Saturday, November 26, 2022

Censorship of Court Judgments in the PRC

This blog has previously discussed the issue of "data missingness" in the case of administrative punishment decisions - see "Disappearing Government Records Show Police Ordering People, Companies to Stop Using Foreign VPNs" This post will cover the "data missingness" that has occurred with respect to court judgments on the "China Judgments Online" database.

Volume 22, No. 3 (August 2022) of The China Review included an essay by Chao Xi titled "How the Chinese Judiciary Works: New Insights from Data-Driven Research" ( According to Chao, Professor and Outstanding Fellow, Associate Dean (Research), and Chair, Corporate Law and Governance Cluster of the Centre for Comparative and Transnational Law at the Faculty of Law, The Chinese University of Hong Kong:

One of the most pressing methodological challenges of CJO-based, datadriven research on Chinese law and courts is the problem of data missingness. Missing data can potentially undermine the validity of data driven research results. There are three types of missing data: missing data completely at random, missing data at random, and missing data not at random (MNAR). 

. . . .

Prior research suggests that the CJO is, in general, susceptible to the MNAR problem.8 It is true that the CJO is one of the world’s largest databases of freely accessible court decisions. However, it does not oer a full coverage of Chinese court decisions, despite the SPC rules mandating disclosure of judicial opinions. By design, the mandatory requirement for publishing cases in the CJO has built-in exceptions that give considerable discretion and leeway to Chinese courts to selectively upload court decisions onto the CJO, and to remove them from it. What has largely remained empirically unknown is the nature, scope and scale of data missingness in the CJO, as well as the institutional incentives/constraints that drive it.

. . . 

Yang, Qin and He’s descriptive analysis of CJO publications estimates that around 60 percent of Chinese court decisions rendered in 2017 had been made publicly accessible on the CJO, a notable improvement on the record of previous years. They also observe considerable variations across case types in respect of disclosure ratios. Liu, Wong, Yi and Zhang’s study, which focuses on court cases involving Chinese listed companies, lends support to this observation. Insofar as that cohort of court decisions is concerned, local courts fail to disclose more than 60 percent of the judgments handed down. Importantly, their research empirically shows that the court’s selective disclosure is driven by favoritism and private interests and that it is sensitive to broader political considerations.

In 2013, the PRC Supreme People's Court launched its "China Judgments Online" database ("the CJO database"), and issued a notice requiring courts at all levels to publish their judgments on the Internet. See: "Supreme People's Court Provisions on People's Courts' Publishing Judgment Documents on the Internet" (最高人民法院关于人民法院在互联网公布裁判文书的规定), issued November 21, 2013, effective January 1, 2014 ( Amended and reissued on August 29, 2016 ("the SPC Notice," See also "Number of Judgments on China Judgments Online Exceeds 100m," Supreme People's Court, September 1, 2020, "On Aug 30, 2016, the SPC released a revised version of the regulation first released in 2013, requiring courts to enhance the judgments' publicity." Subsequently deleted. Archived at:

Article 3 of the SPC Notice states that all criminal, civil, and administrative judgments shall be published on the Internet ("人民法院作出的下列裁判文书应当在互联网公布: (一)刑事、民事、行政判决书"). 

Article 4 of the SPC Notice requires that courts shall not publish a judgment on the Internet if it:

  1. involves state secrets; 
  2. involves crimes by minors, 
  3. was resolved through mediation, 
  4. involves divorce or minors and guardianship, and 
  5. is deemed unsuitable by the court for online publication.

Interestingly, the 2013 version of the SPC Notice also included an exception for "personal privacy" (个人隐私), but this exception did not appear in the 2016 version.

Article 6 of the SPC Notice requires that where a judgement is not published on the Internet, the case number, trial court, date of judgment, and reasons for non-publication shall be published, except where publishing the above information may reveal state secrets.

It was well documented that as early as 2020 judgments implicating politically sensitive matters, such as prosecutions for online speech, would appear in the China Judgments Online database, only to disappear after drawing the attention of commentators. For example:

  • The Luo Daiqing judgment was originally posted on China Judgments Online on December 19, 2019. That case first began being discussed online in late January 2020, but it was no longer available on the CJO database as of January 23, 2020. For more on this, see Donald Clarke's extensive essay on this topic at The full text of the Luo Daiqing judgment in English and Chinese can be found in "State Prosecutions of Speech in the People's Republic of China: Cases Illustrating the Application of National Security and Public Order Laws to Political and Religious Expression." Available at SSRN:
The Luo Daiqing Judgment on the CJO database before it was deleted.

On January 16 [2021], I posted the case of someone surnamed Li, an internet user in Jincheng, Shanxi Province, who received a prison sentence for posting “negative speech implicating Xi [Jinping]” on Twitter and WeChat. The judgement was taken offline shortly afterwards.

  • On June  24, 2021 the Los Angles Times published a report titled "He Tried to Commemorate Erased History. China Detained Him, Then Erased That Too." That report noted: 

Dong was quiet for several months after his release. But on June 4, 2020, he emailed The Times about his experience and provided a link to a judgment issued by the Beijing Dongcheng People’s Court. The Times verified the judgment, which was documented in a public archive of court rulings kept by the Supreme People’s Court online. 

Last month, he contacted The Times again: The record of his arrest had vanished. 

“In their eyes, it’s as if our detention never happened. It’s as if they never did it to us,” Dong said. “They deleted it … as if they can just delete all Chinese people’s memories.... With one stroke of the arm they can cover the sky.”

It wasn’t just Dong’s case. Thousands of politically sensitive cases disappeared last month from China Judgments Online, the public archive.

