List of Chinese dissidents

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This list consists of these activists who are known as Chinese dissidents. The label is primarily applied to intellectuals who "push the boundaries" of society or criticize the policies of the government. Examples of the former include Zhou Weihui and Jia Pingwa, whose sexually explicit writings reflect dissent from traditional Chinese culture rather than the laws of the state.

Detained and jailed people[edit]

Many Chinese political activists have been detained or jailed or exiled for their pro-democracy or rights defending activities.

Among them are:

Name Occupation Detained Allegations Sentence Notes
Liao Yiwu writer, musician 1990 poem "Massacre" about Tiananmen Square 4 years, permanent blacklist from travel Under a 2011 'travel ban' for 'national security' reasons.
Bao Tong government official 1989 revealing state secrets and counter-revolutionary propagandizing 7 years Sentenced 1992. Prison: 1989–1996. As of 2009, under surveillance.
Tang Baiqiao activist 1989 spreading counterrevolutionary propaganda; inciting counterrevolutionary activities; defection to the enemy; treason. 3 years Released under international pressure 1991. Fled to Hong Kong, then U.S. 1992.
Zhao Lianhai food safety worker, activist 2009 inciting social disorder 2.5 years Sentenced 2010.[1][2]
Bao Zunxin historian 1989 counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement 5 years Sentenced 1991. Released 1992, died 2007.
Chen Pokong author, commentator, democracy activist 1989, 1993 "carrying out counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement", illegally crossing state borders 3 years, 2 years Sentenced 1989 and 1993.[3]
Cai Lujun businessman, writer 2003 incitement to subversion 3 years Released 2006, sought political asylum in Taiwan in 2007.
Gao Zhisheng lawyer ~2006 disturbing public order 5 yrs suspended Illegally detained and tortured in 2007; forcibly removed from family home in Shaanxi in 2009.[4]

'Disappeared' by government in 2009, reappeared in 2010. The Chinese foreign minister claimed a prison sentence was for 'subversion'.[5][6]

Guo Quan professor 2008 subversion of state power 10 years Sentenced 2009. Awaiting appeal.
He Depu writer 2002 "incited subversion" on the Internet[7] 8 years Sentenced 2003. Expected release 2010.
Hu Jia activist 2007 inciting subversion of state power 3.5 years Arrested, imprisoned, and sentenced in 2008. Expected release 2011.
Huang Qi webmaster, anti-human trafficking activist 2000 inciting subversion 5 years Sentenced 2003. Accused of violating articles 103, 105, 55 and 56. Released 2005.
2008 illegal possession of state secrets 3 years Sentenced 2009. Arrested after essay regarding the Sichuan earthquake.
Ilham Tohti economist 2014 guilty of separatism life Detained in January 2014 after criticizing Beijing's response to 2013 Tiananmen Square attack.
Jiang Lijun writer 2002 inciting subversion of the state power 4 years Sentenced 2003. Arrested for "Internet writing and publishing dissident articles". Also sentenced to 'deprivation of political rights' for 1 year.
Jiang Yanyong doctor 2004 Detained and released in 2004. Broke story on SARS epidemic. Wrote critical letter regarding Tiananmen.
Li Hai student 1994 9 years Sentenced in 1995. Released 2004.
Li Zhi civil servant 2003 inciting subversion 8 years Sentenced 2003. Yahoo! helped the government against him. Expected release in 2011.
Liu Di student 2002 Released in 2003
Liu Xiaobo professor of literature 2008 inciting subversion of state power 11 years Sentenced 2009. Expected release 2020. Recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
Jiang Rong writer 1989 Released 1991.
Shi Tao journalist, writer, poet 2004 illegally supplying state secrets to overseas organizations 10 years Sentenced 2005. Yahoo! helped the government against him. Released 2013.[8][9]
Tan Zuoren writer 2008 3 years Sentenced 2009.
2010 subversion of state power 5 years Sentenced 2010.
Wang Dan professor of history 1989 Tiananmen activities 4 years Sentenced 1991. Released on parole in 1993.
1995 11 years Sentenced 1996. Released on medical parole to U.S. in 1998; currently in Taiwan.
Wang Xiaoning engineer 2002 incitement to subvert state power 10 years Sentenced 2003. Yahoo! helped the government against him. Expected release 2012[10]
Wang Bingzhang doctor 2002 spying, terrorism life Sentenced 2003.
Wang Youcai 1989 [citation needed]
~1998 subversion 11 years Released and exiled in 2004; currently in the United States.
Wei Jingsheng electrician 1979 passing military secrets 15 years Released and jailed again in 1993; released for "medical reasons" and deported to the US in 1997.
Xu Zhiyong lawyer, lecturer 2014 gathering crowds to disrupt public order 4 years For his role of founding New Citizens' Movement and in protests.
Yuan Hongbing jurist, writer 1994 Detained and forced to leave China in 1994; travelled to and sought political asylum in Australia in 2004.
Zhao Changqing teacher of history 1989 Tiananmen activities Released after about 1/2 year.
1998 workers rights activity 3 years
2002 attempted subversion of state power 5 years Sentenced 2003.[11]
Zeng Jinyan blogger 2006 suspected of harming state security Under house arrest with husband Hu Jia from August 2006 - March 2007; currently under house arrest again, since May 2007.[12]
Cheng Jianping online activist 2010 disturbing social order 1 year Reeducation through labor for a sarcastic post on Twitter.[13]
Ai Weiwei artist and activist 2011 alleged economic crimes Fine of 2.4 million for tax evasion Detained for 80 days from April 3.[14] to 22 June 2011
Jiang Yefei political cartoonist 2015 incitement to subversion Escaped from China to Thailand in 2004, he was granted political asylum by the Canadian Government, but was arrested by Thailand Immigration authorities on illegal entry. In November 2015 he was deported from Thailand at the request of the Chinese authorities and now awaiting trial in custody.[15]

