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[VIRTUAL] Congressional Briefing for Xu Zhiyong

Xu Zhiyong headshot

On Wednesday, October 14 at 10am ET, PEN America will host a briefing for congressional staffers on the case of Xu Zhiyong: a Chinese writer, dissident, and this year’s PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award winner. Also a prominent lawyer and organizer deeply involved in China’s civil rights movements, Xu has been held incommunicado since February 2020. His arrest followed the publication of an essay in which he criticized China’s president Xi Jinping, including Xi’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, and called on Xi to resign.

Taken into state custody in a “coronavirus prevention check,” Xu’s detention exemplifies the increasingly common weaponization of the coronavirus pandemic against dissidents. It also marks China’s growing intolerance of those who question the political status quo—alarming trends for anyone, within or outside of the country, who attempts to challenge the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) regime. Xu is facing charges of “incitement to subvert state power,” a provision that carries a maximum 15-year prison sentence.

The live webinar will take place on Zoom. Registration is required to participate. Sign up for the event.


Introductory remarks will be given by Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA), co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission. Speakers will include Dr. Teng Biao, Chinese legal scholar and Grove Human Rights Scholar at Hunter College; Frances Eve, deputy director of research at the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD); and Hua Ze, founder and executive director of China Rights in Action USA.