Detained under suspicion of “inciting subversion of state authority,” freelance writer Zhang Ruquan was later prosecuted on criminal defamation charges for writing an essay criticizing Chinese leadership since the death of Mao Zedong. Zhang Ruquan is better known by his usual pen name, Zhang Qianfu.
In a closed trial on December 24, 2004, the People’s Court of Jinshui District in the city of Zhengzhou, Henan Province, convicted Zhang Ruquan, along with his associate Zhang Zhengyao, in a public prosecution on charges of defamation that “seriously undermined social order or the state interest.” The two were sentenced to three years in prison for defaming former Chinese President Jiang Zemin.
The charges stemmed from early September, when Zhang Ruquan wrote a commemorative essay titled “Mao Zedong–Forever Our Leader,” which was posted online and printed in leaflets. On September 9, the 28th anniversary of Mao’s death, Zhang Zhengyao distributed the leaflets in Zhengzhou’s Zijinshan Square and was arrested by plainclothes public security officers.
Authorities detained Zhang Zhengyao and another man, Wang Zhanqing, who printed the leaflets. Zhang Ruquan and Zhang Zhengyao’s wife, Ge Liying, who posted the article online, were placed under house arrest, apparently in consideration of their age and health.
In the article, which Zhang Ruquan wrote under the pen name Song Mei, he expressed nostalgia for Mao’s rule. He also criticized the Chinese Communist Party for abandoning China’s workers. “As a result of the commercialization of education, health care, cultural activities, sports, and legal recourse … they have in effect been deprived of the right to send their children to school, access to health care, the right to pension … and even the right to legal protection,” he wrote.
In particular, he criticized former leader Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin, who at that time held the position of chairman of the Central Military Commission, for representing only the interests of “imperialism” and the upper classes.
Zhang Ruquan has written under the name Zhang Qianfu for a number of Maoist Web sites and magazines in China, including the prominent leftist magazine Zhong Liu (Midstream).