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You are reading about: Xu Zhiyong

In 2008, encouraged by a sense that China was opening up to more democratic norms, a group of lawyers in Beijing sought to directly elect the Beijing Lawyers Association. In this film, nine participating lawyers tell this story of struggle and persecution.


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, […]


Xu Zhiyong, November 19, 2017   Dr. Xu Zhiyong (许志永) was released on July 15, 2017 after serving four years for organizing social movements such as the New Citizen Movement and the equal education rights campaign.  He is a 44-year-old legal scholar, a pioneer of China’s rights defense movement, and a founders of the Open Constitution Initiative (Gong Meng 公盟) in 2003 which offers legal assistance to the disempowered and the wronged. — The Editors     After getting out of prison I discovered a pessimistic sentiment in many of my friends. Some of them fled China. Others said that the Chinese people aren’t worth saving. With this totalitarian surveillance state and its repressed people, it feels like history is running in reverse. But I’m an optimist at heart […]


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 […]


November 1, 2016 Updated on November 17: 5-minute BBC video tells everything you need to know about Chinese elections.     Yaxue Cao: This year is also an election year in China, with county- and district-level elections of People’s Representatives on November 15. Independent candidates have sprung up everywhere, and China Change recently ran an article about the independent candidates from Beijing, including the group of 18 organized by Beijing resident Ye Jinghuan (野靖环). Over the months leading up to the vote, they’ve held training sessions on election law and the electoral process — some of which was presented by lawyers. But since their announcement of candidacy, they’ve been harassed by police. On the first day (October 24) of their neighborhood campaign, police came and stopped […]


China Change, October 22, 2016 “Participation is the simplest, most direct, most realistic, and most effective political action.” — Yao Lifa, 2016 “Actually, the result is not what is most important. What’s most important is to take part. I hope that my participation will tell everyone: Believe in our laws, believe in the progress of this era. Please believe that we have a genuine right to vote.” — Xu Zhiyong, 2003   Update on November 17: 5-minute BBC video tells everything you need to know about Chinese elections.   This year, 2016, is an election year in China: every five years, Chinese citizens elect their people’s representatives (PR), and the vote is on November 15. In Beijing, over 70 people have declared that they are taking […]


Translated from report by CHRD, published: March 8, 2016 and updated on March 9     (China Change exclusive: Guo Feixiong attending a citizen meeting in Beijing on July 28, 2012, with Dr. Xu Zhiyong, who has been serving a four-year sentence since July 2013 for leading the New Citizens Movement, in the audience. Video recorded by Xiao Guozhen, subtitle by @WLYeung  and @awfan.)   On Friday March 4 we received news that Guo Feixiong, the renowned human rights leader who was wrongfully sentenced to six years last November, had on February 22 been sent to the remote the Yangchun Prison in Guangdong (广东阳春监狱) to serve his sentence. On February 29 his older sister, Yang Maoping (杨茂平), went to see him in prison, and found that […]


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 Teng Biao, published: January 6, 2015 A shorter version of the article appeared in Washington Post on December 28, 2014. Here is the full text.  – The Editor   I’m afraid that those of you who excitedly applauded the Communist Party’s rehashing of the term “governing the country according to the law” have forgotten the famous words of Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Jiang Yu, who once warned sternly, “Don’t use the law as a shield.” I don’t understand why some people only remember the pleasant words they speak and but forget their blatant opposition to universal values; why some people are always willing to believe what they say, but disregard all the things that they do. The Communists once boasted wildly about “liberty and constitutional […]


By Guo Yushan, Published: August 10, 2013   That government, powerful as it was, didn’t scare me into doing anything unjust.                                                                — Ascribed to Socrates by Plato in The Apology Zhiyong, Congratulations for having been put in jail. I have been worrying that, if they leave you free after arresting so many of your friends in the New Citizens’ Movement, how viciously they would have put you in an unjust position. Now it looks like the government is helping you out. Along with dozens of other participants in the Movement, you are also wearing the prison vest and paying the […]


On Friday, July 19, a text circulated on QQ that is a record of Xu Zhiyong’s “talks” with a top official of the Beijing Public Security Bureau that occurred on June 25, 26 and 28. Its authenticity has since been confirmed by Xu’s close associates. ChinaChange.org is providing a complete translation of the text in three installments. This is part 3; read part 1 here, part 2 here. (Omissions are the author’s.)   By Xu Zhiyong Published: July 28, 2013   June 28 I wrote down my thoughts about the ideas and actions of being a citizen. After sharing the result with a few friends, I revised it as My Civic Ideals (see below). I was saddened thinking that I might not be returning home for years. In […]


