Chen Renjie,
"Ziyou Bao"
Lin Youping, "Ziyou Bao"
Imprisoned: July 1983

In September 1982, Chen, Lin, and Chen Biling wrote and published a pamphlet titled "Ziyou Bao" (Freedom Report), distributing around 300 copies in Fuzhou, Fujian Province. They were arrested in July 1983, and authorities accused them of making contact with Taiwanese spy organizations and publishing a counterrevolutionary pamphlet. According to official government records of the case, the men used "propaganda and incitement to encourage the overthrow of the people's democratic dictatorship and the socialist system." In August 1983, Chen Renjie was sentenced to life in prison, and Lin Youping was sentenced to death with reprieve. Chen Biling was sentenced to death and later executed.

Hu Liping, Beijing Ribao
Imprisoned: April 7, 1990

Hu, a staff member of Beijing Ribao (Beijing Daily), was arrested and charged with "counterrevolutionary incitement and propaganda" and "trafficking in state secrets," according to a rare release of information on his case from the Chinese Ministry of Justice in 1998. The Beijing Intermediate People's Court sentenced him to 10 years in prison on August 15, 1990. Under the terms of his original sentence, Hu should have been released in 2000, but CPJ has been unable to obtain information about his legal status.

Chen Yanbin, Tieliu
Imprisoned: September 1990

Chen and Zhang Yafei, both university students, were arrested and charged with counterrevolutionary incitement and propaganda for publishing Tieliu (Iron Currents), an underground publication about the 1989 crackdown at Tiananmen Square. Several hundred mimeographed copies of the publication were distributed. Chen was sentenced to 15 years in prison and four years without political rights after his release. Zhang was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years without political rights after his release. However, Zhang was freed on January 6, 2000, after showing "genuine repentance and a willingness to reform." In September 2000, the Justice Ministry announced that Chen's sentence had been reduced by three months for good behavior.

Liu Jingsheng, free-lance
Imprisoned: May 28, 1992

Liu was arrested and charged with "organizing and leading a counterrevolutionary group and spreading counterrevolutionary propaganda." He was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being tried secretly in July 1994.

Liu had belonged to labor and pro-democracy groups, including the Liberal Democratic Party of China, the Free Labor Union of China, and the Chinese Progressive Alliance, and had written articles supporting the 1989 pro-democracy demonstrations. During the Democracy Wall movement in 1979, Liu co-edited the pro-democracy journal Tansuo (Explorations) with dissident Wei Jingsheng.

Court documents stated that Liu was involved in organizing and leading anti-government and pro-democracy activities. Prosecutors also accused him and other dissidents who were tried on similar charges of writing and printing political leaflets that were distributed in June 1992, during the third anniversary of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. Liu has had his sentence reduced three times for good behavior, by a total of one year and eight months. In May 2002, on the 10th anniversary of her husband's arrest, Liu's wife, Jin Yanming, wrote an account of his imprisonment, trial, and the subsequent harassment of her family by security officials. The document was distributed online.

Kang Yuchun, Freedom Forum
Imprisoned: May 1992

Kang disappeared on May 6, 1992, and was presumed arrested, according to the New York­based advocacy organization Human Rights Watch. In October 1993, in response to an inquiry from the U.N. Working Group on Disappearances, Chinese authorities said Kang was arrested on May 27, 1992. On July 14, 1994, he was one of 16 individuals tried in a Chinese court for alleged involvement with underground pro-democracy groups. Kang was accused, among other charges, of launching Freedom Forum, the magazine of the Chinese Progressive Alliance, and of commissioning people to write articles for the magazine. On December 16, 1994, he was sentenced to 17 years in prison for "disseminating counterrevolutionary propaganda" and for "organizing and leading a counterrevolutionary group." His sentence has been reduced three times, by a total of three years and eight months, for good behavior.