At about the same time as the Los Angeles Times report was published it became clear that, rather than engage in piecemeal deletions, the CJO database was being purged of entire categories of judgments. On June 24 an announcement appeared at the bottom of the CJO database home page stating "Announcement: Due to technical reasons, some of the judgement documents are currently being migrated. We would like to apologize for the inconvenience caused to visitors, and we will try our best to complete the corresponding technical work in the next few days. We ask for your understanding." (公告因技术原因,目前部分案由裁判文书正在迁移中。由此造成访问者的不便,我们谨表歉意,并努力在近日内完成相应技术工作,敬请广大访问者谅解).

The screenshot on the left from June 23 shows no announcement. The screenshot on the right from June 24 shows the announcement (the grey bar at the bottom).

The migration announcement was removed at some time on the evening of July 1. The screenshots below show the number of documents that were available on the CJO database on May 25, 2021 (Left) and July 1, 2021 (Right). They show that pre-migration there were at least 9,442,749 criminal documents, while after the migration had concluded the total was 9,367,949 criminal cases. That's a reduction of 74,800 cases.


Commentators immediately began discussing which cases had been deleted. For example:

As if overnight, theft, gambling, export tax fraud, fraud, traffic accidents, sales of fake and shoddy products, refusal to execute, bribery and embezzlement and other irrelevant judgments are all inconvenient to go online.

Even in general cases such as theft, refusal to execute, and sale of counterfeit and shoddy products, the reason for the decision not to go online is that it involves state secrets.

In addition to these, some judgments that have been online have even been withdrawn, and the reasons for the withdrawal are either state secrets or "other circumstances that the people's court considers inappropriate to publish on the Internet."

As shown in the before-and-after screenshots below, the article was subsequently censored and replaced with a notice saying "This content cannot be accessed because it violates regulations" (此内容因违规无法查看 ).

  • On July 11, 2021, a Weixin account named "法天说法" published an article titled "Why are There Signs of Decline in Judicial Openness?" [司法公开为何出现倒退的迹象?], original link: Archived at: That article noted:
In June 2006, as the first mainland Chinese visiting scholar of the Law Institute of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan, I worked at the Prosecutor’s Office of the High Court of Taiwan, the Taipei District Court, the District Court’s Prosecutor’s Office, the Association of Prosecutors, the Bar Association, and the Judicial Training Institute. . . At that time, I deeply felt the atmosphere of judicial openness on the other side.

Some Internet users discovered that overnight theft, gambling, export tax fraud, fraud, traffic accidents, selling fake and inferior products, refusal to execute crimes, bribery and corruption, etc., were not allowed to go online [on the China Judgments Online database]. The reason turned out to involve state secrets. Some judgments that have been online have even been withdrawn, and the reason for the withdrawal is either related to state secrets or "other circumstances that the people's court considers inappropriate to be published on the Internet." Now you look for the verdict of some cases that aroused public opinion,  and find that they have also disappeared magically, as if they had never appeared before.

As shown in the before-and-after screenshots below, this article was also subsequently censored and replaced with a notice saying "This content cannot be accessed because it violates regulations" (此内容因违规无法查看 ).

In a blow to judicial transparency, all judgments and judicial decisions for endangering state security (ESS) cases, including those for sentence reduction, have been purged from the Supreme People's Court (SPC) online judgment website China Judgements Online (CJO, 中国裁判文书网).

The SPC has selectively removed judgments on CJO for some time, but the mass purge of a full chapter of the criminal law is unprecedented. In early 2021, the built-in crimes filter on CJO yielded over 640 ESS judgments and rulings, but the whole category of ESS judgments covering Articles 102-113 of the Criminal Law disappeared in mid-July. At the time of this posting, using the CJO’s search feature to look for ESS cases, such as inciting subversion of state power, returns not a single result even though the category has returned to the filters.  

The following screenshots are from my own archives. The one on the left was taken on November 5, 2020, and shows that the CJO database used to have a browsing option for cases "Endangering State Security" (危害国家安全罪) nested under "Criminal Cases." So when I browsed for "criminal cases" in "Beijing" the CJO database said there were 50 relevant cases.  The screenshot on the right was taken on July 7, 2021, and shows that the "Endangering State Security" category no longer exists.

These screenshots were taken on November 26, 2022, and show that the CJO database's "Advanced Search" included the category "Endangering State Security." However, selecting that category and searching returned no results. 

This screenshot was taken on February 5, 2022, and shows that a search for cases assigned to the criminal offense "Disturbing the peace" (Article 293 of the Criminal Law - 寻衅滋事罪) only returned two results, both from 2021. 

There were no results from any prior years, despite the fact that, prior to the 2021 "migration," there were dozens of such court judgments available in the CJO database, including the following:

And it is clear that the censorship is ongoing and does not only apply to criminal cases. For example, the left screenshot below was taken September 19, 2021 (months after the "migration" was completed), and shows that a search for documents from 2019 containing the terms "administrative case" and "administrative detention" returned 5,501 results. The right screenshot was taken on November 9, 2022, and shows the same query only returns 5,262 results. The screenshots show reductions in number of  criminal, civil, and administrative documents.


Finally, the following cases, all of which involved punishments under Public Security Administrative Punishments Law Article 26 "其他寻衅滋事行为," and all of which could previously be found in the CJO database, have been censored:

The texts of all of the aforementioned cases, and many others that have been deleted from the CJO database, can be found in the original Chinese and in English translation in "State Prosecutions of Speech in the People's Republic of China: Cases Illustrating the Application of National Security and Public Order Laws to Political and Religious Expression." English:, Chinese:

Saturday, October 15, 2022

20th Party Congress Censorship

This blog has been following censorship of information relating to Party Congresses for over a decade now, some previous posts:

This year, the Communique of the Seventh Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China stated "it was decided at the session that the Party will convene its 20th National Congress in Beijing on October 16, 2022."

Prior to the commencement of the Congress, PRC based search engines were already devoting their home page doodles to the Party and its Congress, as shown by the screenshots taken on October 15, 2022.

