Skip to content Skip to navigation

January 2006

January 31, 2006

*The information contained in this summary is based on information collected by HRIC in January and is not intended as a complete list. Rather, it should be viewed as a representation of larger trends of dissent and repression in China.

Labor

Media Censorship

Petitions and Protests

Human Rights Defenders

Death Penalty


Labor

A report issued by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) at the end of 2005 found that approximately 250 million people in China earn less than a dollar a day, while 700 million (equal to about 47 percent of the population) live on less than two dollars a day.[1]

A survey conducted at the request of the National People's Congress (NPC) recently revealed that 7.8 percent of workers at 2,000 companies surveyed were owed back wages averaging 2,184 yuan (USD $273), which amounts to more than three months' wages.[2]

Disasters
On January 10, it was confirmed that 12 workers died while trapped underground as a result of a gas blast at the Wangfenggang coal mine in Huainan City, Anhui Province. The mine was under construction at the time of the accident, and two of the fatalities were gas density inspectors, while the other ten were construction workers from the Jixi Mining Administration.[3]

Two workers were killed in a blast at the Changzheng Chemical Industrial Ltd. in Shangyu, Zhejiang Province around noon on January 3. Several others were also injured during the incident, in which a high-pressure container of highly toxic chloride exploded.[4]

Ten were reported injured and another 50 missing after an explosion in a gas pipeline in Renshou County, Sichuan Province, on January 20. Xinhua reported that 1,800 nearby residents were evacuated after the blast. The pipeline is owned by the China National Petroleum Corp.[5]

Eleven construction workers were reported missing on January 21 after a tunnel flooded in Lichuan County, Hubei Province. A total of 14 workers were in the tunnel constructing a railway line between Yichang County, Hubei Province, and Chongqing's Wanzhou district.[6]

Thirty-six people died and 48 others were injured in an explosion in a fireworks warehouse Linzhou, Henan Province on January 29. State media reported that 16 of the fatalities were in a neighboring temple that collapsed as a result of the explosion.[7]

Media Censorship

Google.cn
On January 25, 2006, Google Inc. launched Google.cn, a China-based version of its search engine, which filters and censors results of searches using terms deemed politically sensitive by the Chinese authorities. Google had previously served Chinese-speaking users through a Chinese language interface available on Google.com, which did not actively filter search results, but was frequently unavailable. Citing the short-term strategy of entry into the huge Chinese market first and then waiting for change, Google stated, "[I]n order to operate from China, we have removed some content from the search results available on Google.cn in response to local law, regulation or policy."[8]

Bingdian suspended
Bingdian Weekly (a supplement of China Youth Daily) was closed by the Central Propaganda Department, which issued notice of the closure to Li Datong, the editor of the magazine, during the week of January 26. South China Morning Post reported that the noticed criticized Li and several other senior China Youth Daily editors by stating, "For a certain period of time, a number of the articles incompatible with the mainstream ideology have been continuously published on your section and have had very bad effects. The weekly should be suspended until it is rectified and fully recognizes and corrects its mistakes." Li has posted a statement online, charging that the closure had no legal or constitutional basis: "Who gave them that kind of power? They're so disgusting I don't know whether to laugh or cry." Although he still has his job, Li Datong has taken a pay cut and it is uncertain how much longer he will be employed by the newspaper.[9]

Petitions and Protests

Beijing petitioners detained
Petitioner Mao Hengfeng (毛恒凤) was detained along with several dozen others at Tiananmen Square on the afternoon of December 28. Mao and her two daughters, along with fellow petitioners Zhang Cuizhi (张翠芝) and Zhang Xueying (张雪英), were taken forcibly to Beijing's Tianhai Reception Center that evening, while other petitioners were immediately put onto the next train back for Shanghai. Among the latter group, Sun Xicheng (孙喜成), He Guoguang (何国光) and others were reportedly beaten by Shanghai "retriever" officials in charge of intercepting petitioners (jiefang renyuan). Sun suffered a concussion as a result of his beating. Mao and her daughters were forced to return to Shanghai on December 29, but returned to Beijing again the next day. Detained again on January 1, Mao and her daughters were returned to Shanghai and taken to the Yangpu District dispatch station. Her daughters were released later that afternoon, but Mao's husband was told that she would not be released for another three to four days.[10]

