Families of Chinese activists face house arrest, harassment from ‘smiling tigers’

Christian Shepherd April 16, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – When a team of Chinese state security agents picked up Li Wenzu and then prevented her from leaving her own home last week, she was scared but not surprised.

She was detained on the seventh day of a protest march she organized in an attempt to get the authorities to explain what has happened to her husband, Wang Quanzhang, a lawyer who has been missing since August 2015 during a sweeping crackdown on rights activists.

Li was initially barricaded in her home by dozens of people, including plainclothes security officers and members of the local neighborhood committee, she said. Scuffles broke out between her supporters and the crowd, according to videos shared with Reuters.

While Li was permitted to leave and go to a friend’s home the following day, her experience of being sporadically placed under house arrest and pressured by the Chinese authorities to stay quiet has become commonplace for the families of Chinese rights activists, they say.

Such “soft” detention measures are currently being used in dozens of cases, according to the rights groups, including that of Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo. He died of liver cancer last July while in custody.

Many of these individuals have never been charged with any crime, but are treated as guilty by association and as a threat to national security due to the embarrassment they can cause for the Chinese state if they speak out, rights groups say.

Those affected complain of their homes being bugged, phones tapped and of security cameras being installed outside their front doors. But the main method of repression, they say, is being monitored in person by China’s state security agents.

China’s ministry of state security could not be reached for comment as it does not have publicly available telephone numbers. China’s public security ministry did not respond to a faxed request for comment.


Since coming to power in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping has overseen a sweeping crackdown on rights lawyers and activists, with hundreds detained and dozens jailed.

Li said the freedom she was given after her brief house arrest was in her experience “only temporary”, as state security officials have become a regular presence for her and her young son.

“In 2016, state security for a period rented a flat on the second floor of my building,” Li told Reuters in an interview at her friend’s home.

The agents are often outwardly friendly and tell Li they are there to protect her safety, she said, calling them “smiling tigers”.

When Li took her son to search for a pre-school in the neighborhood, agents went with them and warned the school against accepting her child due to the family being a “threat to national security”, she said.

“When I got angry with them, they told me that I needed to behave and wait quietly at home for my husband – then my child could go to school,” she said.

Her son has still not found a pre-school place, she said.


Placing high-profile dissidents under house arrest is nothing new in China; it was even used for former head of the ruling Communist Party Zhao Ziyang after he was sacked in 1989 for showing sympathy towards the pro-democracy Tiananmen movement.

But under Xi, increasingly brazen measures have been used to silence individuals who are not formally charged in an attempt to avoid international scrutiny, according to William Nee, Hong Kong-based China researcher at Amnesty International.

“They want a degree of plausible deniability,” he said. “If they were to criminally detain Li Wenzu, they would eventually have to justify it in law.”

Liu Xia has been under supervision at home almost constantly since her husband won the Nobel prize in 2010. She is still only allowed to speak to her friends in infrequent pre-arranged phone calls and visits, they say.

Another common target for house arrest are rights activists who are formally charged but then released after they give what rights groups allege are coerced “confessions”, either to Chinese state media or during trial.

While many avoid jail time, they remain under a form of detention that Jerome Cohen, an expert on Chinese law at New York University, has dubbed “non-release ‘release’”.

Such methods, Cohen wrote in a recent blog post, go beyond simple house arrest to include an array of “informal, unauthorized and suffocating” restrictions.

Wang Yu, a prominent rights lawyer who was arrested in 2015 during the same crackdown that saw Li’s husband detained, was still under effective house arrest in late 2017, despite her release from detention in late 2016, a friend told Reuters.

Restrictions on Wang have relaxed somewhat in recent months, but she is still closely monitored by authorities, the friend said.

“She told me not to come to her home, because there were people there with her all day keeping watch, just following her around, not subtly at all,” the friend said, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the case.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Tony Munroe and Martin Howell

Source: Reuters “Families of Chinese activists face house arrest, harassment from ‘smiling tigers’”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China Punish Dissent Harshly to Strongly Say No to the West

Xi Jinping Thought, Declaration of ‘China Can Say No’ (9)

China punishes dissident Wu Gan with 8-year imprisonment for criticizing Chinese government. The punishment is regarded as quite severe as he had only regularly championed sensitive cases of government abuses of power, both online and in street protests. However, he had not advocated replacement of China’ one-party autocracy with Western democracy. Compared with the 11-year imprisonment Liu Xiaobo received for issuing a document on the replacement and collecting the signatures of thousands of people supporting the document. The 8-year imprisonment Wu Gan has got is quite severe.

