Liu Xiaobo Detained on Suspicion of “Inciting Subversion of State Power”

Please click here to join our discussion about the content of the 08 Charter

liu-xiaobo.jpgLess than 10 days ago, I wrote this post about Beijing police forcibly stopped prominent dissident writer Liu Xiaobo 刘晓波 from attending a Transition Institute seminar.  A few days later when I wrote about Jiang Yiping’s removal from the Southern Metropolis Daily, I foreshadowed a major crackdown targeting prominent dissidents.  The prediction is coming true even faster than I expect.  Liu Xiaobo was arrested late last night on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”.  Here are the links to the Human Rights in China announcement about Liu’s arrest: in Chinese and in English.  Another human rights activist Zhang Zuhua (张祖桦) was also detained for interrogation and was released 12 hours later.

It is understood that Liu’s arrest is related to an open letter issued by a group of 303 Chinese writers, intellectuals, lawyers, journalists, retired Party officials, workers, peasants, and businessmen in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  The letter, known as 08 Charter 零八宪章, makes 19 recommendations in its call for democracy in China.  These recommendations include:

1.   A new constitution

2.   Separation of powers

3.   Democratic direct election of members of legislative body

4.   An Independent Judiciary

5.   Ending Chinese Communist Party control of the military, the police and other public servants

6.   Guarantee of human rights protection against illegal arrest, detention, arraignment, interrogation, or punishment

7.   Democratic elections based on “one person, one vote” and direct election of administrative heads of governments at all levels

8.    Rural-urban equality through the abolition of the two-tier household registration system

9.     Freedom to form groups

10.   Freedom to assemble

11.   Freedom of expression

12.   Freedom of religion

13.   Replacing of political curriculums in schools with civic education

14.   Protection of private property

15.   Financial and tax reform to promote greater transparency and accountability in public finance

16.   Social security that ensures basic access to education, health care, retirement security, and employment

17.   Protection of the environment and promote sustainable development

18.   A federated republic as a way to resolve conflict over the issues of Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and other national minorities

19.   The restoration of reputations of those who had suffered political stigma in past political campaigns, or have been labeled as criminals because of their thought, speech, or faith

Perry Link has provided a full English translation of 08 Charter, which will be published in the January 09 edition of the New York Review of Books.

See China Digital Times for a summary of news reports in major English language media.

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15 Responses to Liu Xiaobo Detained on Suspicion of “Inciting Subversion of State Power”

  1. barbara says:

    Hi,

    Is Liu Xiaobo meanwhile released?

    Barbara (belgian journalist)

  2. C.A. Yeung says:

    Barbara,

    As far as I know, Liu Xiaobo is still in detention.

    A reporter from Radio Free Asia earlier phoned the local police station where Liu was believed to have been detained. But the officer who answered the phone refused to confirm whether Liu was in custody.

    We are also not sure whether Liu was detained “on suspicion of inciting subversion of state power”. This is the charge stated on the court document presented to Zhang Zuhua. If it is the same charge, Liu can be in custody for up to 30 days before a decision of formally charging him needs to be made.

    In any case, I’ll update when I find out more.

  3. justrecently says:

    And I guess they can also apply administrative detention beyond 30 days?

  4. Patrick Ross says:

    Of course, what they mean by “subversion of state power” is actually “subversion of the Communist Party’s power”.

  5. Ned Kelly says:

    Of course I’m against detaining Liu on these grounds, which in fact violate China’s Constitution. But I’m not so sure whether I agree with all of the letter’s 19 points:

    1. A new constitution

    At this time, attempts to draft and adopt a new constitution could backfire. And there’s not much wrong with China’s present constitution; the problem is the lack of a rule of law to enforce its provisions.

    2. Separation of powers

    Yep, definitely a good idea.

    3. Democratic direct election of members of legislative body

    A good idea in theory, but subject to all kinds of corruption given China’s current social and legal conditions.

    4. An Independent Judiciary

    This should be at the top of the list, and it’s feasible at this time, and it would strengthen rather than threaten social stability.

    5. Ending Chinese Communist Party control of the military, the police and other public servants

    But a likely result would be control of the state by the military, a cure worse than the disease.

    6. Guarantee of human rights protection against illegal arrest, detention, arraignment, interrogation, or punishment

    That’s really a subsection of “independent judiciary”.

