Veteran activist Tong Shidong and labor organizer Liao Shihua are both serving lengthy prison terms on charges of subversion, which come under the category of crimes endangering state security in Chinas Criminal Code. The verdict in their case, issued by the Changsha City Intermediate Peoples Court on December 22, 1999, claims that Tong and Liao violated Chinese law by vainly attempting to overthrow the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party and by vainly attempting to subvert state power and the socialist system. The condescending tone asserts the authority of the ruling party and derides those who dare to express dissent against its monopoly on power.
But the fact that the Chinese authorities describe the crimes Tong and Liao committed as in vain calls into question the very nature of the charges against them. If there is no chance that their peaceful acts could subvert state power, what need is there to send them to prison? The use of such serious charges and harsh sentences to punish non-violent acts also flies in the face of all agreed standards for defining what constitutes a threat to the security of the state.
Tong Shidong, 66, is a noted intellectual who has long expressed independent views on political reform and his hopes for a more democratic future for his country. Based in Changsha City, Hunan Province, Tong is an assistant professor of physics at Hunan University, and has served as a mentor to many young activists in Chinas human rights and democracy movement.
In November 1998, Tong and Peng Yuchang, a retired lecturer, announced the formation of the Hunan University Preparatory Committee of the China Democracy Party (CDP), the first campus-based branch of the party. They submitted an official registration application for the group to the Hunan Province Civil Affairs Department. Tong was responsible for drafting the chapters founding declaration, which was also posted on the Internet.
Taken from his home by the Changsha Public Security Bureau on June 8, 1999, Tong was officially arrested on June 15 on the charge of conspiring to subvert state power. He is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence, with three years deprivation of political rights.
Liao Shihua, 51, was among the activists to whom Tong Shidong provided guidance. Together, they helped produce the political journal, Opposition Party. Though also a member of the CDP, Liao was most active as an independent labor organizer. A former worker in the Changsha Auto Electronics Factory, Liao led a mass protest against corruption at the factory in October 1998, demanding proper health care coverage and housing benefits for retired and laid-off workers.
In June 1999, Liao joined more than 100 laid-off workers demonstrating in front of Hunan provincial government headquarters, demanding a resolution to the areas unemployment problems. After addressing the crowd, Liao was led away by an unknown person. Days later, he was officially detained on allegations of inciting the masses to attack an organ of government. On July 7, 1999, Liao was formally arrested for conspiring to subvert state power and assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic. He is currently serving a six-year prison sentence, with one years deprivation of political rights.
Tong Shidong and Liao Shihua are guilty of nothing but exercising the freedoms of expression and association guaranteed to them in Chinas Constitution and in international law. Their peaceful efforts to assert those rights, and by doing so to lay the foundations for a more pluralistic, tolerant future for China, are acts of hope and conciliation that should be applauded rather than punished.
DEFENDANT: Tong Shidong, male; born in Beijing on November 7, 1934; Han Chinese; college education; retired lecturer at Hunan University; resides at Hunan University, Hongye Building, Block 4, Rm 201. On June 10, 1999, Tong was taken in for criminal detention for subverting state power by Yuelu District authorities of the Changsha City Public Security Bureau. On July 17 of the same year, Tong was formally arrested. He is currently being held at Changsha City No. 1 Detention Center.
DEFENDANT: Liao Shihua, male; born in Wangcheng County, Hunan Province, on September 2, 1949; Han Chinese; non-matriculated middle school education; Changsha Auto Electronics Factory worker; resides in Changsha City, Kaifu District, Xiadalong Factory Dormitory, Block 9, Building 1, Rm 101. On June 10, 1999, Liao was taken in for criminal detention for subverting state power and for assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic by Yuelu District authorities of the Changsha City Public Security Bureau. On July 7, Liao was formally arrested. He is currently being held at Changsha City No. 1 Detention Center.
