A leading Chinese rights lawyer suddenly freed from detention may escape prosecution if he pays a fine for tax evasion allegedly committed by the group he co-founded, his attorney said yesterday.
Although Xu Zhiyong (許志勇) was allowed to walk out of a Beijing detention center on Sunday after being locked up since late last month, authorities have not abandoned the accusations of tax evasion that led to his detention.
“If Xu pays the fine for tax evasion, it’s likely that he will not face prosecution,” said Zhou Ze (周澤), Xu’s lawyer. “I believe he won’t be in other kinds of trouble.”
Chinese tax authorities levied a 1.42 million yuan (US$208,000) fine last month on the legal organization Gongmeng (公盟), which Xu helped found.
Xu himself said that while authorities probed the case, he would be allowed to leave Beijing, but would have to get permission first.
“I must be willing to help the judicial authorities as they investigate the case,” Xu said, adding that his colleague Zhuang Lu (庄璐) was also released on Sunday.
China has also freed Ilham Tohti, an Internet activist and a member of the ethnic Uighur minority concentrated in the northwestern Xinjiang region, which was rattled by deadly unrest last month, an official said.
“Ilham has returned home. It happened two days ago,” said an official at the Minzu University of China, where Tohti works as a professor of economics.
Earlier reports has said Tohti was detained after the Xinjiang government said he had helped instigate last month’s unrest by spreading rumors on his Web site, but the university official said “others” had posted the offending content on the site, prompting Tohti’s relatives and the school to request bail.
“He’s now assisting police with their investigations,” the official said.
Some rights advocates have seen the recent detentions as a reflection of a tougher attitude from Beijing toward non-mainstream voices in a year full of highly sensitive anniversaries.
June saw the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on the Tiananmen democracy protests, while China will on Oct. 1 mark 60 years since the founding of the communist state.
Gongmeng, whose English name is the Open Constitution Initiative, is an association of lawyers and academics who advocate the rule of law.
Its lawyers have also established a reputation for taking on high-profile compensation cases, including cases linked to the tainted-milk scandal that shook the nation last year.
After the fine, Beijing police raided a Gongmeng research unit, while the organization itself has been closed down by officials who said it was an unregistered “illegal” entity.
Xu’s release came a day after Jon Huntsman, the newly appointed US ambassador to China, announced that US President Barack Obama would visit Beijing in November.
“Xu’s release is a victory for all those who seek to promote the public interest and it’s a huge step of progress for promoting the rule of law in the country,” said Zhou Xiaozheng (周小征), a law professor at Beijing’s Renmin University, the Global Times newspaper reported.
‘NO EQUILIBRIUM’: Taiwan’s increased defense spending is a good step, but it needs to do more to have the ability to deter aggression from China, a senior US official said The US plans to sell as many as seven major weapons systems — including mines, cruise missiles and drones — to Taiwan, four people familiar with the discussions said. Pursuing seven sales at once is a rare departure from years of precedent in which US military sales to Taiwan were spaced out and carefully calibrated to minimize tensions with Beijing. However, US President Donald Trump’s administration has this year become more aggressive with China, and the sales would land as relations between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest point in decades over accusations of spying, lingering trade tensions, disputes about the
CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: Several of the PLA fighter jets that crossed the median line of the Strait came within 68km of Hsinchu, drawing warnings from Taiwan, the ministry said At least 18 Chinese military aircraft yesterday flew into the nation’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on the second day of a US delegation’s visit, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that the military responded by deploying an air defense missile system to monitor their activities. A delegation led by US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Keith Krach on Thursday started a three-day visit to Taiwan. The ministry from Thursday started publicizing the actions of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in Taiwan’s ADIZ on its Web site and Twitter. According to ministry reports, 18 PLA aircraft
ON THEIR OWN: The KMT has decided not to participate as a party at this year’s forum, and if any members do go, they would not be representing the party, Alicia Wang said The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday announced that it would not send a delegation “as a political party” to this year’s Straits Forum, after a Chinese TV program described the planned visit to the annual meeting as “suing for peace.” The 12th forum is scheduled to open in Xiamen, China, on Saturday. On Tuesday last week, the KMT announced that former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party’s delegation to the forum, with KMT Secretary-General Lee Chien-lung (李乾龍) as deputy head. However, on Thursday last week, China Central Television’s (CCTV) Yangshipin (央視頻) program, hosted by Li Hong (李紅), included a headline
WORKING OVERTIME? NTU professor Lee Duu-jong denied that he had held a part-time position at a Chinese university or joined China’s Thousand Talents Program A candidate for the post of National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST) president yesterday dropped out of the race following a report questioning his links to Chinese academia and government programs. Lee Duu-jong (李篤中), a professor at National Taiwan University’s (NTU) chemical engineering department, was a member of China’s Changjiang Scholars’ Program in 2006 and was on the list of its Thousand Talents Program in 2017, a report by Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine said yesterday. The article said that Lee is suspected of having held a part-time job at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China and was the recipient