Shaanxi farmers protest unpaid land compensation
On January 10, more than 40 villagers were arrested for petitioning Huayang City, Shaanxi Province, over unpaid compensation promised by the government after their houses were destroyed in a severe flood in 2003.[11]

Sanjiao protests over land compensation
A four-day protest over land compensation broke out in Sanjiao Township, Zhongshan City, Guangdong Province on January 11. Several villagers were injured in clashes with police as protesters blocked a nearby highway on January 14. Villagers reported that police used electric batons and beat participants, while officials claimed that protesters threw rocks and fireworks, creating disorder. The police put the number of demonstrators at around 100.[12]

Shanghai petitioners blocked
In early January, petitioners from Shanghai planned a gathering in front of the Sino-Soviet Friendship Building to petition the local People's Congress and Consultative Conference on the morning of January 14. Access to the building was blocked when officials uncovered the petitioners' plan, and the authorities began rounding up veteran petitioners such as Ma Yalian (马亚莲) and Wang Qiaohua (王巧华) on January 12, detaining them in vacant holiday units in the city outskirts. On January 14, authorities deployed around 1,000 police, officials, guards and hired thugs to obstruct the petitioners, who were reportedly herded into police vehicles and taken to Public Security dispatch stations. Among the detainees, 60-year-old Du Yangming was placed in criminal detention on January 15 on charges of "creating a disturbance," and was held in Shanghai's Zhabei Detention Center. Others, such as Wang Liqing (王丽卿), Tian Baocheng (田宝成) and Zhang Cuiping (张翠萍), were kept under effective house arrest. Liu Xinjuan (刘新娟), a petitioner who had been detained in a psychiatric institution in 2003, was forcibly admitted to the Minhang District Beiqiao Psychiatric Hospital.[13]

Human Rights Defenders

The official Xinjiang Daily reported that 18,227 people were arrested for "threatening state security" in 2005. The threats to state security included everything from talking to foreign reporters to terrorist activities. Dilxat Raxit of the World Uighur Congress told Reuters that this was a 25 percent increase in arrests over the previous year.[14]

Convicted
Feng Bingxian (冯秉先), 59, a leading representative of private oil investors in the Shaanxi Province whose wells were seized by the local government in 2003, was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of disturbing public order. Two other investors who participated in the campaign against the government confiscation were also sentenced to two years in prison, but their terms were suspended for three years.[15]

Li Yuanlong (李元龙), 45, a journalist with Bijie Daily in the Guizhou Province, was arrested on September 29, 2005, for inciting subversion. His arrest is believed to be related to a number of articles critical of the authorities published under his pen name.

Detained
The Committee to Protect Journalists reported in early January that Yang Tianshui (杨天水), a veteran dissident, was detained on December 23, 2005, on charges of endangering state security. He has been denied access to a lawyer and family. Yang had previously served ten years in prison for criticizing the government's handling of the Tiananmen Square democracy protests.[16]

Catholic priest Wang Wenzhi (王文芝), detained by authorities in the Hebei Province since December 11, was forced to undergo brainwashing to join the officially sanctioned Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, according to the Cardinal Kung Foundation.[17]

Released
Jiang Weiping (姜维平), one of China's most well-known investigative reporters, was released from Nanguangling Prison in Dalian on January 3 after serving five years of his original eight-year term. Jiang was reported to be applying to leave China and join his wife and 18-year-old daughter in Toronto. Jiang was arrested in late 2000 after publishing several articles about corruption scandals in northeastern China for the Hong Kong monthly magazine, Qianshao ("Frontline"). He was sentenced in May 2001 on charges of "revealing state secrets" and "incitement to subvert state power." No clear reason was given for his early release, which followed a previous reduction of sentence.[18]

Trial Developments

Journalists Zhu Wanxiang (祝万祥) and Wu Zhengyou (吴正有) were sentenced to prison terms of ten and six years respectively by a district court in Lishui City, Zhejiang Province for "illegal business operations" and "fraud and extortion." As editors of Zhonghua Xin Qingnian ("New China Youth"), Zhu and Wu had reported villagers' protests over government seizure of land for development.[19]

Death Penalty

Violent Crimes
Zhang Mingde (张明德), 52, head of a local technical college, and his accomplice Wang Yunhong (王韵虹), 32, convicted of murder, sentence to death with two-year reprieve by the Hothot Intermediate People's Court, Inner Mongolia, mid-January 2006.[20]

