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Striving for Democracy by Mainland Chinese Activists

  • Date:1999-01-28


by Mainland Chinese Activists

Their efforts and Beijing's countermeasures

A Chronology

Total Events:85 April 1997-January 1999

NO. Time Event
1 Apr 1997 “The Critical Moment – 27 Pressing Issues that Contemporary China Needs to Solve,” published by China Today Publishing Company, the first in a series of “Report on Issues in China.” The author Professor Li Li of Tsing Hua University urged in the book that the highest national leader be elected in general election and by public vote. Preface is by Vice President Liu Ji of the Institute of Social Science.
2 Aug 6, 1997 Economic Prof. Shang Dewen of University of Beijing filed a proposal for political system reform, urging political reform and election of national leader by public vote.
3 Dec 1997 Former Vice President Li Shenzi of the Institute of Social Science published “There is need to promote political reform, too,” urging not to dwell on the concept of “right of survival is the top human rights.” Instead, “human rights are the privilege of citizenship” and political reform should be carried out seriously.
4 Dec 22, 1997 Dissidents Xu Wenli of Beijing and Qin Yangmin of Wuhan jointly announced “A message to fellow countrymen,” stressing laborors have the right to form their own union.
5 Dec 29, 1997 Dissident Xu Shuiliang of Nanjing proposed “A brief outline of reform in China,” suggesting the government plan a five-year timetable to implement freedom of speech and association and, in another 5 years, practice democracy.
6 Jan 1998 China Today Publishing Company “The Trap in Modernization – Socioeconomic Issues in Contemporary China,” also a part of the series of “Report on Issues in China.” Author He Qinglian analyzes corruption in the overall fundamental system on Mainland China and recommends with political system reform to solve economic problems and crises, otherwise impossible to solve through economic means. The book was heavily introduced in major US media in September and October.
7 Jan 1998 Dissident Zhao Changqing of Shanxi announced his candidacy for the “People’s Representative of Hanzhong City.” He was later arrested.
8 Jan 11, 1998 Former Deputy Director Fang Jue of Foozhou Planning Committee proposed “China needs change – brief opinion of the democratic people,” requesting the government authorities to redress completely the miscarriage of justice on the Tienanmen Movement and implement direct election of “people’s representative” for the county level above by public vote as well as freedom of the press and assembly.
9 Feb 22, 1998 Wang Xizhe and et al formed Chinese Democratic and Justice Party with temporary headquarters in New York City, USA.
10 Mar 1998 China Today Publishing Company published “Encounter – An On-the-Scene Report of the Three-Time Liberalization of Thought in Contemporary China,” also a part of the series of “Report on Issues in China.” Authors Ma Licheng and Leng Zhijun unveiled the complete process of the right and the left wings of Mainland China’s theorists in their encounter and criticized proposals of the left wings made since 1994.
11 Mar 1998 Dissident Chen Zhengxiang met Spokesman Wang Bingchang of the Chinese Democratic and Justice Party in Hong Kong and applied for membership in the Party.
12 Mar 1998 Engineer Lin Hai of Shanghai was arrested on March 25 on charges of “instigating to overthrow national regime.” Wang is reportedly to have supplied since January over 30,000 e-mail addresses to “Great Reference,” a civil rights movement Internet magazine published in the USA.
13 Mar 1998 Dissident Qin Yongmin of Hubei published an open letter to the People’s Congress and the State Council, requesting for permission to publish “Citizens Forum,” an independent publication. In the same month, Qin founded “Observation to Human Rights in China.”
14 May 1998 “Fire and Ice,” a collection of secretly circulated criticisms over the years by former University of Beijing student She Jie, was published by The Economic Daily News of Beijing. The book pointed out the precondition for patriotism and democracy was the rights of individual while dictatorship would lead to persecution, self-effacing, cruelty and stupidity. The democratic theory advocated by intellectuals in Taiwan is different from that of Mainland China where the intellectuals advocate empty theory and meaningless doctrines.
15 Jun 20, 1998 55 dissidents from over 10 provinces publicly elected Xu Wenli as the representative of “Anti-political Party of China.” Under the anti-politics banner, the group promotes to form a legal anti-government party.
16 Jun 25, 1998 Dissident Wang Youcai of Zhejiang applied to the Civil Affairs Department of Zhejiang Provincial Government for registration of “Chinese Democratic Party.” Preparatory committees in each province soon were formed one after another. Few months later, the government began to raid the party office and arrest and release were made.
17 Jul 1998 Labor movement activist Zhang Shanguang of Hunan tried to organize a “protecting the interests of unemployed laborors organization.” Zhang was detained by local security force on July 21 on charges of “endangering national security. Later Zhang was formerly arrested on August 28.
18 Jul 1998 Prof. Shang Dewen of University of Beijing urged the government authorities to appoint scholars and experts to draft implementation plans for a democratic system. He suggested the setup could be patterned after the establishment of “Economic Zones” by first setting up few “Democratic Zones” in a certain areas to undergo the experiment.
19 Jul 1998 Red Flag Publishing Co. published “An Encounter after the Encounter” in celebration of the 20th anniversary of reform and deregulation. The book approved the viewpoints of "Encounter", besides, it had high evaluation of reforms by Zhu Rongji. The book pointed out that to realize political reform, an act to protect the reform and deregulation must be drafted, build-up of fundamental democracy strengthened, and media supervision permitted. In addition, the book praised Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Doctrine and Three Principles of the People of the nation’s founding father Dr. Sun Yat-sen.
20 Jul 2, 1998 * Chen Zhengxiang of Qingdao was arrested on charges of “attempt to overthrow national government. He was arraigned by Qingdao’s Prosecutor’s Office on August 31.
21 Jul 23, 1998 * Security authorities arrested Fang Jue (current status unknown; rumors had it that Fang was arraigned in mid-September by Beijing Prosecutor’s Office on probable charges of economic fraud and reveal of national secrets, all serious charges that could draw heavy prison terms.)
22 Aug 1998 Zhao Changqing was sentenced for three years in prison on charges of “disturbance of social order.”
23 Aug 1998 In a memorial meeting of the theorists on the criteria of truth, Vice President Liu Ji of the Institute of Social Science pointed out the strong awareness of the general public to participate in democratic movement and concluded democratic issues would be eventually on the agenda of study. The general consensus has indicated that market economy is not the patent of capitalism. Now, is democracy the patent of the capitalism?. It’s time for the theorists to take up the action.
24 Aug 1998 China Today Publishing Co. published “Political China – Facing a New Era of Selection of New System.” The book is edited jointly by Editor Dong Yuyu of Guangmin Daily and Editor Shih Binghai of China Economic Times. Originally entitled “There Should be no Delay in the Implementation of Political System Reform,” the book strongly urged the Mainland authorities to promote political system reform, including establishment of a stronger legislative system, protection of private property, freedom of the press, a wider range of election and enforcement of law as well as the role of the political parties. The book contains 34 chapters with authors ranging from the old school of Dong Fujih , Wu Jinglien and the like to promising young scholars like Liu Junning and He Qinglien. Views expressed in the book vary greatly. Wang Huning, chief of communist central policy research office, believes “political system reform is a self-perfection of the socialism while Zhu Huzhe, who is former Chief of Central Propaganda Department, proposed "as society to be principle, for society to be principle", “to establish new order of socialist democracy.”
25 Aug 1998 Intellectuals organized “China Development Alliance” in Hong Kong. A seminar on current event was held in Beijing.
26 Sept 1998 Prof. Jiang Peikun of People’s University and former People’s University’s graduate student Jiang Qisheng, and Associate Prof. Ding Zilin of People’s University jointly proposed “Declaration of Freedom and Citizen’s Rights” and “Declaration of Social Justice and Citizen’s Rights,” stressing the true goal of modern democratic movement is to establish the political system which can ensure the individual freedom of citizens from violation, appeal to the Communist for accommodating the public opinions, acknowledge citizen’s legal right of protest, gradual deregulate party formation and publication of newspapers, and implement election by public vote so as to establish an effective power-balancing mechanism and monitoring organization.
27 Sept 1998 Dissident An Jun of Henan applied for organization of “Observation of Corruptive Behaviors.”
28 Sept 5, 1998 * National Security Bureau in Beijing arrested Shih Binghai (whose whereabouts is still unknown).
29 Sept 7, 1998 Dissidents Leng Wanbao and An Fuxing of Jilin filed an application for “Association for Promotion of Economic and Social Rights,” a human rights organization to the Department of Civil Affairs of Jilin Provincial Government.
30 Sept 10, 1998 Dissidents Xie Wanjun and Liu Lienjun of Shandong filed an application for registration of “Preparatory Committee for Chinese Democratic Party in Shandong” to the Department of Civil Affairs of Shandong Provincial Government. Later the duo were arrested, released several times and under administrative detention.