On Friday, July 19, a text circulated on QQ that is a record of Xu Zhiyong’s “talks” with a top official of the Beijing Public Security Bureau that occurred on June 25, 26 and 28. Its authenticity has since been confirmed by Xu’s close associates. ChinaChange.org is providing a complete translation of the text in three installments. This is part 2; read part 1 here and part 3 here. (Omissions are the author’s.)   By Xu Zhiyong Published: July 24, 2013   June 26 I had to take seriously the other party’s warning about pending coercive measures. I wrote a letter to friends before I left home: I am still harboring optimistic expectations. I have been trying to tell them that this group of people who call themselves […]


On Friday, July 19, a text circulated on QQ that is a record of Xu Zhiyong’s “talks” with a top official of the Beijing Public Security Bureau that occurred on June 25, 26 and 28. Its authenticity has since been confirmed by Xu’s close associates. ChinaChange.org is providing a complete translation of the text in three installments.   By Xu Zhiyong Published: July 22, 2013 On the three afternoons of June 25th, 26th, and 28th, I had “talks,” per appointment made by the police, with one of the heads of the Beijing Public Security Bureau in a conference room of a vacation hotel in Changping, Beijing. We argued about many issues, including democracy, rule of law, constitutionalism, CCP’s leadership, socialism, the concept of citizenship, public […]


Published: July 16, 2013 According to our sources, Xu Zhiyong (许志永), one of China’s best known dissidents and activists, has been criminally detained on Tuesday, July 16. Per an earlier report by weiquanwang (维权网) and information circulated on Twitter,  Dr. Xu was taken away from his Beijing home Tuesday afternoon, and his computers and cellphones were seized. Dr. Xu is one of the founders of Gong Meng (公盟), or the Open Constitution Initiative, and a lecturer at Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications. In the last couple of years, he has been tirelessly advocating civil action such as same-city citizen dinner gatherings, equal education rights, and what is more generally known as the new citizens’ movement. According to the Notice of Detention, Dr. Xu was detained for allegedly […]


By Xu Zhiyong China’s rights movement through the work of Gong Meng.    1 April 25, 2003, as SARS emptied out the streets in Beijing, I sat in front of my computer reading about the Sun Zhigang (孙志刚) coverage, tears quietly welling up in my eyes. Over the second half of 2002, I had started to investigate the laws concerning custody and repatriation (of migrant populations), and knew what Sun had gone through. Following Sun’s tragedy, Yu Jiang (俞江), Teng Biao (滕彪) and I proposed a constitutional review of the case. We mailed our recommendation on May 14 because, on the 13th, the propaganda department of the government banned further “hype” about Sun’s case. Headlines like “Three PhDs Request Constitutional Review” gave the media new fodder, and our […]


By Xu Zhiyong, published: March 11, 2013     To the regular readers of this blog, Dr. Xu Zhiyong (许志永) is no stranger. He’s one of the founders of Gong Meng (公盟), or Open Constitution Initiative, a Beijing-based NGO dedicated to providing legal assistance to the disempowered and to developing civil society. As hundreds of others, Dr. Xu has recently been placed under house arrest because he is deemed a threat to stability and therefore must be locked up to ensure serene meetings of both the NPC and CPPCC, now in session in Beijing. During his confinement last week, he wrote a long letter, his second one, to Xi Jinping (original here, the first was written during the 18th Party’s congress last November). With his approval, […]


Every year in  March, China holds its annual Two Meetings—the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) –to “discuss and decide” the important matters of the country. Chinese citizens might not know who in the Great Hall of the People represents them, but they do know life becomes considerably more inconvenient during the Two Meetings. For some, it can mean major infringement on their rights and freedom. For still others, it can be outright scary and brutal. If you are a dissident, a rights lawyer, an activist campaigning for any cause, or an outspoken intellectual, you have probably been placed under some sort of house arrest. Since February 22, dissidents across the country have been Shanggang-ed (上岗). That is, outside […]


By Xu Zhiyong Earlier this month, the New York Times published an essay by Dr. Xu Zhiyong (许志永) titled Tibet Is Burning. It was a pared-down version of the following translation that I did. Dr. Xu is the founder of Gongmeng (公盟), or Open Constitution Initiative, a NGO based in Beijing that provides legal assistance to the disempowered and politically persecuted. For much of the year, his freedom of movement was limited because the Chinese government is vigilant about his push for civil actions such as equal education rights movement. He visited Ngaba in October during a short period of freedom. –Yaxue After spending the night in Chogtse Laird’s Castle (卓克基土司官寨) township, I took a cab in the early morning to Barkam (马尔康), the capital of Ngaba, […]


