.
In December 2002, Mao was transferred to a convalescence hospital after
his health had sharply declined as a result of being confined to his
cell. Zhu, who has also been confined to his cell and forbidden from
reading newspapers, was placed under tightened restrictions in late
2002 after refusing to express regret for his actions, according to
the New Yorkbased advocacy group Human Rights in China.
Liu Xianli, free-lance
Imprisoned: May 11, 1999
The Beijing Intermediate Court found writer Liu guilty of subversion
and sentenced him to four years in prison, according to a report by
the Hong Kongbased Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
Liu's "crime" was attempting to publish a book on Chinese dissidents,
including Xu Wenli, one of China's most prominent political prisoners
and a leading figure in the China Democracy Party. In December 1998,
Xu was himself convicted of subversion and sentenced to 13 years in
prison. On December 24, 2002, Xu was released on medical parole and
deported to the United States.
Jiang Qisheng, free-lance
Imprisoned: May 18, 1999
Police arrested Jiang in the late evening and searched his home, seizing
his computer, several documents, and articles he had written for Beijing
zhi Chun (Beijing Spring), a New Yorkbased pro-democracy publication.
The arrest came after Jiang published a series of essays and open letters
related to the 10th anniversary of the government's violent suppression
of student-led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. One essay called
for a candlelight vigil on June 4, 1999; another urged the government
to conduct a full investigation into the massacre; and a third protested
the police's brutal treatment of Cao Jiahe, an editor of Dongfang
(Orient) magazine who was detained on May 10, 1999, and tortured while
in police custody. Cao had been detained for allegedly circulating a
petition to remember the hundreds killed by government troops during
the Tiananmen crackdown.
During Jiang's two-and-a-half-hour trial, held on November 1, 1999,
prosecutors cited an April essay calling for a protest vigil, "Light
a Thousand Candles," as evidence of his anti-state activities. Prosecutors
also accused him of circulating an article on political reform, though
Jiang said he showed the piece to only three friends. On December 27,
2000, thirteen months after his trial, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate
People's Court sentenced Jiang to four years in prison.
An Jun, free-lance
Imprisoned: July 1999
An, an anti-corruption campaigner, was sentenced to four years in prison
on subversion charges. The Intermediate People's Court in Xinyang, Henan
Province, announced the verdict on April 19, 2000, citing An's essays
and articles on corruption as evidence of his anti-state activities.
A former manager of an export trading company, An founded the civic
group Zhongguo Fubai Xingwei Guancha (China Corruption Monitor) in 1998
and was arrested in July 1999. The group reportedly exposed more than
100 cases of corruption. During his November 1999 trial, An "said he
was only trying to help the government end rampant corruption," according
to Agence France-Presse.
In November 2001, An's family sent a letter to President Jiang Zemin
appealing for the journalist's release for medical reasons. An suffers
from heart problems and has not received adequate treatment while in
prison, according to Agence France-Presse.
On December 7, 2002, An began a hunger strike to protest prison conditions,
according to the New Yorkbased advocacy group Human Rights in China.
Qi Yanchen, free-lance
Imprisoned: September 2, 1999
Police arrested Qi at his home in Cangzhou, Hebei Province. His
wife told reporters that officers confiscated his computer, printer,
fax machine, and a number of documents. Qi, an economist, has published
many articles in intellectual journals and online publications calling
for economic and political reforms. He was also associated with the
online magazine Canzhao (Consultations), a publication linked
to the banned China Development Union.
On May 30, 2000, Qi was prosecuted for subversion before the Cangzhou
People's Court in a closed, half-day trial. He was sentenced to four
years in prison on September 19, 2000. His sentencing papers cited as
evidence articles he had written for Hong Kong magazines and overseas
Zhang Ji, free-lance
Imprisoned: October 1999
Zhang, a student at Qiqihar University in the northeastern province
of Heilongjiang, was charged on November 8, 1999, with "disseminating
reactionary documents via the Internet," according to the Hong Kongbased
Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.
