Inside the courtroom -- report on the Liaoyang Trial

The trial of Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang, the two Liaoyang workers’ representatives, was held in the Liaoyang Intermediate People’s Court on Jan 15. Since March 2002, Yao and

Xiao, together with the other two workers’ representatives, Wang Zhaoming and Pang

Qingxiang, had been in detention for “illegal assembly, marches and protests”. Wang and

Pang were released on bail in mid December 2002 [Wang and Pang were told that no charges

would be brought against them – Ed] while an indictment of “subversion against the state”

for Yao and Xiao was submitted to the court by the procuratorate on December 27.

The news of the prosecution outraged and shocked the workers, who participated in the

Ferroalloy Factory Protest, and also brought complaints from international trade unions

and human rights organizations. It is unreasonable for the workers’ representatives, who

led workers in demanding basic living allowances, pensions, and back pay, as well as

protesting the corruption of local officials, to be charged with “subversion against the

state”. China Labour Bulletin (CLB) interviewed Yao Fuxin’s daughter Yao Dan and Xiao

Yunliang’s lawyer Xiao Yunji, for details of the trial on January 15.

According to the two interviewees, the indictment included three offenses. Yao, Xiao and their lawyers denied each of the offenses.

Offense 1: Yao and Xiao were members of a hostile organization, China Democracy Party (CDP) and played an active role in the planning of CDP’s affairs. [Editor’s own subtitles]

The public prosecutor described Yao and Xiao as frequent listeners of Voice of America and Radio France Internationale. They learned from these broadcasts that a key leader of the CDP, Wang Wenjiang was about to organize a preparatory committee of CDP in the three

Northeastern provinces [Wang was sentenced to four-year imprisonment on subversion charges

at the Anshan Intermediate People’s Court, Liaoning Province, on December 6, 2000 - Ed].

Yao and Xiao contacted Wang and indicated their wish to join the CDP. On September 27,

1998, Yao and Xiao joined the party’s provincial meeting, held in the Audio-Visual

Building in Anshan City. They agreed to set up a CDP preparatory committee in Liaoning

Province during that meeting. Yao and Xiao attended a meeting with Wang Wenjiang on

November 29, 1998, to discuss the establishment of the provincial branch in Liaoning,

which would be proposed in the meeting on December 5, 1998. The CDP’s constitution was

supposed to be passed during that meeting as well.

In his self-defense, Yao admitted his wish to join the CDP, but said that he never had

joined. The idea of overthrowing the one-party dictatorship advocated by the CDP’s did not

match his idea of a multi-party political structure, and so he left the meeting on

December 5 before it ended.

Yao’s lawyer, Mo Shaoping, was the defense lawyer for Xu Wenli in 1998 [Xu became the CDP’s branch chairman for the Beijing & Tianjin Region in mid-November 1998. He was sentenced to a 13-year imprisonment in the Beijing Intermediate People’s Court on December 21 the same year - Ed]. Mo presented evidence from Xu Wenli’s case, proving that to become a member of CDP, one must be introduced by an intermediary, have a personal background check and sign certain documents. As Yao did not go through any of these procedures, he was never a member of the CDP even he wished to become a member.

In the direct examination, Lawyer Mo asked Xiao Yunliang, “What is your identity? What is your political background?” Xiao replied, “I am a member of the Communist Party.” Lawyer Mo emphasized Xiao’s identity as a Communist Party member because dual party membership is not allowed according to the party’s constitution.

Lawyer Xiao Yunji, who defended his brother Xiao Yunliang, pointed out that Xiao had never wanted to join the CDP, let alone organized and actively planned CDP’s activities. On September 27 according to Yao’s trial testimony, Xiao accompanied him to Anshan on Yao’s recommendation that Xiao could purchase a “good water pump in Anshan” which was needed for his hotel. On that day, Xiao only had dinner with the CDP meeting participants, without knowing the content of their meeting and therefore he should not be considered a meeting participant.

Offense 2: Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang participated in CDP’s activities and exchanged information concerning CDP’s activities, in order to recruit more members for CDP.

The public prosecutor claimed that Yao, represented the CDP’s local branch and

participated in the Candle Light Vigil for the June 4 Victims in the Shenyang City

Government Square on June 3, 1999. Yao and Xiao had contact with other CDP members, such

as He Depu, Yang Chunguang, Wei Zhenjie, etc., to exchange information concerning CDP’s

activities. Yao and Xiao both participated in recruiting members for the CDP. And that Yao

persuaded Pang Qingxiang to join the CDP and gave him a publication called “Democracy

Forum of the Opposition Party”.

Yao said that he attended the memorial as an individual, not as a CDP member. He agreed

with the anti-corruption message the students put forward in the June 4 Movement and as a

citizen, he had the right to join this kind of memorial in the square. When he arrived at

the square, he was immediately dragged away by the police and was questioned for a long


After that incident, the Public Security Bureau warned Yao and Xiao that the CDP had been identified as an anti-Party organization and they were not allowed to join any of their unlawful activities. They declared that they would not participate in anymore CDP

activities. Yao Fuxin believed that the Liaoyang City Police Station should have that

warning on record. In that record, he expressed his attitude “to be a good citizen, [I]

would never join any of the CDP’s activities”. Yao Dan said this would be a crucial point

for her father’s defense because “according to the laws, if a suspect has been warned of a

certain offense and exhorted by the Public Security Bureau, s/he should be considered as

being punished and no further prosecution should be applied for the same offense”.