Other detained dissidents: Chen Guangcheng, Gao Yu (journalist), Zhou Fengsuo (zh:周锋锁)

Chinese Government blacklist[edit]

The Chinese government has many blacklists. One of them was reported in the South China Morning Post on January 8, 1995 and forms the basis of this list:[16]

To be arrested on entry to China[edit]

  • Yan Jiaqi (born 1942). Former aide to ousted party general secretary Zhao Ziyang. Escaped from China after June 1989. In New York City (as of 1995), now in Florida.[16]
  • Chen Yizi (born 1940). Former director of the Chinese Research Institute for Reform of the Economic Structure in Beijing. Escaped after June 1989. In Princeton, New Jersey (as of 1995), now retired in Los Angeles.[16]
  • Wan Runnan (born 1946). Former chief executive officer of the Stone Computer Corp in Beijing. Escaped after June 1989. In France (as of 1995), now in Northern California.[16]
  • Su Xiaokang (born 1949). Writer, author of controversial TV series River Elegy. Escaped after June 1989. In Princeton, New Jersey (as of 1995).[16]
  • Chai Ling (born 1966). Former student leader who escaped to the US after June 1989. She studied for an MBA at Harvard University, worked at Bain and started a software company. On June 4, 2009 she announced a one-million-dollar humanitarian effort to help the victims of the Tiananmen massacre.
  • Liang Qingtun (born 1969). Former student leader who escaped after June 1989. In San Francisco (as of 1995) Believed to have changed his name to Jay Liang. Currently under investigation by FINRA for improper security transactions. Believed to have fled from the United States. See .[16]
  • Feng Congde (born 1967). Former student leader who escaped after June 1989. In France (as of 1995), now in Bay area.[16]
  • Wang Chaohua (born 1952). Former student leader who escaped after June 1989. Studying in Los Angeles (as of 1995), now in Taiwan.[16]
  • Zhang Zhiqing (born 1964). Former student leader, still on Beijing's most wanted list. Whereabouts unknown since June 1989 (as of 1995).[16]
  • Zhang Boli (born 1959). Former student leader who escaped after June 1989. He is currently (2008) a pastor in the Washington DC area and leads a church called "Harvest Chinese Christian Church" in Fairfax, Virginia.
  • Li Lu (born 1966). Former student leader who escaped after June 1989. Studying at Columbia University and became an investment banker and venture capitalist. He re-entered Shenzhen as part of Warren Buffett's entourage during a visit to China in 2010.
  • Yue Wu (born 1946). Former factory director in Shanxi, China. Involved with organising workers during the 1989 movement. In France (as of 1995).[16]
  • Zhang Gang (born 1949). Former deputy director of public relations at the Chinese Research Institute for Reform of the Economic Structure. Escaped after June 1989. In New York (as of 1995), now lives in Macao.[16]
  • Wang Runsheng (born 1955). Former researcher with the Institute of Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Escaped after June 1989. In France (as of 1995).[16]
  • Chen Xuanliang (born 1947). Former teacher of philosophy at the Chinese College of Politics. Escaped after June 1989. In France (as of 1995).[16]
  • Zheng Yi (born 1949). Writer. In hiding for three years after June 1989. Escaped in 1992. In Princeton, New Jersey (as of 1995).[16]
  • Lu Jinghua (born 1962). Former merchant who became involved in the Beijing Workers' Autonomous Federation in 1989. In New York (as of 1995). Attempted to return to Beijing in June 1993 but was refused entry and sent back to US (as of 1995).[16]

