Kong, an essayist and poet, was arrested in Anshan, Liaoning province. A former trade union official, he had written online articles that supported democratic reforms, appealed for the release of then-imprisoned Internet writer Liu Di, and called for a reversal of the government’s “counterrevolutionary” ruling on the pro-democracy demonstrations of 1989.
Kong’s essays included an appeal to democracy activists in China that stated, “In order to work well for democracy, we need a well-organized, strong, powerful, and effective organization. Otherwise, a mainland democracy movement will accomplish nothing.” Several of his articles and poems were posted on the Minzhu Luntan (Democracy Forum) website.
In 1998, Kong served time in prison after he became a member of the Liaoning province branch of the opposition China Democracy Party. In 2004, he was tried on subversion charges along with co-defendant Ning Xianhua, who was accused of being the vice chairman of the party’s branch in Liaoning, according to the U.S.-based advocacy organization Human Rights in China and court documents obtained by the U.S.-based Dui Hua Foundation. Later that year, the Shenyang Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Kong to 15 years in prison, plus four years’ deprivation of political rights. His sentence was reduced to 10 years on appeal, according to the Independent Chinese PEN Center. He is expected to be released in the fall of 2014.
Kong suffered from hypertension and was imprisoned in the city of Lingyuan, far from his family. The Independent Chinese PEN Center reported that his eyesight was deteriorating. Ning, who received a 12-year sentence, was released ahead of schedule on December 15, 2010, according to Radio Free Asia.