Chinese writer Huang Zerong (also known by his pen name Tie Liu) was disappeared by authorities from his Chengdu home in early May 2016 while his wife was away on a trip. Authorities have not yet disclosed why they have detained Huang nor allowed him to speak with his lawyer, Liu Xiaoyuan, since May 13. Huang, who is 83, has been serving a six-month “residential surveillance” sentence on suspicion of “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble.” The sentence was handed down at the end of March 2016. Huang’s lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan announced via Twitter that Huang had regained his freedom in early March 2019, and shared a video of the writer celebrating his birthday on May 29, 2019.

Case History

Huang, a veteran writer and political activist, previously spent over twenty years in prison for being an “anticommunist” during Chairman Mao’s rule. However, it was his political activities in recent years that led to his current situation. In October 2014, he was arrested and charged with “causing a disturbance” and “illegal business activity” for publishing the memoirs of people persecuted under Mao and posting online criticism of Liu Yunshan, the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda chief. His conviction in February 2015 resulted in a $4,800 fine and a two-year prison term.

Though Huang’s sentence had been “postponed indefinitely pending good behavior,” his lawyer said that he is technically still serving it and can be detained again at any time. Chinese bloggers have speculated that Huang’s disappearance might be linked to Liu Yunshan’s recent visit to Chengdu. Chinese authorities, however, were still required to notify Huang’s family of why they detained him and where he was held. According to his lawyer, Huang completed his house arrest in March 2019.