Xu Zhiyong (许志永) was a lecturer at the Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications, a civil rights lawyer, and one of the founders of the civil society groups Open Constitution Initiative ("Gong Meng" 公盟) and the Chinese New Citizens' Movement (中国新公民运动). In the August 2009 edition of China's Esquire Magazine (时尚先生) Xu said:
I hope that our country can be a free and happy one. No person need betray their conscience. Everyone needs only rely on their talent and character to find their position in life. A simple and happy society, where the goodness of humanity may find its apex, and its malice finds its nadir, where honesty, trust, kindness, and helping one another becomes commonplace, where there is not so much anger and anxiety, and there is a pure smile on every face.
|Soucre: "Mr. Fashion" [时尚先生] official blog, archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20090809125245/http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_47404fc70100efcv.html|
In 2014, Xu was imprisoned for organizing small scale demonstrations to draw attention to the lack of educational opportunities for the children of migrant workers. This blog covered the censorship surrounding his detention, trial, and conviction:
- China's State Media Talks About Xu Zhiyong, While China's Social Media Bans Discussion
- As Two More New Citizens Movement Participants Are Convicted, Baidu and Sina Begin Censoring "New Citizens Movement"
- Baidu Censors Results for Xu Zhiyong's Closing Statement to the Court
- Xu Zhiyong Sentenced to 4 Years Imprisonment - A Chronicle of Recent Related Censorship
- After Lawyer Xu Zhiyong is Detained His Baidu Encyclopedia Entry Disappears
- Xu Zhiyong Detained (Again), China's Web Sites Censor It (Again)
After Court Affirms Xu Zhiyong’s Conviction, New Citizens Movement Web Site Disappears From Baidu Search Results
A full translation of the court judgment in Xu's case 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" (中華人民共和國政府對言論的訴追：有關國家安全及公共秩序相關法律適用於政治及宗教言論的案例彙編). Available for free download here: https://www.feichangdao.com/publications/state-prosecutions-vol-1.
Xu was released on July 15, 2017 following completion of his sentence.
On January 1, 2020, Xu published an article on his website titled "Change — A 2020 New Year’s Message" (改变 — 2020新年献词). Some excerpts:
Enter 2020 in the march of history: another wave of crackdown against civil society is sweeping across China: NGO worker Cheng Yuan (程渊) in Changsha has been arrested; Pastor Wang Yi (王怡) in Chengdu was handed a heavy nine-year prison sentence; the last few days have seen the detentions of Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜), Zhang Zhongshun (张忠顺), Dai Zhenya (戴振亚), Li Yingjun (李英俊), Huang Zhiqiang (黄志强).
Where is China heading? Can it sail through the historical gorges and move towards the broadway of modern civilization without upheaval? What choice is each Chinese going to make? Do we struggle in the quagmire of dictatorship, or rise to the call of a constitutional democracy? I ask each and every member of the Communist Party and each and every citizen to weigh an answer.
. . . .
What is the “China Dream”? What is the real intention behind its semantic mimicry of the dream of freedom that every American cherishes? Under its pretty appearance is disregard for institutions, values, and culture. The number of “Confidences” has grown from three to four, but is it real confidence? Its guiding ideology is nothing but bogus socialism. Its one-party system distorts the market and impedes economic development. Its path, defined by thirty years of class struggle and thirty years of economic development, is a self-contradiction. As for its culture, it embraces Marxism-Leninism, while thoroughly smashing the Confucian tradition and pillaging the Chinese civilization.
Personnel: Xi Jinping has chosen nepotism over talent, personal loyalty over integrity. His government endeavored to drive the “low-end” people out of the capital to the anger of hundreds and thousands of people; it tried to “clean” the cityscape by using force to remove signs of businesses, and was met with all-around condemnation. Without any sense of shame, his administration penned articles denouncing constitutionalism and beating the drum for one-man rule. No theory and no talent, he believes in the personal cult of himself. China has no shortage of capable men and women, how can he possibly enjoy popular support with such a narrow mindset?
