Guo was arrested after posting numerous essays on overseas online bulletin boards calling for political reforms in China. In 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.”
On April 3, 2001, the Cangzhou Intermediate People’s Court in Hebei Province tried Guo on subversion charges. On April 26, he was sentenced to four years in prison. Sentencing papers cited 27 articles that Guo had written between October 1999 and September 2000 as evidence, including one titled “Be An Eternal Opponent,” which advocated Western-style democracy, according to prosecutors.
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. One of Guo’s last online essays appealed for Qi’s release. Qi Yanchen was freed from prison in April 2003.