By Yaxue Cao The disparaging of Mo Yan began before the Nobel Prize for Literature was announced on October 11 when rumor had it that Mo Yan was this year’s favorite. With the exception of the literarily versed, the criticism wasn’t based on his works, to be sure, but on a few events that had thus far shaped people’s perceptions of the man: Boycotting dissident writers during the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2009; refusal to comment on Liu Xiaobo’s sentence in late 2009; and handcopying Mao Zedong’s Talks on Literature and Art earlier this year. (The Chongqing doggerel, turned up after the prize, wasn’t part of that perception, so I will leave it out of my discussion.) Since the prize, Mo Yan voiced his support for […]


When it comes to describing China’s challenges, foreigners (myself included) tend to attack the gov’t side of the issue. While the current system does seem to reinforce a number of practices that limit people power and encourage corruption, it ignores the cultural factors that are in play. I believe the reason for this is that us “old outsiders” worry about being decried as racist. To some extent these two factors reinforce one another. For instance, the leaders in China have never actually been required to heed the will of the people, and so there is a limited culture of challenging their rule; 0r that the rich have always been privileged in Chinese society over the commoners. Fortunately, people like Xu Zhiyong and Murong Xuecun are attacking both […]


Liang Xiaojun, July 23, 2012 This is the second article about Song Ze’s case following Dr. Xu’s, and it is by Song Ze’s lawyer Xiao Xiaojun (梁小军). — The Editors     I first met Song Ze (宋泽) in late April. The weather was still cool, and he showed up following a call from Xu Zhiying, a bashful, quiet boy in a black leather jacket. Xu introduced him as a citizen volunteer, and I failed to remember his name. Later that day we went together to a dinner party of the Citizen team (e.g. OCI, the NGO Xu Zhiyong and others founded), and several well-known people at the table seemed very familiar with him. I became curious about him, wondering what he had done to endear […]


By Xu Zhiyong Today and tomorrow, we bring to you two articles about the case of a young man called Song Ze. He was a volunteer at Dr. Xu Zhiyong’s Open Constitution Initiative, an NGO dedicated to providing legal aid to disempowered people in China. We at SRIC are in no position to fully report the many cases such as Song Ze’s, but what we can do, and are trying to do here, is to illustrate a case well enough so that it sheds light and provides insight. On China’s black jails which this article explains very well, you may also want to watch Melissa Chan’s report that allegedly got her expelled from China. Hannah is the translator of the following piece by Dr. Xu. […]


Yesterday we posted Xu Zhiyong’s essay calling for a New Citizens’ Movement. Today I want to highlight a few of the aspects that make this piece especially interesting to me, and why I believe this essay lays out a realistic path for change. Reform not Revolution What has been made clear time and again in Global Times and Peoples Daily is that the Chinese people have little appetite for revolution, they aren’t wrong about this. After all, they got their fill of the chaos that revolution brings during Mao’s reign. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, and a successful movement is going to have to reassure the people that what they are doing is not going to turn China into Libya, Egypt or Syria. […]


By Xu Zhiyong, published: July 11, 2012 On May 29th, 2012, Dr. Xu Zhiyong published an article titled “New Citizens Movement,” it was quickly censored by the Chinese authorities, but here we present it in English for the first time with the permission of Xu Zhiyong. This essay and Xu’s activism are truly deserving of further coverage overseas as it offers a comprehensive path for reform in China. – Editor     China needs a new citizens’ movement. This movement is a political movement in which this ancient nation bids utter farewell to authoritarianism and completes the civilized transformation to constitutional governance; it is a social movement to completely destroy the privileges of corruption, the abuse of power, the gap between rich and poor, and to […]


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 […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: June 1, 2012   When I last visited China in 2004, I did what a visiting overseas Chinese typically does: spending time with family and friends, sightseeing, and enjoying the food. In Beijing I felt like a time traveler arriving at a future time from a quiet, immobile past. I hardly recognized the city at all. When my brother drove me from Beijing to Shanxi on sparkling highways that stretched down the endless great middle plain and then through the mountains of Taihang (太行山), tunnel after tunnel, I had to remind myself that these were the same mountains I used to gaze at from the train and observe a rock or a hut basking in the lazy afternoon light. In my […]


‘Cake Theory’ has Chinese eating up political debate, from Louisa Lim at NPR, examines two competing ideas within the party that may one day lead to inter-party elections. Bearing Witness, from That’s Shanghai,  is an interesting collection of memories from Shanghainese octogenarians who recount what life was like many years ago. March of the Freshmen, by Eric Fish (who also writes his own blog, Sinostand), is a great piece looking at military training in Chinese schools. For the story he asked a student to keep a notebook detailing her experiences, and gives a first hand look at a program that many have described as “brainwashing”. What it means to vote in China, an essay by Xu Zhiyong that appeared this week in the Economic Observer. An […]


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