. . . .
Chinese Original: https://cmcn.blog/2020/02/10/%e6%94%b9%e5%8f%98-2020%e6%96%b0%e5%b9%b4%e7%8c%ae%e8%af%8d/
Censorship began immediately. The screenshot on the left below was taken on January 2, 2020, and shows that a search for "Xu Zhiyong" returned over 230,000 results, including results from social media (blogchina.com, Sina Weibo) and foreign (canadainternational.gc.ca) websites. The screenshot on the right below was taken on January 3, 2020, and shows the same search on Baidu returns 84 results, all from about 10 websites operated by the central government.
On February 4, 2020, Xu Zhiyong published an open letter to Xi Jinping on his website (cmcn.blog) dated January 20 entitled "A Written Admonishment Urging Retirement" (劝退书). Xu signed the letter "written while on the run." Some excerpts:
China is not the land of peace, prosperity, self-congratulation, and rapid advancement that you imagine it to be in your dreams. I’m deeply concerned about our nation’s future; I am afraid that a system that is so tightly wound up is a dangerously brittle one; and, I’m worried that there is no meaningful or substantive form of civil society that can deal with the situation. For long years now, it has been evident that the responsible citizens of this country are builders. I only hope that the celebrated “inner Party democracy” you Communists talk about has not entirely disappeared. I hope that there is still some room for meaningful change [within the system], change that will give civil society a chance to evolve.
[Early in your tenure] you bemoaned the fact that the Soviet Union collapsed because no “True Man” stood up to protect the system. But how can you expect there to be a “True Man” when you, The Revered One, sits at the pinnacle with millions fawning at the foot of your throne? Autocracy encourages sycophants to crowd around the Emperor, but this particular Emperor’s new clothes are on full display for all to see. Yet, even now, the people of China dare not “comment inappropriately” about what is in front of them. Well, I’m like that kid who blurted out the truth—the Emperor has no clothes!
Sometimes I look up at the star-filled sky and ask myself: Who am I and why am I here? Have you ever asked yourself such questions? Occasionally, when I find myself at some vantage point, I look down at the world spread out below and think to myself: I am but a speck of dust. Have you ever done that? Life is so short, why delude yourself and cleave to folly? Have you ever stopped to ponder such things?
The Great Way is one that allows all to share in the bounty of the world. How can the Mountains and Rivers only be of one color—red? [Note: “Mountains and Rivers” is a poetic term for the geopolitical realm of China.] The roiling tides of the world are irresistible, why strain so strenuously and fight against them? Soon you’ll reach the end of your second [five-year] term in office. I submit that it is high time that you called it quits and just stay at home.
Translation: Geremie R. Barmé, https://www.chinafile.com/reporting-opinion/viewpoint/dear-chairman-xi-its-time-you-go
Chinese Original: https://cmcn.blog/2020/02/04/%e5%8a%9d%e9%80%80%e4%b9%a6/
On February 15, 2020, Beijing Public Security Bureau authorities took Xu into criminal detention on suspicion of inciting subversion of state power. On August 5, 2021, Xu was indicted for committing the crime of subverting state power. According the indictment:
In September 2017, defendant Xu Zhiyong directed his girlfriend Li Qiaochu (dealt with in a separate case) to establish a personal blog for Xu Zhiyong and arranged for Li to disseminate a large quantity of Xu Zhiyong’s inciting articles that promote ideas of subverting state power.
On March 19, 2022 former Beijing-based civil rights lawyer Wang Yu (王宇) posted the following on her Twitter account:
Li Qiao has been indicted!
A kind young woman, because she was "deeply influenced by her lover's thoughts," "set up a personal website for him" and "uploaded her lover's articles" – can this serve as the basis for a conviction? Let alone for the crime of inciting subversion of state power!
This is naked conviction for thoughts and words!
I just want to ask the prosecutors: Where are your professional ethics as persons of the law?
|Li Qiaochu. Source: Cmcn.blog.|
Wang's post included images of the indictment, which is translated below.