Wu Shishen, Xinhua News Agency
Ma Tao, Zhongguo Jiankang Jiaoyu Bao
Imprisoned: November 6, 1992

Wu, an editor for China's state news agency, Xinhua, was arrested for allegedly leaking an advance copy of President Jiang Zemin's 14th Communist Party Congress address to a journalist from the now defunct Hong Kong newspaper Kuai Bao (Express). His wife, Ma, editor of Zhongguo Jiankang Jiaoyu Bao (China Health Education News), was arrested on the same day and accused of acting as Wu's accomplice. The Beijing Municipal Intermediate People's Court held a closed trial, and on August 30, 1993, sentenced Wu to life imprisonment for "illegally supplying state secrets to foreigners." Ma was sentenced to six years in prison. According to the terms of her original sentence, Ma should have been released in November 1998, but CPJ has been unable to obtain information on her legal status.

Fan Yingshang, Remen Huati
Sentenced: February 7, 1996

In 1994, Fan and Yang Jianguo printed more than 60,000 copies of a magazine called Remen Huati (Popular Topics). The men had allegedly purchased fake printing authorizations from an editor of the Journal of European Research at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, according to official Chinese news sources. CPJ was unable to determine the date of Fan's arrest, but on February 7, 1996, the Chang'an District Court in Shijiazhuang City sentenced him to 15 years in prison for "engaging in speculation and profiteering." Authorities termed Remen Huati a "reactionary" publication. Yang escaped arrest and was not sentenced.

Hua Di, free-lance
Imprisoned: January 5, 1998

Hua, a permanent resident of the United States, was arrested while visiting China and charged with revealing state secrets. The charge is believed to stem from articles that Hua, a scientist at Stanford University, had written about China's missile defense system.

On November 25, 1999, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court held a closed trial and sentenced Hua to 15 years in prison, according to the Hong Kong­based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. In March 2000, the Beijing High People's Court overturned Hua's conviction and ordered that the case be retried. This judicial reversal was extraordinary, particularly for a high-profile political case. Nevertheless, in April 2000, the Beijing State Security Bureau rejected a request for Hua to be released on medical parole; he suffers from a rare form of male breast cancer.

On November 23, 2000, after a retrial, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court issued a slightly modified verdict, sentencing Hua to 10 years in prison. News of Hua's sentencing broke in February 2001, when a relative gave the information to foreign correspondents based in Beijing. In late 2001, Hua was moved to Tilanqiao Prison in Shanghai, according to CPJ sources.

Gao Qinrong,
Xinhua News Agency
Imprisoned: December 4, 1998

Gao, a reporter for China's state news agency, Xinhua, was jailed for reporting on a corrupt irrigation scheme in drought-plagued Yuncheng, Shanxi Province. Xinhua never carried Gao's article, which was finally published on May 27, 1998, in an internal reference edition of the official People's Daily that is distributed only among a select group of party leaders. But by fall 1998, the irrigation scandal had become national news, with reports appearing in the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Zhoumo (Southern Weekend) and on China Central Television. Gao's wife, Duan Maoying, said that local officials blamed Gao for the flurry of media interest and arranged for his prosecution on false charges.

Gao was arrested on December 4, 1998, and eventually charged with crimes including bribery, embezzlement, and pimping, according to Duan. On April 28, 1999, he was sentenced to 13 years in prison after a closed, one-day trial. He is being held in a prison in Qixian, Shanxi Province, according to CPJ sources.

In September 2001, Gao wrote to Mary Robinson, then the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, and asked her to intercede with the Chinese government on his behalf. Gao has received support from several members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference of the National People's Congress, who issued a motion at its annual parliamentary meeting in March 2001 urging the Central Discipline Committee and Supreme People's Court to reopen his case. But there has been no change in his legal status.

Yue Tianxiang, Zhongguo Gongren Guancha
Imprisoned: January 1999

The Tianshui People's Intermediate Court in Gansu Province sentenced Yue to 10 years in prison on July 5, 1999. The journalist was charged with "subverting state power," according to the Hong Kong­based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. Yue was arrested along with two colleagues—Wang Fengshan and Guo Xinmin—both of whom were sentenced to two years' imprisonment and have since been released. According to the Hong Kong­based daily South China Morning Post, Yue, Guo, and Wang were arrested in January 1999 for publishing Zhongguo Gongren Guancha (China Workers' Monitor), a journal that campaigned for workers' rights.

