In accordance with China’s regulations governing medical parole, and concerned with a recent deterioration in the prisoner’s health, the warden of Yanqing Prison in Beijing has ordered the release on medical parole of Mr. Xu Wenli. Accompanied by his wife, Ms. He Xintong, and an official of the US Embassy in Beijing, Xu Wenli departed Beijing on December 24, 2002. Xu will arrive in the United States on Christmas Eve, 2002.
Xu Wenli suffers from chronic progressive Hepatitis B infection. Hepatitis B is a highly infectious disease that is prevalent in prison populations around the world. In recent years, American physicians have established a protocol for treating chronic progressive Hepatitis B, and while it is not uniformly effective in ameliorating the course of this potentially fatal disease, it is often effective in accomplishing that goal. The Prison Administration Bureau of the Ministry of Justice and the warden of Yanqing Prison, having learned of this protocol, decided to exercise humanitarian clemency and grant Xu Wenli medical parole so that he can receive new and technically advanced treatments for Hepatitis B now available in the United States. Xu Wenli has a daughter in the United States, and she will be able to look after and care for her father and mother.
Xu Wenli was convicted of counterrevolution in June 1982, and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was paroled 35 months prior to the conclusion of his sentence in May 1993. He was detained on November 30, 1998, and subsequently sentenced by the Beijing Number One Intermediate People’s Court to 13 years in prison with three years’ subsequent deprivation of political rights for the crime of subversion. According to information provided by the Chinese side, a physical examination of Xu Wenli in 1999 revealed that he had contracted Hepatitis B. In accordance with the Measures on Implementing Medical Parole issued in 1990, prisoners who contract a serious, chronic illness after entering prison can receive medical parole after serving one-third of their terms. If the illness is especially serious and shows signs of worsening, the time limit need not apply. Xu Wenli was released after serving slightly less than one-third of his 1998 sentence.
Xu Wenli’s case has been a focus in the Sino-US dialogue on human rights that resumed in Washington in October 2001. Details of his release on medical parole and departure for the United States were finalized during the latest round of the dialogue held in Beijing on December 16 and 17, 2002.
Xu Wenli’s release is the latest in a string of early releases and sentence reductions of prisoners raised by the US side during the human rights dialogue with China. Prisoners granted early release during the last year have included Ngawang Choephel, Jigme Sangpo, Zhou Dawei and Ngawang Sangdrol. All of these cases have been highlighted in speeches on the importance of human rights in US-China relations by US Ambassador Clark Randt, and were included in the list handed over during President George W. Bush’s state visit to China in February 2002. All were released with several years left on their sentences.
The Dui Hua Foundation, which has worked on Xu Wenli’s case for several years, expresses its deep appreciation to the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for this fine humanitarian gesture.
We especially recognize the outstanding effort by Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Lorne Craner, who placed the highest priority on reaching a successful resolution of this case, and without whose skill and hard work this result could not have been achieved. Mr. Craner’s effort was strongly supported by Ambassador Randt and reinforced by the State Department leadership and by the White House.
Congressman Henry Hyde, Chairman of the International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives, expressed his concern for Xu Wenli in meetings held during his recent visit to China. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, has demonstrated special concern for Xu Wenli and has extended many kindnesses to his family. Congressman Doug Bereuter, Chairman of the Congressional Executive Commission on China, and Congressmen Frank Wolf and Tom Lantos, Co-Chairmen of the House of Representative’s Human Rights Caucus, have intervened on Xu Wenli’s behalf on numerous occasions. Among the Senators who played a role in achieving this result by writing letters and seeking personal meetings with Chinese officials, special mention should be made of Senators John Kerry and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, who responded to appeals from Xu Wenli’s daughter and many of their constituents, Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Craig Thomas and, finally, the late Senator Paul Wellstone, whose devotion to the cause of human rights, and to this case in particular, knew no equal.
Many of the 10 countries involved in dialogues on human rights with China have raised Xu Wenli’s case. We recognize the special efforts made by the European Union and the governments of the United Kingdom and France. Ambassador Tyge Lehman of Denmark, who led the European side during the November 2002 EU-China bilateral dialogue, argued strongly for granting humanitarian clemency to Xu Wenli, and significantly contributed to his medical parole. Human rights groups around the world have long pressed for Xu Wenli’s release with great passion and conviction.
The Dui Hua Foundation wishes Xu Wenli a full and speedy recovery from his illness, and a peaceful season of joy with his family at this special time of the year.
The Dui Hua Foundation
San Francisco, California
December 24, 2002