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July 18, 2001

HRIC is frequently asked, “What can I do to make a difference?” This page gives suggestions on what you can do in specific areas of concern.


Labor activist Li Wangyang, 51, has just been sentenced to 10 years in prison by a court in his native Shaoyang, Hunan Province, for launching a campaign to insist that the government pay for treatment of medical conditions he developed while serving 11 years in prison for his involvement in the 1989 demonstrations.

In June 1996, Li was transferred to hospital for treatment of heart disease. He then developed severe hearing and vision problems after his return to prison in March 1997, and his general health deteriorated to such a degree that he could not walk without assistance.

A medical examination following Li’s release in June 2000 revealed that in addition to heart disease, he also suffered from neck problems and had apparently shrunk in height during his stay in prison. Li measured 182 centimeters before entering prison. Eleven years later, he measured only 173 centimeters, as a result of being beaten and confined to a cramped cell for many years.

With no source of income and facing large medical bills without health insurance, Li repeatedly petitioned the Shaoyang government to take responsibility for his health problems. When they ignored him, he went on a hunger strike. As a result, he has been sent to prison again.

In addition, Li’s sister, Li Wanlin, has been sentenced to a three-year Reeducation Through Labor (RTL) term for helping her brother get news of his campaign to the outside world. She is currently serving her term in the Hunan Provincial Zhuzhou RTL Institute.

Send appeals calling for the immediately and unconditional release of Li Wangyang and Li Wanlin, and for Li Wangyang to receive prompt and appropriate medical attention, to:

  • Zhang Guoguang Daishengzhang (Acting Provincial Governor) Hunansheng Renmin Zhengfu, 7 Wuyizhonglu, Changshashi 410011, Hunansheng, PRC

  • Wu Zhenhan Tingzhang (Director of the Provincial Department of Justice), Sifating, 2 Shaoshanlu, Changshashi 410011, Hunansheng, PRC

Send copies of these letters to the foreign ministry of your country and to your parliamentary representative and to:


During its July-August session, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) reviewed a report on the implementation of the treaty in the PRC. (See page 20 for more information.) In its concluding comments CERD made a series of constructive comments and recommendations to the PRC government, covering issues including the need for a legal definition of discrimination; the need for effective penalties for discriminatory acts and remedies for victims of discrimination; the need for development policies that fully respect all kinds of rights; equal access of minorities to education and the need for education that respects cultural and linguistic diversity; and the need for a mechanism for screening asylum seekers from North Korea. CERD’s recommendations are available at:

Unfortunately, there is a complete blackout on domestic news of such hearings and their conclusions, and documents relating to treaty body reviews are not readily available to people in China. Few people are aware that such documents even exist. Therefore we encourage those who will be traveling to China for conferences and exchanges, especially for those relating to minority issues, to circulate copies of the CERD’s recommendations. The recommendations may be a useful tool for those advocating improvements in the treatment of minorities in China. When the Chinese translation of the document is available in due course, we will make it available on our Web site.


Due to diplomatic pressure from the United States, Gao Zhan, Li Shaomin and Qin Guangguang were released in July after being convicted of espionage, and Wu Jianmin was allowed to leave China at the end of September after almost six months in detention. Other detained scholars who are not US citizens or residents have not been so lucky. We encourage readers to bring the following cases to the attention of their governments, urging them to seek information on the status of these individuals and exert greater pressure on the Chinese authorities to release them.

  • Xu Zerong, 45, was first detained on June 24, 2000, and formally arrested a day later in Guangzhou. Xu is a professor at Zhongshan University, where he specializes in Chinese Communist Party history, military history and Chinese relations with Southeast Asia. Chinese officials claim Xu has been involved in the “the illegal publication of books and periodicals and the sale of book authorization numbers since 1993.” Unconfirmed reports claim that Xu has already been sent to an undisclosed labor camp.

  • Qu Wei, 47, was convicted and sentenced to a 13-year prison term for allegedly giving state secrets to Gao Zhan and Li Shaomin, but unlike them, remains in prison. Qu, a Chinese citizen, is accused of providing Gao Zhan with photocopied articles from books and magazines about China’s relations with Taiwan.

If you wish to make a donation to help the families of detained activists, make a contribution to HRIC’s humanitarian fund by sending a check made out to HUMAN RIGHTS IN CHINA to our New York office.


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