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Yaxue Cao, October 3, 2017   Early in September the Justice Department of Shandong province notified Zhu Shengwu (祝圣武), a 36-year-old lawyer in Jinan, the provincial capital, that his “anti-Communist Party, anti-socialism” expressions online had “threatened national security,” and he was disbarred. Mr. Zhu requested a public hearing. Zhu Shengwu heads the Shandong Xinchang Law Firm (山东信常律师事务所) which he founded about a year ago. He has been practicing for only five years, specializing in intellectual property rights, particularly online copyright disputes. Beginning this year, however, he began taking on so-called “sensitive cases” – i.e., involving human rights. Among others, he represented Wang Jiangfeng (王江峰), a man from Shandong who was found guilty of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and sentenced to two years in prison […]


By Xu Zhiyong Dr. Xu Zhiyong is a lecturer of law at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, and one of the founders of Open Constitution Initiative (公盟) that offers legal assistance to petitioners and rights defenders, and has been repeatedly harassed, shut down and persecuted. In 2010 it changed its name to simply “Citizen”. Just weeks ago in May 29, Dr. Xu posted a blog post titled China’s New Civil Movement to renew his call for a “new civic movement are a free China with democracy and the rule of law, a civil society of justice and happiness, and a new national spirit of freedom, fairness and love.” The post has since been deleted by the authorities, and he himself was taken away by […]


For seven years Chen Guangcheng has been silenced in China for his role in opposing illegal forced abortions in Shandong province, that ended today with his arrival in the US. Even after his escape from thugs in Linyi, the gov’t in Beijing kept him in a tightly guarded hospital room. Finally, he will have a chance to talk openly about his experiences and the situation facing hundreds of other activists in China. I hope you will take a moment to reflect on the power of that image – a man once tortured and imprisoned, now is able to stand in front of the world. I wanted to say that he was no longer afraid of the Chinese gov’t and their reprisals, but much of Chen’s […]


By Yaxue Cao …Continued from earlier posts, this is part 3. Part 1, Part 2 From a Small Prison to a Big One Chen Guangcheng was released on September 9, 2010, and has been under illegal house arrest since then. His home is monitored by multiple cameras, floodlit 24 hours a day, and all communications with the outside world are severed. Close to a hundred men guard his home and are present on every road leading to his village, intercepting, beating, robbing, and humiliating visitors. After a video of him was smuggled out and shown to the world, he and his family were beaten. In a letter smuggled out later to seek help, his wife described how Zhang Jian (张建), the Deputy Party Secretary of […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: November 12, 2011   To say life didn’t start promisingly for him is a vast understatement. He was born on November 12, 1971, in the impoverished village Dong Shi Gu (东师古) in Yinan County, Shandong province, the youngest of five boys. He lost his vision to high fever when he was around one year old. He didn’t go to school until 18 years old. In the Chinese countryside, where living is at its barest, expectations are a rare commodity to begin with, and for the disabled, there are none. For most of the part, they are seen and treated as a family scourge that must be borne. A Naughty Boy Despite blindness, he told friends he had a happy childhood. His […]


When I first arrived in China in 2007, the attitude of many of my Chinese friends was that the system was broken, but there was absolutely nothing they could do to fix it. I clearly remember chatting with a professor in Longzhou. He said, “They talk a lot about a ‘harmonious society’ but what the hell does that mean? The price of everything is going up and things are getting worse. I don’t care about ‘harmony’ I care about actually having a good life.” At that time I was surprised to hear people openly complain about their situation, and was bothered by their sense of hopelessness. Now though people are far more willing to vent their frustration, not only with foreigners (who are seen as a safe […]


This week China’s central gov’t continued to urge the development of Chinese culture, which no one is entirely sure how to do (at the hospital I have heard several times that we need to promote our hospital’s culture). Sensing that Confucianism hasn’t really caught on overseas, the gov’t promoted Daoism in a world conference. Sam Crane from “The Useless Tree,” was quick to point out that Daoist philosophy might undermine the Party’s authority; for example: “The people are starving, and it’s only because you leaders feast on taxes that they’re starving.” A few days later, protests against taxes turned into riots in the town of Huzhou (if only they’d read the Daoist classics sooner). A reader who used to live in the city told me […]


This week there was heated discussion about the toddler who was twice run over by a van and not helped by passersby and people around until a rubbish-collecting woman picked her up (read here).  Below is this week’s offer about the continued Weibo activism to free Chen Guangcheng; what are “socialist core values”; China’s luxurious prisons for jailed officials; and more. Click on the date under the item for link to the original. Lu Qiu Lu-wei/闾丘露薇/Journalist with ifeng TV, Hong Kong/: My book-signing and lecture tour in three Northeastern cities has come to an end. A young female reader asked me to write “Give Light to Guangcheng” on her copy. In Shenyang, about ten readers asked me to write “I want Guang (light), I want […]


By Yaxue Cao …Continued from yesterday I have been wanting to write about my high school chemistry teacher, Mr. Huang, who died more than a decade ago. He was the best chemistry teacher in my school, but he was a wreck! Although extremely near-sighted, he didn’t wear glasses and had to hold things up close to his eyes to see, whether it was his book or notes or test tubes. In winter, he wore a ragged, dirty cotton-padded coat with a thick rope tied around the waist to keep warm. Outside the classroom, he hardly ever spoke to anyone. When we saw him on campus, we often didn’t know what to do. Sometimes we pretended not to see him; when we did say hello to […]


Yesterday we saw that China’s farmers occupy the lowest rung of Chinese society. Today we’ll be looking at why China’s farmers are also at the bottom economically, as we try to answer the question, How poor are Chinese farmers? Officially the average rural income is 5,919rmb, which is about $900. That’s well above the World Bank’s poverty measure of $1/day. However I’m skeptical of these official numbers. A few months ago I helped the charity I work with edit their annual report and found the annual per capita income for some of China’s least developed areas. Now keeping in mind that this charity is working in some of China’s poorest areas, it is still surprising to see that none of these villages were closer than […]


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