Zhao Lianhai

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Zhao Lianhai
Born (1972-05-21) 21 May 1972 (age 46)
China Beijing, People's Republic of China
Criminal charge inciting social disorder
Criminal penalty 2½ years in prison
Spouse(s) Li Xuemei
Children Zhao Pengrui

Zhao Lianhai (赵连海) is a Chinese dissident and former food safety worker who became an activist for parents of children harmed during the 2008 Chinese milk scandal.[1] In 2010 he was sentenced to 2½ years imprisonment for 'disturbing social order'.[1]

Zhao was born circa 1972.[2] He used to work for the Food Quality and Safety Authority of China.[3] His son, Pengrui, was born in late 2005[2] and became ill as a result of drinking tainted milk.[1][3] The couple also have a daughter, Sian, born in 2008/2009.[4]

Activism and website[edit]

Zhao became a leader in the movement of parents to get restitution and treatment for their children.[3] He called for a national memorial day for the victims.[5] He held a memorial ceremony in his home for parents of harmed children.[6]

He started the "Home for Kidney Stone Babies" (结石宝宝之家, jieshibaobao.com) website[3] from his apartment in Daxing, near Beijing.[2] The website was blocked in China.[6] The site was also shut down by the government so he moved hosting to Japan.[3]

Parents of children harmed by melamine-tainted milk went to the website and could exchange information about how to sue.[1] Zhao also pushed for increased research into the number of kidney stone babies.[2]

The site published a leaked document from the Henan Department of Health, which had allegedly ordered workers to underreport kidney stone cases.[2]

The website also posted claims that autopsies of children were being denied.[2]

In 2009, Zhao posted a petition arguing against accepting the government's compensation plan as inadequate (especially considering the long-term unknowns), and not created in consultation with parents.[2] The petition was signed by several hundred parents.[2]

The police and/or public security bureau harassed him,[2][3] his wife,[2][3] his mother,[2][3] his siblings,[2] and volunteer students.[2] The government also broke up meetings and a press conference.[2]

Arrest, trial, imprisonment[edit]

Zhao was taken by police in mid-November 2009.[7] Arrest papers were given to his wife Li Xuemei on 21 December 2009, on charges, she said, of "picking quarrels and provoking trouble".[6] His case was handed to prosecutors in early 2010.[5] He was tried at Daxing district court in Beijing[1] where he was legally represented by Li Fangping[7][8] and Peng Jian.[5]

A lawyer's blog claimed the police wrote the following:[5]

From September 2008 to September 2009, Zhao Lianhai used 'protecting rights' as well as the Sanlu milk powder issue as an excuse to hype and agitate people who did not know the truth to disturb social order ... by shouting slogans and gathering illegally.[5]

He was sentenced on 10 November 2010 to 2½ years prison.[7] The main charge was inciting social disorder.[7]

Three incidents were used against Zhao at his trial:

  • Organizing a gathering of 12 parents[7]
  • Holding a sign in front of a factory and court[7]
  • Giving media interviews in a public place[7]

Amnesty International condemned the sentence[7] and he began a hunger strike in protest.[7] Li Xuemei, his wife, indicated there would be an appeal.[8]

Leung Man-tao (梁文道), a Hong Kong based writer, wrote an op-ed in Southern Weekend in Guangzhou, defending Zhao.[9] He was named as a political prisoner by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China,[10] and as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International.[11]

Zhao was subsequently released on medical parole, which normally allows freedom of movement, subject to regular reports to the local police. But Zhao has largely been restricted to his Daxing home and official harassment has continued, such as when he tried to take his children for a day out on 31 May 2011, and the family were surrounded by police and public security officials and held in a nearby restaurant in what onlookers thought was a hostage situation.[4]