Reuters says in its report “China chides U.S., German embassies after call for release of activist” on December 28 that the U.S. and German embassies issued a joint statement on December 27 to call for setting Wu free.

China soon responded strongly. Its foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press conference that the two embassies had “no right to criticize what was purely an internal affair of China’s and a matter of China’s judicial sovereignty” and “We hope that the relevant diplomatic missions can take the correct position with regards to their own responsibilities.” She, in addition, pointed out that China is a country with rule of law and justice officials handled cases in line with the law.

China says no so promptly and strongly as China now has self-confidence in its path, theory, system and culture as pointed out in Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping’s speech to CCP 19th Congress.

In the speech, Xi has set an ambitious goal for China to grow into a great socialist power by 2050.

If China can keep its fast economic growth, by 2050 it will by far surpass the US and replace the US as number one in the world.

US President Trump sees the potential replacement and wants US economy to grow faster but has encountered lots of obstacles. He has a tax reform approved by US Congress in order to boost US economy, but his policies may not be continued by his successor. At best, he can only be sure that his policies will last for 7 years if he can serve another term.

China is an autocracy, Xi is sure that he can serve two more terms, choose a successor to carry on his efforts to attain the goal while he will remain in control after his retirement like Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin.

Therefore, China is very likely to maintain its fast economic growth to surpass the US before 2050. Trump’s predecessor Obama saw that and began to adopt his policy of pivot to Asia to contain China but failed.

Now, the US adopts the Indo-Pacific strategy of quad to contain China, especially to hinder China’s Road and Belt plan, but quad is a military instead of economic strategy without being able to hinder China’s plan of win-win economic cooperation. China’s Belt and Road projects have been successfully carried out in Central Asia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Greece. With the win-win cooperation through its Belt and Road initiative, China will be able to maintain its relatively fast growth for the next two decades.

China’s grand plans to divert water from Tibet to Xinjiang will enable it to develop its west vigorously so as to maintain fast growth for another 3 decades. As a result, there are satisfactory prospects for China to attain its ambitious goal.

However, there may be serious setback.

In the course of China’s strife to attain the goal, the US will try its best to hinder China’s efforts. That is the influence of Thucydides Trap. Due to the trap, Obama began his pivot to Asia to contain China, but he did not admit that the pivot aimed at dealing with China’s rise.

Trump, however, says in his recent national security strategy openly that China is the most significant national security challenge among the five major threats from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and Islamic terrorism.

China is accused of being determined to control information and data to repress its society and expand its influence. That may refer to China’s censorship, restriction of freedom of press and speech and China’s human rights system different from Western ones.

The strategy says that Trump’s doctrine is to promote individual liberty, rule of law, democratic governance, tolerance, and opportunity, which is in fact what the US has been doing for decades. It has resulted in the Tiananmen Protests, Liu Xiaobo’s Charter 08 manifesto for multi-party democracy and rights activists’ activities for human rights. China believes that such activities are instigated by the US to subvert Chinese Communist Party’s rule as the US regards promoting such activities as its doctrine.

Unlike the US that is spreading its values including individual liberty, democracy and human rights system, China has declared that it does not export its model. However, The stronger and richer China grows, the more popular its model becomes among the large number of developing countries and the deeper the US sinks in Thucydides Trap. The US will enhance its efforts to support Chinese dissidents in the hope that they will disturb China’s progress. Therefore China is defensive instead of offensive in saying no to the West in order to prevent the emergence of another Tiananmen Protests that will hinder China’ efforts to attain its ambitious goal.

As a result, China has tightened the screw in oppressing dissidents. However, I believe that it is not necessary as Xi has successfully fought rampant corruption, the major cause of Tiananmen Protests.

The separatist Islamic terrorism is a much more serious danger that may give rise to panic throughout China and hinder China’s grand plan to develop its vast west. That will make it impossible for China to attain its ambitious goal.

That is why Zhang Haitao is punished with 20-year imprisonment, much severer than Wu Gan. According to SCMP’s report “How questioning China’s security crackdown in Xinjiang led to a 20-year jail term”, Zhang questioned Xinjiang government’s policies and warned that government’s restriction on Uygurs’ religious practices may spark an insurgency only on the Internet. Unlike Wu Gan, he has not protested in the streets.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters and SCMP’s reports, full text of which can respectively be found at https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-rights/china-chides-u-s-german-embassies-after-call-for-release-of-activist-idUSKBN1EM0TB and

China hands down harshest sentence yet in multi-year rights crackdown

Christian Shepherd December 26, 2017

BEIJING (Reuters) – China sentenced a prominent rights activist to eight years in jail for subversion on Tuesday, his lawyer said, the harshest sentence to be passed so far in a government crackdown on activism that began more than two years ago.