The Changsha City Peoples Procuratorate brought a public prosecution against the defendants, based on indictment chang jian xing su zi (1999) No.109, which accuses Tong Shidong of subverting state power and accuses Liao Shihua of subverting state power and assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic. In accordance with law, this court formed a collegiate panel and tried this case in public. The Changsha City Peoples Procuratorate sent Prosecutor Li Zongge (in place of Prosecutor Xia Junxu) to present a public prosecution in court. Defendants Tong Shidong and Liao Shihua and others also took part in the proceedings. The adjudication of this case is now completed.
The Changsha City Peoples Procuratorate presented a prosecution on the following charges:
From the period of June 1998 to November 1998, defendant Tong Shidong received news about the establishment of China Democracy Party (CDP) preparatory committees in other provinces. Thereafter, defendant Tong Shidong formed the CDP Hunan University Preparatory Committee on November 18, 1999, for the purpose of overthrowing the Chinese leadership. At the same time, he drafted the Founding Declaration of the CDP Hunan University Preparatory Committee. Furthermore, he asked retired Hunan University instructor Peng Yuzhang to sign the declaration which was then posted on the Internet.
From the period of January 1999 to March 1999, defendant Tong Shidong wrote Now, a System of Multi-Party Democratic Constitutionalism is More Fitting to China, A General Plan for Ruling the Country in a Period of Peaceful Transition and other essays. The former was published in the fifth issue of The Collected Materials of the China Democracy Party. In this essay, Tong outlined his view of ending one party dictatorship and implementing a system of multi-party democratic constitutionalism
In the same year, on the two separate occasions of March 20 and March 27, the defendants Tong Shidong and Liao Shihua went to the home of Li Shaoqing in Changsha City, Xiangshao Village, Block 43, Gate 2, Building 3. They met with Xie Changfa, Zou Peifu, Yang Guoxiang, Li Zhiqing, Li Shaoqing and others. They discussed the formation of the CDP Hunan Preparatory Committee and related issues. Defendant Liao Shihua was elected as one of the core members. He was responsible for recruiting members for the CDP within his factory. Defendant Tong Shidong was not elected to any post, but he later gave himself the title of chairman of the CDP Hunan Preparatory Committee.
In April 1999, defendant Tong Shidong got together with defendant Liao Shihua to establish the CDP First State Enterprise Preparatory Committee. Tong drafted the Founding Declaration of the CDP Hunan State Enterprise Preparatory Committee. Liao signed the document using the false name Ding Jiagu. On June 1, 1999, defendant Liao Shihua used the alias Ding Jiagu to draft Application for the establishment of the No.1 State Enterprise Preparatory Committee within the Hunan Province State Enterprise Federation, expressing complete service to the leadership of the CDP and the Hunan CDP.
On June 4, 1999, defendant Liao Shihua got together with Mao Jiyuan, He Shishi and Zhang Jianmao to hold a June Fourth and 10th anniversary commemoration event to vilify the leadership.
In June of the same year, for the purpose of expanding his own influence, defendant Tong Shidong mobilized Tan Mingqi, Yang Rong and Liu Wei to join the China Democracy Party, and had them sign the Founding Declaration of the CDP Changsha United Preparatory Committee.
On June 8, defendant Tong Shidong made the CDP First State Enterprise Preparatory Committee, the CDP Changsha United Preparatory Committee and the CDP Hunan University Preparatory Committee subsidiary organs to the CDP Hunan Preparatory Committee. He posted this information in the June 1999 issue of the Hunan publication Opposition Party, and sent it out, publicly announcing the established structure.
In addition to this, defendant Tong Shidong intensified contact with CDP members in other provinces. Furthermore he disseminated materials from Opposition Party, Collected Materials of the CDP, Beijing Spring and other publications to Liao Shihua, Tan Mingqi, Yang Rong, Liu Wei and others. Defendant Liao Shihua then disseminated the above-mentioned materials to Mao Jiyuan, Zhang Jianmao, Long Guodong and others.
On the morning of October 20, 1999, defendant Liao Shihua led the organization of a group of retired and laid-off workers and used the problems of medical care provisions and housing prices to request a dialogue with the leaders of the Changsha Auto Electronics Factory. Defendant Liao Shihua and others, for the purpose of making the disturbance more significant, then used ropes and chairs to construct road blocks, stopping traffic in front of the factory and on Dongfeng Road. When factory leaders and local public security organs appeared on the scene to stop the disturbance, the demonstrators were still not dispersed. This caused Dongfeng Road to be backed up for six hours; the situation was very serious.
