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" http://blog.feichangdao.com/2020/11/disappearing-government-records-show.html. 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" (https://ssrn.com/abstract=4204917). 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 (https://www.court.gov.cn/zixun-xiangqing-5867.html). Amended and reissued on August 29, 2016 ("the SPC Notice," https://www.court.gov.cn/zixun-xiangqing-25321.html). See also "Number of Judgments on China Judgments Online Exceeds 100m," Supreme People's Court, September 1, 2020, http://english.court.gov.cn/2020-09/01/content_37539302.htm: "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: https://web.archive.org/web/20201027205241/http://english.court.gov.cn/2020-09/01/content_37539302.htm.

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 https://thechinacollection.org/chinese-student-university-minnesota-jailed-tweets-made-us/. 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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4168412.
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.

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2021-06-24/china-world-history-erasure-youth-censorship

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: https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/Iw2sPM-cQSAxBQ0szX3HhA. Archived at: https://web.archive.org/web/20210711095802/https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/Iw2sPM-cQSAxBQ0szX3HhA. 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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4168412, Chinese: https://drive.google.com/file/d/15meYJuGfgdJxALNwoYbn4Y7T-d79dEbw/view.

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, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/10/05/world/asia/li-wenliang-letter.html, which was published alongside the article "How a Chinese Doctor Who Warned of Covid-19 Spent His Final Days," October 6, 2022,  https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/06/world/asia/covid-china-doctor-li-wenliang.html. 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," https://ssrn.com/abstract=4168412. 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," http://blog.feichangdao.com/2021/02/covid-19-wuhan-doctors-lawyers-academics-journalists-silenced.html.

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.

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: https://blog.feichangdao.com/2022/06/Un-Bachelet-Xinjiang-Censorship.html. 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.
Source: https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/documents/countries/2022-08-31/22-08-31-final-assesment.pdf

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," (https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/documents/countries/2022-08-31/ANNEX_A.pdf) 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 Sina.com.cn (which was originally published on guancha.cn - 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: http://news.sina.com.cn/c/2014-12-24/093231321497.shtml | https://web.archive.org/web/20141228193159/http://www.guancha.cn/FaZhi/2014_12_23_304258.shtml

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: https://www.un.org/zh/node/189019. However, by September 7, 2022 that results was no longer appearing on the first page of Baidu's results for that query.

September 4: https://archive.ph/8Ur0I

September 7: https://archive.ph/fqOBy

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: https://archive.ph/KKZt2

September 17:  https://archive.ph/WQ31s

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4168412. 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. 

关于参加高智晟律师绝食抗议活动的声明/郭起真

(2006年3月16日)

    昨天十二小时以内,我收到三个境外记者采访的电话,他们分别是亚洲自由电台、大纪元和希望之声。下面就三位记者共同关注的问题做以下答复。并对她们的采访表示衷心的感谢!
    
     1、你怎么样看待高智晟本人? (博讯 boxun.com)

    
    也许是讫今为止我蒙受了整整十二年的冤屈,经受了太多太多酸甜苦辣和世态炎凉,又仅仅囿于个人狭隘的利益,内心自然渴望着像高律师这样的好人多点,再多点,好人都能够关注和帮助更多需要帮助的穷人。所以,当我知道高律师每年要用三分之一的时间和精力,来为没有经济能力的人承担法律援助,内心就特别的感动,甚至深深感动的热泪涌流。
    
    特别是最近十几天,我几乎看了介绍高律师的所有文章,更加了解了高律师为什么会在法轮功这个世人唯恐避之不及的"高压线"上没有袖手旁观,没有听之任之,没有保持沉默,而是勇敢的挺身而出、引火烧身,而且承受着政府方面的各种压力和恐怖,还能够义无反顾的特别执着的奋斗到今天。
    
    高律师是生长在一个特别贫穷的家庭,即使是现在他所居住的农村也相当的贫穷。一个学习特别优秀,胸怀大志的少年因贫穷中学辍学,可想而知金钱和事业对于如此贫穷的人,是会有多么不可抗拒的诱惑力。
    
    坦率的讲,如果我经历了高律师如此坎坷的人生道路,一个仅有着中学学历,靠自己的刻苦自学获得律师资格,在人才济济的京城又没有任何的社会背景下打拼,竟然奇迹般的拥有了自己的律师事务所,说的上是达到了如日中天的颠峰时刻,我肯定会按部就班、心照不宣的去恪守只可意会不应言传的"铁律",轻而易举的坐享白领贵族的生活,从而心安理得的充当丧尽天良的"大大陆猪"和一块行尸走肉。我甚至可能会为自己的堕落和世俗找出一万个理由!
    
    但是,魔鬼与天使之间,岂止是在一念之间呀!想必人类历史终将永远的铭刻高律师给人间带来的圣爱。面对如此的天使,如果再保持沉默,真的是枉披了一块人皮。
    
    1、为什么要参加高智晟以绝食形式抗议政府迫害活动?
    
    首先,高律师在近几个月所做的一切,完全符合法律赋予每一个公民的合法权力,而政府因此对高律师采取停业、兴师动众的近三个月的监视居住、内查外调和造谣生事、粗暴的骚扰,以及发展到了蓄意谋杀的境地,这不仅是对一个公民合法权益的践踏和非常严重、特别恶劣的触犯刑律行为,也是与全世界认同的正义事业的挑战。
    
    因此,任何一位有良知的中国人,每一位善良的人,都应该旗帜鲜明的坚决支持高智晟律师的正义行动。高律师在"春风得意"的时候尽全力的帮助穷人和需要关注的人,他在"败走麦城"时,理应得到更多人的关注。关注高律师,就是关注中华民族的未来;支持高律师,就意味着支持民族的早日振兴的正义行动。
    
    另外一个参加高智晟绝食活动的原因就是:不仅仅是因为我举报本单位领导马桂臣的违法乱纪行为,多次被抓监入狱和开除公职,而且因为我关注俩位涉嫌杀人而打入死牢的无辜百姓(已于99年无罪释放),并向有关部门喊冤,两次被扣上颠覆国家政权罪打入黑牢,蒙受了十二年的残酷迫害。而即使在沧州的今天,沧州辖区的任邱市一位无辜的百姓崔洪涛(电话0317-2224398,其母王金如),在监狱里关押了十几年,四次判处死刑均因证据不足,至今没有结案。
   
    2、何时加入到绝食活动中?
    
    鉴于国内的人权状况日益恶化,我决定在八日中午12点绝食至九日中午12点,以此响应和参加高智晟律师的绝食活动。
    
    并且为附近声援高律师的绝食人士,提供自己现居住的住宅为活动场所。联系电话:0317-3077580。
    
    在政府没有停止对高律师的一切侵权行动,并恢复高律师的事务所正常营业之前;我的冤案没有得到公开、公正的解决之前,会持续的进行绝食活动。
    
    3、你对世界媒体和各界有什么呼吁?
    
    在此特别强烈的呼吁全世界的正义力量都来一起关注中国,为推动我们这个拥有十几亿人口的大国,早日摆脱野蛮统治,尽快和平过渡到民主制度,早日的融入到文明世界的主流社会而不懈努力。