Wu Gan, a blogger better known by his online name “Super Vulgar Butcher”, regularly championed sensitive cases of government abuses of power, both online and in street protests. He was detained in May 2015 and later charged with subversion.

Yan Xin, Wu’s lawyer, told Reuters he planned to appeal against the eight-year sentence handed down by the Tianjin Municipality’s No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court.

Wu criticized China’s political system online and used performance art to create disturbances, as well as insulting people and spreading false information, according to a statement form the court posted on its website.

“He carried out a string of criminal actions to subvert state power and overthrow the socialist system and seriously harmed state security and social stability,” the court said.

Wu had been using his platform before his arrest to cast doubt on the official version of events in a controversial case in which a police officer shot a petitioner in a train station in northern China’s Heilongjiang province in May 2015.

His sentence is the most severe yet in what rights groups have called an unprecedented attack on China’s rights activists and lawyers, known as the 709 crackdown, which began in earnest on July 9, 2015.

The hardline approach to rights activism has shown no sign of softening as Chinese President Xi Jinping enters his second five-year term in office.

The decision to release the sentence the day after Christmas, when there would likely be less attention from diplomats and international observers, “reeks of cynical political calculation”, said Patrick Poon, Hong Kong-based researcher for Amnesty International.

China’s foreign ministry could not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Wu’s detention led to his father, Xu Xiaoshun, also taking up activism. Xu told Reuters in July he felt compelled to speak out on his son’s behalf after authorities asked him to say Wu was guilty.

The crackdown has also spurred other family members to take up activism.

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Paul Tait

Source: Reuters “China hands down harshest sentence yet in multi-year rights crackdown”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

Related posts:

  • Xi Jinping Thought, Declaration of ‘China Can Say No’ (1) on December 14
  • China Says No to Western, Advocates Its Own Human Rights Standards on December 16
  • China Held World Forum to Promote Its Human Rights System on December 20
  • China tells U.S. not to be a ‘human rights judge’ after sanctions on Chinese official on December 23


Prominent rights activist Xu Zhiyong freed from Chinese jail

File photo: Chinese rights advocate Xu Zhiyong speaks during a meeting in Beijing in this handout photo dated March 30, 2013.Xiao Guozhen/Handout via Reuters

Philip Wen and Natalie Thomas July 15, 2017 / 2:41 PM / 16 minutes ago

BEIJING (Reuters) – One of China’s most prominent rights activists was released by the authorities on Saturday after serving a four-year sentence that prompted international criticism, with his lawyer saying he hoped he would be allowed to live as a free man.

Xu Zhiyong, whose “New Citizens’ Movement” advocated working within the system to press for change, was detained in 2013 and subsequently convicted of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order”.

One of the group’s main demands had been for officials to publicly disclose their assets, a demand taken against the backdrop of the ruling Communist Party’s own efforts to crackdown on deep-seat corruption under President Xi Jinping.

Xu’s lawyer, Zhang Qingfang, told Reuters he had brought Xu up to speed with “events on the outside”, including the death of fellow activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo. He said Xu was “upset” upon hearing the news.

Zhang said Xu, who was released from his jail on Beijing’s outskirts on Saturday morning, was in good physical condition and had few immediate plans beyond spending time with family.

At the height of Xu’s activism, he attracted hundreds of supporters who participated in activities related to the movement, having first gained prominence in 2003 for helping victims of tainted baby formula and migrant workers without access to healthcare and education.

It prompted a crackdown from the Communist Party, which swiftly crushes any perceived challenge to its rule.

“The idea of the New Citizens Movement is not to overthrow, but to establish,” he wrote in a 2010 essay. “It’s not one social class displacing another social class, but allowing righteousness to take its place in China.”

Xu refused to defend himself in his 2014 trial, and remained silent as a way to protest what Zhang said was a controlled legal process where a guilty outcome was a foregone conclusion.

As international rights groups and foreign governments call for Chinese authorities to guarantee freedom for Liu Xiaobo’s widow, Liu Xia, Xu’s supporters have also expressed concern whether he will remain under close watch or effective house arrest. Some said on social media they were barred by security guards and plain-clothed officers from entering Xu’s apartment compound on Saturday.