In the defense, Lawyer Xiao said, “Xiao Yunliang never met the people mentioned in the

indictment, He Depu, Wen Zhenjie. The first time he heard of them was from the officials

handling his case and it is impossible to charge him with ‘exchanging information

concerning CDP’s activities’ with them.” On the other hand, Xiao was present when Yao

asked Pang Qingxiang to join the CDP. However, Yao talked to Pang in a joking and humorous

manner, instead of serious persuasion, therefore they should not be considered as having

recruited members for the CDP.

Offense 3: Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang took advantage of the Ferroalloy workers’ discontent to carry out the development of the CDP. Also, they made use of the overseas

media to give enormous publicity to the whole incident and bring a bad impact to the Chinese Government.

The public prosecutor claimed that Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang led the workers’ protest

and demonstrations without any application in advance. They took advantage of the workers’

frustrations, during the time when the Ferroalloy Factory went into bankruptcy legally, to

storm the state institutions, make instigating speeches, and disrupt the normal operation

of the state institutions. Their action also led to a long-term road-blockage and all in

all, it caused a very negative impact. Especially on March 18 to 20, 2002, Xiao Yunliang,

Pang Qingxiang and the others organized a mass illegal protest. Furthermore, Yao Fuxin had

been contacting hostile elements, Han Dongfang, and Lu Siqing from the hostile

organization Information Centre for Human Rights & Democracy. The Public Security Bureau

also provided proof of Han Dongfang’s identity as a hostile element. A telephone bill from

China Unicom was presented in the trial, as the proof of Yao’s call to Lu Siqing. Yao was

also accused of creating media reports on the illegal protests through journalists from

Agence France-Presse and Wall Street Journal. Pressure and negative impact on the Chinese

government was created by the spread of exaggerated and distorted information through

overseas online news coverage.

In his self-defense, Yao Fuxin said that he first tried to seek help from the local

newspapers, such as Liaoyang Daily, Liaoning Provincial Daily etc. He wanted them to

report the Ferroalloy workers’ problems to the Central Government, but his request ended

in vain. Each of the newspapers told him that if they reported the news, they would be

fired right away. In desperation, he telephoned the journalists from Agence France-Presse

and Wall Street Journal. He frankly and objectively discussed with the journalists the

problems of the Ferroalloy Factory and hoped the journalists could send the message to the

Central Government via the media. Yao said, “Ferroalloy workers had not received any wages

for more than twenty months. Some old workers can’t afford to see the doctor when they are

sick. Some workers didn’t even have money for food…I couldn’t stand their suffering

anymore and therefore I must stand up to help.” Saying this, Yao could no longer hold back

his tears.

Lawyer Xiao pointed out in the trial, that Xiao Yunliang as a retired worker from the

Ferroalloy Factory had not received any wages for more than twenty-three months. His

participation in the protest was simply for the interest of his own livelihood, instead of

subversion against the state. “[Xiao Yunliang] was only asking the local and central

government and the administrative authorities to carry out their duties, instead of trying

to overthrow it”, said Lawyer Xiao.

Lawyer Xiao explained that the protest from March 18 to 20 was the aftermath of the secret detention of Yao Fuxin on March 17. The Public Security Bureau failed to notify Yao’s family about Yao’s arrest and even denied it, which was not proper according to the

Criminal Procedure Law. As a result, the workers organized the mass protest. [CLB’s

interviews back in March 2002 bear testimony to the fact that the protests on March 18-20

grew out of the workers’ outrage at Yao’s secret arrest - Ed]

Concerning the contact with hostile elements, Yao denied that he contacted Han Dongfang, though he did not deny his contact with Lu Siqing. Xiao Yunliang admitted that he talked to Han from Guo Xiujing’s home, without knowing Han was a hostile element. However, what he told Han was the truth, no exaggeration, nothing against the Party, nor against socialism therefor he did not believe himself guilty.

Lawyer Mo raised the point that what the media exaggerated was not equivalent to what Yao said. Furthermore, for the journalists of Agence France-Presse and Wall Street Journal to work and report in China, they should have gone through the official procedure with the

Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As citizens, Yao and Xiao enjoy the legal right under Chinese

laws to tell the media the truth, and so their behaviour should not be considered as


Lawyer Mo also defended Yao and Xiao’s contacts with Han Dongfang and Lu Siqing, for they were not aware that Han and Lu were hostile elements. As the Chinese Government had never publicized who the hostile elements were through the media, it was impossible for them to know and no charge should be made when the suspect committed an offense without realizing it was an offense.

From the four open letters Yao and Xiao drafted for the Ferroalloy workers’ protests, all indicated clearly that they were supportive of Jiang Zemin’s “theory of the three

represents”. The four letters proved that they are law-abiding and support the Communist

Party. “How could bad elements from the CDP support the leadership of the Communist Party

and President Jiang Zemin?” was the question Lawyer Mo put to the public prosecutor who

did not give any response.

The trial lasted for approximately four hours and after the trial, Yao and Xiao were taken back to the Liaoyang City Detention Center. A spokesperson from the court earlier said that there would not be a second session. The date of verdict has not yet been set.

China Labour Bulletin

January 23, 2003

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