Yang, a Tiananmen Square activist in 1989, came to the United States, earned two Ph.D.s (Ph.D., Political Economy, Harvard University and Ph.D. Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley), and then founded the Foundation for China in the 21st Century. Given his political activism, he was blacklisted by the government of the People's Republic of China, who also refused to renew his passport.
Yang returned to China in April 2002 on a friend's passport to view labor unrest in northeast China. He was detained when trying to board a domestic flight, and held incommunicado by the Chinese in violation of their own and international law. His wife and children, as well as his extended family, were denied access and were concerned for his health and safety while he was in prison. The advocacy group Freedom Now took up his case.
On May 28, 2003, United Nations working group on arbitrary detention ruled that Yang Jianli has been held by the Chinese government in violation of international law. Same year June 25, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.Res.199 by 412-0 and the U.S. Senate introduced S.Res.184.
On August 4, 2003, the United States called on China to free Yang. "We've raised the case repeatedly with senior Chinese officials, and we urge that Dr Yang be released and allowed to return to his family here in the United States," US State Department deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said.
Petitioning by lawmakers and academics
On December 8, 2003, a letter from Harvard University Law School with 29 faculty signatures were sent to Wen Jiabao via Chinese Embassy via FedEx. Two days later, Another letter from Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government and Medical School with 78 faculty signatures were sent to Wen Jiabao via Chinese Embassy via FedEx.
On April 26, 2004, Members of Congress held Press Conference to commemorate the second anniversary of Yang's detention. 67 legislators issued the warning in a letter to Hu as they marked the second year in detention of Yang Jianli. The US embassy in Beijing meanwhile has spoken directly with the Chinese government about Yang's case, Republican Party lawmaker Christopher Cox said, citing Vice President Dick Cheney.
Same year on October 6, 21 U.S. Senators and 85 U.S. House of Representatives wrote a petition to Hu Jintao to grant Yang parole. On June 15, 2005, a bipartisan group of 40 U.S. Senators (including Jon Kyl, Barbara Mikulski, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Ted Kennedy, and Bob Dole) sent a letter to Chinese President Hu Jintao urging Yang's release.
On April 10, 2006, 119 US lawmakers urge Bush to raise Yang Jianli's case. Same year September 3, Yang Jianli was released on condition that he must leave from China immediately. But he insisted that he return to his hometown to sweep his father's tomb first. As a result, he was sent back to jail from the airport.
Return to the USA
On April 27, 2007, Yang was released from Chinese prison, but was not allowed to leave China. Later, on August 19, he was finally allowed to return to the United States.
Reminded of his experience with the June 4, Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 for freedom of speech and democracy, Yang's recent article in the Washington Post shortly after his return to United States reflects his vivid observation of the 2007 Burmese anti-government protests, spiritually coined as Saffron Revolution, including China's 'parasitic relationship with Burma' and the genuine will of freedom loving intellectuals around the world condemning the current brutal oppressions in Burma.
In March 2016, together with Fang Zheng and Zhou Fengsuo, Yang published an op-ed in the Washington Post protesting Donald Trump's characterization of the Tiananmen Square Massacre as the act of a "strong, powerful government".
He has been a guest speaker at the Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy on several occasions, and is founder of the NGO, Initiatives for China, a US-based organisation dedicated to working for a peaceful transition to democracy in China. He also established the Foundation for China in the 21st Century.
During 2016, he has organised an Interfaith Conference of China’s ethnic and religious minorities in Dharamsala, India, which is home to the Dalai Lama's residence and the headquarters of Central Tibetan Administration (the Tibetan government in exile). The conference has brought together representatives of the Uyghurs, Mongolians, Christians, Falun Gong; and the people of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.
In June 2016, Yang organised an event in Washington D.C. to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in China. Its technical systems were hacked, so that some participants in other countries could not fully communicate.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Yang Jianli.|
- Chinese democracy movement
- List of Chinese dissidents
- Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
- China's Century of Humiliation - Documentary Film features Yang Jianli
- Echoes of Tiananmen Square Yang Jianli's article in the Washington Post, September 30, 2007
- Jianli, Yang; Zheng, Fang; Fengsuo, Zhao (March 18, 2016). "Donald Trump defends the world’s bullies". The Washington Post.
- "Speaker - Yang Jianli". Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy.
- "US-backed Chinese separatists, dissidents meet in Dharamsala, India - World Socialist Web Site". Wsws.org. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
- "Open up or break up, dissident Yang Jianli tells China | Central Tibetan Administration". Tibet.net. 2016-05-04. Retrieved 2016-06-10.
- Ide, William. "China Tries to Suppress Memory of Tiananmen Massacre". Voanews.com. Retrieved 2016-06-10.