The prosecution believes that the actions of defendants Tong Shidong and Liao Shihua constitute the crime of subverting state power. Tong Shidong was the principal criminal; Liao Shihua was an active participant. Furthermore, the actions of defendant Liao Shihua constitute the crime of assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic. This case is submitted to this court for public prosecution, with the request that sentencing be given in accordance with law .
The evidence verifying the above facts includes the following:
This court finds: Defendant Tong Shidong took the lead in colluding with defendant Liao Shihua to violate the stipulations of the Constitution and law by illegally organizing a party, by vainly attempting to overthrow the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and by vainly attempting to subvert state power and the socialist system. These actions all constitute the crime of subverting state power. In committing this crime, defendant Tong Shidong took the lead in colluding with others, playing the role of organizing leader. Thus he was the principal criminal. Defendant Liao Shihua actively participated. Thus he was an accessory to the crime. For the purpose of assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic, defendent Liao Shihua undermined and disturbed the order of traffic, causing a serious situation. His actions constitute the crime of assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic.
Defendant Tong Shidong argued in his own defense, saying that his actions did not violate the stipulations of the Constitution or law, and that his actions did not have the intention of opposing the leaders of the CCP or subverting state power. But our investigation found that defendant Tong Shidong illegally organized and established the CDP Hunan Preparatory Committee, the Hunan University Preparatory Committee, the First State Enterprise Preparatory Committee, the Changsha United Preparatory Committee and other groups. Furthermore, he actively recruited members, wrote essays opposing the party and state, publicly vilified leaders of the party and state and advocated an end to the Communist one-party autocracy and the implementation of a multi-party system. His actions violated the stipulations of the Constitution and law. With premeditation, and in actuality, defendant Tong Shidong carried out plans that opposed CCP leaders and subverted state power. Thus the arguments he used in his defense are unsubstantiated and not accepted by this court.
Defendant Liao Shihua argued in his own defense, saying: My actions do not constitute subverting state power and I was not an active participant, I was tricked. But our investigation found that defendant Liao Shihua, under the instigation and mobilization of defendant Tong Shidong, actively established the CDP First State Enterprise Preparatory Committee. Furthermore, he held the post of directing member and in the groups founding declaration, he slandered the leaders of the CCP and the leaders of this country. Thus the arguments he used in his defense do not match reality. Defendant Liao Shihua further argued in his own defense, saying It wasnt me who led the blocking of the traffic. But our investigation found that defendant Liao Shihua led the gathering and incited a crowd that was not aware of the true circumstances. Using the excuse of fighting corruption, Liao Shihua assembled a group to disrupt traffic at one of Changshas main arteries for up to six hours, seriously disturbing traffic order and causing extremely negative repercussions. Defendant Liao Shihua served as an organizer and a strategist. Thus the argument he used in his defense is not accepted by this court.
Based on the above, in accordance with Articles 105, 291, 25, 26, 27, 69 and 55 of Chinas Criminal Code, sentencing is as follows:
For the crime of subverting state power, defendant Tong Shidong is sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and three years deprivation of political rights. For the crime of subverting state power, defendant Liao Shihua is sentenced to four years imprisonment and one years deprivation of political rights. For the crime of assembling a crowd to disrupt traffic, Liao Shihua is sentenced to an additional three years imprisonment. It has been decided that Liao Shihua will serve a combined sentence of six years imprisonment and the deprivation of political rights for one year.
If the defendants do not accept this verdict, an appeal can be filed either though this court or directly to the Higher Peoples Court of Hunan Province within 10 days of receiving this decision. The appellant should submit the original copy of the appeal together with two copies.
Presiding Judge: Xu Zhongmin
Judicial Officer: Tang Xueping
Acting Judicial Officer: Li Xiaoping
December 22, 1999
Secretary: Yang Jianli
Translated and compiled by Judy M. Chen