With help from Wang, Yue and Guo started the journal after they were unable to get compensation from the Tianshui City Transport Agency following their dismissal from the company in 1995. All three men were reportedly members of the outlawed China Democracy Party, a dissident group, and were forming an organization to protect the rights of laid-off workers. The first issue of Zhongguo Gongren Guancha exposed extensive corruption among officials at the Tianshui City Transport Agency. Only two issues were ever published.

Wang Yingzheng, free-lance
Imprisoned: February 26, 1999

Police arrested Wang in the city of Xuzhou, in eastern Jiangsu Province, as he was photocopying an article he had written about political reform. The article was based on an open letter that the 19-year-old Wang had addressed to Chinese president Jiang Zemin. In the letter, Wang wrote—as translated by Agence France-Presse—"Many Chinese are discontented with the government's inability to squash corruption. This is largely due to a lack of opposition parties and a lack of press freedom."

About five months earlier, in September 1998, Wang had been imprisoned for two weeks, during which time authorities questioned him about his association with Qin Yongmin, a key leader of the China Democracy Party who received a 12-year prison sentence in December 1998.

On December 10, 1999, Wang was convicted of subversion and sentenced to three years in prison. His trial was closed, but his family was notified of the verdict by letter, according to the Hong Kong­based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. According to the original terms of his sentence, Wang should have been released in February 2002, but CPJ has been unable to determine his legal status.

Wu Yilong, Zaiye Dang
Imprisoned: April 26, 1999
Mao Qingxiang, Zaiye Dang
Zhu Yufu,
Zaiye Dang
Xu Guang, Zaiye Dang
Imprisoned: June 1999

Wu, an organizer for the banned China Democracy Party (CDP), was detained by police in Guangzhou on April 26, 1999. Mao, Zhu, and Xu, also leading CDP activists, were reportedly detained sometime around June 4, the 10th anniversary of the brutal crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. The four were later charged with subversion for, among other things, establishing a magazine called Zaiye Dang (Opposition Party) and circulating pro-democracy writings online.

On October 25, 1999, the Hangzhou Intermediate People's Court in Zhejiang Province conducted what The New York Times described as a "sham trial." On November 9, 1999, all four journalists were convicted of subversion. Wu was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Mao was sentenced to eight years in prison; Zhu, to seven years; and Xu, to five years.

In December 2002, Mao was transferred to a convalescence hospital after his health had sharply declined as a result of being confined to his cell. Zhu, who has also been confined to his cell and forbidden from reading newspapers, was placed under tightened restrictions in late 2002 after refusing to express regret for his actions, according to the New York­based advocacy group Human Rights in China.

Liu Xianli, free-lance
Imprisoned: May 11, 1999

The Beijing Intermediate Court found writer Liu guilty of subversion and sentenced him to four years in prison, according to a report by the Hong Kong­based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

Liu's "crime" was attempting to publish a book on Chinese dissidents, including Xu Wenli, one of China's most prominent political prisoners and a leading figure in the China Democracy Party. In December 1998, Xu was himself convicted of subversion and sentenced to 13 years in prison. On December 24, 2002, Xu was released on medical parole and deported to the United States.

Jiang Qisheng,
Imprisoned: May 18, 1999

Police arrested Jiang in the late evening and searched his home, seizing his computer, several documents, and articles he had written for Beijing zhi Chun (Beijing Spring), a New York­based pro-democracy publication. The arrest came after Jiang published a series of essays and open letters related to the 10th anniversary of the government's violent suppression of student-led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. One essay called for a candlelight vigil on June 4, 1999; another urged the government to conduct a full investigation into the massacre; and a third protested the police's brutal treatment of Cao Jiahe, an editor of Dongfang (Orient) magazine who was detained on May 10, 1999, and tortured while in police custody. Cao had been detained for allegedly circulating a petition to remember the hundreds killed by government troops during the Tiananmen crackdown.

During Jiang's two-and-a-half-hour trial, held on November 1, 1999, prosecutors cited an April essay calling for a protest vigil, "Light a Thousand Candles," as evidence of his anti-state activities. Prosecutors also accused him of circulating an article on political reform, though Jiang said he showed the piece to only three friends. On December 27, 2000, thirteen months after his trial, the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court sentenced Jiang to four years in prison.