In anticipation of the Congress PRC based search engines increased their already-strict censorship of information relating to Xi Jinping. Normally, PRC based search engines restrict search results for "Xi Jinping" to a whitelist of about a dozen websites under the direct control of the central government and the Party. The following screenshots show how Baidu's search results have been censored even more heavily in the run-up to the Congress: a search for "Xi Jinping" in 2020 returned almost 6 million results, while the same search the day before the Congress only returned 22 results.

At least Baidu still shows some results. Apparently Qihoo believes that it has to completely censor searches for the name of the leader of the Communist Party - a search for Xi Jinping's name on October 15, 2022 returned no results at all.

 The following screenshots also illustrate how censorship of certain terms has increased as the date of the 20th Party Congress has approached. Back in 2017 a search for "20th Big" (二十大 - shorthand for "20th Party Congress") returned results from two of Baidu's social media services (see the results in the red-outlined box): "Knowledge" (知道 - Zhidao) and "PostBar" (贴吧 - Tieba). The same search on October 15, 2022 returned no results from any social media services.

These screenshots were taken on October 15, 2022, and show neither service returns any results at all. Baidu's PostBar in fact acknowledges that it is censoring its results.

These screenshots show that in the past Baidu was able to locate hundreds of results on its Knowledge service, while now it claims it cannot find any.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Dr. Li Wenliang's "Self-Criticism" Letter

Translator's Note: This document was downloaded from the New York Times website: "Dr. Li’s Apology Letter," October 5, 2022,, which was published alongside the article "How a Chinese Doctor Who Warned of Covid-19 Spent His Final Days," October 6, 2022, According to that article: "[Li Wenliang's] employer, Wuhan Central Hospital where he worked as an eye doctor, had made him write a letter of apology, the content of which was obtained by The Times." In addition to being required to write this self-criticism, PRC police issued a formal reprimand to Dr. Li, and a translation of that reprimand can be found on p. 621 of "State Prosecutions of Speech in the People's Republic of China," For additional background on how Dr. Li was silenced and information about the Wuhan outbreak was censored, see "COVID-19 Series: People Silenced and Punished by the Chinese Government,"

Reflection and Self-Criticism on Spreading False Information Regarding the Current "Pneumonia of Unknown Origin in Wuhan" Incident  

On 2019.12.30, I self-righteously forwarded false information regarding "7 cases of SARS confirmed in the South China Seafood Market" to a social group of university classmates under circumstances where there was inaccurate sourcing of the information. Later this was spread by screenshots of unknown classmates, causing panic among the public. This led to a negative impact on the investigation, diagnosis, and treatment by the Health Commission and related departments. I have deeply reflected on this, and recognize that, as a Party member, I lacked appropriate political sensitivity, did not have enough understanding of the current laws regarding information dissemination with the development of the Internet, lacked an understanding of diseases that were not within my area of expertise, and lacked the ability to be discerning about information. In this regard, I have reviewed the Party Constitution, Party Regulations and the spirit of a series of speeches, looked for gaps, examined myself, and made an in-depth reflection and self-criticism.

1. Lack of Appropriate Political Sensitivity. My studies of the Party Constitution and Party regulations were not systematic and comprehensive, and I cannot fully utilize the relevant theories until I put them into practice. Chapter 1, Article 3 of the Party Constitution clearly stipulates that Party members must "consciously abide by the Party's discipline, first and foremost the Party's political discipline and political rules, model compliance with the laws and regulations of the State, strictly guard the secrets of the Party and the State, implement the Party's decisions, obey the Party's rules, comply with organization and assignments, and actively fulfill Party duties." I failed to identify and verify relevant information in a timely manner, easily believed external information, and published it among classmates, failing to recognize the possibility of information leakage and its serious consequences in a timely manner. SARS is extremely sensitive. The epidemic in 2003 caused an enormous threat to the lives and health of the general public, and caused serious losses to the national economy. The State has long regulated the release of information about public health emergencies. The relevant information must be “timely and accurately released by the health administrative departments of all provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government regarding any outbreak or spread of infectious diseases, and other public health emergencies in their respective administrative areas." As an individual, I had no right to release relevant information, let alone false information. I should be consistent with the Party Central Committee in my thoughts and actions.

2. Lack of Sufficient Understanding of the Regulation of Internet Communication During Sudden Events. With the popularization of computers, especially smart phones, and the rapid development of the mobile Internet, the spread of rumors about sudden events has often lead to problems such as the spread of mass panic, a decline in the government's prestige, and social disorder. The images, videos, texts, and other information disseminated through WeChat and other self-publishing platforms are voluminous and fragmented, which can easily arouse the public's curiosity and misunderstanding. This leads to a rapid rise in the attention paid to sudden events and the further spread of rumors. Within just a few hours, the relevant text and image information I sent was forwarded to other provinces, and even to media outside of China. It adversely affected the work of the government and related health and propaganda departments. This is something I didn't expect, and I feel deeply remorseful and guilty about its impact.

3. Insufficient Study of the Laws and Regulations that Should be Complied with in the Use of WeChat. The "Provisions on the Administration of Internet Group Information Services" and "Provisions on the Administration of Internet Public Account Information Services" issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China came into effect on October 8, 2017. The new regulations clearly stipulated that group network behavior and information release shall be regulated. Making or spreading rumors can easily cause social panic and affect normal life and work order. The Internet is not a place outside the law. Article 25 of the "Public Security Administrative Punishments Law of the People's Republic of China" stipulates that anyone "intentionally disturbing public order by spreading rumors, making false reports of dangerous situations and epidemic situations or raising false alarms or by other means" may be detained or fined. I deeply realize that the WeChat platform has a large user base and wide reach. Once illegal and harmful information is spread, its impact will be even worse. In the future I will definitely not publish suspected illegal information, will strictly abide by relevant laws and regulations, and will not "cross the line."