To be refused re-entry to China[edit]

  • Hu Ping (born 1947). Activist in the Beijing Democracy Wall Movement in 1979, former president of the Chinese Alliance for Democracy. Went to the USA in 1986. Writer in New York (as of 1995).[16]
  • Xu Bangtai (born 1949). Former Shanghai student. Went to the USA in 1984 to study journalism. Chair of the Alliance for a Democratic China. In San Francisco (as of 1995).[16]
  • Han Lianchao (born 1951). Former officer of the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Was a congressional assistant in Washington as of 1995. A lawyer now.[16]
  • Cao Changqing (born 1953). Former deputy editor-in-chief of Shenzhen Youth News. Lost his job in 1987 after publishing an article calling on Deng Xiaoping to retire. Now employed as a writer in New York City (as of 1995).[16]
  • Liu Yongchuan also named as Alex Liu (born 1959). Went to the USA in 1986 to study at Stanford. Founding president of the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars in USA.[16]
  • Liu Binyan (1925–2005). Author and journalist for the People's Daily. Later, published monthly newsletter China Forum, from the USA.
  • Han Dongfang (born 1963). Former leader of the Beijing Workers' Autonomous Federation. Imprisoned for two years following the 1989 crackdown. Went to the US for medical treatment in 1992. Returned to China in August 1993 but was deported to Hong Kong. Founded China Labour Bulletin in 1994.[16] Now residing in Hong Kong.
  • Tang Baiqiao (born 1967). Former leader of the Hunan Students' Autonomous Federation. Imprisoned for two years following the 1989 crackdown. He fled to Hong Kong in 1992, and then the U.S. Now residing in New York City where he has been active in the overseas China democracy movement. He has tried to return to China several times, but the government will not grant him a visa.
  • Xiong Yan (born 1964). Former student leader. Arrested in Beijing and served two years in jail before leaving China in 1992. Joined the US Army. Chair of the Chinese Freedom and Democracy Party. Still active in overseas China democracy movement (as of 2005).[16] He successfully re-entered Hong Kong in 2009.
  • Wu'er Kaixi (born 1968). Former student leader who escaped to France after June 1989. He then studied at Harvard University and now lives in Taiwan (as of 2009). He has been refused entry visas into China in June 2009 (Macau) and June 2010 (Tokyo).
  • Zhao Pinlu (born 1956). Involved in Beijing Workers' Autonomous Federation in 1989. Escaped and was based in New York in 1995. Chair of the International Chinese Workers Union.[16]
  • Cheng Kai (born 1946). Former editor-in-chief of Hainan Daily. Left China in 1989. In 1995 was doing business in Hong Kong and had made several trips to China over the previous two years. Blacklisted on August 21, 1993.[16]
  • Feng Zhenghu (born 1954). Economist and scholar based in Shanghai. Refused entry to China eight times in 2009 and remains at Narita International Airport in Japan.[17] On 12 February 2010, he successfully re-entered China.[18]

