New Findings on Dong Zhanyi and His “New Era Communist Party of China”

In late October, Dui Hua staff spent a week at three Harvard libraries delving into public security, procuratorate, court, prison, and administrative gazettes, many of which are inaccessible to the public elsewhere in the world. Their research uncovered information about the “People’s Party” founded by Dong Zhanyi (董占义). As Dui Hua previously reported, this organization, later renamed the “New Era Communist Party of China,” aimed to fight corruption and recruit aggrieved workers and petitioners to overthrow the Communist Party of China.

The government record revealed that Chen Guohua (陈国华), another founding member of the party, was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment for subversion on October 27, 2011. Chen was responsible for writing propaganda about ending one-party rule and establishing a multi-party system.

Four previously unknown names implicated in Dong’s party were uncovered: Liu Jinlong (刘金龙)Zhang Xinxiang (张新祥)Yu Yingbin (余应斌), and Zhan Wenfang (湛文芳). The Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Liu and Zhang to 17 years’ imprisonment for subversion and contract fraud, while Yu and Zhan were sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for the sole charge of subversion. A government record stated that they were employees of Tongkang (通康), a corporate entity that allegedly promoted an investment scam in the name of a supermarket project. The party operated in a number of locations across China, including Beijing, Tianjin, Henan, Shandong, Anhui, Jiangsu, and even Ningxia. In Beijing alone, Tongkang was accused of fraudulently raising 2.9 million yuan from investors. Dong and other members were said to have used Tongkang to fund their political activities, which included assassination plots and the procurement of knives and crossbows. As of December 2019, Dui Hua’s PPDB has information on 14 individuals who were detained or sentenced in connection with Dong’s party.

Early Rain Covenant Church

On December 30, 2019, the Chengdu Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Pastor Wang Yi (王怡), founder of the Early Rain Covenant Church, to nine years’ imprisonment with three years’ deprivation of political rights for inciting subversion and illegal business activities. Earlier, on November 29, the Qingyang District People’s Court in Chengdu sentenced Elder Qin Defu (覃德富) to four years’ imprisonment for illegal business activities. In December 2018, members of the house church were summoned, and some members were detained. Among them, Wang’s wife, Jiang Rong (蒋蓉), and Pastor Li Yingqiang (李英强) were released on bail in June and August, respectively, of this year.

Japanese Citizens Detained for Obtaining State Secrets

Since the Counter-Espionage Law came into effect in 2015, at least 13 Japanese citizens have been detained in China on various charges, including espionage (Dui Hua’s PPDB only has information on four of them). One of them is Saki Tsuchikawa (土川纱辉), a naturalized Japanese citizen originally from Shanghai who worked for a Japanese language school in Tokyo. She was sentenced to six year’s imprisonment by a Shanghai court for crimes involving state secrets in December 2018. The specifics of this case are unclear.

In November, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the detainment of a law and politics professor at Hokkaido University believed to be Iwatani Nobu (岩谷将). Prior to his detainment, he was invited by a Chinese think tank to participate in a conference. Iwatani specializes in contemporary Chinese history, including the intelligence history of the Chinese Communist Party.

The Chinese government accused Iwatani of contravening the Criminal Law and Counter-Espionage Law by obtaining a large amount of state secret materials on his trips to China. The spokesman did not confirm charges against Iwatani. After receiving “criticism and education”, he was released on bail and subsequently returned to Japan on November 15. It is unclear whether he was deported by Chinese authorities.

Notable Releases of Political Prisoners

Jin Xide (金熙德) was released from Chaobai Prison in Beijing on October 8 and is serving a supplemental three-year deprivation of political rights sentence. A Chinese national of Korean descent, Jin was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment for espionage by the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court in November 2010. He was accused of leaking information about Kim Jong-il’s health to South Korea and Japan. The sentence was affirmed by the Beijing High People’s Court a month later. Dui Hua’s research into court websites indicated that Jin received four sentence reductions totaling 39 months from 2013 to 2019. In its submission to the 2018 Universal Periodic Review of China, Dui Hua included Jin’s clemency information published online by Chinese courts to illustrate the degree of China’s judicial transparency.

Ma Houzhi (马厚芝) was the last member of the Maoist Communist Party to have completed his 10-year sentence for subversion on October 14 (Dui Hua’s research has also uncovered five other party members who were also sentenced for subversion in 2011). Ma’s party sought to eliminate capitalism and restore the proletariat dictatorship. The Chongqing No. 5 Intermediate People’s Court sentenced him to ten years’ imprisonment in 2011. Dui Hua has included his name on nine prisoner lists and received two responses confirming that he was incarcerated in Chongqing’s Yudu Prison. Despite Dui Hua’s efforts to raise Ma in nine prisoner lists, he has not been granted any sentence reduction.

Liu Shaoming (刘少明) was released in Guangdong on November 28. Liu was a labor activist who wrote articles on June Fourth and helped organize labor protests in 2015. The Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court convicted him of inciting subversion and sentenced him to four and a half years’ imprisonment in July 2017. Dui Hua has included his name on nine prisoner lists and received two responses. One response confirmed that Liu was incarcerated in Shaoguan Prison.

Abduhapar Memeteysa (阿卜杜海拜尔·买买提艾沙) was released from Fushun No. 2 Prison in Liaoning on December 14. Abduhapar was among the 23 Xinjiang separatists convicted by the Shenyang Intermediate People’s Court of splittism, and he was sentenced to 13 years and three months’ imprisonment in 2009. Dui Hua has included his name in three prisoner lists submitted to the European Union. This case indicates the growing reach of Beijing’s clampdown on inciting splittism and splittism cases involving Uyghurs outside of Xinjiang.