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 Kong-based 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.