Zhang had allegedly distributed news and information about the banned
spiritual movement Falun Gong. He was arrested sometime in October as
part of the Chinese government's crackdown on the sect.
Using the Internet, Zhang reportedly transmitted news of the crackdown
to Falun Gong members in the United States and Canada and also received
reports from abroad, which he then circulated among practitioners in
China. Before Zhang's arrest, Chinese authorities had increased Internet
surveillance as part of their effort to crush Falun Gong.
Huang Qi, Tianwang Web site
Imprisoned: June 3, 2000
Public security officials came to Huang's office and arrested him for
articles that had appeared on the Tianwang Web site, which he published.
In January 2001, he was charged with subversion.
In October 1998, Huang and his wife, Zeng Li, launched Tianwang (www.6-4tianwang.com),
a missing-persons search service based in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.
The site soon became a forum for users to publicize abuses of power
by local officials and to post articles about a variety of topics, including
the June 4, 1989, military crackdown on peaceful demonstrations in Tiananmen
Square, the independence movement in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous
Region, and the banned spiritual group Falun Gong.
In December 1999, Huang published an investigative report about labor
abuses committed against workers whom the Sichuan provincial government
had sent abroad. While several domestic newspapers subsequently investigated
and published stories on the case, authorities in Chengdu began threatening
Huang and repeatedly interrogated him about his reporting.
Huang has been beaten in prison and has tried to commit suicide, according
to an open letter he wrote from prison in February 2001 that was published
on the Tianwang site. His family members, including his wife and young
son, have not been allowed to visit or communicate with him since his
arrest two years ago.
The Chengdu Intermediate Court in Sichuan Province held a secret trial
on August 14, 2001. Family members were not allowed to attend. The court
has not yet issued a ruling in the case, after postponing indefinitely
a sentencing hearing originally set for February 28, 2003. Huang's trial
had also been postponed several times throughout 2001 in an apparent
effort to deflect international attention from China's human rights
practices during the country's campaign to host the 2008 Olympic Games.
(Two of the trial delays—on February 23 and June 27—coincided with important
dates in Beijing's Olympics bid.)
Overseas supporters of Huang regularly post updates on his case to the
Tianwang Web site, which is now hosted on a server outside China.
Xu Zerong, free-lance
Imprisoned: June 24, 2000
Xu was arrested in the city of Guangzhou and held incommunicado for
19 months before being tried by the Shenzhen Intermediate Court in January
2002. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of "leaking
state secrets" and to an additional three years on charges of committing
Xu, an associate research professor in the Institute of Southeast Asian
Studies at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, has written several free-lance
articles about China's foreign policy and co-founded a Hong Kongbased
academic journal, Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Jikan (China Social Sciences
Quarterly). Xu is a permanent resident of Hong Kong.
Chinese officials have said that the "state secrets" charges against
Xu stem from his use of historical materials for his academic research.
In 1992, Xu photocopied four books published in the 1950s about China's
role in the Korean War, which he then sent to a colleague in South Korea,
according to a letter from the Chinese government to St. Antony's College,
Oxford University. (Xu earned his Ph.D. at St. Antony's College, and
since his arrest, college personnel have actively researched and protested
his case.) The Security Committee of the People's Liberation Army in
Guangzhou later determined that these documents should be labeled "top
The "economic crimes" charges are related to the "illegal publication"
of more than 60,000 copies of 25 books and periodicals since 1993, including
several books about Chinese politics and Beijing's relations with Taiwan,
according to official government documents.
