The United States is concerned over reports of the formal arrest of prominent Chinese businessman Wang Gongquan. Mr. Wang is a strong supporter of the New Citizens Movement in China, a group which seeks to promote civil society, public involvement in anti-corruption efforts, human rights, and greater political participation for the Chinese people.
Several nations criticized China for its censorship of the internet, its treatment of ethnic minorities and its persecution of dissidents.
He was detained by authorities in September on the vague charge of “gathering crowds to disturb public order.” Mr. Wang had recently called for the release of rights defender and New Citizens Movement leader Xu Zhiyong, who was arrested in July.
Observers say the notification of a formal arrest for Mr. Wang means that authorities are paving the way for a trial and a possible prison term. The United States is concerned that both Mr. Wang and Mr. Xu were arrested for their association with a peaceful, public campaign to combat corruption, and urges that they be released immediately.
News of Mr. Wang’s formal arrest came just a day before China appeared before the United Nations Human Rights Council to discuss the Council’s routine four-year periodic review of China’s human rights record – the first since Xi Jinping became president of China. Ambassador Wu Hailong, who led China’s delegation in Geneva on October 22, defended China’s record during the Council session, but several nations criticized China for its censorship of the internet, its treatment of ethnic minorities and its persecution of dissidents.
Uzra Zeya, U.S. Acting Assistant Secretary for Democracy Human Rights and Labor, said, “We are concerned that China suppresses freedoms of assembly, association, religion, and expression, including on the Internet; harasses, detains, and punishes activists, including Xu Zhiyong and [rights activist and New Citizens Movement member] Yang Maodong; targets rights defenders’ family members and friends; and implements policies that undermine the human rights of ethnic minorities.”
Acting Assistant Secretary Zeya called on the Government of China to “end the use of harassment, detention, arrest and extralegal measures such as enforced disappearance to control and silence human rights activists as well as their family members and friends.”
She also urged the Chinese government to “protect the rights of ethnic minority groups, including Tibetans, Uighurs, and Mongolians, in accordance with China’s Constitution and international human rights commitments;” and she called on the Chinese government to “reform its administrative justice system, including by eliminating ‘reeducation through labor,’ and ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”