Illegal Business Activity

Dui Hua has recently discovered several cases of illegal business activities in 2016 related to the publication of religious booklets. Wang Xiaoyan (王小燕), Xia Songzhi (夏松芝), and Li Kehua (栗克华) were convicted of printing and selling booklets that promoted Xinling Famen (心灵法门), a Buddhist-sounding religious sect also known as Guanyin Citta Dharma Door. Wang will remain in prison in Shanghai until January 2021, while Li and Xia are now serving their suspended sentences in Henan until December 2019 and December 2020, respectively.

Christian groups that have not been labelled “cults” by the Chinese government also face increasing suppression. The Gong’an County People’s Court in Hubei sentenced eleven members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church on March 18. The defendants were accused of engaging in “illegal business activities” for printing about 43,000 unauthorized religious booklets for the church. Pastor Zhu Zhongcai (朱仲才) was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, while Elder Li Aihui (李爱辉) received a four-year sentence. Six other members responsible for editing, selling, and distributing the booklets received sentences of one year to three and a half years’ imprisonment. Three other defendants, including two printers that had received RMB150,800 from Zhu, received suspended sentences of four years.

The offense of illegal business activity is not only used to target the printing of unauthorized religious books, but also publications deemed “immoral” by the authorities. On May 15, the Wuchang District People’s Court sentenced Tang Zhe (唐喆) to four years’ imprisonment for writing a homoerotic Boys Love novel. The young novelist was accused of engaging in “illegal business activities” together with six other people. Tang was responsible for writing, publishing, and selling the books, whereas six other people allegedly in charge of printing over 12,000 copies of Tang’s novels received sentences ranging from one year and nine months’ to three and a half years’ imprisonment.

Subversion & Incitement

Four prisoners affiliated with the so-called Shadow Corps (Yingzi Bintuan 影子兵团) were sentenced for subversion of state power in Guangdong. The Shadow Corps allegedly aimed to overthrow the Communist Party of China in a violent revolution, according to official accounts. Dui Hua has previously reported that Xiang Fengxuan (项逢选) was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment. A recent government response revealed that Ma Ji (马骥) is now serving his five-year sentence in Heyuan Prison and will be due for release in August 2020. The same response also revealed that Su Dongliang (苏东亮) has already been released from prison on an unspecified date. Also serving in Guangdong’s Heyuan Prison, Yang Wanben (杨万本) is expected to complete his four-year sentence on August 16, 2019.

The same response also stated that prominent activist Chen Qitang (陈启棠) in Guangdong had not been granted clemency during his four-years-and-six-months’ sentence for inciting subversion. Chen was released from Sihui Prison on May 24, 2019. When the Occupy Central Movement broke out in Hong Kong in September 2014, Chen was in the former British colony. After he returned to Guangdong, he disseminated articles in support of the civil disobedience campaign that called for genuine universal suffrage. Chen was not sentenced until March 2017, after spending more than two years in custody. Chen had previously been imprisoned for more than two years in 2008 for swindling by false pretenses, apparently in reprisal for helping villagers over farmland expropriation in Guangdong.

Land Rights Petitioning

Zhao Lirong (赵丽荣) is a petitioner serving her four-year sentence for picking quarrels and provoking troubles. In 2008, her farmland was expropriated by the government and a glass manufacturing company was granted the right to use her land. She received 100,000 yuan compensation, but was subsequently sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment for destruction of property because she demolished the walls of the company in 2009. Upon release, she petitioned township, county, and city governments against the expropriation and demanded additional compensation. In 2015 alone, she petitioned eight times in Beijing, including six times near Zhongnanhai, the headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party and State Council. She was convicted in June 2016, and two months later the Pingquan County People’s Court upheld the original sentence. Zhao is scheduled for release in December 2019, three months earlier than the expected release date.

Religious Cases

Sentence reductions were given to two female Falun Gong practitioners. Both are incarcerated in Hunan Provincial Women’s Prison: Li Jumei (李菊梅), serving her seven-year sentence, will finish her term in May 2022, after a sentence reduction of five months; Liu Qingxiu (刘青秀), serving her 10-year prison sentence, will finish her term in September 2021, after a sentence reduction of four months.

Mo Wulong (莫武隆) continues to serve his 20-year  in Wangling Prison. Mo was the leader of Lord God Sect (Zhushenjiao,主神教) and was convicted in 2008. The banned sect, based on Christian theology, originated in Hunan and has allegedly recruited thousands of followers in over 22 provinces.