Some observers believe that the charges against Xu are more likely related
to an article he wrote for the Hong Kongbased Yazhou Zhoukan
(Asia Weekly) newsmagazine revealing clandestine Chinese Communist Party
support for Malaysian communist insurgency groups. Xu was arrested only
days before the article appeared in the June 26, 2000, issue. In the
article, Xu accused the Chinese Communist Party of hypocrisy for condemning
the United States and other countries for interfering in China's internal
affairs by criticizing its human rights record. "China's support of
world revolution is based on the concept of ‘class above sovereignty'...which
is equivalent to the idea of ‘human rights above sovereignty,' which
the U.S. promotes today," Xu wrote.
Xu's family has filed an appeal, which is still pending. They have not
been allowed to visit him since his arrest.
Guo Qinghai, free-lance
Imprisoned: September 15, 2000
Guo was arrested after posting numerous essays on overseas online
bulletin boards calling for political reforms in China. In almost 40
essays posted under the pen name Qing Song, Guo covered a variety of
topics, including political prisoners, environmental problems, and corruption.
In one essay, Guo discussed the importance of a free press, saying,
"Those who oppose lifting media censorship argue that it will negatively
influence social stability. But according to what I have seen ... countries
that control speech may be able to maintain stability in the short term,
but the end result is often violent upheaval, coup d'états, or
Guo, who worked in a bank, also wrote articles for Taiwanese newspapers.
He was a friend and classmate of writer Qi Yanchen, who was sentenced
to four years in prison on subversion charges just four days after Guo's
arrest (see above). One of Guo's last online essays appealed for Qi's
release. On April 3, 2001, a court in Cangzhou, Hebei Province, tried
Guo on subversion charges. On April 26, he was sentenced to four years
Liu Weifang, free-lance
Imprisoned: October 2000
Liu was arrested sometime after September 26, 2000, when security
officials from the Ninth Agricultural Brigade District,
in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, came to his house, confiscated
his computer, and announced that he was being officially investigated,
according to an account that Liu posted online. His most recent essay
was dated October 20, 2000.
Liu had recently posted a number of essays criticizing China's leaders
and political system in Internet chat rooms. The essays, which the author
signed either with his real name or with the initials "lgwf," covered
topics such as official corruption, development policies in China's
western regions, and environmental issues. At press time, the articles
were available online at http://liuweifang.ipfox.com.
"The reasons for my actions are all above-board," Liu wrote in one essay.
"They are not aimed at any one person or any organization; rather, they
are directed at any behavior in society that harms humanity. The goal
is to speed up humanity's progress and development." The official Xinjiang
Daily characterized Liu's work as "a major threat to national security."
According to a June 15, 2001, report in the Xinjiang Daily, the
Ninth Agricultural Brigade District's Intermediate People's Court had
sentenced Liu to three years in prison.
Jiang Weiping, free-lance
Imprisoned: December 4, 2000
Jiang was arrested after publishing a number of articles in the Hong
Kong magazine Qianshao (Frontline), a monthly Chinese-language
magazine focusing on mainland affairs, revealing corruption scandals
in northeastern China.
Jiang wrote the Qianshao articles, which were published between
June and September 1999, under various pen names. His coverage exposed
several major corruption scandals involving high-level officials. Notably,
Jiang reported that Shenyang vice mayor Ma Xiangdong had lost nearly
30 million yuan (US$3.6 million) in public funds gambling in Macau casinos.
Jiang also revealed that Liaoning provincial governor Bo Xilai had covered
up corruption among his friends and family during his years as Dalian
Soon after these cases were publicized in Qianshao and other
Hong Kong media, central authorities detained Ma. He was accused of
taking bribes, embezzling public funds, and gambling overseas and was
executed for these crimes in December 2001. After Ma's arrest, his case
was widely reported in the domestic press and used as an example in
the government's ongoing fight against corruption. However, in May 2001,
Jiang was indicted for "revealing state secrets."
The Dalian Intermediate Court held a secret trial in September 2001.
On January 25, 2002, the court formally sentenced Jiang to eight years
in prison on charges including "inciting to subvert state power" and
"illegally providing state secrets overseas." This judgment amended
an earlier decision to sentence Jiang to nine years. During the January
sentencing, Jiang proclaimed his innocence and told the court that the
verdict "trampled on the law," according to CPJ sources. He has since
appealed the verdict, but the case is still pending.
