International PEN is seriously concerned by recent reports of deteriorating health and lack of sufficient medical treatment for detained writers Xu Wei, Jin Haike, Yang Zili, and Zhang Honghai, who are all serving lengthy sentences on subversion charges for their critical writings. PEN calls for the writers to be given all necessary medical care and is alarmed at reports that two of the four have been ill-treated in detention. PEN considers the writers to be detained in violation of Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory, and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.

Background Information

The four prisoners are all suffering from acute medical problems, some of which do not appear to have been properly diagnosed, and for which they have not received appropriate medical attention. Jin Haike, who received abdominal surgery in November 2007, is reportedly in acute pain. Zhang Hong Hia and Xu Wei were reportedly subjected to ill-treatment in prison, leading Xu Wei to stage hunger strikes in protest, threatening his well-being.


Xu Wei, Jin Haike, Yang Zili, and Zhang Honghai—a reporter for Xiaofei Ribao (Consumer Daily), a geologist and writer, a writer and computer engineer, and a freelance writer, respectively—were arrested on March 13, 2001, and charged with "subversion" as a result of their participation in Xin Qingnian Xuehui (the New Youth Study Group), an informal gathering of individuals concerned with political and economic inequalities who used the Internet to circulate articles.


On September 28, 2001, the Beijing Intermediate Court initiated legal proceedings against the four, focusing on two online essays entitled "Be a new citizen, reform China" and "What’s to be done," which allegedly demonstrated the group's intention to "overthrow the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership and the socialist system and subvert the regime of the people’s democratic dictatorship."


No verdict was announced at the time, and proceedings against the four writers recommenced on April 21, 2003. Lawyers for the four men argue that the failure to issue a verdict in the case violates China’s Criminal Procedure Law, which stipulates that a court must pronounce judgment within six weeks of accepting a case. On May 28, 2003, Xu Wei and Jin Haike were sentenced to 10 years in prison, and Yang Zili and Zhang Honghai to eight years, on charges of subversion.

Write A Letter

  • seeking assurances that writers Xu Wei, Jin Haike, Yang Zili, and Zhang Honghai are treated humanely in detention and granted access to necessary medical care and family visits;

  • protesting the lengthy prison sentences handed down to writers Xu Wei, Jin Haike, Yang Zili, and Zhang Honghai, solely for the peaceful expression of their opinions, and calling for their immediate and unconditional release, in accordance with the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which China is a signatory.

Send Your Letter To

President of the People’s Republic of China
His Excellency Hu Jintao
State Council
Beijing 100032
P.R. China

Supreme People's Procuratorate
Procurator General Mr. Jia Chunwang
Supreme People's Procuratorate
Beiheyan Street 147
100726 Beijing
P.R. China

Please note that there are no fax numbers for the Chinese authorities. PEN recommends that you copy your appeal to the Chinese embassy in your country, asking them to forward it and welcoming any comments. 

Please check with PEN if sending appeals after March 31, 2008: