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China March 28, 2005
H.E. Hu Jintao
Office of the President
People’s Republic of China
We write again to protest the continuing litany of abuses of press freedom in China . As we noted in our letter of January 23, your country is holding at least 25 journalists and 63 Internet posters in prison, and you have closed more than 8,000 Internet cafes and censored dozens of Web sites and forums.
Since that letter, we have noted the following cases:
Your government attempted to suppress news of the death of former Prime Minister Zhao Ziyang, censoring his name from Internet search engines and discussion forums and banning all foreign media from covering his funeral. Your Excellency, any government that is truly strong need not fear public discussion of any person or idea.
Zhang Lin , a pro-democracy activist and cyber-dissident, was to have been released on February 13 after serving 15 days of “administrative detention.” His offense was apparently his attempt to present condolences to the family of Zhao Ziyang and his praise of Zhao in an Internet posting. Instead of being released at the end of his sentence, Zhang has been held on “criminal detention,” which permits his jailing for another 37 days before being charged with anything.
On March 4, a Shanghai court banned Guo Guoting , a lawyer who has had the courage to represent several cyber dissidents, journalists, and members of the banned Falun Gong sect, from practicing law for a year. He was accused of “anti-constitutional speeches and acts,” including articles posted on the Internet.
One of Guo’s clients, the journalist and poet, Shi Tao , was convicted in a secret hearing on March 11 of “illegally divulging state secrets abroad.” This crime has been only vaguely defined and is thus well-suited for persecuting dissidents.
However, in this case, the charge seems to have stemmed from Shi’s posting on-line of a document sent to his newspaper by authorities warning of the risks posed by any coverage of the return of some dissidents connected to the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Another of Guo’s clients, the dissident writer, Huang Jinqiu , who is serving a 12-year prison term for his Internet writings, is reportedly being shockingly abused in Pukou prison near Nanjing . According to PEN International, Huang is incarcerated with criminals who have been encouraged to mistreat him. He is denied books and in great pain, and is in danger of a mental breakdown.
The Overseas Press Club of America (OPC), an independent organization that has defended journalists and press freedom around the world for more than 65 years, has had no replies to repeated letters to you and your predecessors protesting many similar abuses. It is pointless to repeat earnest explanations of why these things matter and how China would benefit in world opinion if it would begin to honor human rights. But once again, we want you to know that we and many others are keeping score. We hope and believe that one day China will come to its senses, and these wrongs will be righted.
Co-chairs, Freedom of the Press Committee
Office of the Premier
People’s Republic of China
Fax: (011.86.10.6) 512-5810
Ambassador Guangya Wang
Permanent Mission of the PROC to the U.N.
350 East 35 Street
New York , New York 10016
Fax: (212) 634-7626
Ambassador of PROC to the USA
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
2300 Connecticut Avenue, NW
Washington , DC 20008
Fax: (202) 328-2582
Clark Randt, Jr.
U.S. Ambassador to China
Embassy of the United States of America
No.3 Xiu Shui Bei Jie
Fax: (011.86.10.6) 532-6929
News Editor, China Daily
News Editor, South China Morning Post