According to CPJ sources, Jiang has a serious stomach disorder and has
been denied medical treatment. Jiang's wife and daughter have not been
allowed to see or speak with him in the two years since his arrest.
His wife, Li Yanling, has been repeatedly interrogated and threatened
since her husband's arrest. In March 2002, the local public security
bureau brought her in for questioning and detained her for several weeks.
An experienced journalist, Jiang had worked until May 2000 as the northeastern
China bureau chief for the Hong Kong paper Wen Hui Bao. He contributed
free-lance articles to Qianshao. In the 1980s, he worked as a
Dalian-based correspondent for Xinhua News Agency.
In November 2001, CPJ honored Jiang with its annual International Press
Freedom Award. In February 2002, CPJ sent appeals to Chinese president
Jiang Zemin from almost 600 supporters—including CBS news anchor Dan
Rather, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, and former U.S. ambassador
to China Winston Lord—demanding Jiang's unconditional release. That
month, U.S. president George W. Bush highlighted Jiang's case in meetings
with Jiang Zemin during a state visit to China. No progress has been
made in the case.
Lu Xinhua, free-lance
Imprisoned: March 10, 2001
Lu was arrested in Wuhan, Hubei Province, after articles he had
written about rural unrest and official corruption appeared on various
Internet news sites based overseas. On April 20, 2001, he was charged
with "inciting to subvert state power," a charge frequently used against
journalists who write about politically sensitive subjects. Lu's trial
began on September 18. On December 30, 2001, he was sentenced to four
years in prison.
Yang Zili, Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan Web site
Xu Wei, Xiaofei Ribao
Jin Haike, free-lance
Zhang Honghai, free-lance
Imprisoned: March 13, 2001
Yang, Xu, Jin, and Zhang were detained on March 13 and charged with
subversion on April 20. The four were active participants in the Xin
Qingnian Xuehui (New Youth Study Group), an informal gathering of individuals
who explored topics related to political and social reform and used
the Internet to circulate relevant articles.
Yang, the group's most prominent member, published a Web site, Yangzi
de Sixiang Jiayuan (Yangzi's Garden of Ideas), which featured poems,
essays, and reports by various authors on subjects such as the shortcomings
of rural elections. Authorities closed the site after Yang's arrest.
When Xu, a reporter with Xiaofei Ribao (Consumer Daily), was
detained on March 13, authorities confiscated his computer, other professional
equipment, and books, according to an account published online by his
girlfriend, Wang Ying. Wang reported that public security officials
also ordered Xiaofei Ribao to fire Xu. The newspaper has refused
to discuss his case with reporters, according to The Associated Press.
The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court tried all four on September
28, 2001. Prosecutors focused predominately on the group's writings,
including two essays circulated on the Internet called "Be a new citizen,
reform China" and "What's to be done?" According to the indictment papers,
these articles demonstrated the group's intention "to overthrow the
Chinese Communist Party's leadership and the socialist system and subvert
the regime of the people's democratic dictatorship." No verdict has
been announced in the case.
Liu Haofeng, free-lance
Imprisoned: March 2001
Liu was secretly arrested in Shanghai in mid-March while conducting
research on social conditions in rural China for the dissident China
Democracy Party (CDP). On May 16, 2001, Liu was sentenced to "re-education
through labor," a form of administrative detention that allows officials
to send individuals to labor camps for up to three years without trial
or formal charges.
After Liu's arrest, friends and family were not informed of his whereabouts,
and CDP members say they only found out what had happened to him when
they received news of his sentence in August 2001.
