China: Serious health concerns for detained writers

English PEN is seriously concerned by recent reports of deteriorating health and lack of sufficient medical treatment for detained writers Xu Wei, Jin Haike, Yang Zili and Zhang Honghai.

According to PEN’s information, the four prisoners are all suffering from acute medical problems, some of which do not appear to have been properly diagnosed, and for which they may not be receiving appropriate medical attention. Jin Haike, who received abdominal surgery on 20 November 2007, has been returned to hospital for further examination as he is still suffering from acute abdominal pain. Yang Zili has reportedly been in ill health since May 2007, but has apparently to date not yet received any medical attention. Zhang Honghai and Xu Wei are also reported to be in poor health. Furthermore, they have apparently been subject to ill-treatment in prison, which has led to Xu Wei’s decision to stage hunger strikes in protest, exacerbating concerns for his well-being.


According to PEN’s information, Xu Wei, Jin Haike, Yang Zili and Zhang Honghai, reporter for Xiaofei Ribao (Consumer Daily), geologist and writer, writer and computer engineer, and freelance writer respectively, were arrested on 13 March 2001 and charged with ‘subversion’ as a result of their participation in the ‘Xin Qingnian Xuehui’ (New Youth Study Group), an informal gathering of individuals concerned with political and economic inequalities who used the internet to circulate articles.


On 28 September 2001, the Beijing Intermediate Court initiated legal proceedings against the four focusing on two essays circulated on the internet entitled ‘Be a new citizen, reform China’ and ‘What’s to be done’, which allegedly demonstrated the groups’ intention to ‘overthrow the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership and the socialist system and subvert the regime of the people’s democratic dictatorship’. No verdict was announced at the time, and proceedings against the four writers re-commenced on 21 April 2003. Lawyers for the four men argue that the failure to issue a verdict in the case violates China’s Criminal Procedure Law, which stipulates that a court must pronounce judgement within six weeks of accepting a case.


On 28 May 2003, Xu Wei and Jin Haike were sentenced to ten years in prison, and Yang Zili and Zhang Honghai to eight years, on charges of subversion. Their appeal was reportedly heard on 3 November 2003, but no verdict has been announced.

Please send appeals:


  • seeking assurances that all four are treated humanely in detention, and granted access to necessary medical care and family visits; 

  • protesting the lengthy prison sentences handed down to writers Xu Wei, Jin Haike, Yang Zili and Zhang Honghai, solely for the peaceful expression of their opinions, and calling for their immediate and unconditional release, in accordance with the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.


Government Addresses:

His Excellency Hu Jintao
President of the People’s Republic of China
State Council
Beijing 100032
Procurator General Mr. Jia Chunwang
Supreme People’s Procuratorate
Beiheyan Street 147
100726 Beijing

Please note that there are no fax numbers for the Chinese authorities. WiPC recommends that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments.

Her Excellency Mrs. Fu Ying
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
49 – 51 Portland Place
London W1B 1JL

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