• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 3:27am
Xi Jinping's anti-graft campaign

China jails activists for urging officials to disclose assets, says lawyer

Four New Citizens’ Movement activists sentenced by Beijing court for 'gathering a crowd to disturb public order' after they called on officials to reveal their assets

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 April, 2014, 12:40pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2014, 9:57pm

China sentenced four activists to jail for up to three-and-a-half years on Friday for urging officials to reveal their assets, a lawyer said, the latest convictions in a crackdown on dissent that has drawn international criticism.

The sentences mark China’s latest rebuff of the West’s condemnation of what it calls the suppression of free expression that some rights groups say is the worst in recent years.

Ding Jiaxi was sentenced to three-and-a-half years, Zhao Changqing got a two-and-a-half year sentence and Li Wei and Zhang Baocheng got two-year terms, the Haidian court in Beijing said on its microblog. They were charged with “gathering a crowd to disturb public order”, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

But Sui Muqing, a lawyer representing Ding, said the real reason for the convictions was that the activists had pressed for government officials to disclose their assets.

“It’s nothing but an announcement to the world ... that calling on officials to disclose their assets is a crime.”
Sui Muqing

“It’s nothing but an announcement to the world that we can’t mention asset disclosure and that calling on officials to disclose their assets is a crime,” Sui told reporters by telephone.

Sui said Ding would appeal. On Thursday, court officials told Sui he was not allowed to represent Ding and attend the sentencing, which Sui said was illegal.

Court officials were not available for comment.

The Chinese leadership under President Xi Jinping has been pushing efforts against pervasive corruption, which Xi has warned could undermine Communist Party rule.

But at the same time, the government is wary of any challenge to its rule, which is how authorities apparently see calls from activists for officials to declare their wealth.

The convictions came a week after a court upheld a four-year jail sentence against prominent rights activist Xu Zhiyong, on the same charge of “gathering a crowd to disturb public order”, sparking criticism from the United States, European Union and rights groups.

The government has waged a year-long drive against Xu’s “New Citizens’ Movement” of which the four activists sentenced on Friday were members. The group advocates working within the system for change, including urging officials to reveal assets.

Diplomats were shut out of Friday’s sentencing, one said. Policemen surrounded the court and bundled about 20 group supporters into a van.

“We ask for all people detained for expressing peaceful views to be released.”
EU delegate Raphael Droszewski

Raphael Droszewski, a first secretary at the European Union delegation to China, said the EU was concerned about Friday’s sentencings and people were “being prosecuted in relation with their work for advocacy for the rule of law, social justice and fight against corruption”.

“We ask for all people detained for expressing peaceful views to be released,” he said.

Authorities have shown no sign of agreeing to demands for asset disclosures and at least 20 anti-graft activists have been detained or jailed.

Xi’s administration has ratcheted up pressure on dissent, clamping down on critics on the internet and tightening curbs on journalists.

On Monday, the Foreign Ministry told the United States to stop “gesticulating” in its criticism of China’s treatment of dissidents.

Police accused the four activists of organising and carrying out “street political activities”, from displaying banners to making speeches urging declaration of assets, according to a copy of Li’s arrest notice.

Ding, a lawyer based in Beijing, was in charge of “overall co-ordination” while Li, who is unemployed, was responsible for collecting information and organising activists, the notice said.

Zhao, who has been jailed three times for pro-democracy activities, was said to have organised dinner gatherings where citizens discussed the disclosure campaign.



For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive



This article is now closed to comments

...and Xi is telling everyone that he is fighting corruption.... 2017 is critical - we must fight for genuine universal suffrage otherwise; these kinds of illegal arrests and illegal sentences will be coming to Hong Kong.....
And Hong Kong wants to negotiate for its democratic freedom with goons like these? The Chinese government runs guided by similar values to those of large criminal organizations such as the Mafia, biker gangs or the triads. I'm not exaggerating for effect - I literally mean it!
A foretaste of things to come for us in HK when Article 23 is introduced ...... No right to criticize the government, no freedom of speech as everything can be viewed as sedition against the state.
"the West’s condemnation of what it calls the suppression of free expression" - there is only one viewpoint that would call it otherwise, the Party's. So who's controlling your editorial, SCMP?
We all know in China corruption only goes on with the clique not in power...
Down with the CCP.
Continuing on the first comment:
in 1991, Deng Hsiao Ping was able to redirect Chinese youthful anger to a national embrace of corruption and ultra-nationalism. "Black Cat, white cat, so long it catch mice" and "Triads are patriots". His open validation of official corruption, nepotism and cronyism spurred two decades of rampant abuses where a small group benefited much from the exploitation of the masses, the environment and cultural values. 2% of Chinese (28 millions) consumed over 35% of all luxury items and services produced worldwide in 2013 (according to the Economist) while 70% (900 millions+, living in rural regions, migrant work-camps or sewers around primary and secondary cities, factory-dormitories) live at or near the subsistence level. While the elites, their families and cronies enjoy unimaginable luxury and recognition, the overwhelming majority of Chinese struggle to exist under an oppressive regime and must compete rigorously for scare resources or opportunities. They live without dignity or the possibility of advancement and are brutally persecuted when they speak out against social injustice.
Though brave advocates like Liu Hsiao Bo, Chen Guang Shen and Mr. Ding try desperately to speak out against corruption, exploitation and persecution of the poor, disabled or unrepresented, their voice are seldom heard. It seems that only through their great sacrifices do we even care to listen. Lets not their sufferings be in vein. Lets remember!
Most realize that corruption is systematically endemic across China and is blatantly open and widespread. However, only a few understand its true purpose. The power elite in China employs corruption as a form of control to secure allegiance from within the rank and file. Not surprisingly, corruption is both condoned and encouraged, so long as it benefit elite power-brokers and garner collusive loyalty. The threat of prosecution for corrupt practice is also used to control the rank and file but is used to minimize disloyal behaviors and/or to purge political rivals and their support network. President Xi's corruption drive benefit himself and his loyalists most effectively by the removal of their political competitors. Nevertheless, it disturbs "old guards", Jiang Xi Men, Li Peng, Zhu Rong Zi, Wen Jia Bao, Hu Jin Tao and others, whose loyalists may have been targeted. Under these pervasively-feudalistic practices, an unconnected commoner such as Mr. Ding is an annoying presence to the power-elites. What Mr. Ding advocate is correct and sensible but does not serve tyrannical overlords reigning over China since 1949. 25 years ago, courageous students demanded openly an accountable and representative government that's free of corruption, nepotism and cronyism. They were massacred in Tiananmen Square and around Beijing; subsequent crackdowns only emboldened corrupt tyrants and their control over China - to be continued in 2nd comment!


SCMP.com Account