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News Update

April 18, 2001

MORE ARRESTS OF CHINESE-BORN OVERSEAS RESIDENTS




As news emerged of more arrests of people originally from mainland China now resident overseas, the US State Department issued a travel advisory for all Chinese-born US citizens who plan to travel to China. Over the last six months, the Ministry of State Security has detained a number of such individuals. Observers are still speculating about the exact reasons why these people are being targeted.


  • Qin Guangguang, a US permanent resident and vice president of UMIC, a Chinese-American pharmaceutical company, was detained in December 2000 on charges that remain unclear. He studied at the University of Michigan, Stanford University and the University of Chicago from 1989 to 1992. He has worked for UMIC since 1994.



  • Wu Jianmin, 46, a journalist, researcher and Chinese-born US citizen, was detained in Shenzhen on April 8. The reasons for his arrest remain unclear.



  • Liu Yaping, 48, a US-based businessman, was detained in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, on March 8 for alleged tax evasion or and failing to pay the investment deposit required to open a company that designs Web sites. Although charged with minor economic crimes, Liu has been held incommunicado, and is reportedly suffering from leaking aneurysms, a potentially fatal condition. He is also suffering from vision and speech problems, headaches and vomiting. Since minor economic offenses are normally punished by fines, there is speculation that Liu’s harsh treatment stems from his involvement in an internal dispute within the Public Security Bureau. (AFP, NYT)


DETENTIONS



  • Labor activist Li Wangyang was arrested on May 6 by Shaoyang City PSB on charges of “incitement to overthrow state power.” His sister, Li Wanglin, and her husband Zhao Baozhu were also detained, and she was subsequently charged with the same offense as her brother. Zhao was released after more than 10 hours of questioning. Both Li and his sister remain in custody.



    Li Wangyang served 11 years of a 13-year prison sentence for his participation in the 1989 democracy movement. He had recently gone on a hunger strike to demand that the authorities pay for medical treatment for ailments caused by abuse he suffered in prison. (HRIC)



  • Hu Mingjun, Zheng Yongliang and Wang Shen, three dissidents who helped steel factory workers from southern Sichuan organize a large protest to demand back wages were detained on May 29. They will reportedly be tried in late July.



  • Chi Shouzhu, 41, who was released in June 1999 from prison after completing a 10-year sentence for involvement in the 1989 demonstrations, was arrested in April in Changchun, where he was seeking medical treatment for ailments he developed in prison. Chi was arrested at the train station in Changchun for printing and carrying essays about democracy downloaded from overseas Web sites.



  • Yang Zilin, 30, who developed the Web site lib.126.com where he posted articles that included criticisms of the government’s crackdown on Falungong and China’s policies towards Taiwan, as well as calls for political reform, was detained on March 13. Three young university graduates, Xu Wei, Jin Haike and Zhang Honghai, all friends of Yang, were detained around the same time. They had established the “New Youth Society,” a discussion group that drew wide participation from university students. Discussions often focused on the need for political reform. All four men have been charged with subversion. (AFP, NYT, SCMP)


TRIALS & SENTENCES



  • On June 13, a court in Jize County, Hebei Province, sentenced eight farmers to up to five and a half years in prison for participating in anti-government riots. The farmers allegedly tried to set a government building on fire, smashed windows and overturned a police car in September of last year. Farmers in Jize experienced difficulties last year when swarms of insects seriously diminished their harvests. Ignoring their situation, local officials increased the grain levies from the year before. (AFP)



  • The Chengdu Intermediate Court in Sichuan Province announced on June 26 that the trial of Huang Qi had been postponed indefinitely. Huang, who published the Tianwang Web site (www.6-4-tianwang.com), was scheduled to face trial on June 27 on charges of subversion. A reason was not given for the delay. This is the second time in six months that Huang’s trial has been postponed.



    Huang was detained on June 3, 2000, after articles about topics, including the 1989 democracy movement, were posted on Tianwang, a site originally focused on helping people find missing persons. There is no indication that he wrote the offending articles.



    According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Huang is one of 14 people in China who have been arrested for publishing or distributing information on the Internet since 1998.



  • Liu Weifang, an Internet essayist, who posted politically controversial material on Internet chat rooms, was sentenced to three years in prison in mid-June. Liu was convicted of subversion. (CPJ)



  • Guo Qinghai, 36, a bank economist, was sentenced on April 26 to four years in jail for posting pro-democracy writings on the Internet. Guo was charged with subversion, court officials said. Guo, a freelance writer from the northeastern city of Cangzhou near Beijing, was detained in September 2000 after he posted several articles calling for democracy and political reforms on “bulletin boards” of Web sites set up overseas. (AFP)



  • Four farmers from Yunyang County, He Kechang, Ran Chongxin, Jiang Qingshan and Wen Dingchun, were reportedly about to be tried for petitioning the authorities to stop the coercion and corruption involved in resettling rural residents from Gaoyang Township, Yunyang County, to make way for the Three Gorges Dam reservoir. Three of the men were arrested in March after they traveled to Beijing to submit petitions detailing systematic embezzlement of funds set aside for resettlement. The fourth was arrested in Gaoyang around the same time. They are charged with disturbing the social order, leaking state secrets and maintaining illicit relations with a foreign country. (HRW)



  • On April 13, a Xi’an court official announced that six members of a Buddhist-inspired Taiwanese spiritual sect have been imprisoned for up to eight years. Adherent Liu Shiyao was sentenced to eight years, while the other sentences ranged between three and six years. The six are all practitioners of the Guan Yin Method movement that claims half a million members in China. They were detained for distributing movement literature and for seeking new recruits at local universities.