31 Sept 11, 1998 Dissidents Chen Zhonghe, Lu Xinhua and Ren Qiuguang of Hubei filed an application for registration of “Preparatory Committee for Chinese Democratic Party in Hubei” to the Department of Civil Affairs of Hubei Provincial Government. (Later the trio were detained by the authorities.)
32 Sept 14, 1998 Dissident Wang Wenjiang of Eastern Three Province filed an petition with the Civil Affairs Department of the State Council for establishment of the Preparatory Committee in the Eastern Three Province of Chinese Democratic Party. Later he was detained by the government authorities.
33 Sept 15, 1998 * The authorities convened an emergency teleconference of security, safety and civil affairs chiefs to get ready for suppression of party-forming activities in the private sector, requesting related departments to take control of the counter-government activities.
34 Sept 18, 1998 Dissidents Yao Zhenxien, Zhou Jihe, Han Lifa of Shanghai filed an application to the Civil Affairs Department of Shanghai City Government for establishment of the Preparatory Committee in Shanghai of Chinese Democratic Party. Later the trio were detained by the government authorities.
35 Sept 21, 1998 Scholar He Defu of the Institute of Social Science, Kao Hongming, who works in service trade, and unemployed laborer Wang Zixin announced the candidacy for representative for the People’s Congress in the county-level in Beijing region. Later they were detained for violation of Election Rules. In December Kao and Wang renounced their candidacy and He was tortured.
36 Sept 23, 1998 Dissidents Ren Wanding, Zu Wenli, Yao Zhenxien and Qin Yongmin and et al. totalling 120 of 18 provinces jointly wrote to President Jiang Zeming, People’s Congress, and State Council, urging speedy enactment of “Political Party Law.”
37 Sept 25, 1998 Dissidents Mao Guoliang, Wang Youcai and 25 others of Zhejiang Province jointly wrote to Jiang Zeming, Zhu Rongji and Vice Chairman of the People’s Congress Tien Chiyun, demanding the trio to follow up the spirit of the Political Reform of 1898 and proceed boldly with political reform, including abolishing the illegal rules and practice against “Citizen’s Rights and Political Rights Protocol” signed with the United Nations, vindicating 6-4 movement, liberating political prisoners, liberalizing news, and diversifying politics.
38 Oct 1998 Deputy Director Yang Fan of Economic Research Division, Institute of Social Science, published in Strategy and Management magazine an article entitled “The Economic Crisis China is Facing and the Anti-crisis Measures,” suggesting speedy socialist democracy and legal construction as well as aggressive promotion of political system reform.
39 Oct 5, 1998 * The Mainland authorities signed up the “Citizen’s Rights and Political Rights Protocol” sponsored by the UN. Ratification of the protocol is subject to the approval of the People’s Congress. Generally believed that the clauses of “freedom of assembly,” “gradual abolishment of death penalty,” and “freedom of movement” will be reserved.
40 Oct 5, 1998 “China Development Alliance” convened its first membership meeting in Beijing. Close to 100 members attended.
41 Oct 15, 1998 Dissidents Liu Xienbing and others of Sichuan filed an application to the Civil Affairs Department of Sichuan Province for establishment of the Preparatory Committee in Sichuan Province of Chinese Democratic Party. The application was turned down.
42 Oct 20-21, 1998 * The Mainland authorities convened an "International Seminar on Human Rights in the 21st Century", inviting human rights scholars and experts from all countries of the world to attend, but refusing participation by members of Amnesty International, Asian Human Rights Observation and Mainland’s private Chinese Human Rights Observation. (The objective of international propaganda is greater than its substance.)
43 Oct 22, 1998 Dissidents Ceng Ning and Wei Deng Chung and others of Guizhou announced the setup of the Preparatory Committee in Guizhou Province of Chinese Democratic Party.
44 Oct 26, 1998 * The authorities raided China Development Alliance and arrested its members.
45 Second half of Oct 1998 * The authorities sentenced Chen Zhengxiang to 7 years in prison on charges of “disclosure of national secret.”
46 Second half of Oct 1998 Dissident Wang Bing of Henan announced establishment of the Preparatory Committee in Henan Province of Chinese Democratic Party.
47 Second half of Oct 1998 Application for establishment of Protection Committee for the Interests of Chinese Citizens filed.
48 Second half of Oct 1998 * News Publication Bureau of the State Council prohibited publication of “Political China – Facing a New Era of Selection of New System” on the ground that part of the contents has “serious problems.” The book was published by China Today Publishing Co.
