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Please help to free Gao Yu
Prominent Chinese journalist and outspoken advocate for a free press Gao Yu was
criminally detained for allegedly leaking state secrets. Ending speculation over
her whereabouts two weeks after she disappeared, on May 8, 2014 Chinese state
television CCTV aired what appears to be Gao Yu’s confession. It is an obvious
fact to anyone who closely follows the human rights situation in China that the
CCP is up to its old tricks again. Since Xi Jinping took power, methods and
tools that were used during the Cultural Revolution have been dusted off and
reapplied to suppress dissidents. Those who are regarded as a thorn in the side
of the regime are vilified as being involved in prostitution, disturbance of
public order, dissemination of rumors, evasion of tax, leaking of state secrets,
among other crimes. Those who are influential in the public were aired on CCTV
by showing them personally confessing their “crimes”, though these so-called
confessions were attained through threats and torture. The desired effect is not
only to shock the public, but also to warn and silence those in society with
Gao Yu, who recently turned 70, was imprisoned in 1989 and 1993. However, she
never has given up her beliefs and continues to be an outspoken critic of the
government. She has received many international awards for her principled
stands, including the first annual UNESCO/ Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom
Prize in 1997.
The state secret that Gao Yu was accused to have leaked is Document No 9 of the
Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. The Document detailed the
government's vision of maintaining ideological controls, and a number of
ideological trends, positions, and activities are taken as false and dangerous:
1. Promoting Western constitutional democracy in an attempt to undermine the
current leadership and the socialism with Chinese characteristics system of
2. Promoting “universal values” in an attempt to weaken the theoretical
foundations of the Party’s leadership.
3. Promoting civil society in an attempt to dismantle the ruling party’s social
4. Promoting Neoliberalism in an attempt to change China’s Basic Economic
5. Promoting the West’s idea of journalism and challenging China’s principle
that the media and publishing system should be subject to Party discipline.
6. Promoting historical nihilism in an attempt to undermine the history of the
CCP and of New China.
7. Questioning Reform and Opening and the socialist nature of socialism with
The document emphasizes that media management must always be firmly controlled
by someone who maintains an identical ideology with the Party’s Central
Committee, under General Secretary Xi Jinping’s leadership.
According to the Article 5 of the "New State Secrets Implementing Regulations",
which became effective on 1 March 2014, “State organs and units must not
determine as state secrets matters that are to be made public in accordance with
law." Document No 9 aims to maintain ideological controls and the Central
Committee of the Chinese Communist Party requests its “thorough implementation”.
This Document has been sent to local divisional levels, as indicated at the very
beginning. How can such a document be kept secret? How can it be a state secret?
To define it as a state secret is against the new Regulations. Besides, to
define a party document as a state secret is against the principle of separation
of party and state. Moreover, Document No 9 was distributed on 22 April 2014 and
was publically reported afterwards by many local newspapers and websites. Last
August the magazine Mirror Monthly first published the “leaked” Document on its
website. To accuse Gao Yu of leaking state secrets is undoubtedly absurd, but
it’s always easy to find a pretext to condemn someone, regardless of whether it
is based on fact.
Human rights have no boundary. Human rights violations are not internal affairs
of states. The case of Gao Yu demands your high attention. Please urge the
Chinese government to abide by the principles of freedom of press and rule of
law, and to release Gao Yu immediately.
Gao Yu was once arrested after the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. She is an
iconic figure who has a special association with the June 4 incident. On 6 May
2014, ahead of the particularly sensitive 25th anniversary of the June 4th
Tiananmen Square crackdown, a number of activists were rounded up. These
activists, who had attended a low-key gathering on 3 May 2014 to commemorate the
June 4 event, included well-known human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang, lecturer Hu
Shigen, researcher Xu Youyu, writer Liu Di and professor Hao Jian. Gao Yu failed
to participate in the meeting because she was illegally detained since 24 April
2014. The Chinese authorities intend to set warning examples to whoever wants to
hold events related to 4 June.
Please pay close attention to the fates of these dissidents. The democratization
of China is the key to a worldwide democratization. The June 4 incident is a
critical historical milestone on the path to a democratic and free China.
Thank you very much for your attention and support!
Director of Forum for a Democratic China and Asia (FDCA)
May 10, 2014