Sentencing papers issued by the Shanghai Re-education Through Labor
Committee cited several alleged offenses, including a policy paper and
an essay written by Liu that were published under different pen names
on the CDP's Web site. The essay focused on the current situation of
China's peasants. The committee also accused Liu of trying to form an
illegal organization, the "China Democracy Party Joint Headquarters,
The journalist had previously worked as an editor and reporter for various
publications, including the magazine Jishu Jingji Yu Guanli (Technology,
Economy, and Management), run by the Fujian Province Economic and Trade
Committee, and Zhongguo Shichang Jingji Bao (China Market Economy
News), run by the Central Party School in the capital, Beijing. Beginning
in 1999, he worked for Univillage, a research organization focusing
on rural democratization, and managed its Web site. He was working as
a free-lance journalist at the time of his arrest.
Wang Jinbo, free-lance
Imprisoned: May 2001
Wang, a free-lance journalist, was arrested in early May 2001 for
e-mailing essays to overseas organizations arguing that the government
should change its official view that the 1989 protests in Tiananmen
Square were "counterrevolutionary." In October 2001, Wang was formally
charged with "inciting to subvert state power." On November 14, the
Junan County Court in Shandong Province held a closed trial; only the
journalists' relatives were allowed to attend. On December 13, 2001,
Wang was sentenced to four years in prison.
Wang, a member of the banned China Democracy Party, had been detained
several times in the past for his political activities. In February
2001, days before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) visited
Beijing, he was briefly taken into custody after signing an open letter
calling on the IOC to pressure China to release political prisoners.
A number of Wang's essays have been posted on various Internet sites.
One, titled "My Account of Police Violations of Civil Rights," describes
his January 2001 detention, during which police interrogated him and
held him for 20 hours with no food or heat after he signed an open letter
calling for the release of political prisoners.
Tao Haidong, free-lance
Imprisoned: July 9, 2002
Tao, an Internet essayist and pro-democracy activist, was arrested
in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, and
charged with "incitement to subvert state power." According to the Minzhu
Luntan (Democracy Forum) Web site, which had published Tao's recent
writing, his articles focused on political and legal reform. In one
essay, titled "Strategies for China's Social Reforms," Tao wrote that
"the Chinese Communist Party and democracy activists throughout society
should unite to push forward China's freedom and democratic development
or else stand condemned through the ages."
Previously, in 1999, Tao was sentenced to three years of "re-education
through labor" in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, according to the New Yorkbased
advocacy group Human Rights in China, because of his essays and his
work on a book titled Xin Renlei Shexiang (Imaginings of a New Human
Race). After his early release in 2001, Tao began writing essays and
articles and publishing them on various domestic and overseas Web sites.
In early January 2003, the Urumqi Intermediate Court sentenced Tao to
seven years in prison.
Zhang Wei, Shishi Zixun, Redian Jiyao
Imprisoned: July 19, 2002
Zhang was arrested and charged with illegal publishing after producing
and selling two underground newspapers in Chongqing, in central China.
According to an account published on the Web site of the Chongqing Press
and Publishing Administration, a provincial government body that governs
all local publications, beginning in April 2001, Zhang edited two newspapers,
Shishi Zixun (Current Events) and Redian Jiyao (Summary
of the Main Points), which included articles and graphics he had downloaded
from the Internet.
Two of Zhang's business associates, Zuo Shangwen and Ou Yan, were also
arrested on July 19, 2002, and indicted for their involvement with the
publications. Zuo printed the publications in neighboring Sichuan Province
while Ou managed the publications' finances. At the time of their arrests,
police confiscated 9,700 copies of Shishi Zixun.
The official account of their arrests stated that the two publications
had "flooded" Chongqing's publishing market. The government declared
that "the political rumors, shocking ‘military reports,' and other articles
in these illegal publications misled the public, poisoned the youth,
negatively influenced society and sparked public indignation." Zhang,
Zuo, and Ou printed more than 1.5 million copies of the publications
and sold them in Chongqing, Chengdu, and other cities.
