By Dave Woodhall.
Ahead of the visit to Birmingham by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao this weekend, the country’s ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, said the visit will “help the Chinese people and businesses know more about this great city.”
For the benefit of those industrial and political leaders who will be meeting Mr Jiabao, here are a few recent events that may help them know more about China. Perhaps they will ask him about them.
January 2010: Guo Xiaojun, a former lecturer at a Shanghai university and a practitioner of the spiritual discipline Falun Gong, detained in Shanghai and later charged with “using a heretical organization to subvert the law”. He was sentenced to four years in prison for allegedly having distributed Falun Gong materials. He was tortured in detention, kept in solitary confinement and eventually signed a confession that was used to uphold his sentence at a closed appeal hearing. He had already previously served a five-year prison term for his beliefs.
March 2010: Alimjan Yimit’s 15-year sentence was upheld on appeal by the XUAR People’s High Court in March. Alimjan Yimit was detained for “leaking state secrets” after he spoke twice with an American Christian in Urumqi city in April and May 2007.
April 2010: the Urumqi Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Gulmira Imin, a Uighur website administrator, to life in prison for “splittism, leaking state secrets, and organizing an illegal demonstration”. It was believed the charges were linked to regular postings she made to the website Salkin
May 2010: Tagyal, a Tibetan intellectual who worked in a government publishing house, charged with “inciting splittism” after he warned Tibetans to avoid corrupt official channels when donating money to victims of the April Yushu earthquake in Qinghai. Tagyal had also published a book on the 2008 Tibetan protests.
A coroner’s jury returned a verdict of lawful killing over the March 2009 hillside shooting of Hong-Kong born Nepali street sleeper, Dil Bahadur Limbu, by a police constable investigating a nuisance complaint. Ethnic minority groups had called for an independent commission of inquiry. Application for judicial review by Dil Bahadur Limbu’s widow was pending.
July 2010: Liu Xianbin, a member of the banned Chinese Democracy Party, detained in Suining city, Sichuan province, for “inciting subversion of state power”. The charge was linked to his support for human rights activists and articles he posted on overseas websites.
Uighur website managers Nureli, Dilixiati Perhati and Nijat Azat sentenced to three, five and 10 years respectively in July for “endangering state security” through postings on their websites.
September 2010: Blind civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng released from prison. He and his wife remain under house arrest, unable to leave even to seek medical attention.
October 2010: Cheng Jianping sentenced to a year of Re-education Through Labour for retweeting a single satirical tweet by fiancé Hua Chunhui about anti-Japanese protests.
Liu Xia, the wife of the Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, placed under house arrest.
November 2010: Hua Chunhui detained in Jiangsu province on charges of “endangering state security”, after being accused by police of tweeting messages mentioning the Jasmine Revolution from his Twitter account.
February 2011: Liang Haiyi, a female internet activist nicknamed ‘Miaoxiao’, detained in Harbin, Heilongjiang province and charged with “subversion of state power” for posting information about the ‘Jasmine Revolution’ on Chinese social networking platform QQ.
March 2011: Three prominent civil society advocates, Ran Yunfei, Ding Mao, and Chen Wei, arrested on charges of “incitement to subvert state power and overthrow the socialist system.”
Democracy activist, Liu Xianbin, was sentenced to 10 years in prison under the same charges for a series of articles published on overseas websites.
Six of the country’s most prominent human rights lawyers – Teng Biao, Tang Jitian, Jiang Tianyong, Liu Shihui, Tang Jingling, and Li Tiantian – ‘disappeared’ by the police.
April 2011: Wen Tao, Hu Mingfen and Liu Zhenggang Ai Weiwei arrested without charge. All except Ai Weiwei remain imprisoned.
Gheyret Niyaz, an ethnic Uighur, sentenced to 15 years in prison for “leaking state secrets”. Evidence used against him included essays he had written on the economic and social conditions of Uighurs in China. It was reported that his sentence was also linked to comments he made to foreign media which criticized government policies in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
Lawyers Tang Jitian and Liu Wei had their licences permanently revoked by the Beijing Municipal Justice Bureau, on grounds of “disrupting the order of the court and interfering with the regular litigation process”. The two had represented a Falun Gong practitioner in April 2009 in Sichuan Province.
Prominent human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who had ‘disappeared’ while in the custody of public security officials in February 2009 briefly re-surfaced. He has not been seen since.
Tian Xi, who contracted HIV and hepatitis B and C through a blood transfusion in 1996 when he was nine years old, tried on charges of “intentionally damaging property”. For years, Tian Xi had lobbied the hospital for compensation for himself and others infected through blood transfusions there. In August, he lost his temper in a meeting at the hospital and knocked some items off a desk. Through a legal loophole his trial was suspended, allowing the authorities to keep him in indefinite detention.