    The sect reportedly first appeared in China in 1992. It was established by a Taiwanese woman who is called “Supreme Master Ching Hai” and “Enlightened Master from the Himalayas” by practitioners. The movement claims followers in more than 40 countries. (AFP)


TORTURE




Fang Jue, the jailed political reformer, is reportedly suffering from dementia after not being allowed to speak for eight months. In an effort to force Fang to acknowledge his guilt, authorities in Beijing’s Liangxiang Prison prevented him from speaking since last year through a combination of solitary confinement and pressure from other inmates. It is reported that prison officials initiated a practice of delivering sealed daily newspapers to his cell at his expense, but forbade him to open them. Fang had already developed frostbite and other ailments after being held in sub-zero temperatures, and now also has trouble walking.



Formerly a vice director of the planning commission in Fuzhou Province, Fang left his post in 1995. He penned China Needs a New Transformation: Program Proposals of the Democratic Faction, released to the media in 1998, which presented the views of progressives in the CCP. He was detained in July 1998 and is serving a four-year prison term on trumped-up criminal charges. (HRIC)





CENSORSHIP




This month the propaganda bureau initiated a nationwide campaign to educate journalists about Marxist-style news, and the dangers of being influenced by “Western style” journalism. Those who fail tests given by the propaganda department will be dismissed from their jobs.


  • An editor from the popular Dahe News has been dismissed, and another publicly criticized, after the paper published two reports on corruption in the government. Deputy editor, Ma Yunlong, was fired in June, and editor Ma Guoqiang was criticized in other newspapers for allowing the stories to run.



    Dahe ran a story in March about a national health insurance conference in Henan, which alleged that many pharmaceutical companies hired attractive young women to sell their products and entertain government health officials in their hotel rooms. The paper also printed interviews with overseas investors in Henan’s Zhoukou City who complained corruption was rife among city officials. An official from Henan Daily said Ma’s dismissal was awaiting final approval by the propaganda department. (AFP)



  • Restrictions on domestic Web sites are being stepped up. Beijing will launch a three-month ban on the opening of new cyber cafes, an official said on April 14. “We cannot neglect the influence of the Internet on teenagers’ growth and social development,” Information Industry Minister Wu Jichuan was quoted by the official Xinhua news agency as saying.



    Earlier this year, China’s leading Web site, Sina.com, was ordered to close its chatroom after outraged users posted messages decrying government denials that school-children killed in an explosion in Fanglin, Jiangxi, had been illegally manufacturing fireworks. (AFP, ICHRD)


PRISONERS KILLED IN MINE




Thirty-nine miners, all believed to be prisoners from a labor camp, were presumed dead in late May after being trapped for five days in Qinglongzhui coal mine in Sichuan Province due to burst water pipes. An employee at a jail in Yibin City where the mine is located said that the miners were all prisoners from the province’s reform through labor bureau. Asked why the bureau would run a mine, another city spokesman said: “It is a way of reforming prisoners.” (AFP)





JUNE FOURTH ANNIVERSARY




To commemorate the 12th anniversary of the June Fourth 1989 Massacre, the Tiananmen Mothers group called upon all people of conscience to continue to demand accountability for the tragedy. In an open letter, they wrote, “We support all economic reforms that would bring prosperity to the Chinese people... but strongly oppose stagnation and regression in the political arena; we are against the refusal to reassess the 1989 Tiananmen movement and the June Fourth incident in the name of maintaining stability.”



In Hong Kong, 48,000 people joined a candlelight vigil in Victoria Park on June 4 to remember the victims of the massacre 12 years ago. The protest was organized by the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China. The event featured a recorded message from Ding Zilin, a leading figure in the Tiananmen Mothers group who lost her 17-year-old son in the massacre. (HRIC, AP, AFP)





THOUSANDS EXECUTED




Thousand of executions have been carried out in the authorities’ latest “Strike Hard” campaign. According to AFP, more than 480 people were executed in the first three weeks of this campaign. The actual number is believed to be much higher because many reports refer only to a “group” of criminals put to death. AI has monitored reports of close to 1,800 executions carried out over the past three months alone.



Police have been ordered to achieve “quick approval, quick arrest, quick trial and quick results” in cracking criminal cases. “Curtailed procedures, plus great pressure on police and judicial authorities mean that the potential for miscarriages of justice, arbitrary sentencing and the execution of innocent people is immense,” AI said. (AFP, AI)





FALUNGONG DEATHS




On June 20, at least 10 Falungong followers died in a mass suicide in protest against the extension of their detention at a labor camp in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province. Sixteen practitioners reportedly attempted suicide at the camp after their detention in the camp was extended from three to six months. The extension was said to be a punishment for a hunger strike initiated by the practitioners in protest against frequent beatings.