    7. Democratic elections based on “one person, one vote” and direct election of administrative heads of governments at all levels

    Not such a good idea; see section 3.

    8. Rural-urban equality through the abolition of the two-tier household registration system

    Threatens do expropriate one of the few flimsy bases of economic security the rural population have

    9. Freedom to form groups

    Top priority, and it requires an independent judiciary to secure it

    10. Freedom to assemble

    Ditto

    11. Freedom of expression

    Ditto

    12. Freedom of religion

    Ditto

    13. Replacing of political curriculums in schools with civic education

    Nice idea in theory, but the problem is that the only kind of “civics” the Chinese people have known for several generations is subordination to the CCP. Hypothetically they could introduce Western kinds of civic education, but that would be fuel for xenophobia and would backfire at this time.

    14. Protection of private property

    Subsection of independent judiciary

    15. Financial and tax reform to promote greater transparency and accountability in public finance

    Impossible without moral reform and repudiation of cynical Leninism; cf religious freedom

    16. Social security that ensures basic access to education, health care, retirement security, and employment

    Fine, but contingent on an independent judiciary

    17. Protection of the environment and promote sustainable development

    Ditto

    18. A federated republic as a way to resolve conflict over the issues of Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and other national minorities

    Good idea

    19. The restoration of reputations of those who had suffered political stigma in past political campaigns, or have been labeled as criminals because of their thought, speech, or faith

    Does the state really have the power to achieve this, even if the state were willing?

  6. C.A. Yeung says:

    Ned Kelly asked:

    “19. The restoration of reputations of those who had suffered political stigma in past political campaigns, or have been labeled as criminals because of their thought, speech, or faith

    Does the state really have the power to achieve this, even if the state were willing?”

    I think this is written with a specific incident in mind: the June Fourth massacre and the subsequent crackdown on student activists. The so-called “restoration of reputation” is synonomous with the concept of 平反 or “redressing a mishandled case”. The process involves the Government or the CCP admitting that a mistake had been made, discharging a victim from custodian or other forms of punishment, and restoring his civil and political rights.

    To me, this article should be a subsection of “separation of power” and “independent judiciary”.

  7. C.A. Yeung says:

    P.S. I’m sticking this post up to the top so that other people can join in our discussion about the content of the 08 Charter.

  8. Ned Kelly says:

    Catherine,

    Ah, now I get it. Now isn’t it revealing, how my very Western mind just assumes that a citizen’s reputation is never subject to the government’s control? In liberal democracies, personal reputations are none of the government’s bloody business. And in liberal democracies, even convicted criminals retain their civil and political rights.

  9. justrecently says:

    I think that such demands aren’t made with the expectation to get everything – but to get everything onto the negotiation table. A lot has been said about the timing of the Charter and its details, its potential counter-productiveness, etc. In terms of development, China looks pretty diverse. Many people in the cities may want a share in public matters, while many peasants might be happy if they could sue their local cadres in independent courts. The charter (my guess) makes demands on the behalf of many people with many different priorities.

  10. C.A. Yeung says:

    JR, as your comment came through, I was just explaining to Ned the possibility that the Charter is drafted after extended consultations with the initial 303 members of the signatory. The idea of raising 19 points may represent an effort to encompass the concerns of a diverse group of people. In other words, the demands are not necessarily arranged in any order of implementation, and that repetition is unavoidable.

    Having said that, I still think it is important for the document to be discussed and debated openly. And I believe this is exactly the intention of those who issued the letter.

  11. justrecently says:

    Here is a telephone interview with Zhang Zuhua on December 9, after some twelve hours of interrogation. He was told that investigations concerning his case continue, but he is apparently at home at the moment.

  12. C.A. Yeung says:

    The Chinese Law Professor Blog has published an excellent post on “Legal analysis of Liu Xiaobo’s detention”. It seems the Chinese PSB has almost broken every rule in the book with Liu’s detention.

  13. Pingback: Charter 08 Signatories Called for the Release of Liu Xiaobo « Under the Jacaranda Tree

  14. 祁怀荣 says:

    专制不除,这个国家没有未来!

  15. Pingback: Charter 08 Signatories Called for the Release of Liu Xiaobo | Bestel uit china

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