Free China's Heroes Initiative

Free China's Heroes Initiative

CECC Highlights Prisoners of Conscience Cases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ)—chair and co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC)—launched the “Free China’s Heroes” initiative to highlight cases of individuals who are imprisoned, detained, or disappeared in China. These cases, among many others, should be raised during U.S. interactions with Chinese officials, including Chinese President and Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping.

 In its 2016 Annual Report, the CECC documented the Chinese government and Communist Party’s efforts to silence dissent, suppress human rights advocacy, and control civil society. This repression has continued apace in 2017. These cases shed light on the human toll of the Chinese government’s crackdown on basic human rights and those who defend them.

All of the cases featured in this campaign are also part of the Commission’s Political Prisoner Database (PPD), which contains records on more than 1,400 political and religious prisoners currently known or believed to be detained or imprisoned.

“As President Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi to Florida, we cannot forget the men and women who languish unjustly in prison, the family members who do not know the fate of their loved ones, and the professionals who have disappeared for simply doing their job,” said CECC Chair Marco Rubio. “These people are not statistics, they are booksellers and pastors, writers and Nobel Laureates, lawyers and rights defenders. While recognizing the broad scope of U.S.-China bilateral relations, it is unacceptable for President Xi to get a pass on human rights. Not only is there a moral imperative to press for dissidents’ immediate and unconditional release, it also aligns with our national interests. No nation that flouts the rule of law at home and disregards the basic rights and inherent dignity of its own citizens can be trusted to be a responsible stakeholder on economic and security issues.”

“President Xi has overseen one of the most repressive periods in the post-Mao era. The men and women highlighted here are the human face of this repression. We too easily forget that behind the trade deficits and security concerns, real people pay a huge price for standing up for freedom. For this they are heroes and their unconditional release should be a prominent part of this week’s summit,” said CECC Cochair Chris Smith. “The President has the historic opportunity to change the failed policy assumptions of the past, increased trade and prosperity have not brought political liberalization to China.  He should be consistent and strong on human rights protections and rule of law development because China’s failures in these areas critically impact economic relations and regional security. U.S. foreign policy must ensure that China plays by international rules so that our workers can compete on a level playing field; our food, investments, and cyberspace are safe and secure, and the men and women who suffer for freedom in China are protected.”

BACKGROUND: During a recent hearing, the Commission received bipartisan testimony underscoring the importance of raising political prisoner cases by name during bilateral discussions with the Chinese government. 

The Commission undertook a similar initiative in September 2015 in advance of President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Washington.

Political Prisoner Database Representative Cases


Ilham Tohti


Chen Xi


Zhu Yufu


Zhao Haitong


Gulmira Imin


Chen Wei


Liu Ping


Guo Feixiong


Gui Minhai


Tashi Wangchug


Jiang Tianyong


Tursunjan Memet


Li Guozhi


Gu Yuese


Tang Jingling


Wang Quanzhang


Thabkhe Gyatso


Xiao Yuhui


Wu Gan


Bonkho Kyi


Deng Cuiping