On December 25, 2002, the Yuzhong District Court in Chongqing sentenced
Zhang to six years in prison and fined him 100,000 yuan (US$12,000),
the amount that police said he had earned in profits from the publications.
Zuo was sentenced to five years and fined 50,000 yuan (US$6,000), while
Ou was sentenced to two years in prison.
Chen Shaowen, free-lance
Imprisoned: August 2002
Chen, a free-lance writer, was arrested on suspicion of "using the
Internet to subvert state power," according to a September 14 report
in the official Hunan Daily. The article did not give the date
of Chen's arrest, although Boxun News, an overseas online news service,
reported that he was arrested on August 6.
Chen, who lives in Lianyuan, Hunan Province, has written numerous essays
and articles for various overseas Chinese-language Web sites, including
the online magazine Huang Hua Gang and Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum).
According to his biography on the Minzhu Luntan Web site (asiademo.org),
Chen's essays covered topics including China's unemployment problem,
social inequalities, and flaws in the legal system.
The Hunan Daily article accused Chen of "repeatedly browsing
reactionary websites ... sending in numerous articles of all sorts,
fabricating, distorting and exaggerating relevant facts, and vilifying
the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist system." The report stated
that Chen had published more than 40 articles on overseas "reactionary"
Web sites. Chen is still under investigation, and it is not clear whether
he has been formally charged.
His family has not been allowed to visit him in detention.
Liu Di, free-lance
Imprisoned: November 7, 2002
Liu disappeared on November 7. The following day, security officials
came to her house, which she shares with her 80-year-old grandmother,
and confiscated Liu's computer, several books, and other personal belongings.
Officials told her family that Liu was being investigated for "participating
in an illegal organization." Authorities have not offered her family
any further explanation as to her whereabouts.
Liu, 22, is a fourth-year student in the psychology department at Beijing
Teacher's University. Using the pseudonym Buxiugang Laoshu (Stainless
Steel Mouse), she wrote several online essays criticizing the Chinese
In one essay, Liu wrote that, "My ideals are the ideals of an open society...
In my view, freedom does not just include external freedom, but freedom
within our hearts and minds." In another essay, Liu called on Chinese
citizens to stop reading official news and to read only "reactionary"
materials. She also wrote in support of Huang Qi and Yang Zili, Web
site publishers who have been arrested and charged with subversion.
Liu had expressed fears of being arrested and said that school authorities
had called her in for questioning several times prior to her disappearance,
according to online accounts written by her friends and acquaintances.
Liu's arrest became a rallying point for Chinese Internet users worldwide,
and in December her supporters created a Web site (http://188.8.131.52)
and launched a global petition demanding her release. The petition has
gathered more than 1800 signatories from inside and outside China.
Liu's disappearance came one day before the opening of the 16th Communist
Party Congress. During the run-up to the congress, Chinese authorities
escalated a crackdown on free expression by arresting government critics,
closing Web sites, and tightening already stringent control over the
Seok Jae Hyun, free-lance
Imprisoned: January 17, 2003
Free-lance photojournalist Seok was photographing two groups of
about 60 North Korean refugees in Yantai, Shandong Province, who were
trying to board two fishing boats bound for Cheju Island, South Korea,
and Sasebo Island, Japan, when Chinese police arrested him, along with
the refugees and a South Korean aid worker. Seok, a South Korean national
who regularly works for several American and Korean publications, including
The New York Times, was working independently at the time of
Authorities accused Seok of engaging in human trafficking. Soon after
his arrest, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson acknowledged that
two South Koreans were detained with the refugees, but she did not confirm
their identities. "They are suspected of smuggling or organizing smuggling
activities and now are in criminal detention," she said.
In recent years, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have fled to
China to escape severe food shortages and political repression. China
considers the refugees to be economic migrants and regularly repatriates
them to North Korea, where they often face imprisonment or other types
As part of the Chinese government's crackdown on North Korean refugees,
authorities have harassed journalists who report on their plight.