Clemency for Subversion

Chinese government sources confirmed this year that two men convicted of subversion received sentence reductions in September 2009, marking the latest known clemency for individuals convicted of non-violent speech and association. Wang Sen (王森) was granted a 10-month sentence reduction for good behavior and was released on July 2, 2010. The China Democracy Party (中国民主党) member was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment by the Dazhou Intermediate People’s Court in 2002 for supporting workers on strike for back wages in Sichuan. Although out of jail, Wang is serving a three-year sentence of deprivation of political rights, which restricts his freedom of expression and movement and imposes restrictions on employment and voting rights.

Following years of repeated inquiries by governments and human rights groups, Huang Jinqiu (黄金秋) was granted a 23-month sentence reduction and is scheduled for release from Jiangsu’s Pukou Prison on December 13, 2011. A journalist and pro-democracy activist, Huang expressed his intent to found the China Patriotic & Democratic Party (中华爱国民主党) and penned essays critical of Chinese leadership and policy while studying journalism in Malaysia. Shortly after returning to China in September 2003, Huang, who wrote under the name Qingshuijun (清水君), was taken into police custody. He was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for subversion by the Changzhou Intermediate People’s Court in 2004 and received his first sentence reduction, of 22-months, in July 2007.

Cult Convictions

In June, government sources updated Dui Hua on the status of three individuals jailed for so-called cult crimes. Authorities generally use cult offenses to target the banned Falun Gong sect, yet in these cases, none of the individuals are known Falun Gong practitioners.

Liang Jiantian (梁鉴天) received his third sentence reduction on December 9, 2010. The most recent reduction was for 13 months. The co-owner of a Guangzhou publishing house, Liang was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 for “producing obscene material” and “conducting illegal business activity.” Liang allegedly printed books without a license, including 4.5 million Falun Gong publications. He was also found guilty of publishing pornographic materials. Liang was sentenced along with three others, but received the harshest sentence—the most lenient being eight years’ imprisonment. The co-owner of the publishing house, Liu Jingsong (刘镜崧), was sentenced to 20 years in prison, while the individuals accused of ordering the Falun Gong books, Liu Yong (刘勇) and Liu Hua (刘华), were given fifteen- and eight-year sentences, respectively.

Prior to the December reduction, Liang’s life sentence had been commuted to a fixed term that was subsequently reduced by 16 months. He is reported to be healthy and is now scheduled for release from Guangdong’s Panyu Prison on August 17, 2024. Dui Hua has received no government responses regarding the other individuals convicted in the case since 2003.

The first official response sent to Dui Hua about Ren Ming (任铭) indicates that the 45-year-old democracy activist is scheduled to complete his three-year sentence in Guangdong’s Beijiang Prison on September 9, 2012. Although multiple unofficial reports state that Ren is not a “cult,” or Falun Gong, practitioner, he was convicted of “organizing a cult to undermine the implementation of law.” Ren was detained by Shenzhen police in September 2009 for distributing to his friends less than 20 copies of a DVD, a documentary about the Second Sino-Japanese War, bearing Falun Gong insignias. Police searched his home and confiscated his personal computers, which contained a few books banned in China for “reactionary” content. Ren was arrested on charges of “disseminating cult and anti-government information” on October 15, 2009.

Qiao Yanbing (乔延兵) received a one-year sentence reduction for good behavior in September 2010 and was released on March 10, 2011. He was sentenced to four-and-a-half years’ imprisonment in January 2008 by Shandong’s Fushan District People’s Court for “organizing a cult” and “counterfeiting official documents.” There is no official account of what actions led Qiao to be convicted of cult association or counterfeiting, and several Chinese media reports suggest authorities fabricated the charges. A demobilized member of the military, Qiao reportedly joined a mass petition of more than 2,000 former cadres and soldiers seeking social security benefits from the Yantai municipal government in July 2007. He also allegedly signed an open letter supporting democratic reforms within the context of China’s one-party system.