An Jun, free-lance
Imprisoned: July 1999

An, an anti-corruption campaigner, was sentenced to four years in prison on subversion charges. The Intermediate People's Court in Xinyang, Henan Province, announced the verdict on April 19, 2000, citing An's essays and articles on corruption as evidence of his anti-state activities.

A former manager of an export trading company, An founded the civic group Zhongguo Fubai Xingwei Guancha (China Corruption Monitor) in 1998 and was arrested in July 1999. The group reportedly exposed more than 100 cases of corruption. During his November 1999 trial, An "said he was only trying to help the government end rampant corruption," according to Agence France-Presse.

In November 2001, An's family sent a letter to President Jiang Zemin appealing for the journalist's release for medical reasons. An suffers from heart problems and has not received adequate treatment while in prison, according to Agence France-Presse.

On December 7, 2002, An began a hunger strike to protest prison conditions, according to the New York­based advocacy group Human Rights in China.

Qi Yanchen, free-lance
Imprisoned: September 2, 1999

Police arrested Qi at his home in Cangzhou, Hebei Province. His wife told reporters that officers confiscated his computer, printer, fax machine, and a number of documents. Qi, an economist, has published many articles in intellectual journals and online publications calling for economic and political reforms. He was also associated with the online magazine Canzhao (Consultations), a publication linked to the banned China Development Union.

On May 30, 2000, Qi was prosecuted for subversion before the Cangzhou People's Court in a closed, half-day trial. He was sentenced to four years in prison on September 19, 2000. His sentencing papers cited as evidence articles he had written for Hong Kong magazines and overseas Web sites.

Zhang Ji, free-lance
Imprisoned: October 1999

Zhang, a student at Qiqihar University in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang, was charged on November 8, 1999, with "disseminating reactionary documents via the Internet," according to the Hong Kong­based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy.

Zhang had allegedly distributed news and information about the banned spiritual movement Falun Gong. He was arrested sometime in October as part of the Chinese government's crackdown on the sect.

Using the Internet, Zhang reportedly transmitted news of the crackdown to Falun Gong members in the United States and Canada and also received reports from abroad, which he then circulated among practitioners in China. Before Zhang's arrest, Chinese authorities had increased Internet surveillance as part of their effort to crush Falun Gong.

Huang Qi, Tianwang Web site
Imprisoned: June 3, 2000

Public security officials came to Huang's office and arrested him for articles that had appeared on the Tianwang Web site, which he published. In January 2001, he was charged with subversion.

In October 1998, Huang and his wife, Zeng Li, launched Tianwang (, a missing-persons search service based in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. The site soon became a forum for users to publicize abuses of power by local officials and to post articles about a variety of topics, including the June 4, 1989, military crackdown on peaceful demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, the independence movement in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, and the banned spiritual group Falun Gong.

In December 1999, Huang published an investigative report about labor abuses committed against workers whom the Sichuan provincial government had sent abroad. While several domestic newspapers subsequently investigated and published stories on the case, authorities in Chengdu began threatening Huang and repeatedly interrogated him about his reporting.

Huang has been beaten in prison and has tried to commit suicide, according to an open letter he wrote from prison in February 2001 that was published on the Tianwang site. His family members, including his wife and young son, have not been allowed to visit or communicate with him since his arrest two years ago.

The Chengdu Intermediate Court in Sichuan Province held a secret trial on August 14, 2001. Family members were not allowed to attend. The court has not yet issued a ruling in the case, after postponing indefinitely a sentencing hearing originally set for February 28, 2003. Huang's trial had also been postponed several times throughout 2001 in an apparent effort to deflect international attention from China's human rights practices during the country's campaign to host the 2008 Olympic Games. (Two of the trial delays—on February 23 and June 27—coincided with important dates in Beijing's Olympics bid.)

Overseas supporters of Huang regularly post updates on his case to the Tianwang Web site, which is now hosted on a server outside China.