To be dealt with "according to circumstances of the situation"[edit]

  • Fang Lizhi (1936–2012). Former vice-president of University of Science and Technology of China. Arrived in the US after a year-long refuge in the US Embassy in Beijing. He was later a professor of physics at the University of Arizona.[16][19]
  • Li Shuxian (born 1935). Wife of Fang Lizhi and former professor of physics at Peking University (as of 1995).[16]
  • Yu Dahai (born 1961). Went to the USA in 1982 to study physics at Princeton. Was acting editor-in-chief of the journal Beijing Spring in New Jersey (as of 1995). Now a professor.[16]
  • Wu Fan (born 1938). Former teacher in Anhui University. Was working in San Francisco (as of 1995). Chairman of the Board of the Alliance for a Democratic China. Now a writer in Los Angeles.[16]
  • Ni Yuxian (born 1945). Democracy Wall activist. Secretary general of the Chinese Freedom and Democracy Party. Attempted to return to China in 1992 but was refused entry. In New York (as of 1995).[16]
  • Yao Yueqian (born 1938). Lives in Tokyo (as of 1995).[16]
  • Tang Guangzhong (born 1949). Teacher in US (as of 1995).[16]
  • Guo Luoji (born 1932), professor of Peking University, punished for criticising the conviction of Wei Jingsheng in 1979, protested closing of the Democracy Wall, afterwards sent to Nanjing University with no permission to teach.[20] Became a scholar at Columbia University (as of 1995).[16]
  • Harry Wu (1937-2016). Went to US in 1985 as a visiting scholar at Stanford University. Became executive director of the Laogai Foundation in California and a US citizen. In November 2008, Wu opened the Laogai Museum in Washington, DC, calling it the first United States museum to directly address human rights in China.[21]
  • Shen Tong (born 1968). Former student leader who went to US after June 1989. Returned to China in August 1992, arrested in Beijing and deported to the US. Studied at Boston University and founded software company VFinity in New York. Chair of the China Democracy Fund.
  • Wang Ruowang (1918–2001). Writer and human rights activist from Shanghai. Imprisoned for a year after June 1989. Moved to the US in 1992. Was Governor-general of the Co-ordinating Committee of the Chinese Democratic Movement.
  • Shuangyu Zhong (born 1982). Student of SCUT, organizer of Cantonese Independence Movement, organized Cantonese pretests in 2010. In Australia.
  • Jimmy Chen (Born 1998). Canadian activist, who allegedly ran the China Spring Network, provided unfettered internet access through the Great Firewall of China and assisted in coordinating Tor hidden services. Was granted permission to enter China in 2012, after it was discovered he had no major political affiliation or background.[16][22]
  • Feng Suying (also known as Yang Zi) (born 1938). Engineer and human rights activist. In New York City (as of 1995).[16]
  • Liu Qing (born 1948). Imprisoned for almost 11 years after the Democracy Wall Movement of 1979. Arrived in the US in July 1992. Chair of New York-based Human Rights in China (as of 1995).[16]
  • Xue Wei (born 1943). Went to the US in 1982. Was a business manager for Beijing Spring (as of 1995).[16]
  • Xue Fei (born 1964). Blamed for assisting the organization of the Spring Revolution.
  • Chen Jun (born 1958). Former democracy activist based in Beijing. Deported in April 1989.[16]
  • Yang Jianli (born 1963). Went to the US as a student in 1986. At Harvard University; Vice-chair of the Alliance for a Democratic China (as of 1995) and/or founder of the Foundation for China in the 21st Century.[16]
  • Zhao Haiqing (born 1956). Went to the US in 1981 to study at the University of Pennsylvania. Former president of IFCSS. Working in Washington; Chair of the National Council of Chinese Affairs (as of 1995). now a business man in DC.[16]
  • Zhu Jiaming (born 1950). Economist. Former deputy director of the International Policy Institute of the Zhongxing Investment Company. Became a visiting scholar at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (as of 1995). Now a researcher at the Department of East Asian Studies, University of Vienna, Austria.[16]
  • Xu Jiatun (born 1916). Former director of the Hong Kong bureau of Xinhua, China's state run news agency. Defected to the US after the 1989 crackdown. In Los Angeles (as of 1995).[16]
  • Wang Bingzhang (born 1947). Studied medicine in Canada from 1981, where he established China Spring, the first overseas pro-democracy Chinese magazine. Founded the Chinese Alliance for Democracy in 1984. In 2002, he was abducted by Chinese secret agents in Vietnam and is currently in prison in Guangdong, China (as of 2009). Before the events leading up to his illegal capture, he was refused entry into the People's Republic of China on multiple occasions.