Reports and discussions on Chinese websites are restricted. On 30 March 2010, Hong Kong singer Gigi Leung posted about the unjustly jailed Zhao Lianhai on Sina microblog. After receiving a message from website's administrator, Gigi Leung then deleted the relevant blog, resulted in hundreds of supportive messages from her fans.[12][13]

2010 Hong Kong journalists assaulted[edit]

On 10 December 2010 several Hong Kong journalists were at Zhao's apartment in Daxing Beijing to interview his supporters.[14] About 40 members of a "Neighbourhood Management Committee" tried to stop the journalists. The journalists were kicked, struck and had their cameras blocked.[14] An ATV journalist's camera was hit. A female RTHK reporter was slapped.[15] The Hong Kong Journalists Association expressed concern about the incident. Hong Kong director of broadcasting Franklin Wong Wah-kay (黃華麒), head of the public broadcaster RTHK, condemned the attack and said the journalists were legally covering the case under mainland law.[14]

On 29 December 2010 the director of the Hong Kong and Macau office of the State Council Wang Guangya said that under the One country, two systems principle Hong Kong should not interfere. He then made a controversial statement that "well water (HK) should not pollute the river water (China)"[16][17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e China Court Jails Tainted-Milk Activist, Amnesty Says - BusinessWeek Archived September 12, 2011, at the Wayback Machine., --Editors: Frank Longid, Douglas Wong, Matthew Brooker. businessweek.com, 2010 11 10, via www.businessweek.com on 2010 11 10
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Father of poisoned baby rallies parents in tainted-milk fight - thestar.com, Bill Schiller, Asia Bureau, Toronto Star, via www.thestar.com on 2010 11 10
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h China milk scandal: Families of sick children fight to find out true scale of the problem - Telegraph co.uk, 2008 03 12, via www.telegraph.co.uk on 2010 11 10
  4. ^ a b Police hound activist on family day out, SCMP, 2 June 2011
  5. ^ a b c d e Chinese tainted milk campaigner accused of provoking social disorder - World news - guardian.co.uk Tania Branigan in Beijing, 2010 03 02, via www.guardian.co.uk on 2010 11 10
  6. ^ a b c Reuters AlertNet - China arrests father active on melamine milk issues, By Lucy Hornby, Reuters, editor Ken Wills, 2009 12 22, via www.alertnet.org on 2010 11 10
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i China food safety activist given 2½ years Archived November 14, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. Christopher Bodeen, Associated Press – Wed Nov 10, 2:41 am ET, via news.yahoo.com on 2010 11 10
  8. ^ a b BBC News - China jails tainted milk activist Zhao Lianhai co.uk, via www.bbc.co.uk on 2010 11 10
  9. ^ Dui Hua Human Rights Journal: Injuring the Injured: The Case of Zhao Lianhai, Dui Hua foundation, via www.duihuahrjournal.org on 2010 11 10
  10. ^ Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Political Prisoner Databas: Zhao Lianhai Archived October 17, 2012, at the Wayback Machine..
  11. ^ Chinese Prisoner of Conscience Released from Prison, Amnesty International, 13 January 2011.
  12. ^ Gigi Leung (2010-04-01). "梁咏琪 微博". Retrieved 1 April 2010. 
  13. ^ "遭勒令刪去內地微博文章 撐維權爸爸 貼文抱不平 梁詠琪被河蟹了". Apple Daily. 2010-04-01. Retrieved 1 April 2010.  Video News
  14. ^ a b c "Broadcasting head condemns attack on HK journalists". South China Morning Post. Retrieved on 2010-12-10.
  15. ^ "趙連海獲選“年度民間人士” 港傳媒北京採訪遭驅趕." Lianhe Zaobao. Retrieved on 2010-12-10.
  16. ^ "王光亞:趙連海案已妥善解決 Archived October 1, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.. RTHK.org. Retrieved on 2010-12-29.
  17. ^ "葉國謙:港區人大關心趙連海案 不涉河水井水 Archived January 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.". RTHK.org. Retrieved on 2010-12-29.