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Xu Zhiyong, September 16, 2018   Xu Zhiyong was released from prison on July 16, 2017, after serving four years for his role in the New Citizens Movement. Xu is a seminal figure in China’s rights defense movement with the founding of “Gongmeng” (公盟) in 2003, a NGO providing legal assistance to victims of social injustice. It was a training ground for some of the earliest human rights lawyers and took on some of the most high-profile cases of the time. Gongmeng was shut down by the government in 2009. After that Xu Zhiyong and colleagues sought new ways to continue their work for change, resulting in the New Citizens Movement. Between 2013 and 2014, dozens of participants were thrown in jail, including Xu himself. […]


Yaxue Cao, March 21, 2018 Continued from The Might of an Ant: the Story of Lawyer Li Baiguang (1 of 2)     Rights Movement Spread All Over the Country By 2004, Zhao Yan and Li Baiguang were under constant threat. Fuzhou police told the village deputies that Zhao and Li were criminals, and demanded that the deputies expose the two. The Fujian municipal government also dispatched a special investigation team to the hometowns of Li and Zhao to look into their family backgrounds. A public security official in Fu’an said: “Don’t you worry that Zhao and Li are still on the lam — that’s because it’s not time for their date with the devil just yet. Just wait till that day comes: we’ll grab them, […]


China Change, July 15, 2017     Dr. Xu Zhiyong (许志永), leader of the New Citizens Movement, was released from prison on July 15, after serving a 4-year sentence. Xu Zhiyong’s defense lawyer Zhang Qingfang (张庆方) confirmed that Dr. Xu has returned home in Beijing. He was picked up earlier by the security police, a source said. Yesterday, scores of citizens traveled to the vicinity of Kenhua Prison in Ninghe District in Tianjin where Xu Zhiyong had been imprisoned since he was sentenced in February 2014. Dr. Xu, 44 years old, is a legal scholar and the founder of Gongmeng, a civil society group that pioneered China’s “rights defense movement” and in recent years campaigned for equal education rights for migrant workers’ children in large […]


By Yaxue Cao and Yaqiu Wang, published: August 19, 2015   The Chinese government has lately carried out a massive campaign to arrest, summon, and threaten Chinese lawyers. The propaganda machine has followed in lock-step, operating at full strength to tarnish these lawyers’ reputations by describing them as a “criminal gang,” “hooligans,” and “scum of the lawyer community” (here, here, and here). Rights lawyers first emerged in the 2000s at the onset of a Chinese rights-defense movement. For more than a decade, they have fought courageously for legal justice and been on the front lines of promoting rule of law in China by taking part in innumerable cases of all sizes dealing with some of the most important problems in Chinese political and social life, such as […]


By Wan Yanhai, published: May 13, 2015   In March 2007, Guo Yushan (郭玉闪)and others co-founded Transition Social and Economic Consulting Limited, otherwise known as Beijing Transition Institute. In July 2013, Beijing Bureau of Civil Affairs sent Transition Institute (TI) a violation notice, alleging that the organization had not registered, and was operating publicly as a “private non-enterprise” without legal basis. Four years earlier in 2009, Gongmeng[1] (公盟, or Open Constitution Initiative) was outlawed by the government for the same “reason;” the contents of its entire office, including research data, was confiscated. Falling prey to the same tactics that had affected groups like Aizhixing (爱知行) and Gongmeng, TI was twice the target of audits from Beijing Municipal Tax Bureau, in 2009 and 2013. On October 9, […]


A translation of a VOA report in Chinese, published: March 11, 2015 Professor Xia Min of CUNY: “Xi’s fear is exactly that the maturing of civil society will organically provide, with the organizing capacity and solidarity within Chinese society, a platform for the building of political parties.”   A documentary produced by the well-known investigative journalist Chai Jing, formerly with CCTV, Under the Dome, has struck a deep chord in China. At the end of the documentary, Chai mentions that as China’s revised Environmental Protection Law is implemented, civil society environmental groups will have the unprecedented right to bring public interest lawsuits against polluting companies. However, according to a Beijing News (《新京报》) article [1], since the law went into effect in January 2015, only three […]


By Xiao Shu, published: November 9, 2014   I remember that it was October 10, and, as I was strolling along Jingmei River [in Taiwan], I suddenly thought that it had been over a week since I last heard Guo Yushan’s voice.  The day before I had sent a private message to him but there was no response. This was unusual as we kept in frequent contact, and so I could not but be apprehensive. I immediately phoned him. No one answered the first call; ditto the second and the third calls. I reluctantly hung up the phone with a sense of foreboding: Something is wrong. Something must be wrong. Sure enough, it was quickly confirmed. In the early morning hours of October 9, the […]


— An Interview with Dr. Teng Biao, part 2 of 2 Published: April 13, 2014   Continued from Part One: YC: I remember at the beginning of your essay The Confessions of a Reactionary, you mentioned that the three PhDs were given an award on CCTV. In other words, you were recognized as young and excellent members of society. When did you and Xu Zhiyong become troublemakers in the eyes of the government? TB: There wasn’t a clear-cut  moment or event, but rather, a buildup of a series of events. For example, the government was very displeased with our protest against the shutdown of the Yi-ta-hu-tu BBS. This was 2004. Between 2005-2006, as I told you earlier, we were involved in a long series of […]


—- An Interview with Dr. Teng Biao, Part 1 of 2 published: April 10, 2014 When Dr. Teng Biao visited Washington, DC in February, 2014, I sat down with him and we talked about his long-time friend Dr. Xu Zhiyong, and we discussed the evolution of Gongmeng over the last decade, to which the New Citizens Movement is the latest link. We publish this interview on the day (April 11, Beijing time) when Beijing Higher People’s Court upheld a guilty verdict against Xu Zhiyong.  – Yaxue Cao YC: Dr. Xu Zhiyong was arrested in July, 2013, and on January 22, 2014, he was sentenced to four years in prison in the trial of first instance for “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place.” […]


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