PEN International is dismayed at the conviction of another Chinese writer on subversion charges. Dissident writer Chen Xi was sentenced to 10 years in prison on December 26, 2011, for “inciting subversion of state power” in essays published on overseas web sites. His conviction follows that of writer Chen Wei, who received a nine-year sentence on December 23, 2011, also for “inciting subversion” in four of his critical online articles. PEN reminds the Chinese authorities of their obligations to uphold the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 35 of the Chinese constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory. It calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those detained for the peaceful expression of their views, including writers Chen Wei and Chen Xi.

Background Information

According to PEN’s information, Chen Xi, a 57-year-old Guizhou-based freelance writer and prominent human rights activist, was arrested on November 29, 2011. He was sentenced four weeks later, on December 26, 2011, at a trial which lasted less than three hours. The speed of the legal process of Chen’s case is unprecedented. According to the court verdict, his conviction is based on several quotations from over 30 of his articles published on overseas Chinese web sites. He has decided not to appeal the verdict. Chen Xi is being held at Guiyang City No. 1 Detention Center.

Chen Xi has already served a total of 13 years in prison on “counter-revolutionary” offenses for his peaceful activism (three years from 1989-1992 and 10 years from 1995-2005). He is a member of the Guizhou Human Rights Forum, which was declared an “illegal organization” by the Guizhou authorities on December 5, 2011, prior to International Human Rights Day (December 10). At least 10 other members of the group have been arrested since November 28, 2011, but all have since been released without charge.
The following background is provided by Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD):

The case of Chen Youcai (陈友才, aka Chen Xi [陈西]) shares several striking similarities with the case of Sichuan activist Chen Wei, who was tried and sentenced to 9 years ...on December 23. Both Chen Wei and Chen Xi were pro-democracy activists in 1989—Chen Wei was a student protestor in Beijing while Chen Xi organized a pro-democracy group to join the protests in Guizhou, and for these activities the two were imprisoned respectively. But the two have not ceased their activism. They went on to organize political parties, and in recent years, have been at the forefront of human rights activism in Sichuan and Guizhou provinces. The fact that both were imprisoned before—Chen Wei was jailed for six years while Chen Xi spent 13 years in prison—does not bode well for them in their current trials, as repeat political “offenders” are likely to receive harsher sentences. As they are both based in provinces far away from Beijing, the national capital, their cases have so far received little international attention.  Both are convicted of “inciting subversion of state power” and given harsh sentences.  In both trials, the “evidence” was their words or articles promoting human rights and democracy as evidence for “inciting subversion.”

Write A Letter

  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of Chen Wei and Chen Xi, imprisoned by the People's Republic of China for the peaceful exercise of their right to free expression;
  • Expressing alarm at the crackdown on dissent, in which writers, journalists, and human rights defenders have been targeted;
  • Reminding the Chinese authorities of their obligations under Article 35 of the Chinese constitution and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a state party. 

Send Your Letter To

President of the People’s Republic of China
His Excellency Hu Jintao
State Council
Beijing 100032
People's Republic of China
Minister of Justice
WU Aiying Buzhang
10 Chaoyangmen Nandajie
Beijingshi 100020
People's Republic of China

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for China in your country if possible.

Please contact PEN if sending appeals after February 29, 2012: ftw [at]