In my future work and study, I will certainly continue to constantly reflect and self-criticize, humbly learn from the department leaders and other Party members and comrades, strengthen my ideals and beliefs, not believe in or spread rumors, and always require of myself that I strengthen my study of political theory according to the Party Constitution, Party rules, and the spirit of series of speeches. I will strengthen my study of political theory, tighten up my "political sensitivity," regulate my own behavior, and conduct myself as a qualified Party member. 



1. 缺乏应有的政治敏锐性。对党章、觉规学习不够系统全面,不能充分利用相关理论直到实践。



3. 对微信使用中应遵守的法律法规学习不足。2017.10.8日起,国家互联网信息办公室印发的 《互联网群组信息服务管理规定》和《互联网用

户公众账号信息服务管理规定》开始施行。新规明确规定应规范群组网络行为和信息发布。造谣或传谣极易引发社会恐慌,影响正常生活和工作秩序。互联网不适法外之地。《中华人民共和国治安管理处罚法》 第二十五条规定“对散步谣言,谎报险情、疫情、警情或者其他方法故意扰乱公共秩序的”可处以拘留或罚款。我深刻认识到微信平台用户基数大、传播面广,违法有害信息一旦传播影响更为恶劣,我以后一定坚决不发布涉嫌违法信息,严格遵守相关法律规定,不”越线”。


Sunday, September 18, 2022

Further Documenting PRC Censorship of the UN and Xinjiang

 In a previous post this blog showed how PRC Internet companies censored information relating to Michelle Bachelet's May 2022 "visit" to Xinjiang in her capacity as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: On August 31, 2022, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued its "Assessment of human rights concerns in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People’s Republic of China." The Office's findings included: 

Serious human rights violations have been committed in XUAR in the context of the Government’s application of counter-terrorism and counter-“extremism” strategies. The implementation of these strategies, and associated policies in XUAR has led to interlocking patterns of severe and undue restrictions on a wide range of human rights.

The extent of arbitrary and discriminatory detention of members of Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim groups, pursuant to law and policy, in context of restrictions and deprivation more generally of fundamental rights enjoyed individually and collectively, may constitute international crimes, in particular crimes against humanity.

[P]atterns of intimidations, threats and reprisals are generally credible and are likely to have caused, and continue to cause, a serious chilling effect on these communities’ rights to freedom of expression, privacy, physical integrity and family life, and in consequence inhibit the flow of information on the situation inside XUAR.

Given the report's conclusions, it is no surprise that the same PRC government spokespeople who welcomed Bachelet's conduct of her Xinjiang visit, were less than complimentary about the Assessment issued on the last day of her tenure.

The official PRC response maintained that the Assessment was "based on disinformation and lies," ( and some  foreigners living in the PRC who like to jokingly refer to themselves as paid propagandists (e.g., "wumao") circumvented the Great Firewall to use blocked-in-China Twitter to offer their opinion that the Assessment was based on no evidence or insufficient evidence.

The UN, however, stated the Assessment was:

[B]ased on a rigorous review of documentary material currently available to the Office, with its credibility assessed in accordance with standard human rights methodology. 
Particular attention was given to the Government’s own laws, policies, data and statements. The Office also requested information and engaged in dialogue and technical exchanges with China throughout the process.
The Assessment contained over 300 footnotes, many of which cited to documents and articles published by the PRC government and its officially licensed media outlets. For example, many of the facts set forth in the section titled "Methodologies applied to identify suspects and persons 'at risk' of 'extremism,'" were based on an article published on (which was originally published on - a website founded by Eric X. Li and licensed by the PRC government to publish news (互联网新闻信息服务许可证:31220170001).

Sources: |

That article served as the basis for the following statement:

Various forms of conduct associated with the expression of different opinions, stated in broad terms, are also considered a sign of “extremism”. These include, for instance, “resisting current policies and regulations”; “using mobile phone text messages and WeChat and other social chat software to exchange learning experience, read illegal religious propaganda materials”; “carrying illegal political and religious books and audio-visual products or checking them at the residence”; or “using satellite receivers, Internet, radio and other equipment to illegally listen to, watch, and spread overseas religious radio and television programs”, “resisting government propaganda” and “refusing to watch normal movies and TV networks”.
In addition, the Assessment made it clear that the PRC government did not respond to its requests for information about several key issues:

As part of an ongoing process of dialogue, on 17 March 2021, OHCHR formally submitted to the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations in Geneva a request for specific sets of information, detailing various areas of particular interest, including official data, based on its review of the material up to that stage, but did not receive formal response.

OHCHR requested but did not receive from the Government information on the curriculum and skills recognition system in the centres.

This information was requested from the Government of China in March 2021, which has not responded to date.

On 9 March 2021, OHCHR requested information from the Government on jurisprudence from Chinese courts and decisions of administrative bodies implementing anti-terrorism and anti-“extremism” policies. No response was received.

Both the US and Canadian embassies reported that their attempts to post information relating to the Assessment on Tencent's WeChat and Sina's Weibo were censored.

PRC-based search engines like Baidu censored search results relating to the Assessment to prevent users from being able to find it. For example, these two screenshots were both taken on September 4, 2022. They show that, while Baidu has indexed over 70,000 pages from the domain where the report was published, any search query containing the word "Xinjiang" will return no results from that domain. 

These screenshots were taken the same day, and show that the same query on Bing and Google returned the Assessment as the top result among thousands.

Baidu also censored individual URLs that referenced the Assessment. For example, the screenshots below were taken several days apart, and show that on September 4, 2022, one of Baidu's top results for the query "United Nations Xinjiang Report" (联合国 新疆报告), was a press release titled "United Nations Human Rights Report: China Responsible for 'Serious Human Rights Violations' in Xinjiang" (联合国人权报告:中国应对新疆发生的“严重侵犯人权行为”负责) published on the United Nations' website at this URL: However, by September 7, 2022 that results was no longer appearing on the first page of Baidu's results for that query.