49 Second half of Oct 1998 * The authorities began to retrench the extent of freedom extended to the press, launching a large-scale cleansing program toward some media that the government believes are getting out of control. Meanwhile, the government also started tracking and clamping down on sensitive authors and publishing houses.
50 Nov 2, 1998 The authorities arrested Wang Youchai.
51 Nov 4, 1998 * The authorities announced the latest Regulations Governing Administration of Social Organizations Registration, Provisional Regulations Concerning Administration of Private Non-business Registration and Provisional Regulations Concerning Administration of Business Registration. The new regulations stipulate that setup of social organizations requires recommendation of competent authorities and a capital outlay of $100,000. Unless approved, operation of the social organization can meet the fate of government clampdown at any time.
52 First half of Nov 1998 * Communist Central Politburo passed a resolution calling for intensifying to attack “counter forces.”
53 Nov 8, 1998 National Preparatory Committee of Chinese Democratic Party applied to the State Council for registration.
54 Nov 9, 1998 Zu Wenli announced the setup of the Preparatory Committee in Beijing and Tienjing of Chinese Democratic Party.
55 Nov 11, 1998 Dissidents Xie Changfa and et al. of Hunan announced the setup of the Preparatory Committee in Hunan Province of Chinese Democratic Party.
56 Nov 12, 1998 * The authorities arrested in Guangzhou dissidents Zhang Lin and Wei Quanbao of New York. The two were sentenced at the end of December to 3 years in labor camp.
57 Nov 16, 1998 * The State Council issued a notice stating the government’s determination “to eradicate by law activities of overturn, instigation and/or sabotage by counter forces and elements.”
58 Nov 19, 1998 * The Civil Affairs Department convened a meeting, stressing the government’s determination to get rid of “illegal social organizations.”
59 Nov 23, 1998 The authorities raided Research Institute of New Strategy of China Development, an organization closely related to China Development Alliance.
60 Nov 23, 1998 Premier Li Peng, while interviewed by German "Commercial News", revealed there was no room for new parties or social organizations in Mainland China since they deny the leadership of communist party.
61 Nov 28, 1998 Dissident Kao Hongming of Beijing applied for the establishment of “Religion Freedom Observation” organization.
62 Nov 30, 1998 * Government authorities arrested Zu Wenli and Qin Yongmin.
63 Dec 1998 * Communist Central organized a Provisional Guiding Task Force for Rehabilitation of National Affairs. Led by Jiang Zhemin in person, the mission of the task force is to strengthen social stability and repel foreign infiltration.
64 Dec 1998 * Communist Central Office issued a directive to local leading cadre, requesting regular detailed reports on local labor turmoil, underground organizations and all other anti-central government activities.
65 Dec 1, 1998 * The State Council approved the notice of the Public Security Department and armed police concerning “use of armed equipment in the fight against antagonistic forces, antagonistic elements in their act of violent sabotage and armed rebellion.”
66 Dec 11, 1998 * The authorities arrested Wang Ce, chairman of Freedom and Democracy Party, on charges of “sponsoring criminal activities of endangering national security” and “crossing national border without permission.” Wang is an overseas democratic movement activist.
67 Dec 11, 1998 * The Judgment Committee of the Supreme People’s Court passed “Interpretation of application of laws in judgment concerning criminal issues on illegal publications.” The interpretation clearly pointed out that “any publications published, printed, copied, issued, or broadcast on contents instigating, dividing or sabotaging national unity, or instigating the public to overthrow national regime or socialist system shall be dealt with for instigation to divide the country or to overthrow the national regime in accordance with related provisions in the criminal law.”
68 Dec 18, 1998 * At the Communist Central 20th Anniversary of Reform Convention, Jiang Zhemin indicated factors that destroy social stability must be eradicated during the budding stage and warned the infiltration activities of overturn and separation by antagonistic forces both at home and abroad.
69 Dec 21-22, 1998 * Government authorities sentenced Wang Youchai, Qin Yongmin and Xu Wenli respectively to 11, 12 and 13 years in prison on charges of “instigation to overthrow national regime.”
70 Dec 23, 1998 * At the National Working Conference of Law, Jiang Zhemin pointed out “stability is an overwhelming principle that no one is supposed to forget at any time.” He demanded law enforcement agents to strictly enforce the law against crimes of all sorts, criminal, economical and national. He advised law enforcement agents to raise “self awareness and ability of resisting sabotage activities and infiltration by antagonistic forces.” This is, added Jiang, “the most successful experience in maintaining political and social stability in Mainland China and that it must be upheld.”