Xu Zerong,
Imprisoned: June 24, 2000

Xu was arrested in the city of Guangzhou and held incommunicado for 19 months before being tried by the Shenzhen Intermediate Court in January 2002. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of "leaking state secrets" and to an additional three years on charges of committing "economic crimes."

Xu, an associate research professor in the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies at Zhongshan University in Guangzhou, has written several free-lance articles about China's foreign policy and co-founded a Hong Kong­based academic journal, Zhongguo Shehui Kexue Jikan (China Social Sciences Quarterly). Xu is a permanent resident of Hong Kong.

Chinese officials have said that the "state secrets" charges against Xu stem from his use of historical materials for his academic research. In 1992, Xu photocopied four books published in the 1950s about China's role in the Korean War, which he then sent to a colleague in South Korea, according to a letter from the Chinese government to St. Antony's College, Oxford University. (Xu earned his Ph.D. at St. Antony's College, and since his arrest, college personnel have actively researched and protested his case.) The Security Committee of the People's Liberation Army in Guangzhou later determined that these documents should be labeled "top secret."

The "economic crimes" charges are related to the "illegal publication" of more than 60,000 copies of 25 books and periodicals since 1993, including several books about Chinese politics and Beijing's relations with Taiwan, according to official government documents.

Some observers believe that the charges against Xu are more likely related to an article he wrote for the Hong Kong­based Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly) newsmagazine revealing clandestine Chinese Communist Party support for Malaysian communist insurgency groups. Xu was arrested only days before the article appeared in the June 26, 2000, issue. In the article, Xu accused the Chinese Communist Party of hypocrisy for condemning the United States and other countries for interfering in China's internal affairs by criticizing its human rights record. "China's support of world revolution is based on the concept of ‘class above sovereignty'...which is equivalent to the idea of ‘human rights above sovereignty,' which the U.S. promotes today," Xu wrote.

Xu's family has filed an appeal, which is still pending. They have not been allowed to visit him since his arrest.

Guo Qinghai, free-lance
Imprisoned: September 15, 2000

Guo was arrested after posting numerous essays on overseas online bulletin boards calling for political reforms in China. In almost 40 essays posted under the pen name Qing Song, Guo covered a variety of topics, including political prisoners, environmental problems, and corruption. In one essay, Guo discussed the importance of a free press, saying, "Those who oppose lifting media censorship argue that it will negatively influence social stability. But according to what I have seen ... countries that control speech may be able to maintain stability in the short term, but the end result is often violent upheaval, coup d'états, or war."

Guo, who worked in a bank, also wrote articles for Taiwanese newspapers. He was a friend and classmate of writer Qi Yanchen, who was sentenced to four years in prison on subversion charges just four days after Guo's arrest (see above). One of Guo's last online essays appealed for Qi's release. On April 3, 2001, a court in Cangzhou, Hebei Province, tried Guo on subversion charges. On April 26, he was sentenced to four years in prison.

Liu Weifang, free-lance
Imprisoned: October 2000

Liu was arrested sometime after September 26, 2000, when security officials from the Ninth Agricultural Brigade District,

in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, came to his house, confiscated his computer, and announced that he was being officially investigated, according to an account that Liu posted online. His most recent essay was dated October 20, 2000.

Liu had recently posted a number of essays criticizing China's leaders and political system in Internet chat rooms. The essays, which the author signed either with his real name or with the initials "lgwf," covered topics such as official corruption, development policies in China's western regions, and environmental issues. At press time, the articles were available online at

"The reasons for my actions are all above-board," Liu wrote in one essay. "They are not aimed at any one person or any organization; rather, they are directed at any behavior in society that harms humanity. The goal is to speed up humanity's progress and development." The official Xinjiang Daily characterized Liu's work as "a major threat to national security." According to a June 15, 2001, report in the Xinjiang Daily, the Ninth Agricultural Brigade District's Intermediate People's Court had sentenced Liu to three years in prison.

Jiang Weiping, free-lance
Imprisoned: December 4, 2000

Jiang was arrested after publishing a number of articles in the Hong Kong magazine Qianshao (Frontline), a monthly Chinese-language magazine focusing on mainland affairs, revealing corruption scandals in northeastern China.