September 4:

September 7:

One explanation could be that the result was still available on Baidu, and that it was simply appearing on a later page. However, these screenshots show that in fact Baidu had censored that specific URL.

September 4:

September 17:

Another possible explanation is that the page itself could have been removed from that URL. However, these archives show that the report remained at that URL at least until the date of this blog post:

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Guo Qizhen's Essay Extolling Civil Rights Lawyer Gao Zhisheng

In 2007, a PRC appeals court upheld a lower court's judgment finding Guo Qizhen (郭起真) guilty of inciting subversion of state power on the grounds that he "distributed a large number of articles on the 'Democracy Forum' website, attacked and cursed the State government, and disseminated speech that damaged the State regime, the socialist system, and the judicial system." Below is a translation of one of the articles cited by court: "Announcement Regarding Participating in Gao Zhisheng's Hunger Strike." A full translation of the court's judgment can be found on p. 365 of "State Prosecutions of Speech in the People's Republic of China: Cases Illustrating the Application of National Security and Public Order Laws to Political and Religious Expression," available for free download at SSRN: More information about civil rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng can be found here:

Announcement Regarding Participating in Gao Zhisheng's Hunger Strike

(March 16, 2006)

Within a 12 hour period yesterday, I received calls from three foreign journalists, specifically Radio Free Asia, The Epoch Times, and Voice of Hope. The following are the answers I gave to the questions of common concern of the three journalists. And I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to them for the interview!

1. What do you think of Gao Zhisheng as a person?

Perhaps it is because I have suffered grievances for over the past twelve years, enduring too many ups and down in a fickle world where I am limited by my own narrow interests, but in my heart I long for there to be more good people like lawyer Gao. Good people who will pay attention to and help more poor people in need. Therefore, when I think about the fact that lawyer Gao spends one-third of his time and energy every year to provide legal aid for people who have no financial means, I am very moved, even to the point of tears.

In particular, over the last ten days I have read almost all the articles about Lawyer Gao, and I have come to understand more about why Lawyer Gao does not stand by doing nothing and remaining silent in order to avoid the "third rail" of Falun Gong that everyone fears so much. Instead, he bravely stepped forward and faced the flames, and endured all kinds of pressure and terror from the government, and he has been able to fight with special persistence to this day without turning back.

Lawyer Gao grew up in an impoverished family, and even the countryside where he lives now is extremely poor. As young man with outstanding academic achievements and ambition he had to drop out of middle school due to poverty. One can imagine how irresistible the temptation of money and career would be for such a poor person.

Frankly speaking, if I had experienced as rough a life as Lawyer Gao, a lawyer who only had a middle school education, obtained his lawyer qualification through self-study, and worked hard in a capital full of talent without any social background, and miraculously reached the peak of my own law firm, then I would certainly have stayed in line and tacitly abided by the "iron law" that can only be understood and not spoken, and enjoy the fruits of white-collar aristocratic life. I would take my comfort in being an enormous hog and a zombie. I might even find 10,000 reasons for my depravity and jadedness.

But there is more than one thought that separates angels from devils! We can be assured that human history will forever be inscribed with the holy love that Lawyer Gao brought to the world. In the presence of such an angel, if I were to continue to remain silent I would be a waste of a human being.

2. Why do you want to participate in Gao Zhisheng's hunger strike to protest  government persecution?

First of all, what Lawyer Gao has done in recent months is in full compliance with the legal rights conferred on every citizen by the law. In spite of this, the government has imposed nearly three months of residential surveillance, internal and external investigation, and spreading rumors against Lawyer Gao. This is not only a violation of the legitimate rights and interests of a citizen and a very serious and particularly egregious violation of the criminal law, it is also a challenge to a cause recognized by the world as a just one.

Therefore, any Chinese person with a conscience, every kind person, should firmly support lawyer Gao Zhisheng's just actions. Lawyer Gao did his best to help the poor and those who needed attention when he was at the height of his success, and he deserves more attention when he is facing great losses. To pay attention to Lawyer Gao means to pay attention to the future of the Chinese nation; to support Lawyer Gao means to support the just actions of the early rejuvenation of the nation.

Other reasons for participating in Gao Zhisheng's hunger strike are: I reported Ma Guichen, the leader of that unit [n.b. Ma was the Director and Secretary of Housing Management Office in Cangzhou, Hebei), for violating the law and discipline, and as a result I was arrested and jailed many times and dismissed from public office. In addition, out of concern for two innocent people who were sentenced to death on suspicion of murder (who were acquitted in 1999), I complained to the relevant authorities, and was twice charged with subversion of state power and sent to a black prison, and suffered 12 years of imprisonment and brutal persecution. Furthermore, in Cangzhou, Cui Hongtao (tel. 0317-2224398, his mother Wang Jinru), an innocent citizen in Renqiu City, Cangzhou, has been detained in prison for more than ten years. He was sentenced to death four times, but to this day the case remains open due to insufficient evidence.

3. When did you join the hunger strike?

In view of the deteriorating human rights situation in China, I decided to go on a hunger strike from 12:00 on the 8th to 12:00 on the 9th in order to respond to and participate in lawyer Gao Zhisheng's hunger strike.

And for the nearby hunger strikers who supported Lawyer Gao, they provided their current residence as a venue for activities. Contact Telephone: 0317-3077580.

The hunger strike will continue until the government stops all actions infringing upon  Lawyer Gao, allows Lawyer Gao's office to resume normal operations, and the my unjust cases are resolved openly and justly.