Critical view[edit]

In some cases, Chinese artists - and especially independent filmmakers - might seek the label of "dissident" for themselves to gain reflexive approval, sympathy, and attention for their work from the West. This phenomenon has led to what Sinologist Geremie Barmé calls the "symbiotic relationship between dissidents and the foreign media".[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Father of poisoned baby rallies parents in tainted-milk fight -, Bill Schiller, Asia Bureau, Toronto Star, via on 2010 11 10
  2. ^ China food safety activist given 212 years Archived November 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press – Wed Nov 10, 2:41 am ET, via on 2010 11 10
  3. ^ Amnesty International, Chen Pokong (30) and other prisoners at Guangzhou No. 1 Reeducation-Through-Labour CenterAmnesty International information note on Chen Pokong, 7 December 1994, accessed June 31, 2013
  4. ^ Human Rights in China, "Torture Account by Missing Rights Defense Lawyer Gao Zhisheng," February 8, 2009
  5. ^ Jacobs, Andrew (March 28, 2010). "Chinese Activist Surfaces After a Year in Custody". The New York Times. Retrieved May 8, 2010. 
  6. ^ Bradsher, Keith (March 16, 2010). "China Fails to Dispel Mystery About Missing Dissident". The New York Times. Retrieved May 8, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-04-03. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  8. ^ "About Shi Tao," Incorporating Responsibility 2008
  9. ^ "PEN International is delighted to announce the release of Chinese poet, journalist and PEN member Shi Tao, 15 months before the end of his 10-year sentence PEN International". Retrieved 2017-05-14. 
  10. ^ Coonan, Clifford (April 20, 2007). "Chinese couple sue Yahoo! in US over torture case". The Independent. London. Retrieved May 8, 2010. 
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-07-14. Retrieved 2010-03-13. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Chinese woman, Cheng Jianping, sentenced to a year in labor camp over Twitter post Aliyah Shahid, 2010 11 18, NY Daily News, via on 2010 11 18
  14. ^ "Ai Weiwei's whereabouts still unknown". 10-04-2011. RTHK English News. Retrieved April 14, 2011.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  15. ^ "China accused of 'tricking' dissidents into deportation". Aljazeera. 2015-12-29. Retrieved Feb 17, 2015. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao Various news items from South China Morning Post, Reuters and BBC, from 1995 and earlier, quoted in [1][permanent dead link]
  17. ^ Associated Press (November 13, 2009). Chinese human rights activist stuck at Tokyo airport. The Guardian.
  18. ^ The Washington Post  Missing or empty |title= (help)[dead link]
  19. ^ "Leading Tiananmen-era Chinese dissident dies in U.S.". Reuters. April 7, 2012. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-27. Retrieved 2008-08-20.  Asia Quarterly
  21. ^ "Press Release: Laogai Museum Now Open to the Public". Laogai Research Foundation. 13 November 2008. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved 12 December 2008. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Ogden, Suzanne (2002). Inklings of Democracy in China. Harvard University Asia Center. p. 345. 

External links[edit]