Hao Bingsuo (郝兵锁), 35, a triad ringleader, convicted of a series of organized crimes, sentenced to death by the Shanxi Higher People's Court, January 3, 2006.[21]

Yang Yushan (杨玉山), 39, peasant, convicted of rape and robbery, sentence to death by the Hohhot Intermediate People's Court, Inner Mongolia, in August 2005; executed after sentence upheld on appeal, January 20, 2006.[22]

Drug Trafficking
Chen Fusong (陈富松), 60, Taiwanese drug trafficker, convicted of manufacturing and trafficking drugs and breaking out of jail; death sentence upheld on appeal by the Wuhan Intermediate People's Court, Hubei, January 1, 2006.[23]

Exonerated
Gao Jinfa (高进发), 47, peasant, convicted of rape and murder, sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve in October 2003; exonerated in his third trial, January 6, 2006.[24]


ENDNOTES

[1] Andrew Taylor, "China set to become world's sweatshop, report warns," Financial Times, December 9, 2005.

[2] "Millions of workers in China aren't getting paid," San Jose Mercury News, January 23, 2006.

[3] "China Confirms 12 Workers Died In Mine Explosion – Report," Associated Press, January 10, 2006.

[4] "Explosion At China Chemical Plant Kills 2, Injures Many," Dow Jones International News, January 6, 2006.

[5] "Toll from gas pipeline explosion in southwest China rises to 10, with 50 injured," Associated Press, January 22, 2006.

[6] "Flood in Chinese railway tunnel traps 11 workers," Associated Press, January 21, 2006.

[7] "China Fireworks Storehouse Death Toll Jumps To 36," Dow Jones International News, January 30, 2006.

[8] Human Rights in China, "Incorporating Responsibility 2008: Googling Google.cn: ‘A Race to the Bottom,'" http://www.ir2008.org.

[9] "Editor of Axed Weekly 'Planning Legal Appeal'," South China Morning Post, January 26, 2006; Audra Ang, "Chinese Editor Vows to Fight Censors," Associated Press, January 26, 2006.

[10] Human Rights in China, "HRIC Press Advisory: Further Crackdown on Petitioner Mao Hengfeng and Others in Beijing and Shanghai," January 3, 2006.

[11] 陕西华阴市40多名上访农民被捕 (Over 40 Villagers Arrested for Petitioning Government in Huayang City, Shaanxi Province), Radio Free Asia, January 10, 2006, http://www.rfa.org.

[12] Daniel Schearf, "Chinese Media Downplay Land Protest in Southern China," Voice of America, January 16, 2006.

[13] Human Rights in China, "Press Advisory: Shanghai Rounds Up Petitioners for Party," January 17, 2006; Human Rights in China, "Petitioner Liu Xinjuan Sent to Psychiatric Hospital," January 20, 2006.

[14] Ben Blanchard, "China arrests rise in restive Xinjiang- activist," Reuters, January 20, 2006.

[15] 陕北油田维权人士冯秉先被判3年 (Shaanxi Oil Well Campaigner Sentenced to Three Years' Imprisonment), Voice of America, January 06, 2006, http://www.voanews.com.

[16] Committee to Protect Journalists, "CHINA: Dissident Internet writer formally arrested," January 30, 2006.

[17] 中国当局试图对地下天主教神父王文芝进行洗脑 (Underground Catholic Priest Wang Wenzhi Reportedly Made to Undergo Brainwashing While in Detention), Radio Free Asia, January 06, 2006.

[18] Family hopes for reunion after early release of Chinese journalist," Agence France Presse, January 4, 2006.

[19] Rights groups blast China on press freedom," Agence France Presse, January 19, 2006.

[20] 内蒙古一专修学院院长雇凶杀人 一审被判死缓 (Head of Inner Mongolia Technical College Sentenced to Death with Reprieve for Murder), Xinhuanet, January 17, 2006.

[21] 中阳"燕子帮"涉黑案审结 "帮主"郝兵锁被判处死刑 (Triad Ringleader Sentenced to Death in Zhongyang, Shanxi Province), Legal Daily, January 05, 2006.

[22] 经最高法复核 作案32起强奸34人恶魔被执行死刑 (Hohhot High Court Sentences Man to Death for Raping 34 Women), Xinhuanet, January 21, 2006.

[23] 台湾毒枭获死刑 (Taiwanese Drug Trafficker Sentenced to Death), Legal Daily, January 04, 2006.