4. What is your appeal to the global media and the world?

I hereby strongly appeal to the just forces all over the world to pay attention to China, and make unremitting efforts to push our country, which has a population of more than one billion people, to rid itself of barbaric rule as soon as possible, to make a peaceful transition to a democratic system as soon as possible, and to integrate into the mainstream global civilized society as soon as possible. 



     1、你怎么样看待高智晟本人? (博讯


Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Gao Zhisheng's 2006 Hunger Strike Announcements

 Gao Zhisheng was named one of the PRC's top 10 lawyers by the Ministry of Justice in 2001  ( and was one of 14 PRC civil rights lawyers named Asia Weekly's "People of the Year" in 2005:

Gao Zhisheng and his law firm defended clients in many seminal civil rights cases, such as the 2005 prosecution of Xiao Yunfei for publishing Christian literature without government authorization. A translation of her court judgment can be found here: In 2006, Gao Zhisheng was sentenced to 3 years in prison, suspended, and 5 years probation for subversion of state power after he launched a hunger strike. Two of his announcement that were published online are translated below. More information about civil rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng can be found here:

Proposal for the Formation of a Hunger Strike Solidarity Group
Author: Gao Zhisheng, et. al.
(February 4, 2006)

Over the past few years, all parts of China have been constantly shocked by the despicable incidents of government leadership deploying brutal and malicious means to undertake illegal and brutal beatings, kidnappings, detentions, and even killings of citizens who were peacefully defending their rights in accordance with the law. This is an inevitable phenomenon of  barbaric dictatorship and tyranny in their dying stages. In this uncivilized and immoral system that despises the basic dignity of human beings, the corrupt judicial system itself is the most ferocious organic component of this evil force opposing human civilization. The public security, procuratorial, and legal systems are absurd, but under this system, they have inevitably become the most murderous thugs who violently stifle and block citizens' legal demands. The environment for citizens to protect their rights according to law has deteriorated sharply in the past six months. The underworld forces in the Guangdong provincial government are arrogant and conceited in their brutal and violent acts against peaceful citizens defending their rights. The value of legal restraint is completely absent, and the central government has kept silent, making the underworld forces against human civilization in Guangdong Province even more reckless. Lawyers were violently beaten, lawyer Guo Yan was violently beaten, villagers in Taishi Village were violently beaten, and more than a dozen villagers were illegally detained along with Guo Feixiong. Since then, barbaric violence under the leadership of the government has spread everywhere. Xin, Qi Zhiyong, Xu Zhiyong, Hu Jia, Li Fang and other famous human rights activists have been violently beaten, Gao Zhisheng was repeatedly threatened with violence, and Chen Guangcheng of Shandong was violently beaten. In the past two days, the underworld forces in Guangdong, with the secret police as the main body, have conducted themselves like thugs and repeatedly surrounded Guo Feixiong's family, followed his wife, surrounded his children to take pictures, videotaped, violently beat Tang Jingling, and knocked around Guo Feixiong himself.. Shandong citizen Chen Hua was savagely beaten for visiting Chen Guangcheng, a blind man who had been surrounded for months by underworld forces dominated by secret police in Shandong province during the Chinese New Year.

Given this rapidly deteriorating environment for rights defense, and given that the judiciary has completely become the most ferocious reactionary force that prevents citizens from safeguarding their basic human rights, and given that the persecution of individual citizens by domestic underworld forces has reached the point of lawlessness and unscrupulousness, with the persecuted individuals currently being completely isolated and helpless, we advocated and initiated the formation of a human rights hunger strike solidarity group (hereinafter referred to as the Solidarity Group). The purpose is, from the date of the formation of the Solidarity Group, to use hunger strikes to express solidarity with any citizens at home and abroad who are subjected to violence and illegal persecution. That is to say, it is a hunger strike to express solidarity against the illegal persecution, violent beating of domestic workers, peasants, intellectuals, free believers and members of various groups of the party, government, military and police (including petitioners and pro-democracy activists everywhere) and the brutal persecution of foreign citizens (such as the brutal persecution of North Korean refugees by the Chinese government in the last two years).

This hunger strike will not take into account nationality, race, region, creed, education, or wealth. The form of hunger strike is carried out in various locations. The members of the Solidarity Group may be concentrated in an appropriate location, and in each location (such as the Shengzhi Law Firm in Beijing) each member should participate in a one-day hunger strike at each location. After a 5-day hunger strike is relayed in one location, it will be relayed to another location (for example, after the 5-day hunger strike in Beijing, it can be relayed by a certain location in Shaanxi Province, and a  hunger strike diary will be released to the world every day, such as: The persecution incident of so-and-so, the hunger strike diary in Beijing area Announcement 1...) Any member who participates in the hunger strike Solidarity Group, as well as any non-member, who is brutally persecuted, violently beaten, or illegally arrested by the uncivilized evil forces will trigger a relay hunger strike solidarity process. The relay hunger strike for each victim must be carried out in locations where there are members of the hunger strike Solidarity Group all over the country. While the illegal persecution continues, the relay hunger strike solidarity action will be repeated.
When the membership of the Human Rights Hunger Strike Support Group have reached a certain size, the method and venue of the relay hunger strike can be adjusted for situations like the Shanwei Murder Incident.
All domestic and foreign members who voluntarily join the Solidarity Group please sign to confirm:
Gao Zhisheng, Ma Wendu, Guo Feixiong, Zhao Xin, Hu Jia, Qi Zhiyong, Wang Guoqi, Qian Yumin, Ren Wanding, Jia Jianying, Yang Jing, Li Hai, Gao Jie (Japan), Teng Biao (Gao Zhisheng OBO), Li Heping ( Gao Zhisheng OBO), Tian Yongde (Inner Mongolia), Du Daobin (Wuhan), Cai Chu (USA)



