Free China's Heroes Initiative

Free China's Heroes Initiative

CECC To Highlight Prisoners of Conscience Cases in Advance of President Xi Jinping’s Visit

WASHINGTON, DC (September 15, 2015) –Representative Chris Smith and Senator Marco Rubio—chair and cochair, respectively, of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC)—announced today the “Free China’s Heroes” initiative to highlight representative cases of individuals who are imprisoned, detained, or disappeared in China. (#FreeChinasHeroes) These cases, among many others, deserve to be raised during the state visit of Chinese President and Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping later this month.   

In its forthcoming Annual Report, scheduled for release in early October, the CECC documents the Chinese government and Communist Party’s efforts to silence dissent, suppress human rights advocacy, and control civil society—efforts that are broader in scope than any other period documented since the Commission started issuing Annual Reports in 2002. In highlighting various cases, the CECC intends to publicize the human toll of the Chinese government’s crackdown on 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 1,300 political and religious prisoners currently known or believed to be detained or imprisoned. The Commission treats a “political prisoner” as an individual detained for exercising his or her human rights under international law, such as peaceful assembly, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and free expression, including the freedom to advocate peaceful social or political change and to criticize government policy or government officials. In most cases, prisoners in the PPD were detained or imprisoned for attempting to exercise rights guaranteed to them by China’s Constitution and law, by international law, or both.

“It has been another brutal year for China’s advocates of freedom and human rights. The men and women we highlight are the human face of persecution in China. We want to send the message that the imprisonment of rights advocates, lawyers, and religious people is unnecessary, unjust, and completely counterproductive,” said CECC Chair Congressman Chris Smith. “The hard won truth of history is that stability and prosperity can only be maintained through the advance of liberty, transparency, and the protection of fundamental human rights. China’s attention to this truth is a critical interest of U.S. foreign policy and stronger U.S.-China relations. These cases must be raised during the upcoming visit by President Xi and their freedom should be pursued as a prominent outcome. In highlighting these cases, we also want to send the message to China’s prisoners of conscience and their families, that the Congress has not forgotten about them and we will not be silent until they are released.”

“As the Obama White House prepares to roll out the red carpet for President Xi, we must not forget the men, women, and juveniles who languish unjustly in dark prison cells, the family members who do not know the fate of their loved ones, and the professionals who have disappeared for daring to do their job,” said CECC Cochair Senator Marco Rubio. “These cases are not mere statistics, rather they are professors and pastors, writers, and lawyers whose ‘offenses’ are varied but whose plight is shared. While recognizing the broad scope of U.S-China bilateral relations, it is simply unconscionable for President Xi to get a pass on human rights. We have an obligation to speak truth to power and demand their immediate and unconditional release.”


Political Prisoner Database Representative Cases

Liu Xiaobo






Ilham Tohti






Chen Xi












Wang Yu






Zhu Yufu






Zhao Haitong






Gao Yu












Gulmira Imin






Bian Lichao






Su Zhimin






Chen Wei






Liu Ping






Zhang Kai






Xu Zhiyong






Li Heping






Pu Zhiqiang






Guo Feixiong






Wang Xiaolu