China cracks down on ‘New Citizens Movement’

Chinese legal scholar and activist Xu Zhiyong is in prison for “gathering a crowd to disturb public order.” A court in Beijing upheld that sentence today. Several other people with the ‘New Citizens Movement’ went on trial this week and face significant jail time. The group has held small protests and called for public disclosure of Chinese officials’ financial assets. For more about the crackdown on these anti-corruption activists, listen to our interview with Sophie Richardson, China director for Human Rights Watch.

UPDATE: Xu also has a new book out, in Chinese, about how to be a good citizen in China.

The book is broken into three parts. The first details the growth of Mr. Xu’s political awareness as a young lawyer suddenly exposed to the brutality visited on Chinese petitioners. In the second part, he outlines his ambitions for a democratic China, with separation of powers and a military with allegiance to the state rather than a party. The final section contains various writings and documents, including Mr. Xu’s recollections of conversations with police in the wake of his arrest last year.

About Matthew Bell

Correspondent with PRI's The World, a co-production of the BBC World Service, Public Radio International and WGBH in Boston. We're an international news operation with an hour-long show Mon-Fri on US public radio stations. Check it all out here: Follow me @matthewjbell & the show @pritheworld
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3 Responses to China cracks down on ‘New Citizens Movement’

  1. Hi Matthew. I just returned from a trip to Beijing, visiting Tiannamen square on April 26th. Obviously, there was no evidence of the 25th anniversary,etc. I asked my tour guide, who was 26 years old, about the student protests. She mentioned that students had protested and a few were killed. I asked her why they had protested, and she said that the students protested because the government had closed the universities down. They protested to open the universities, and the students won! They got the universities open again! I didn’t challenge her on her comments because I wanted to be absolutely clear in my memory of what had happened. When I went back to my hotel, I goggled–well, I yahooed–Tiannamen Square and Tank Man. Although I did get results, when I clicked on the results, the page was not found. Once I got out of China, I did my due diligence on the issue, and of course re-discovered the whole story. Of course, none of it had to do with universities closing. I am so sad about all of this. @cee33x

  2. PS. I caught the tale end of your piece on PRI The World today about the student protests, but I didn’t catch the entire thing. I *think* you were reviewing a movie???? Could you please provide a link to your review or more info about the movie. You interviewed a professor at Harvard as well. I’m sorry, I cannot find the story on

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