Last week, an official at a police station close to Wanjia Labor Camp where the women were alleged to have died confirmed that “several” Falungong followers had in fact died, before the event was officially confirmed by Chinese authorities on July 4. Falungong also issued a statement the same day that raised the number of fatalities and challenged Beijing’s assertion that the deaths were suicides, alleging that the women were tortured to death, and that “at least 10 more practitioners remain in critical condition due to the same treatment.”



Falungong also reported four more deaths of Falungong practitioners in Macheng City, Hubei Province. The group claims more than 250 members have died due to torture and ill treatment while in police custody to date. In the latest cases, one follower was reportedly beaten to death, one beaten unconscious and set on fire in front of a government building in what authorities claimed was a self-immolation and two others were dragged to their deaths chained to motorcycles driven at high speeds.



Another practitioner, Xue Zhilian, an elementary school teacher living in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, reportedly died after being shot in the head by police in her home on June 28. (AFP, ICHRD, NYT)





AWARD FOR AIDS ACTIVIST




Dr. Gao Yaojie, 74, a retired Chinese physician who has been trying to expose the rapid spread of HIV in rural Henan and educate people about the disease despite harassment and intimidation from provincial officials, was denied permission to travel to the United States to receive an award on May 29. She was due to accept the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights from the Global Health Council, a US-based nonprofit organization. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan attended the award ceremony. Dr. Gao, a retired gynecologist, said from her home in Zhengzhou that the authorities had accused her of “working for anti-China forces,” and refused to issue her a passport. (AFP, WP)





ORGANS FOR SALE




On June 27, Wang Guoqi, 38, a former Chinese Army doctor, told a US Congressional committee that he had helped harvest organs from executed prisoners in China. In testimony branded by Beijing as lies, Wang disclosed one instance where had removed skin from a man who had not yet died.



Wang, who is currently living in New Jersey and seeking political asylum in the United States, described to the House Committee on International Relations how he removed skin and corneas from the bodies of more than 100 executed prisoners in China between 1989 and 1995 while working as an army specialist in treating burn victims. At a news conference in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Zhang Qiyue, refuted the accounts, and claimed that Wang’s testimony was “sensational lies” and a “vicious slander” against China. “With regard to the trade in human organs, China strictly prohibits that,” Zhang said. “The major source of human organs comes from voluntary donations from Chinese citizens.”



However, Zhang did not deny that China removed organs from executed prisoners, a practice that is allowed under regulations issued by the country’s highest court in 1984. The regulations reportedly only permit the practice with either consent of the condemned prisoner or the prisoner’s family.



Dr. Wang’s testimony adds to an increasing amount of evidence China is selling organs from executed prisoners, often to people from overseas. (NYT, WP)





UN COMMISSION




In April, a no action-motion introduced by China once again blocked discussion of a US-sponsored resolution on China’s human rights situation presented at the 57th UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva. Delegates burst into applause when the result of the voting on China’s motion at the 53 member body was announced. The tally was 23 in favor, 17 against and 12 abstentions.



By using this controversial procedural move, China has managed to avoid an examination of its human rights record during the Commission year after year. Chinese dissidents, including >Wei Jingsheng, president of the Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition, and Tibetan exiles, expressed disappointment over the outcome of the vote. US ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli introduced the resolution, saying it was “fair and balanced,” and recognized China’s enormous successes in economic reforms. “China should follow the same international standards that every other country does,” she said. “No country should escape review.”



China’s ambassador Qiao Zonghuai attacked the US resolution by accusing the US of “double standards,” citing “rampant racial discrimination” and recent riots in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Chinese delegation expressed “admiration and thanks” after victory. (Reuters)





HRIC EXCLUDED FROM UN CONFERENCE




On May 22, UN member states voted to reject HRIC’s application for accreditation to the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), to be held in South Africa from August 31 to September 7. The Chinese government strongly opposed HRIC’s request to participate despite the Conference Secretariat’s recommendation that HRIC be accredited. The Second Preparatory Committee of the WCAR voted by a tight majority of 50 to 45, with 17 abstentions, to deny HRIC’s accreditation. However, The International Campaign For Tibet (ICT) and the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD) were both granted accreditation by a very narrow margin of votes. HRIC Executive Director Xiao Qiang has accepted an invitation to be a member of ICT’s delegation at the Conference. (HRIC)





ABBREVIATIONS




AFP - Agence France Presse

AI - Amnesty International

AP - Associated Press

CCP - Chinese Communist Party

CPJ - Committee to Protect Journalists

HRIC - Human Rights in China

HRW - Human Rights Watch

ICHRD - Information Center for Human Rights & Democracy

NYT - New York Times

PSB - Public Security Bureau

SCMP - South China Morning Post

WP - Washington Post





Compiled by Julia Kao & Joseph Chaney


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