China Continues Crackdown on Public Intellectuals and Activists

December 29, 2005

Over the past several weeks, Chinese authorities have continued what appears to be a crackdown on free expression by detaining or imprisoning at least five more prominent intellectuals and activists.

  • Ye Guozhu: According to Agence France-Presse, Beijing housing activist Ye Guozhu was sentenced to four years in prison on December 17. Ye was arrested earlier in the year after he applied for permission to hold a march to protest forced evictions.
  • Li Boguang: Associated Press reports that journalist and advocate Li Boguang was detained on December 17 in Fujian province. Li had been helping farmers in Fujian province to petition the central government over alleged land abuses by local officials.
  • Chen Min: According to the South China Morning Post, police detained journalist Chen Min on December 21. Chen, the editor of a magazine called "China Reform," has written numerous commentaries critical of the government.
  • Yang Tianshui: The Straits Times and Agence France-Presse report that writer and activist Yang Tianshui was detained on December 24 in Hangzhou. Yang is a longtime dissident and human rights campaigner who had been working on migrant labor issues. According to the AFP report, Hangzhou police claimed that he has already been released.
  • Li Guozhu: Agence France Presse also reported on December 24 that farmers’ rights advocate Li Guozhu has been detained since late November, allegedly for sending information about recent ethnic clashes in Henan province overseas.

The new detentions follow the recent detention, demotion, or blacklisting of other prominent intellectuals, including Shi Tao, Liu Xiaobo, Yu Jie, Zhang Zuhua, Jiao Guobiao, and Wang Guangze. Government papers have also published editorials critical of "public intellectuals" (see story here). China analysts and human rights groups have expressed concern that the actions are part of a coordinated and expanded effort to curb criticism of the government and Party.