Repression in China: More on the Sentencing of Zhao Dong-min to 3 Years in Prison

by China Study Group

Zhao Dongmin was sentenced to three years for disrupting public order last week, nearly a week before the scheduled sentencing date (the 25th).

Zhao has been in prison for more than a year after being arrested last August for organizing a drive to establish the Shaanxi Union Rights Defence Representative Congress, a body tasked with overseeing and monitoring SOE restructuring, and reporting corruption and abuses of power.

There are two possible explanations for the early sentencing. One possibility is that the court rushed the sentencing in order to limit the involvement of the high-profile, Beijing-based lawyer (Li Jinsong; 李劲松) who took over as Zhao’s defense attorney on October 16. Immediately after taking over, Li filed charges of illegal detention, perjury, and official misconduct against authorities in Shaanxi.

Another possible explanation is that the court was worried about disruptions on the day of the verdict. There was at least one rally for Zhao Dongmin  in October (although in Henan Province). And authorities were so worried about unrest on the day of Zhao’s trial in September that the courthouse was surrounded by more than 100 police vehicles and 600 polic. Once Zhao’s sentenced was announced, the verdict so inflamed interweb passions that staff at Utopia felt the need to appeal to supporters to remain calm, stay within the law, and not try to spring Zhao from prison themselves.

If the verdict stands, it will further drive a wedge between the party and government on one hand, and individuals and groups that hold dear the still-unabandoned rhetoric of communism and workers’ empowerment that pervades official party documents. For instance, this phrase (from the CPC’s 17th Congress held in 2007) was reportedly quoted by Zhao Dongmin and other signatories in an open letter to the trade union:

We must rely wholeheartedly on the working class, improve the democratic management system in enterprises and public institutions with workers’ conferences as its basic form and increase transparency in factory affairs to support workers’ participation in management and to safeguard their legitimate rights and interests.

Hard to square with a year of illegal detention and a three year sentence for advocating such things.

Worker and Maoist activist Zhao Dong-min sentenced to 3 years in jail

China Labour Bulletin, October 22, 2010

A well-know labour activist was sentenced on 20 October to three years in jail for “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order” (聚众扰乱社会秩序罪), according to media reports.

Zhao Dongmin was arrested on 19 August last year after organizing more than 380 workers from about 20 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to form a labour rights group tasked with overseeing and monitoring SOE restructuring, and reporting corruption and abuses of power.

The Shaanxi Union Rights Defence Representative Congress was formally banned by the municipal government of Xi’an on 27 July, after which Zhao wrote an open letter protesting the action to the State Council, the municipal, provincial and central committees of the Chinese Communist Party. He was arrested 18 days later.

Since his arrest, Zhao’s case has been taken up by an increasingly vocal group of supporters, many of whom share his leftist political views. Zhao was the head of the Shaanxi Mao Zedong Thought Study Group, one of several Maoist groups in China that seek the restoration of a more egalitarian, fair and just society.

More than 50 scholars signed a petition this month stating that Zhao was not only innocent but had performed meritorious service (无罪有功) and that his arrest mocked the rule of law and insulted trade union organizers.

Zhao’s three year sentence is on the upper-end of the scale for labour activists. Unlike a decade ago when five or ten year sentences were not uncommon, the authorities nowadays tend to use threats, harassment and short-term detention rather than criminal trials and prison terms to suppress labour groups and activists. It is perhaps Zhao’s Maoist allegiances therefore that led to his relatively heavy sentence on this occasion.

China: 108 veterans of the People’s Liberation Army denounce government for jailing Zhao Dong-min

Riot police in Beijing at work


[Zhao Dong-min is a lawyer and a member of  the Communist Party of China. Before his arrest in August 2009 he worked for many years providing legal services to many workers to resolve issues such as unpaid pensions and loss of other benefits. Zhao also served as the temporary coordinator of the Mao Zedong Thought Study Group in Xian, Shaanxi until his arrest. For more background on his case, see]

Declaration of the Concerned Group of 108 Veterans of the original 68th Unit and the 23rd Unit of the People’s Liberation Army in Da-an City, Jilin Province on matters related to Zhao Dong-min

Any Chinese person who has a conscience and stands for justice knows that what has happened to Zhao Dong-min has gone beyond a single incident. It has become something of political significance in today’s China. It has become a test case for us to tell whether the Chinese Communist Party is a real Marxist-Leninist Party or a fake one, whether the government is a real people’s government or a fake one, whether the Communists are real ones or fake ones, and whether or not those in the government are actually serving the people.

How this case will be handled will be the turning point to determine whether the Chinese Communist Party understands that it has been on the wrong path and returns to the people, or it continues to cheat, manipulate, oppress people, and to continuingly add more suffering to people, following the road to be the enemy of the people, and collaborating with the imperialist powers in their evil deeds. This is a life and death struggle between the two classes, the proletarian class and the bureaucratic class; the two different positions; and the two different futures. Continue reading

China: Class Struggle, the Nobel Prize–Struggle for Socialism or Capitalist Reform?

[This article describing the views and experience of contemporary Maoist activists in China was received recently by a friend of Frontlines, who forwarded it to us.  Since most of the information given has not been available outside China, we post it in the interest of enabling people to understand how the struggles of revolutionaries have continued after the reversal of socialism in China.-ed.]

The Trial of Zhao Dong-min and China’s Political Reform

by Liu Bai

The legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party has been challenged from both the Right and the Left. These challenges have become more open and vocal. The Right has been pushing for political reform that will change China’s Constitution to allow a multi-party Western style democracy. This is the movement behind the 08 Charter. Liu Xiao Bo, who was recently given the Nobel Peace Prize, is one of the leaders of this movement.

The Left has rallied to support Mao Zedong Thought. The growing number of memorials held in September in many parts of the country on the 34th anniversary of Mao’s death demonstrated their strength. In these memorials the masses and their leaders demanded that Yuan Teng-fei be stripped of his Party membership. Yuan has been openly denouncing the Chinese Communist Party, socialism, and viciously attaching Chairman Mao. The Communist Party is trying to find a way out through some kind of political reform. The arrest and recent trial of Zhao Dong-min has led to support from the Left and has further intensified the crisis faced by the Communist Party.

Mourners follow the coffin of Deng Yongxia, wife of detained labor activist Zhao Dongmin. Deng Yongxia died of the auto-immune disorder lupus on Aug. 31, never having been allowed to visit Zhao in the detention center.

Zhao Dong-min is a Communist Party member and has a law degree from a corresponding school (of the Party School) in Shaanxi. Before his arrest in August 2009 he worked for many years providing legal services to many workers to resolve issues such as unpaid pensions and loss of other benefits. He did this as a volunteer without any compensation. Zhao also served as the temporary coordinator of the Mao Zedong Thought Study Group in Xian, Shaanxi until his arrest.

Zhao’s work was to protect workers’ fundamental rights according to China’s Constitution, the Party Charter and the union’s laws and regulations. He investigated cases where enterprises were sold illegally and deprived workers of benefits due to them. Zhao Dong-min believes that the unions in factories should play a more active role in protecting workers’ rights and should make sure that management does not take advantage of the workers illegally. Continue reading