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Chinese Intellectual Sues China’s State Council

May 15, 2003

For Immediate Release

Human Rights in China (HRIC) has learned that a Chinese intellectual, Li Weiping, has brought a lawsuit against China’s State Council demanding repeal of the revised Regulations on Publication Management.

HRIC has received a copy of the legal complaint (appended in full to the Chinese press release) submitted by Li Weiping to the Supreme People’s Court on May 15. Li points out that Article 35 of China’s Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and publication. The revised Regulations on Publication Management promulgated by China’s State Council in February last year are unconstitutional, Li says, because they deprive the people of this constitutional right.

Li further points out that China’s new head of state, Hu Jintao, has on several occasions stressed the importance of the Constitution and has encouraged the government to respect the Constitution and operate within its framework. Li believes this is a fitting time to challenge the government’s open disregard of the Constitution, and to test the sincerity of Hu Jintao’s professed respect for the Constitution.

Li Weiping, aged 39, graduated from Zhongnan University and is now based in Wuhan. He resigned from his employment out of anger over the official crackdown on the 1989 democracy movement, and later served three years in prison for setting up the Freedom and Democracy Party. In September 1998 Li brought an unsuccessful lawsuit against Wuhan public security officials for confiscating his passport after his release from prison.

“This appears to be the first case in which an individual has brought a lawsuit against China’s highest authorities in order to defend China’s Constitution and civil rights,” HRIC president Liu Qing said. “Regardless of the result of the lawsuit, it is certain to raise the consciousness of the Chinese people toward the role of the Constitution in promoting rule of law. This heightened consciousness may make it more difficult for the authorities to continue their flagrant disregard for the Constitution and the rights it is meant to protect. We can see the serious effects of official disregard for constitutional rights in the SARS epidemic, which has spread throughout China and around the world at least in part because Chinese officials suppressed publication of information about the outbreak in the Chinese media for so long.”

HRIC fully supports the efforts of Chinese citizens such as Li Weiping to resort to the court system to enforce basic rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution. HRIC urges the Chinese government to show its respect for the Constitution by acknowledging basic human rights, such as freedom of expression and publication, that the Constitution protects.

For more information, contact:
Stacy Mosher (English) 212-268-9074
Liu Qing (Chinese) 212-239-4495