|Alma mater||Lanzhou University, Peking University|
|Known for||Civil rights advocacy|
Xu Zhiyong (Chinese: 许志永; pinyin: Xǔ Zhìyǒng; born March 2, 1973) is a Chinese civil rights activist and formerly a lecturer at the Beijing University of Post and Telecommunications. He was one of the founders of the NGO Open Constitution Initiative and an active rights lawyer in China who helped those underprivileged. He is the main founder and icon of the New Citizens' Movement in China. In January 2014 he was sentenced to four years in prison for "gathering crowds to disrupt public order".
Career and activism
The Gongmeng era
In 2003, he was elected to the Haidian District People's Congress as an independent. He won the re-election in 2006. However, in the 2011 election, Xu's name was pulled off the candidate list, but he still gathered more than 3,500 votes out of 22,000 voters in his district.
Unlike other human rights activists, Xu firmly and carefully pushed his calls for political change and social justice in existing laws, and his group has been regarded as relatively cautious and conservative. In his recent interview before his arrest, he described his dream
I wish our country could be a free and happy one. Every citizen need not go against their conscience and can find their own place by their virtue and talents; a simple and happy society, where the goodness of humanity is expanded to the maximum, and the evilness of humanity is constrained to the minimum; honesty, trust, kindness, and helping each other are everyday occurrences in life; there is not so much anger and anxiety, a pure smile on everyone's face.— Xu Zhiyong
The 2009 Gong Meng incident
Xu Zhiyong was released on bail on August 23, 2009. The Australian newspaper The Age reported that the release of Xu, Zhuang and another Chinese dissident, Ilham Tohti, was in part due to pressure on Beijing from the administration of American President Barack Obama.
Post-Gong Meng era and the New Citizens Movement
After Gong Meng was shut down, Xu Zhiyong and supporters adopted the name "Citizens" to continue their cause. In May 2012, Xu formally established the "New Citizens' Movement" and "New Citizens' Spirit" as the high-level concept of their activism.
In 2013, Xu Zhiyong was placed under house arrest for more than three months, before being formally arrested on August 22. His trial started on Jan 22, 2014. Xu and his lawyer Zhang Qingfang remained silent throughout the trial (except for his closing statement) to protest the violation of basic legal procedure. Xu's closing statement was cut short by the judge, but the text was circulated on the internet and raised tremendous support. On January 26, 2014, Xu was sentenced to four years in prison for "gathering crowds to disrupt public order".
Prominent writings and speeches
- Xu Zhiyong's closing statement in court (Jan 22, 2014) Chinese English (translated by ChinaChange.org)
- The Last Ten Years, China's rights movement through the work of Gong Meng. Chinese English (translated by ChinaChange.org)
- A trip to Ngaba, (the Tibetan prefecture in Northern Sichuan province where many Tibetans have self-immolated over the last four years or so. A shorter version of the essay was published in the New York Times in December, 2012). Chinese English (translated by ChinaChange.org)
- New Citizens Movement, a "manifesto" published on May 29, 2012. Chinese English(translated by ChinaChange.org)
- China court sentences Xu Zhiyong to four years in jail BBC News 25 January 2014
- "New citizens". The Economist. January 25, 2014. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
- "Independent candidate elected". China Daily. December 17, 2003. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
- Without Explanation, China Releases Three Activists. The New York Times.
- China Behind the Headlines: Xu Zhiyong
- China Digital Times
- China Detains Prominent Legal Activist Archived August 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
- Associated Press: Brother: Chinese activist held for tax evasion
- Wines, Michael (August 23, 2009). "Without Explanation, China Releases 3 Activists". The New York Times. Retrieved August 25, 2009.
- Authority's Official Notice on the Shutdown of OCI (in Chinese)
- John Garnaut (August 25, 2009). "Obama behind release of Chinese activists". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved August 25, 2009.
- Chris Buckley (August 23, 2013). "Formal Arrest of Advocate Is Approved by China". The New York Times.
- "In Beijing, Xu Zhiyong's Closing Statement Channels Freedom, Justice And Love". Huffington Post. January 27, 2014.
- "2013 Global Thinkers". Foreign Policy. December 29, 2013.
- Xu Zhiyong's Blogspot page (in Chinese)
- Xu Zhiyong's Google+ page (verified)
- Xu Zhiyong on Twitter
- xuzhiyong.org: Xu Zhiyong's supporter page
- "Where is Xu Zhiyong?" The New Yorker, July 31, 2009
- Gongmeng Open Constitution Initiative on Twitter
- Free Xu Zhiyong News Blog
- "Chinese Public-Interest Lawyer Charged Amid Crackdown" The New York Times, August 18, 2009
- Demick, Barbara. "Beijing frees legal activist Xu Zhiyong. Los Angeles Times August 24, 2009.