     最近几年来,中国各地不断惊现在政府主导下的、以凶残下流的黑社会手段,非法野蛮殴打、绑架、拘禁甚至杀害依法和平维权公民的恶劣事件。这是野蛮的专制独裁暴政至垂死期的必有现象,在这种蔑视人类基本尊严的、反文明的、反道德的体制中,腐败司法制度本身既是这种反人类文明的邪恶力量中的最凶残的有机组成部份。公、检、法荒诞地、却又是在这种制度下必然地成了暴力扼杀、阻绝公民法律诉求的最为凶残的打手,公民依法维权的环境近半年来急剧的恶化,太石村事件中,广东省政府中的黑恶势力,针对和平维权公民凶残施暴的气焰嚣张无羁。法律对之的制约价值完全缺位,中央政府又默不作声,使广东省反人类文明的黑恶势力更加肆无忌惮,各地邪恶势力纷纷起而效法,继而发生了艾晓明教授被暴力殴打,唐荆陵律师被暴力殴打、郭艳律师被暴力殴打、太石村村民被暴力殴打,十几名村民和郭飞熊一道被非法关押,此后,在政府主导下的野蛮暴力之风在各地蔓延,相继有北京的赵昕、齐志勇、许志永、胡佳、李方平等著名维权人士被暴力殴打,高智晟被多次以暴力相威胁,山东的陈光诚被暴力殴打。最近两天里,广东的以秘密警察为主体的黑恶势力再次作出了包围郭飞熊的家庭、跟踪他的夫人、围住他的孩子拍照、摄像,暴力殴打唐荆陵,推搡郭飞熊本人的流氓行径。山东公民陈华因过年去探望被山东省以秘密警察为主的黑恶势力包围了数月之久的盲人陈光诚而遭到野蛮殴打。 (博讯


Gao Zhisheng's Urgent Statement Regarding the Hunger Strike to Defend Human Rights and Resist Violence

(February 18, 2006)

From February 18, 2006, 6:00 am to 6:00 am on the 19th, I will be on a 24-hour hunger strike in my office.

1. To express solidarity with my compatriots who have been illegally detained and persecuted by the Chinese government because of their hunger strikes in their own homes.
2. To protest the Chinese government's illegal actions, brutally trampling upon the civilized consensus of human society and basic human dignity, and protest the government's barbaric trampling upon China's Constitution, and serious violations of the rights of my family by extremely malicious means.
Merely because I proposed a hunger strike to defend human rights and resist violence,  the government of China recently embarked upon a brutal, maddening, and lawless persecution of the disenfranchised Chinese people who participated in the hunger strike and my entire family, which has reached disgraceful proportions. A large number of citizens who participated in the hunger strike were illegally detained, jailed, beaten and placed under house arrest. On February 16, following the disappearance of Qi Zhiyong and the Hu family, three of my staff members were illegally kidnapped by the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau. Among them, Ouyang Xiaorong, as a volunteer who helped me, arrived in Beijing and in less than 24 hours he was illegally kidnapped, and is still missing. After being illegally detained for more than ten hours, my assistant, lawyer Wen Haibo, was placed under house arrest indefinitely and could not meet with me. My home phone, office phone, fax and computer network are cut off (the computer network is now cut off every 1-2 minutes); my family is surrounded, followed, and harassed 24 hours a day. Official power has been so shameless that it has completely invaded the private life of my family!

In view of the current reality of violence and terror, in view of the brutal situation that the brave citizens participating in hunger strikes are being brutally persecuted by the Chinese government, and in view of the illegal deprivation of my working conditions as a volunteer for human rights protection and anti-violence, I hereby make the following special forms of hunger strike for human rights protection in the future. Emergency declaration:
1. From today onwards, I will personally go on a 24-hour hunger strike every Saturday in my office.
2. In view of the government's lawlessness and thuggish violence, I propose that from now on, domestic citizens can join the hunger strike voluntarily (the phone number may not be announced), or they can join the hunger strike by using a pseudonym; those who participate in the hunger strike with a single pseudonym will be listed for the sake of their continued hunger strike, on the condition they will be recorded as not participating in the hunger strike. (The original hunger strike relay in Hunan, Shandong, and Guizhou provinces was changed to a spontaneous decision.)
3. For the hunger strike every Saturday, I will personally publish a hunger strike log containing the names (including pseudonyms) of spontaneous hunger strikers across the country.
4. In the future, whenever there are massacres and bloody violence against citizens, or serious judicial persecution and political persecution by the government, I will resolutely launch a nationwide hunger strike and protest in due course.
5. I would like to express my special thanks to Mr. Ho Chun-yan, a member of the Hong Kong Legislative Council and a well-known lawyer. Mr. Ho expressed his solidarity with our tragic hunger strike every Wednesday with a 24-hour hunger strike. My respects to him.



    一、 声援我的那些因在自己家里绝食抗争而遭受中国政府非法关押、非法迫害的同胞。
    二、 抗议中国政府妄行不法、粗暴践踏人类社会的文明共识和人类基本尊严,抗议政府野蛮践踏中国宪法,以极其下流的手段严重侵犯我一家人权利的恶行。
    一、 从今天起,今后每周六我个人将在自己的办公室进行24小时的绝食抗议。
    二、 鉴于政府的无法无天及流氓暴行,我建议从即日起,国内公民可自发地参加绝食(可不对外公布电话),也可以以化名的方式参加绝食;单一化名参加绝食者,叙以供不绝食日志为条件。(原定的湖南、山东、贵州省绝食接力改为自发决定。)
    三、 每周六的绝食,我个人将公布一份包含全国各地自发绝食者姓名(含化名)的绝食日志。
    四、 今后凡发生政府针对公民的屠杀和血腥暴力事件、严重的司法迫害和政治迫害事件,我将适时坚定地发起全国性绝食抗议联动。
    五、 在此我特别感谢香港立法会议员、著名律师何俊仁先生。何先生在每周三对我们的绝食抗暴的悲壮之举以24小时的绝食进行声援。向他表达我的敬意。

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Another Civil Rights Law Firm Shuttered - Daoheng

If one looks at the first two decades of the 21st century, the three PRC law firms that had the strongest track records for defending civil rights were (in no particular order): Fengrui, Daoheng, and Mo Shaoping.

