A Chinese attorney named Zhang Xuezhong has been arrested at his home after posting a statement on Chinese social media questioning the leadership of Xi Jinping and suggesting the government’s response to the coronavirus showed government suppression of society was too severe:
“He was taken away on Sunday night. Three police cars came to his house,” said Wen Kejian, an independent political analyst and a close friend of Zhang.
Another of Zhang’s friends, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, also confirmed that Zhang had been taken. He said: “He is mentally prepared after his open letter.”
In his WeChat post, Zhang, 43, wrote alongside his attached letter: “The best way to fight for freedom of expression is for everyone to speak as if we already have freedom of speech.”…
Zhang said in his letter: “Twenty-two days before the [lockdown to contain the outbreak] in the city, Wuhan was still investigating and punishing citizens who had disclosed the epidemic, including Dr Li Wenliang … showing how tight and arbitrary the government’s suppression of society is.”…
“There were few independent professional media to investigate and report on the outbreak, nor did medical professionals provide independent advice to the public … It only shows that the government’s long-term tight control of society and people has almost completely destroyed the organisation and self-help capabilities of Chinese society.”
China has secretly arrested a number of people for comments like that about the government’s coronavirus response. Dr. Ai Fen and attorney/blogger Chen Qiushi have not been seen for weeks after they undercut the official narrative. But Zhang Xuezhong went beyond criticism of the pandemic respnose. He criticized China’s parliament and constitution as illegitimate:
“I do not believe you are legitimate representatives of the Chinese people, neither do I believe that the National People’s Congress is a legitimate parliament,” Mr Zhang wrote. He argued that there is no real debate on national policies among delegates…
“Unfortunately, the current ‘constitution’ of our country is a fake one. A constitution should manifest the political will of the people who do not manage state affairs directly, rather than manifest the political will of a monarch or a political party. It’s not a basic law for the Chinese people to establish and regulate public powers, but a manual for the ruling party to run its regime.”
In other words, he spoke the truth and has been arrested for it. In fact, it’s clear from the statement of his friends that he knew exactly what was coming when he chose to speak up. Zhang was a law professor in Shanghai but his criticism of the government led to him being fired in 2013. He is now a defense attorney for other Chinese activists who are being persecuted by the government. He’s clearly a very brave man. How long it will be before we hear from him again?