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Zhang Qi Released After Four Years; Cao Haibo Tried in Closed-Door Hearing

May 23, 2012

On May 15, 2012, reform advocate Zhang Qi (张起) was released from the Yuzhou Prison, Chongqing, after serving a four-year term for "inciting subversion of state power.” On May 22, the Kunming Intermediate People’s Court, Yunnan Province, tried Cao Haibo (曹海波), another reform advocate, in a closed-door hearing on the same charge. The court did not issue a verdict. Both Zhang and Cai called for political reform based on the Three People’s Principles (三民主义), the political philosophy developed by Sun Yatsen, the first provisional president of the Republic of China when it was founded in 1912.

Zhang Qi, 29, from Chongqing, was a coordinator of the Union of Chinese Nationalists (also known as the Pan-Blue Alliance), an independent political organization. After the May 2008 Sichuan earthquake, Zhang Qi published articles online showing that in fact there had been predictions of an earthquake. Later that month, he was summoned by the Chongqing police on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” Lacking sufficient evidence, the authorities had planned to release him on certain conditions, with which he refused to comply. He also angered the authorities by disclosing conditions in the detention center through cellmates who were later released. He was convicted in July 2009, after an extended detention. He is subjected to two years of post-release deprivation of political rights. 

After his release, Zhang said: "Perhaps the Chongqing police has been busy with dealing with the Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun scandal, no one has yet come to me to talk about the terms of the deprivation of political rights.”

Cao Haibo, 27, from Yancheng, Jiangsu Province, worked in an Internet café in Yunnan. In 2010, he established Zhenghuahui, an online network platform to advocate for constitutional democracy. He also created 20-30 QQ groups (online chat groups) for discussion of the Three People's Principles and current social issues. Cao's wife, Zhang Nian (张念), told Human Rights in China that the Kunming court claimed that Cao’s case involves state secrets and therefore did not hold an open trial.

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