People's Procuratorate of Linyi, Shandong
Lin Procuratorate First Division Criminal Indictment (2022) No. 21
Defendant Li Qiaochu, female, born on January 13, 1991, ID number [OMITTED IN ORIGINAL], Han nationality, masters student education, from Yining, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, unemployed, household registration and residence at [OMITTED IN ORIGINAL] Beijing,. On February 16, 2020 she was placed under residential confinement at a designated location at a location designated by the Public Security Bureau of Haidian, Beijing, and was released on bail pending trial on June 19 of the same year. On January 18, 2021, the Public Security Bureau of Haidian, Beijing, transferred the case to the Public Security Bureau of Linyi in accordance with the law. On February 6 of the same year, she was criminally detained by the Public Security Bureau of Linyi. With the approval of our office, her arrest was executed on March 14 of the same year.
The Public Security Bureau of Linyi concluded the investigation of the case, and defendant Li Qiaochu was transferred to this office for prosecution on August 13, 2021 on suspicion of inciting subversion of state power. After accepting the case, the office informed the defendant of the relevant legal provisions regarding her right to appoint defense counsel and to plead guilty and accept punishment, interrogated the defendant in accordance with the law, heard the opinions of the defense counsel, and reviewed all the case materials. On September 28 and December 13, 2021, this office returned the case to the investigation agency for supplementary investigation, and the investigation agency completed the supplementary investigations on October 28, 2021 and January 13, 2022, respectively, and transferred the case for prosecution. On September 14 and November 29, 2021, and February 14, 2022, the court extended the review and prosecution period for 15 days.
An examination by this office ascertained:
Defendant Li Qiaochu and Xu Zhiyong (being handled in a separate case) were lovers, and she was deeply influenced by Xu Zhiyong's ideology of subverting state power. In September 2019, under the instruction of Xu Zhiyong, defendant Li Qiaochu set up a personal blog for Xu Zhiyong (with the domain name cmcn.home.blog, later changed to cncn.blog), uploaded a large number of articles written by Xu Zhiyong that subverted state power, and promoted the idea of subverting state power.
Evidence determining the aforementioned facts is as follows:
1. Physical evidence: laptop computer, U disk, etc.;
2. Documentary evidence: Case Registration Form, household registration information, etc.;
3. Witness testimony: testimony of witness Zhang Zhongshun and others;
4. Defendant's confession and defense: Defendant Li Qiaochu's confession and defense;
5. Appraisal opinion: judicial appraisal opinion, etc.;
6. Inquiry, inspection, and identification records: remote inspection records, inspection records, identification records, etc.;
7. Electronic data.
This office believes that defendant Li Qiaochu incited to subvert state power and overthrow the socialist system, and her actions were the commission of an offense under the provisions of Article 105(2) of the "Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China." The criminal facts were clear and the evidence was reliable and copious, and she should be held criminally liable for the crime of inciting subversion of state power. This public prosecution is filed accordance with the provisions of Article 176 of the "Criminal Procedure Law of the People's Republic of China," and requests that she be sentenced in accordance with the law.
Intermediate People's Court of Linyi, Shandong
Procurators Tan Changzhi
Procurators' Assistant Zhang Qingsong
February 28, 2022
1. Defendant Li Qiaochu is currently detained in Linyi City Detention Center, Shandong;
2. 20 volumes of case file materials.
被告人李翘楚,女,1991年1月13日出生,公民身份号码[OMITTED IN ORIGINAL],汉族,硕士研究生文化,新疆维吾尔自治区伊宁市人,无业,户籍地、住所地[OMITTED IN ORIGINAL]。北京市因涉嫌煽动颠覆国家政权罪,于2020年2月16日被北京市公安局海淀分局指定居所监视居住,同年6月19日被取保候审。2021年1月18日因本案由北京市公安局海淀分局依法移送山东省临沂市公安局办理,同年2月6日被临沂市公安局刑事拘留,经我院批准,同年3月14日被执行逮捕。