Skip to content Skip to navigation

Ching Cheong's Release Sends Mixed Message

February 5, 2008

The release of imprisoned journalist Ching Cheong (程翔) one day before the sentencing of writer Lü Gengsong (吕耿松) to four years in prison sends a mixed message: releasing one prisoner, while sentencing another. “In the context of recent official media statements on loosening Internet controls, Lü’s four-year sentence, handed down less than 24 hours after Ching’s release, is a typical example of China’s policy of simultaneously loosening and tightening control,” Human Rights in China Executive Director Sharon Hom said today. On February 5—the very same day of Lü’s sentencing—Wang Hui, head of media relations for the Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee, was quoted as saying that relaxing control of the Internet during the Olympics “is one of the ways the Olympics may promote progress in China.”

“In the final lead-up to the Olympics, if China wants to demonstrate its cooperation with and respect for decisions of independent, international bodies, a significant next step would be to release all individuals in detention for exercising their human rights,” said Hom. At a minimum, China must release all individuals who have been determined by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention to be in detention arbitrarily. This group includes Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), Shi Tao (师涛), Yao Fuxin (姚福信), Hu Shigen (胡石根), and Li Chang (李昌).


In the final lead-up to the Olympics, if China wants to demonstrate its cooperation with and respect for decisions of independent, international bodies, a significant next step would be to release all individuals in detention for exercising their human rights.
— Sharon Hom, Executive Director of HRIC


Ching Cheong was released on February 4 and returned to his Hong Kong home on Tuesday, February 5. Lü was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment by the Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court on February 5. According to Lü’s wife, Wang Xue’e, the judge read the sentencing statement, did not allow for any questions or statements, and did not allow Wang to speak with her husband before he was led away.

A permanent resident of Hong Kong and Singapore, Ching Cheong worked for Wen Wei Po, a pro-Beijing newspaper in Hong Kong, for many years before resigning in protest after the official crackdown on protesters at Tiananmen Square in June 1989. He was working as chief China correspondent for Singapore’s Straits Times when he was detained in a Guangzhou hotel in April 2005. Ching was formally charged in August 2005, and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on charges of spying for Taiwan on August 31, 2006. Ching’s family and friends have consistently denied the charges. Ching’s wife said that her husband was set up when he tried to obtain recordings of secret interviews with China's former Communist Party chief, Zhao Ziyang. Ching’s trial was held behind closed doors, and his lawyer did not have full access to evidence in the case.

Lü Gengsong taught at a special training school for public security officers, but was dismissed in 1993 because of his activities in support of democratic reform in China. In recent years he supported himself as a free-lance writer. He published a book, Corruption in the Communist Party of China, in 2000, and has also published a number of articles on corruption, organized crime, and related topics. More recently, he has followed rights defense activities, including reporting on the sentencing of Hangzhou eviction protester Yang Yunbiao.

To promote freedom of expression in China, see Human Rights in China’s Take Action Olympics Campaign:




For more information on Ching Cheong, see:




For more information on Lü Gengsong, see:



For more information on the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, see:







HRIC Resources

Explore Topics

709 Crackdown Access to Information Access to Justice Administrative Detention All about law Arbitrary Detention
Asset Transparency Bilateral Dialogue Black Jail Book Review Business And Human Rights Censorship
Charter 08 Children Chinese Law Circumvention technology Citizen Activism Citizen Journalists
Citizen Participation Civil Society Commentary Communist Party Of China Constitution Consumer Safety
Contending views Corruption Counterterrorism Courageous Voices Cultural Revolution Culture Matters
Current affairs Cyber Security Daily Challenges Democratic And Political Reform Demolition And Relocation  Dissidents
Education Elections Enforced Disappearance Environment Ethnic Minorities EU-China
Family Planning Farmers Freedom of Association Freedom of Expression Freedom of Press Freedom of Religion
Government Accountability Government regulation Government transparency Hong Kong House Arrest HRIC Translation
Hukou Human Rights Council Human rights developments Illegal Search And Detention Inciting Subversion Of State Power Information Control 
Information technology Information, Communications, Technology (ICT) International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) International Human Rights International perspective International Relations
Internet Internet Governance JIansanjiang lawyers' rights defense Judicial Reform June Fourth Kidnapping
Labor Camps Labor Rights Land, Property, Housing Lawyer's rights Lawyers Legal System
Letters from the Mainland Major Event (Environment, Food Safety, Accident, etc.) Mao Zedong Microblogs (Weibo) National People's Congress (NPC) New Citizens Movement
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Olympics One country, two systems Online Activism Open Government Information Personal stories
Police Brutality Political commentary Political Prisoner Politics Prisoner Of Conscience Probing history
Propaganda Protests And Petitions Public Appeal Public Security Racial Discrimination Reeducation-Through-Labor
Rights Defenders Rights Defense Rule Of Law Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Special Topic State compensation
State Secrets State Security Subversion Of State Power Surveillance Technology Thoughts/Theories
Tiananmen Mothers Tibet Torture Typical cases United Nations US-China 
Uyghurs, Uighurs Vulnerable Groups Women Youth Youth Perspective