Artist who recorded daily Covid tests still missing
Performance artist Si Yuan Zhu Ji (司原逐冀) has reportedly been missing since last October, shortly after he gave an interview to the BBC in September, in which he discussed his art project at the time: recording his mandatory Covid tests with a micro spy cam in his mouth.
Si had made several art projects and posted them online prior to the three-year anniversary of the pandemic to commemorate the impact of China’s zero-COVID policy on regular life, including blowing a whistle to commemorate Dr. Li Wenliang and making photographs and a short animation of Shanghai under lockdown. However, it was his interview with the BBC that caught the authorities’ attention. His friends attempted to file a missing person report, but the request was rejected by the police on the grounds they are not Si’s immediate family.
Academic sentenced for inciting subversion
Wang Gang (王刚), former Associate Professor of the School of Clinical Medicine at the Hebei University of Engineering, received a 30-month prison sentence for inciting subversion in December 2022. In 2018, Wang was removed from his post because he made critical remarks about current affairs and the Cultural Revolution. Ahead of the 33rd anniversary of June Fourth, police warned Wang not to post negative comments online. He was criminally detained the same month. Wang is currently serving his sentence in Hebei Xingtai Prison and is scheduled for release in December 2024.
Hong Kong publisher freed after almost ten years
Yao Wentian (姚文田), an independent publisher from Hong Kong, was released from Dongguan Prison in Guangdong Province on February 26, 2023. He returned to Hong Kong the following day. Yao, who is 82-years old, is widely believed to have been imprisoned for preparing a book about Xi Jinping. He was convicted and sentenced to ten years in prison for trafficking in common goods in 2014. He received an eight-month sentence reduction in 2019. Read Dui Hua’s press statement about his case and the foundation’s efforts to secure early release and better treatment for Yao.
Wuhan medical welfare protester detained
In February, hundreds of pensioners took to the streets of Wuhan and Dalian to protest changes to state health insurance that reduced their monthly medical allowances. The cuts were initiated by local governments whose coffers had been depleted by the mass testing quarantines and lockdowns accompanying China’s zero-COVID policy. Videos circulating online showed protesters singing “The Internationale,” a communist song which has been favored by dissenters from time to time to blame the Chinese Communist Party for straying from its communist roots.
Zhang Hai (张海) is among the participants known to have been detained following the Wuhan protests. Zhang is an outspoken critic against China’s zero-COVID policy following the death of his father during the pandemic. His detainment around February 20 in Shenzhen came after he reposted video clips of the Wuhan protests alongside media reports and comments to his Twitter account. The charges against him remain unclear at the time of writing.
Political dissenter serving for second jail term
Yang Mingyu (杨明玉), who completed his three-year sentence for inciting subversion in June 2016, is serving his second prison stint after he was sentenced to eight years in prison for picking quarrels and provoking trouble in 2022. His plight came to light only after a recent news report provided updates about his case. The specifics leading to his re-imprisonment remain unclear. In 2013, Yang was a vocal supporter of Xu Zhiyong’s New Citizens Movement and took part in street protests calling on government officials to disclose their private assets.
Notable prisoner release
Lawyer-turned-environmental activist Chen Wuquan (陈武权) was released from Guangdong Sihui Prison without a sentence reduction on February 8. Chen launched the “War to Protect the Sea” campaign to protest alleged illegal land appropriation and reclamation in his hometown. He was convicted of picking quarrels and provoking trouble and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in January 2019.
Clemency for inmates at Guangdong Provincial Women’s Prison
Outspoken activist Li Biyun (李碧云) completed her prison sentence in Guangdong Women’s Prison 15 months early on February 24, 2022, according to information recently provided by unofficial news media reports. Li was sentenced to four years and three months’ imprisonment for theft and disrupting public service in January 2020. She had previously been imprisoned three times because of her efforts to run in elections as an independent candidate, with criminal charges ranging from sabotaging elections to disrupting public service.
A Falun Gong practitioner from Meizhou also received clemency. Liu Meiling (刘美玲) was convicted for organizing/using a cult to undermine implementation of the law in 2015 and sentenced to ten years in prison with a two-year deprivation of political rights sentence. Dui Hua learned that she was granted an eight-month reduction twice in 2018 and 2020, respectively. for good behavior and willingness to reform. Dui Hua also learned that Liu is up for review for a third reduction by the Guangzhou Intermediate Court. If approved, Liu could be released as early as April 2023.
Falun Gong practitioners facing trials again in Beijing
Shan Shan (单珊), a Falun Gong practitioner in Beijing, previously served a four-year sentence for organizing/using a cult to undermine implementation of the law from 2017 to May 2021. Dui Hua learned that Shan is facing trial again in Beijing, less than two years following her release. The Haidian District Court held the first hearing on Shan for the same crime in November 2022.
Yang Xiliang (杨喜亮), a man in his 60s, has also stood trial for organizing/using a cult to undermine implementation of the law at the end of February at the Daxing District Court. Yang was previously convicted of disturbing social order and sentenced to two and a half years. He was released in 2009.
As recidivists, if convicted, both Shan and Yang are likely to receive harsher punishment.