Summary and Current Status
Wang Youcai, a Chinese physicist and prodemocracy activist who has served more than 5 years of an 11-year prison sentence, was released from prison on March 4, 2004, and flown to the United States. Mr. Wang reportedly was recently diagnosed with myocarditis. When attempts by the prison to treat him were unsuccessful, the Chinese government reportedly approved his application for parole to seek medical treatment in the United States. Mr. Wang’s wife had been appealing to the Chinese government for the past three years to release him on medical leave because of reliable reports that his health was deteriorating. Mr. Wang was one of seven prisoners in China whose cases had been raised repeatedly by U.S. Ambassador to China Clark Randt, Jr. in talks with the Chinese government.
Mr. Wang was arrested on November 2, 1998, on charges of "inciting the subversion of state power." He was brought to trial on December 17, 1998, and sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment for his peaceful efforts to register the opposition China Democracy Party (CDP). Mr. Wang was one of dozens of Chinese, in more than 20 provinces and regions across China, who have been detained and, in some cases, imprisoned for their efforts to register the CDP.
Mr. Wang is a physicist and prodemocracy activist. In 1989, while a graduate student at Beijing University, he was listed as No. 15 on the Chinese government's "21 Most Wanted Students" list. He had been general-secretary of the Beijing Students Autonomous Federation. Mr. Wang was arrested in the summer of 1989 and was sentenced in January 1991 to four years' imprisonment to be followed by one year's deprivation of political rights on charges of "inciting subversion" and "attempting to overthrow the socialist system.” He was released from prison in late November 1991, before the end of his sentence, reportedly because he "showed repentance."
In 1998, Mr. Wang again became involved in prodemocracy activities and consequently was placed under constant surveillance and subjected to repeated questioning and short-term detentions. He reportedly was detained for questioning by police on February 23, 1998, after he co-signed a petition critical of the appointment of Premier Li Peng as National People's Congress chairman. Mr. Wang was briefly detained twice in April as well, reportedly because he coauthored a petition calling for the release of two dissidents and an end to the system of reeducation through labor, to which they had been sentenced. In May he signed a petition calling for a reevaluation of the country's ideology, which, the petition claimed, has led to corruption.
Mr. Wang also became one of the founders of the nonviolent opposition China Democracy Party. He and 13 others submitted an application to register the China Democracy Party on June 25, 1998, at the provincial Civil Affairs Department in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province. They were told to return to the office four days later. On June 29, 1998, Mr. Wang reportedly was detained by police. He was interrogated for eight hours and then charged with "incitement to overthrow the state." He remained in detention for seven weeks, before being released on parole. He reportedly was told by the police that further action would be taken if his group did not cease its efforts to register the China Democracy Party. When one of the other dissidents was subsequently detained as well, the group announced that it had temporarily "suspended its activities" to register the party. Eight days later, Mr. Wang's home reportedly was searched by police, without producing a search warrant. They confiscated some of his papers. Others who presented applications to register the China Democracy Party in the provinces of Heilongjiang, Jinan, Liaoning, Beijing, and Shanghai were all reportedly questioned by the police, and some were detained briefly. It is our understanding that all efforts to register the China Democracy Party as a legally independent opposition party in China were quashed by the Chinese authorities, in what appears to be direct contravention of Chinese domestic law. (Article 35 of the Chinese Constitution gives Chinese citizens the right to freedom of speech, assembly, and association.)
On November 2, 1998, Mr. Wang was detained again, allegedly for violating his parole. He was officially arrested on November 30 and charged under China's State Security provisions with "conspiring to subvert the government" for writing in the China Democracy Party manifesto that opposition politics was the only way "to eliminate tyranny," organizing a meeting on July 10 of supporters of the China Democracy Party, using electronic mail to send party materials abroad, and accepting $800 from overseas to buy a computer.
Three weeks after his arrest, on December 21, Mr. Wang was brought to trial by the Hangzhou Intermediate Court. Because there was only a short time to prepare his defense and the lawyer he chose was detained several times by police, Mr. Wang was effectively prevented from having legal counsel at his trial and thus had to present his own defense. His trial was closed to outside observers, and only three family members reportedly were allowed to attend. Mr. Wang was sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment. He served more than five years in Zhejiang No. 1 Prison in Hangzhou City, Zhejiang province, where he reportedly was held in a cell with 15 common criminals.
On June 4, 1999, Mr. Wang undertook a one-day hunger strike to pressure the government to reevaluate the official verdict on the June 4, 1989, government crackdown with a view to bringing to justice those responsible for human rights violations.
In the fall and winter of 1999, Mr. Wang reportedly contracted pneumonia for which he was believed to be denied basic medical care. It is our understanding that in December 1999 Mr. Wang's wife, Hu Jiangxia, after making the 120 mile trip to Zhejiang Prison No. 1, was refused her monthly visit with her husband. Prison authorities reportedly refused to accept medicines that she had brought to help treat her husband's pneumonia. Mr. Wang's older brother reportedly was similarly turned away from the prison when he tried to visit Mr. Wang in November 1999. In the first half of 2000, Mr. Wang's family visits reportedly were resumed, he was allowed to work in the library of Zhejiang Prison No. 1, and in April 2000 he reportedly received a medical check up. According to the Chinese government, in 2002 it provided Mr. Wang with the necessary medical care when he contracted pharyngitis and a throat infection and that he recovered from the illness. Despite reliable reports indicating that Mr. Wang’s health had seriously deteriorated, the Chinese government reported in September 2003 that Mr. Wang had no health problems. Repeated requests by his wife during the past three years to grant Mr. Wang medical parole were ignored.