Jiang wrote the Qianshao articles, which were published between June and September 1999, under various pen names. His coverage exposed several major corruption scandals involving high-level officials. Notably, Jiang reported that Shenyang vice mayor Ma Xiangdong had lost nearly 30 million yuan (US$3.6 million) in public funds gambling in Macau casinos. Jiang also revealed that Liaoning provincial governor Bo Xilai had covered up corruption among his friends and family during his years as Dalian mayor.

Soon after these cases were publicized in Qianshao and other Hong Kong media, central authorities detained Ma. He was accused of taking bribes, embezzling public funds, and gambling overseas and was executed for these crimes in December 2001. After Ma's arrest, his case was widely reported in the domestic press and used as an example in the government's ongoing fight against corruption. However, in May 2001, Jiang was indicted for "revealing state secrets."

The Dalian Intermediate Court held a secret trial in September 2001. On January 25, 2002, the court formally sentenced Jiang to eight years in prison on charges including "inciting to subvert state power" and "illegally providing state secrets overseas." This judgment amended an earlier decision to sentence Jiang to nine years. During the January sentencing, Jiang proclaimed his innocence and told the court that the verdict "trampled on the law," according to CPJ sources. He has since appealed the verdict, but the case is still pending.

According to CPJ sources, Jiang has a serious stomach disorder and has been denied medical treatment. Jiang's wife and daughter have not been allowed to see or speak with him in the two years since his arrest. His wife, Li Yanling, has been repeatedly interrogated and threatened since her husband's arrest. In March 2002, the local public security bureau brought her in for questioning and detained her for several weeks.

An experienced journalist, Jiang had worked until May 2000 as the northeastern China bureau chief for the Hong Kong paper Wen Hui Bao. He contributed free-lance articles to Qianshao. In the 1980s, he worked as a Dalian-based correspondent for Xinhua News Agency.

In November 2001, CPJ honored Jiang with its annual International Press Freedom Award. In February 2002, CPJ sent appeals to Chinese president Jiang Zemin from almost 600 supporters—including CBS news anchor Dan Rather, civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, and former U.S. ambassador to China Winston Lord—demanding Jiang's unconditional release. That month, U.S. president George W. Bush highlighted Jiang's case in meetings with Jiang Zemin during a state visit to China. No progress has been made in the case.

Lu Xinhua, free-lance
Imprisoned: March 10, 2001

Lu was arrested in Wuhan, Hubei Province, after articles he had written about rural unrest and official corruption appeared on various Internet news sites based overseas. On April 20, 2001, he was charged with "inciting to subvert state power," a charge frequently used against journalists who write about politically sensitive subjects. Lu's trial began on September 18. On December 30, 2001, he was sentenced to four years in prison.

Yang Zili, Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan Web site
Xu Wei, Xiaofei Ribao
Jin Haike,
Zhang Honghai,
Imprisoned: March 13, 2001

Yang, Xu, Jin, and Zhang were detained on March 13 and charged with subversion on April 20. The four were active participants in the Xin Qingnian Xuehui (New Youth Study Group), an informal gathering of individuals who explored topics related to political and social reform and used the Internet to circulate relevant articles.

Yang, the group's most prominent member, published a Web site, Yangzi de Sixiang Jiayuan (Yangzi's Garden of Ideas), which featured poems, essays, and reports by various authors on subjects such as the shortcomings of rural elections. Authorities closed the site after Yang's arrest.

When Xu, a reporter with Xiaofei Ribao (Consumer Daily), was detained on March 13, authorities confiscated his computer, other professional equipment, and books, according to an account published online by his girlfriend, Wang Ying. Wang reported that public security officials also ordered Xiaofei Ribao to fire Xu. The newspaper has refused to discuss his case with reporters, according to The Associated Press.

The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court tried all four on September 28, 2001. Prosecutors focused predominately on the group's writings, including two essays circulated on the Internet called "Be a new citizen, reform China" and "What's to be done?" According to the indictment papers, these articles demonstrated the group's intention "to overthrow the Chinese Communist Party's leadership and the socialist system and subvert the regime of the people's democratic dictatorship." No verdict has been announced in the case.