Other high-profile and politically sensitive prisoners released from jail, including rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and journalist Gao Yu, remain closely watched by Chinese authorities.

“I hope he will be completely free,” Zhang said.

Xu taught law at a Beijing university and ran in a local election. He became prominent over a drive to abolish “custody and repatriation” powers, a form of arbitrary detention used by local governments to sweep homeless people off the streets.

Editing by Ben Blanchard and Jacqueline Wong

Source: Reuters “Prominent rights activist Xu Zhiyong freed from Chinese jail”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

Detained China dissident Cao Shunli near death-close friend

A young girl stands between protesters from a human rights group during a rally against what the U.N. believes is the recent repatriation of nine North Korean defectors from Laos, in front of the Foreign Ministry in Seoul June 5, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

A young girl stands between protesters from a human rights group during a rally against what the U.N. believes is the recent repatriation of nine North Korean defectors from Laos, in front of the Foreign Ministry in Seoul June 5, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

Prominent Chinese human rights activist Cao Shunli, detained in September for staging sit-ins at the Foreign Ministry, has organ failure and only a few days to live after being denied medical treatment in detention, said a close friend on Saturday.

Cao’s death would generate an outcry from China’s fledgling rights community and criticism from the West, which has expressed concern about her case.

News of Cao’s deteriorating health comes two days before the start of a session in Geneva of the U.N. Human Rights Council, a body to which China was elected with controversy last November.

“Yesterday at 10 am, the hospital informed the family members to rush to the hospital and said the condition is terminal,” Liu Xiaofang, a close friend of Cao, told Reuters.

Liu also went to the hospital and spoke with a doctor surnamed Su who was treating Cao.

“He stressed one point: that Cao Shunli’s situation is extremely bad and was caused by her long time in detention. He’s extremely dissatisfied with the situation and told the police: this is a person’s life, you can’t treat this as a game.”

Cao’s kidneys were failing and the doctor told Liu she had two or three days to live.

Cao staged a two-month sit-in with other activists outside the Foreign Ministry beginning in June to press for the public to be allowed to contribute to a national human rights report.

She went missing in mid-September after authorities prevented her from flying to Geneva for a human rights training program. She was formally arrested in October on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”, the watchdog group Human Rights in China said.

Human Rights in China had quoted her lawyer last month as saying she suffered from tuberculosis, liver disease and other conditions. Medical parole had been denied until she was seriously ill.

Wang Yu, Cao’s lawyer, told Reuters that Cao’s younger brother planned to sue the Chaoyang District Detention Centre in Beijing, where Cao was being held, for its “criminal acts” in refusing to give Cao medical treatment, resulting in her malnutrition and deterioration in health.

Hundreds of activists along with Cao had urged officials to reply to their requests to participate in drafting China’s national human rights report ahead of the country’s Universal Periodic Review by the United Nations in October.

Cao had been at the forefront of efforts to take part in the process to join the Universal Periodic Review since 2008.

Source: Reuters “Detained China dissident Cao Shunli near death-close friend”

Related posts

  • EU ‘seriously concerned’ about China crackdown on rights activists dated February 2, 2014
  • China Sentences Legal Activist Xu Zhiyong to 4 Years in Jail dated January 26, 2014
  • Democracy, Rights Activist Xu Zhiyong Issues Defiant Statement during Court Trial dated January 23, 2014
  • China arrests activist who campaigned about leaders’ wealth dated August 25, 2013
  • China: Unusual appraisal of activists by state media dated August 25, 2013
  • China: Activist Xu Zhiyong smuggles video speech out of detention centre date August 8, 2013
  • China: Democracy activist Xu Zhiyong defiant despite pressure dated December 1, 2012

China: Activist Xu Zhiyong smuggles video speech out of detention centre

In the video, Xu Zhiyong talks about the need for citizens to defend their rights in "this age of absurdity". Photo: SCMP

In the video, Xu Zhiyong talks about the need for citizens to defend their rights in “this age of absurdity”. Photo: SCMP

Detained academic Xu Zhiyong says he’ll give up his freedom to help drive political change

The detained activist and legal scholar Xu Zhiyong said he was willing to exchange his freedom for a China with “liberty, justice and love” in a brief video apparently shot and smuggled out of police detention last week.

The 40-year-old lecturer at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications was detained by Beijing police more than two weeks ago on a charge of “gathering a crowd to disturb order in public places”.

Appearing in the video in handcuffs and an orange jail vest, Xu said the real reason he was being detained was his advocacy for ordinary citizens to exercise their constitutional rights and responsibilities, his push for equal education rights for migrant children and his call for officials to declare their assets.

