Independent filmmaker arrested in Shanghai

In November 2023, a documentary named Wurumuqi Middle Road was posted on YouTube. “Plato如是说,” a self-described independent filmmaker, made the film to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the White Paper Protest, a movement that started in the wake of a deadly Urumqi fire before exploding into open protests against China’s zero-Covid lockdown policy. The protest later became known as the “White Paper Movement.”

The documentary is based on footage recorded on November 26, 2022 and online footage from other mass incidents in the days before and after. The YouTube channel description says that the film serves as a record of a personal political awakening as well as the experiences and suffering of the people over a period of three years.

The YouTube account was removed soon after the video was posted.

Filmmaker Chen Pinlin (陈品霖) has been arrested for picking quarrels and provoking trouble. A photo of the arrest notice states that Chen was formally arrested on January 5, 2024, by Baoshan District police in Shanghai.

Sources indicate that the case was already submitted to the procuratorate for indictment review on February 18.

Yang Hengjun will not appeal; ex-girlfriend indicted on same charge

Yang Hengjun (杨恒均) will not appeal his death with two-year reprieve sentence for espionage, according to a statement released by his family on February 21. Yang, a naturalized Australian citizen, was convicted and sentenced by Bejing Number Two Intermediate People’s Court on February 5. The statement reiterates that Yang maintains his innocence.

Just as China has a low acquittal rate in criminal trials, the appeal reversal rate is similarly low. The latest 2022 trial statistics released by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC) show that reverse decisions accounted for 9.4 percent of appeal cases concluded. For a politically sensitive case such as Yang’s, the conviction will almost certainly be upheld and affirmed by the high people’s court.

In a partial copy of indictment posted online, Yang was accused of spying for a Taiwan intelligence agency when he was a state security officer in Hainan. Yang’s ex-girlfriend Wu Yanyan (吴彦谚), a Hong Kong resident, has also been indicted for the same crime. She was placed under residential surveillance in Beijing at the same time as Yang, but she was tried separately. The status of her case and outcome of the trial are unknown.

Hubei activist detained before provincial “Two Meetings”

Mao Shanchun (毛善春), an activist from Hubei and a former member of Qin Yongmin’s China Human Rights Observer Group, was detained on January 31, 2024.

Mao has participated in Qin’s organization. He announced his withdrawal from the Communist Party of China in 2020.

Mao sent a message to friends informing them that he was asked to leave Wuhan before the provincial Two Meetings. He was detained when he arrived in his hometown in Gongan County.

The exact charge against Mao is unclear, but family members were informed that Mao is being investigated for endangering state security.

Two elderly FLG practitioners granted clemency in Henan

Dui Hua has learned that the Henan Provincial Prison Bureau granted clemency to two elderly Falun Gong practitioners in January 2024. Both men were incarcerated in Zhengzhou Prison for violating Criminal Law Article 300, “using a cult to undermine implementation of the law.”

Wang Tiezhuang (王铁壮), who is in his 70s, has been allowed to temporarily serve his sentence outside prison due to serious illness. Wang was sentenced to seven years in prison in May 2021. His sentence will expire in August 2026.

Zhu Chuanqi (朱传其), also in his 70s, has also been allowed to temporarily serve his sentence outside of prison due to serious illness. Zhu was sentenced to two and a half years’ imprisonment in February 2023. His sentence will expire in March 2025. This is Zhu’s second prison term. He was previously convicted of the same crime in 2008 and received a five-year sentence. His last sentence was completed in 2012.

Lawyer still missing in China, daughter passed away in Japan

Well-known rights lawyer Tang Jitian (唐吉田) has been incommunicado since November 2023, ten months after he regained his freedom. His daughter died on February 20, 2024, in Tokyo in a Tuberculosis-induced coma.

Tang has been an avid advocate for at-risk groups, including practitioners of unorthodox religions, HIV patients, and petitioners.

Although never imprisoned, Tang has been repeatedly placed in administrative detention and has been on the receiving end of extrajudicial measures.

He was subject to extrajudicial measures during the crackdown on the “Jasmine Revolution” in February 2011. On December 10, 2021, Tang was taken away while en route to an International Human Rights Day event hosted by the EU Mission in Beijing. Although he was released days later, he was then taken back to Yanji, Jilin, where he was barred from traveling.

Tang has been placed on an exit ban. In November 2017, he was prevented from leaving the country to seek medical treatment in Hong Kong. In June 2021, he was barred from leaving again when he tried to visit his sick daughter in Japan. On both occasions, he was told that his leaving China might “endanger state security.”

Human rights groups have called on China to allow Tang to attend his daughter funeral.