Liu Haofeng, free-lance
Imprisoned: March 2001

Liu was secretly arrested in Shanghai in mid-March while conducting research on social conditions in rural China for the dissident China Democracy Party (CDP). On May 16, 2001, Liu was sentenced to "re-education through labor," a form of administrative detention that allows officials to send individuals to labor camps for up to three years without trial or formal charges.

After Liu's arrest, friends and family were not informed of his whereabouts, and CDP members say they only found out what had happened to him when they received news of his sentence in August 2001.

Sentencing papers issued by the Shanghai Re-education Through Labor Committee cited several alleged offenses, including a policy paper and an essay written by Liu that were published under different pen names on the CDP's Web site. The essay focused on the current situation of China's peasants. The committee also accused Liu of trying to form an illegal organization, the "China Democracy Party Joint Headquarters, Second Front."

The journalist had previously worked as an editor and reporter for various publications, including the magazine Jishu Jingji Yu Guanli (Technology, Economy, and Management), run by the Fujian Province Economic and Trade Committee, and Zhongguo Shichang Jingji Bao (China Market Economy News), run by the Central Party School in the capital, Beijing. Beginning in 1999, he worked for Univillage, a research organization focusing on rural democratization, and managed its Web site. He was working as a free-lance journalist at the time of his arrest.

Wang Jinbo, free-lance
Imprisoned: May 2001

Wang, a free-lance journalist, was arrested in early May 2001 for e-mailing essays to overseas organizations arguing that the government should change its official view that the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square were "counterrevolutionary." In October 2001, Wang was formally charged with "inciting to subvert state power." On November 14, the Junan County Court in Shandong Province held a closed trial; only the journalists' relatives were allowed to attend. On December 13, 2001, Wang was sentenced to four years in prison.

Wang, a member of the banned China Democracy Party, had been detained several times in the past for his political activities. In February 2001, days before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) visited Beijing, he was briefly taken into custody after signing an open letter calling on the IOC to pressure China to release political prisoners. A number of Wang's essays have been posted on various Internet sites. One, titled "My Account of Police Violations of Civil Rights," describes his January 2001 detention, during which police interrogated him and held him for 20 hours with no food or heat after he signed an open letter calling for the release of political prisoners.

Tao Haidong, free-lance
Imprisoned: July 9, 2002

Tao, an Internet essayist and pro-democracy activist, was arrested in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, and charged with "incitement to subvert state power." According to the Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) Web site, which had published Tao's recent writing, his articles focused on political and legal reform. In one essay, titled "Strategies for China's Social Reforms," Tao wrote that "the Chinese Communist Party and democracy activists throughout society should unite to push forward China's freedom and democratic development or else stand condemned through the ages."

Previously, in 1999, Tao was sentenced to three years of "re-education through labor" in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, according to the New York­based advocacy group Human Rights in China, because of his essays and his work on a book titled Xin Renlei Shexiang (Imaginings of a New Human Race). After his early release in 2001, Tao began writing essays and articles and publishing them on various domestic and overseas Web sites.

In early January 2003, the Urumqi Intermediate Court sentenced Tao to seven years in prison.

Zhang Wei,
Shishi Zixun, Redian Jiyao
Imprisoned: July 19, 2002

Zhang was arrested and charged with illegal publishing after producing and selling two underground newspapers in Chongqing, in central China. According to an account published on the Web site of the Chongqing Press and Publishing Administration, a provincial government body that governs all local publications, beginning in April 2001, Zhang edited two newspapers, Shishi Zixun (Current Events) and Redian Jiyao (Summary of the Main Points), which included articles and graphics he had downloaded from the Internet.

Two of Zhang's business associates, Zuo Shangwen and Ou Yan, were also arrested on July 19, 2002, and indicted for their involvement with the publications. Zuo printed the publications in neighboring Sichuan Province while Ou managed the publications' finances. At the time of their arrests, police confiscated 9,700 copies of Shishi Zixun.

