China sentences activist Xu Zhiyong to four years

The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court on Jan. 26 sentenced legal scholar and activist Xu Zhiyong to four years in prison on the charge of "gathering a crowd to disturb public order." Xu is the founder of the New Citizens' Movement, a grass-roots organization which seeks to draw attention to matters of public discontent, including equal access to education and disclosure of Chinese officials' personal assets to combat corruption. Xu's trial was on Jan. 22, and his closing statement to the court was interrupted after roughly 10 minutes by the judge, who said his comments were irrelevant. In his statement, Xu addresses the need to uphold constitutional rights for all citizens in China under the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. US Ambassador Gary Locke issued a statement on the day after Xu's trial, expressing concern over the recent arrests of advocates for government reform in China. Amnesty International called the four-year sentence shameful, and the Human Rights Watch called the trial a pretext for a broad crackdown on popular protests against corruption.

From Jurist, Jan. 26. Used with permission.

  1. China court rejects appeal of legal activist

    The Beijing Supreme People's Court on April 11 upheld the four-year prison sentence of legal activist Xu Zhiyong for "gathering a crowd to disturb public order." (Jurist)

  2. China: prison for four more New Citizen activists

    A Chinese court on April 18 handed down prison terms to four activists from the New Citizens Movement. Beijing's Haidian District People's Court sentenced Ding Jiaxi, who publicly called on Chinese officials to reveal details of their wealth, to three and a half years, while veteran democracy activist Zhao Changqing received a two-and-a-half year term—both for "gathering a crowd to disrupt public order." Li Wei and Zhang Baocheng received terms of two years each on the same charges. (RFA)

  3. Xu Zhiyong book released as appeal denied

    On the same day that Xu Zhiyong's appeal was denied, Hong Kong-based New Century Press released his book, To Be a Citizen: My Free China, the Wall Street Journal's Real Time China blog reports. Of course it is uncertain at best whether any copies will make it to the mainland.

    Obama will not be stopping in China in his current Asian tour, but the Washington Post noted during Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Beijing in February that he met with dissident bloggers who, according to the headline, "ask[ed] Kerry to put pressure on Beijing over Internet, press freedoms." The only blogger actually named was one Zhang Jialong, who "complained that U.S. companies were complicit in maintaining Internet restrictions in China and asked Kerry to do more for Chinese dissidents who have been jailed for peacefully expressing their views." OK, now these are two distinct demands. Calling on Washington to put pressure on US companies that acqueisce in the Great Firewall is wholly legitimate. Looking to Washington to put pressure on Beijing is more problematic. We hope that Zhang is aware of Sami al-Hajj, the Al Jazeera reporter who was imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay. The US does not exactly have clean hands where press freedom is concerned. And looking to the US for protection plays into Beijing's propaganda that dissdents are agents and dupes of the West…

    We note Wang Jialong's recent piece on Foreign Policy, "What I Wish I'd Told John Kerry," in which he elaborates on both demands…