New Citizens Movement leader Xu Zhiyong has inspired thousands of Chinese activists whose goal is to establish the rule of law and respect for the Chinese Constitution. The Constitution, on paper at least, guarantees freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly, association, and demonstration.
Last spring, in a secret document, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) determined that these activists embodied an ideological threat, and so the CCP immediately launched a crackdown to deter newcomers from joining them.
Chinese authorities arrested legal scholar Xu Zhiyong on charges of “gathering crowds to disrupt public order,” and sentenced him to four years in prison.
For many years, Dr Xu has called on Chinese authorities not to deprive Chinese citizens of equal access to education, to publicize the assets of government officials and their families, and to put an end to China’s intensified corruption.
On Jan. 26, the sentencing of Xu in Beijing was immediately reported in international media. However, tens of millions of Beijing residents do not even know who Xu is, or why he was sentenced.
In the eyes of many foreign observers, this shows beyond a doubt the Chinese authorities’ success in blocking internal information from Chinese citizens. At the same time, it shows the complete failure of the Chinese authorities, who cannot face, refute, respond to, or meet the callings made by the founder of this citizen movement. They can only resort to blocking information using tyrannical and brutal means instead.
The ideas of Xu, however, are already widespread in Chinese society. They’re not new ideas, but ideas that people are desperate to believe in again.
Under this trend of public opinion, political observers think that by putting Xu in jail Chinese authorities may be able to stop the water from boiling temporarily, but they will be adding fuel to the fire at the same time.