English-language Chinese news outlet, China Change, takes an in-depth look at the (lack of) evidence against civil rights activists Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi, and how concepts like a “citizen’s movement” – [insert] any movement – can be labelled as an “illegal organization” by a state that views taking the rights and duties of citizenship seriously as a national security threat.
The case against Citizens’ Movement advocates Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi has escalated from “inciting subversion against state power” to planning a “citizen’s movement” to overthrow the state, allegedly inspired by the nonviolent mass protests (colour revolutions) of the post-Soviet region after the breakdown of the USSR. China Change investigates each charge and what, in reality, amounts to “scant” and “scandalous … evidence”.
Indeed, the Chinese authorities don’t want to make public the flimsy, despicable indictments of Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi: it’s a house built with match sticks and collapses on touch.
But they own the kangaroo public security bureau, they own the kangaroo prosecutorate, and they own the kangaroo court. The law can be perfectly written, but it doesn’t matter.
~ China Change
By China Change, published on September 25, 2021
On December 7 and 8, 2019, twenty or so people – more than half of them human rights lawyers and the rest citizen movement enthusiasts – gathered in Xiamen, Fujian Province, for a day-and-half informal gathering. It was a mixed affair of chatting, debate, karaoke, lunch, and dinner, and the topics they touched on were current affairs affecting China and the world — Hong Kong, the U.S.-China trade war, human rights cases, and the state of citizen activism. Days following the gathering, on December 13 apparently, the Chinese domestic security police opened an “investigation” of the event with a team called the “1213 Special Case Group” (1213专案组). On December 26, lawyer Ding Jiaxi (丁家喜) and at least four participants of the gathering were simultaneously apprehended in different parts of the country, sending other attendees scuttling for cover. Some fled China on the first flights they could get on; others went into hiding, including Xu Zhiyong (许志永), the renowned legal scholar and a long-time citizen movement proponent and practitioner. Xu was apprehended in mid-February 2020 in Guangzhou.
Over the course of the first six months, most of those involved in the case were released, except for Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi, who were formally arrested in late June and moved out of Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL) in Yantai, Shandong Province, and transferred to the remote and obscure detention center in Linshu county of Shandong’s Linyi city. The two did not have any access to their lawyers until January 2021.
Now, after more than a year and half in detention, six months of which were spent in RSDL, a lengthy “investigation” and repeated “supplementary investigations,” Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi were indicted on August 5, 2021. Though their lawyers were notified of the indictment at the time but didn’t receive a copy of indictments until early September. Without legal grounds to do so, the court arbitrarily forced the lawyers to sign a confidentiality agreement barring them from sharing hard copies of the Indictment with family members or making them public.
Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi were indicted separately as two cases, though by law they should be of the same case.
Editor’s Note: The so-called “crimes” of Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi echo the plight of many other champions of a brighter future for the country they love.
Excerpt: Guo Yushan, He Zhengjun and their colleagues at the Transition Institute were exploring such institutions before they were jailed and their think tank shut down. They advocated neither radical change nor revolution, but the slow and steady transition of their country to one governed by the rule of law and constitutional democracy. They merely strove to harness the good values and ingenuity of China’s citizens, promoting economic growth and dignity for all.
Guo Yushan and He Zhengjun are just two of 1.4 billion Chinese citizens, but their work represented all that is hopeful and optimistic about China. Rather than jailing them, the government should free them, tap their confidence in their country and their dedication to their fellow citizen, thaw the chill that has accompanied their incarceration and help the country thrive.