Fengrui was the primary target of the 7.09 crackdown, and many of its lawyers/employees were imprisoned by the PRC government on subversion/inciting charges, based mainly on their writings/meetings/organizing connected to high profile civil rights cases. I have an entire section of my casebook - "State Prosecutions of Speech in the People's Republic of China" - devoted to those prosecutions. Its available as a free PDF download on my website here -

Yesterday, Liang Xiaojun, formerly lawyer at the Daoheng Law Firm, tweeted that the Daoheng Law Firm has also been shuttered -

Here is a translation of @liangxiaojun's post about the PRC government's revoking the Daoheng Law Firm's operating license.
Today, a former colleague sent the decision of the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Justice to cancel the Daoheng Firm.

After my license was suspended, my colleagues tried to keep the law firm going. But whether they tried to add a partner or transform it into a private firm, the Bureau of Justice would not agree. Now with the cancellation, the remaining lawyers can only transfer or set up a new law firm.

We have always known that this small law firm is like a boat in the ocean. Although it carries our life and dreams, it was almost inevitable that it would capsize.

This world will never see another Daoheng Firm, and I will spend my remaining years unanchored and unmoored.
Daoheng and Liang Xiaojun appear in several places in "State Prosecutions":

  • Liang was one of the lawyers who defended Chen Wei in 2011. A PRC court imprisoned Chen Wei for nine years for subversion for publishing statements on the Internet such as "The people have been deprived of their ideology and belief," and "The entire Communist Party of China utilizes violent mechanisms to control the people." Daoheng argued this was free speech, but the court dismissed that saying those statements were "rumors" and "defamation" that "severely harmed the interests and security of the State." The full Chinese and English texts of Chen's court judgment are available in "State Prosecutions."
  • A PRC court also imprisoned a Daoheng lawyer, Yu Wensheng, in 2020 for inciting subversion for "publishing open letters on the Internet through 'Twitter' and 'Facebook' to attack the State regime and the socialist system." Yu's court judgment and a translation of his post are available in "State Prosecutions."

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Censorship Associated with the UN Visit to Xinjiang

In late May, 2022, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet made an official visit to China. Here is an excerpt from her statement issued on May 28:

I should state from the outset what this visit was – and what it wasn’t. This visit was not an investigation – official visits by a High Commissioner are by their nature high-profile and simply not conducive to the kind of detailed, methodical, discreet work of an investigative nature. The visit was an opportunity to hold direct discussions – with China’s most senior leaders – on human rights. . . 

This screenshot was taken on June 15, and shows Baidu claiming it has indexed over 80k web pages of the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (

But Baidu can't (apparently) locate any web pages from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights' website containing the word "Xinjiang" (新疆). These screenshots were taken on  June 15, 2022, and show that searches for "Xinjiang" and  "新疆" returned no results.

Yahoo was able to 84 results (including Bachelet's statement).

According to her statement, Bachelet visited "the Kashgar Experimental School, a former Vocational Education and Training Centre" (前身是职业教育培训中心的喀什市特区实验学校). PRC Internet companies regularly censor topics relating to Xinjiang generally, and these "Vocational Education and Training Centers" in particular. This screenshot was taken on May 21, 2022 and shows what happens when a user used Sogou's English language search engine to search for "Xinjiang" – no results.

Prior to June 2022, Tencent-owned Sogou worked with Microsoft's Bing to provide English language results at If a user searched for a censored term, Sogou returned no results. This screenshot was taken the same day and shows the Bing search results that Sogou was censoring.

These screenshots show that Sogou's Bing-powered English language search engine could find results for "reeducation," (left) but none for "reeducation camp" (right - despite the fact that the first result for "reeducation" was titled "America's 'Re-Education' Camps").

This screenshot shows that a search for "reeducation camp" in English on Sogou's own Chinese-language search engine only returns results from PRC-based websites.

The left screenshot shows that a Baidu search for "Xinjiang reeducation camps" in May 2018 returned results from foreign websites with .org and .gov domains. The right screenshot was taken on May 21, 2022 and shows the same search only returns results from media under the direct control of the PRC govt.: Xinhua, CCTV, China Daily, China Radio International, China Military Net,, or

And lest someone should speculate that there might be .org results (like those from wikipedia or the United Nations) buried in a later Baidu SERP, this screenshot taken the same day show that Baidu searches for "Xinjiang reeducation camps" limited to .org domains returned zero results.

The same thing happens in Chinese - these screenshots show that a Baidu search for "Xinjiang Reeducation" (新疆 再教育) limiting results to the United Nations returns no results, while the same search on Bing returns four results.

These screenshots show that Baidu has indexed the first 2 Bing search results, so the most likely explanation for why they don't appear in a search for "Xinjiang Reeducation" (新疆 再教育) is Baidu is restricting results for those keywords to government-approved sources.

Finally, its worth noting that censorship used to be much more transparent, and what gets censored varies over time. For example, this screenshot taken in 2009 shows that at that time Sogou blacklisted searches for "Xinjiang Government Flaws" (新疆 政府 缺陷), and only returned a censorship notice.

Today, Sogou conceals their censorship of "Xinjiang Government Flaws" (新疆 政府 缺陷) by not showing a censorship notice, while appearing to show a variety of results, when in fact the results are all from websites under the direct control of the PRC government.


Translation: Huang Xuqin and Wang Jianbing Inciting Subversion Indictment

On June 14, 2024, the Twitter account "Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing 释放雪饼" (@FreeXueBing)  posted a copy of the last two p...