71 Dec 23, 1998 * The Civil Affairs Bureau of Beijing banned China Development Alliance from holding seminar on discussions on current events for the second time. Peng Ming, the person in charge, was warned not to hold any forum in his personal name.
72 Dec 27, 1998 * The authorities sentenced labor movement activist Zhang Shanguang to 10 years in prison on charges of “endangering of national security” and “illegal supply of information to overseas organizations.”
73 Second half of Dec 1998 * Bureau of Media and Publication issued a notice to major media, requesting to add positive reports of accomplishments made by the current leaders, avoid negative reports and to select reports of features concerning analysis of current economic situations and political structure reform.
74 Second half of Dec 1998 *The authorities dismissed the CEO of Guangdong and Hong Kong Message Daily on the ground of “promoting capitalist liberalization.” The daily was instructed to undergo an in-depth review and repentance. Meanwhile, one of the Guangdong Provincial Commissioners was appointed to station at the newspaper to continue the review process.
75 Second half of Dec 1998 * The authorities ordered Culture Daily of Guangzhou to cease publication as of Jan. 1999 on the ground of “press restructuring.” Culture Daily has had more than 100 issues in its five years of publication. It was rumored that daily had offered intellectuals space for publication of theories and self-examination articles. Their comments on current events had made the authorities believe excessive.
76 Jan 1999 Ma Licheng and Leng Zijun published “Loud Voice – Five Voices in Current China,” stressing the importance of democratization and political system reform. The book further points out reform is not the capitalist liberalization and criticizes the thought of nationalism prevalent on Mainland China.
77 Jan 1, 1999 * At the New Year’s party of the National Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Jiang Zhemin expressed handling of internal and other social contradictions should take top priority and, to be specific, be correct. “The government, “ added Jiang, “is determined to eradicate all sorts of sabotage activities by domestic and foreign antagonistic forces. Factors that affect social stability of mainland today include dissension from domestic and foreign antagonistic forces, deterioration of social security, and internal contradictions among people.
78 Jan 3, 1999 Dissident Yao Tienxiang of Gansu announced establishment of “China Laboror Observation” organization.
79 Jan 8, 1999 Dissident He Gewei of Henan announced establishment of “China Environmental Protection Observation” organization.
80 First half of Jan 1999 * Central Propaganda Department drew a larger line limiting the scope of freedom of speech, and restricting media to discuss political reform, report of news publication legislation, the dark side of justice, news of unemployed laborors, petitions of farmers and their difficult living conditions. Reports of criminal cases were reduced to a tenth of the then volume. In addition, media were not permitted to report speeches or articles made by dissidents of capitalist liberalization of the “June Fourth Tienanmen Incident,” including those now residing in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
81 First half of Jan 1999 * Central Propaganda Department held a concentrated political training program for nation-wide editors of periodicals and stipulated “No Employment Certificate, No Work.” The Central Propaganda Department also planned to appoint full-time political supervisory specialists selected from among each level of party office the Propaganda Department and Bureau of Media and Publication to station at designated newspapers.
82 First half of Jan 1999 * The authorities ordered China Today Publishing Co. (publisher of "Encounter" and "Political China"), Economic Daily Publishing Co. (publisher of "Anthologies of Liberalization"), and Red Flag Publishing Co. (publisher of "An Encounter after the Encounter") to cease publication temporarily. In the same move, two senior editors of China Today were ordered to write self-repentance report.
83 First half of Jan 1999 * The authorities banned the Anthologies of Liberalization published by Economic Daily News Publishing Co. and prohibited discussions and promotion of “Encounter” and “Political China.”
84 Jan 20, 1999 * The First Middle-level Court in Shanghai sentenced engineer Lin Hai to two years in prison on charges of “instigation to overthrow national regime.”
85 Jan 21, 1999 * At the Nation-wide Meeting of Propaganda Ministers, Jiang Zhemin pointed out the center topic for 1999 was to maintain social and political stability, and strictly observe the party’s political and propaganda discipline. In major propaganda ground as is in the broadcasting means, mistakes should not be allowed. Report of party’s media workers must be pragmatic, keeping the overall situation in balance. Unity and stability should be the ultimate goal and no sensational effect should be sought after.


1. Compilation:MAC

2. Parts of the information are incomplete.