Xu founded the New Citizen social initiative last year, which pushes for democracy, rule of law and basic civil rights. Xu has said previously that he estimates the movement has thousands of supporters across the county.

“In this ludicrous day and age, these are my three major crimes,” he said. But, he added, no matter how “rotten and absurd this society is”, the country needed courageous citizens to stand up for their beliefs.

“For society to progress, someone has to pay a price. I am willing to pay that price for the sake of my belief in freedom, justice and love,” he said in the video which lasts less than 90 seconds.

He called on his supporters to respect their rights and responsibilities as citizens to fight for democracy.

“We will be able to build a China with liberty, justice and love,” he said.

In a phone interview with the South China Morning Post in December during house arrest, Xu that he was not afraid of jail. It’s not clear who shot the video but only lawyers normally have access to people held in custody. Xu is at the Beijing No3 police detention centre.

The video has been available online since Wednesday.

Although liberals were heartened by President Xi Jinping’s rhetoric on constitutional rule in December shortly after he assumed the party leadership, the detention of Xu and others campaigning for official accountability has raised fears that the government still has little tolerance for its critics.

As of Wednesday, 2,675 people had signed an online petition for the release of Xu and other activists detained for demanding officials disclose their assets. One of the initiators of the petition, journalist Xiao Shu, was himself detained by police for two days last week.

Xu has been held in custody or placed under house arrest without charge numerous times since 2009, after authorities closed his non-profit legal aid centre, called Gongmeng, or the Open Constitution Initiative, and detained him for nearly a month. He has been barred from teaching at his university since then.

Xu’s close friend, legal scholar Teng Biao, said earlier Xu’s detention was the latest in a crackdown on dozens of activists across the country who were involved in the campaign for official accountability.

Source: SCMP “Activist Xu Zhiyong smuggles video speech out of detention centre”

China: Rights Activist Xu Zhiyong Criminally Detained, Home Searched

Xu Zhiyong

Rights activist Xu Zhiyong

According to our sources, Xu Zhiyong, one of China’s best known dissidents and activists, has been criminally detained on Tuesday, July 16. Per an earlier report by weiquanwang and information circulated on Twitter, Dr. Xu was taken away from his Beijing home Tuesday afternoon, and his computers and cellphones were seized.

Dr. Xu is one of the founders of Gong Meng, or the Open Constitution Initiative, and a lecturer at Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications. In the last couple of years, he has been tirelessly advocating civil action such as same-city citizen dinner gatherings, equal education rights, and what is more generally known as the new citizens’ movement.

According to the Notice of Detention, Dr. Xu was detained for allegedly “gathering crowds to disrupt order in public venues.”

In addition, Song Ze has been disappeared since the night of July 12, and no relatives and friends have been able to get in touch with him. He is a volunteer with Gong Meng, and for much of 2012, he had been “residing under surveillance.” Because another two activists associated with Gong Meng, Li Huanjun and Li Gang, were criminally detained also on the evening of July 12, it is believed that Song Ze was also detained.

The detention of Dr. Xu’s and three others are believed to be part of the crackdown on civic actions that is on the rise in Beijing, Shanghai and other cities. In April, Beijing police detained 10 citizens for publicly demanding asset disclosure by government officials. In May, the government announced the formal arrest of the ten on trumped up charges such as “illegal assembly”, “provoking disturbances”, “gathering to disrupt social order”, “inciting to subvert state power” and more. One of the ten, Qi Yueying, a native Beijinger whose house was demolished in a grotesquely unfair compensation deal, was charged with “extortion.”

Dr. Xu has been under house arrest since April 12.

Rights activist Guo Yushan

Rights activist Guo Yushan

We also learned on Twitter that Guo Yushan, founder of the Transition Institute and the man who picked up Chen Guangcheng, after the latter escaped, and sent him to the safety of the US Embassy in Beijing, has also been under house arrest for two weeks. It might have to do with his organizing the “Meal Delivery” activities on Weibo that raise money for political prisoners and civil activists or their families who face extreme financial difficulty and need urgent relief.

Since Xi Jinping took power, close to 80 citizens have been detained or arrested for activities ranging from dinner gatherings to displaying banners in the streets to June 4th-related activities. Given the moderate nature of these acts, it is clear that the authorities are becoming extremely intolerant of anything they perceive as threatening, especially when the activities show any form of “organization.”

Source: China Change “Xu Zhiyong Criminally Detained, Home Searched”