Dui Hua recently received updates on several long-serving prisoners in Shanghai, including two who were separately sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987 for engaging in counterrevolutionary activities. The details of their cases are similar in some respects, but their fates have been quite different. One consistently received sentence reductions and was released in 2004 after serving nearly 18½ years in prison. The other, suffering from mental illness, is not due to be released from prison until 2024. Dui Hua also received updates for prisoners serving sentences in Hunan Province, where another long-serving counterrevolutionary prisoner was released last year after serving more than 20 years in prison.

Tang Xueliang (唐雪良) was a 27-year-old worker in a Shanghai automobile factory when he allegedly became involved with a group of workers and former prisoners who called themselves the “China Social Democratic Radical Party.” According to prosecutors, Tang and the other members of the group attempted to obtain weapons and plotted to hijack a factory vehicle transporting a large bank withdrawal, but they were taken into custody by police in July 1986 before having the opportunity to carry out their plans. Charged with leading or actively participating in a “counterrevolutionary group” and “counterrevolutionary sabotage,” Tang Xueliang was sentenced to life in prison in March 1987. Four other group members—including Tang’s older brother—were executed. Sources tell Dui Hua that Tang’s sentence was commuted to 19 years’ imprisonment in 1992, and a total of six subsequent sentence reductions between 1994 and 2004 took off an additional seven years and two months. Tang was finally released from Tilanqiao Prison on December 13, 2004.

Another Shanghai factory worker, Jiang Cunde (蒋存德), was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1987 on charges of “counterrevolutionary sabotage” and illegal possession of weapons. Jiang came to the attention of police in 1985 and 1986, when he began advocating the formation of an independent trade union modeled on Poland’s Solidarity. In 1987, he and two friends allegedly plotted the hijack of an airplane to Taiwan, an act that was never carried out. Several years ago, Dui Hua learned that in 1993, five years after being sent to Tilanqiao Prison, Jiang was certified to have a psychiatric illness and released on medical parole to the custody of his mother. In 1999, he was sent back to prison for violating the terms of his medical parole, and his sentence was commuted in August 2004 to a 20-year fixed-term sentence, meaning that he is not due for release until August 2024. Sources have informed Dui Hua that Jiang has received a number of citations for good behavior but has so far not received any further sentence reductions. He continues to suffer periodic psychotic episodes, during which he “faints, speaks nonsense, and says that people are controlling him.” (See a previous report about Jiang’s case in Dialogue 23 on pages 6-7.)

In September 1983, Jiang Yijiao (江宜教) was detained by police in You County, Hunan, and charged with “supplying intelligence, accepting funds for his activities, starting rumors to stir up trouble, developing an organization, and conspiring to turn traitor.” He was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Zhuzhou Intermediate People’s Court and sent to Chishan Prison in 1984. In 1993, his sentence was reduced to a fixed-term sentence of 13 years. A subsequent sentence reduction of 1½ years was followed by his release on medical parole. However, while out on parole, Jiang was again charged with collecting intelligence and sentenced in 2002 to five more years in prison, which, added to the remainder of his original sentence, would total ten years. After at least two further sentence reductions beginning in 2005, Jiang was released from Chishan Prison on November 16, 2008.