The official account of their arrests stated that the two publications had "flooded" Chongqing's publishing market. The government declared that "the political rumors, shocking ‘military reports,' and other articles in these illegal publications misled the public, poisoned the youth, negatively influenced society and sparked public indignation." Zhang, Zuo, and Ou printed more than 1.5 million copies of the publications and sold them in Chongqing, Chengdu, and other cities.

On December 25, 2002, the Yuzhong District Court in Chongqing sentenced Zhang to six years in prison and fined him 100,000 yuan (US$12,000), the amount that police said he had earned in profits from the publications. Zuo was sentenced to five years and fined 50,000 yuan (US$6,000), while Ou was sentenced to two years in prison.

Chen Shaowen,
Imprisoned: August 2002

Chen, a free-lance writer, was arrested on suspicion of "using the Internet to subvert state power," according to a September 14 report in the official Hunan Daily. The article did not give the date of Chen's arrest, although Boxun News, an overseas online news service, reported that he was arrested on August 6.

Chen, who lives in Lianyuan, Hunan Province, has written numerous essays and articles for various overseas Chinese-language Web sites, including the online magazine Huang Hua Gang and Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum). According to his biography on the Minzhu Luntan Web site (, Chen's essays covered topics including China's unemployment problem, social inequalities, and flaws in the legal system.

The Hunan Daily article accused Chen of "repeatedly browsing reactionary websites ... sending in numerous articles of all sorts, fabricating, distorting and exaggerating relevant facts, and vilifying the Chinese Communist Party and the socialist system." The report stated that Chen had published more than 40 articles on overseas "reactionary" Web sites. Chen is still under investigation, and it is not clear whether he has been formally charged.

His family has not been allowed to visit him in detention.

Liu Di,
Imprisoned: November 7, 2002

Liu disappeared on November 7. The following day, security officials came to her house, which she shares with her 80-year-old grandmother, and confiscated Liu's computer, several books, and other personal belongings. Officials told her family that Liu was being investigated for "participating in an illegal organization." Authorities have not offered her family any further explanation as to her whereabouts.

Liu, 22, is a fourth-year student in the psychology department at Beijing Teacher's University. Using the pseudonym Buxiugang Laoshu (Stainless Steel Mouse), she wrote several online essays criticizing the Chinese government.

In one essay, Liu wrote that, "My ideals are the ideals of an open society... In my view, freedom does not just include external freedom, but freedom within our hearts and minds." In another essay, Liu called on Chinese citizens to stop reading official news and to read only "reactionary" materials. She also wrote in support of Huang Qi and Yang Zili, Web site publishers who have been arrested and charged with subversion.

Liu had expressed fears of being arrested and said that school authorities had called her in for questioning several times prior to her disappearance, according to online accounts written by her friends and acquaintances.

Liu's arrest became a rallying point for Chinese Internet users worldwide, and in December her supporters created a Web site ( and launched a global petition demanding her release. The petition has gathered more than 1800 signatories from inside and outside China.

Liu's disappearance came one day before the opening of the 16th Communist Party Congress. During the run-up to the congress, Chinese authorities escalated a crackdown on free expression by arresting government critics, closing Web sites, and tightening already stringent control over the official media.

Seok Jae Hyun, free-lance
Imprisoned: January 17, 2003

Free-lance photojournalist Seok was photographing two groups of about 60 North Korean refugees in Yantai, Shandong Province, who were trying to board two fishing boats bound for Cheju Island, South Korea, and Sasebo Island, Japan, when Chinese police arrested him, along with the refugees and a South Korean aid worker. Seok, a South Korean national who regularly works for several American and Korean publications, including The New York Times, was working independently at the time of his arrest.

Authorities accused Seok of engaging in human trafficking. Soon after his arrest, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson acknowledged that two South Koreans were detained with the refugees, but she did not confirm their identities. "They are suspected of smuggling or organizing smuggling activities and now are in criminal detention," she said.

In recent years, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have fled to China to escape severe food shortages and political repression. China considers the refugees to be economic migrants and regularly repatriates them to North Korea, where they often face imprisonment or other types of persecution.

As part of the Chinese government's crackdown on North Korean refugees, authorities have harassed journalists who report on their plight.