Huang Qi (黄琦)

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Huang Qi (黄琦)

Huang Qi 黄琦
*Under medical watch

Current Detention

Criminal charges: Illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities, Intentionally leaking state secrets

Length of Punishment: 12 years (3 years for intentially leaking state secrets & 11 years for illegally providing state secrest to foreign entities)

Court: Mianyang City Intermediate Court

Trial Date: January 14, 2019

Sentencing Date: July 29, 2019

Dates of Detention/Arrest: November 28, 2016 (detained); December 16, 2016 (arrested)

Date of Birth: April 7, 1963

Medical Condition(s): Crescentic glomerulonephritis (kidney disease), hydrocephalus (accumulation of fluid in the brain), heart disease, emphysema, and effects of pneumonia

Place(s) of Incarceration: Bazhong Prison, Sichuan Province (December 24, 2019- present); Mianyang City Detention Center (November 28, 2016-December 24, 2019)


Huang Qi, founder and director of 64 Tianwang Human Rights Center, was taken from his home in late November 2016 by over a dozen police officers from three different cities in Sichuan. A volunteer for the organization, Pu Fei (), reportedly went out of contact after sending out messages about Huang’s detention, while Huang’s 83-year-old mother went missing days after he was taken into custody. Police formally arrested Huang in December 2016.

Other citizen journalists associated with 64 Tianwang also have been persecuted, including by imprisonment, as the NGO became a principal target of Chinese authorities’ quest to suppress independent groups that report on human rights abuses. Wang Jing (王晶) was detained in March 2014 and sentenced to 58 months in prison in April 2016. Another citizen journalist who worked with 64 Tianwang, Jiang Chengfen (姜成芬), was detained in December 2016 and sent to prison in June 2018 for 30 months.

Huang’s lawyers Sui Muqing (隋牧青) and Li Jinglin (李静林) met with Mianyang City national security officers in February 2017 to discuss Huang’s case. According to their report of the meeting, the officers told them that Huang’s case relates to “states secrets” since, in April 2016, Huang posted online a document from the Mianyang City government and party officials that listed Huang as a target for an upcoming crackdown on activists who worked on the 64 Tianwang site. Reportedly, petitioner Chen Tianmao (陈天茂) took a photo of the document and provided it to Huang, who released it on the 64 Tianwang website. Government officials then retroactively classified the document as “top secret,” taking advantage of criticized loopholes in China’s state secrets legislation.

Huang was initially disappeared and deprived of any lawyer visits for the first 10 months of his detention. On July 28, 2017, lawyer Sui was finally able to visit Huang, eight days after police had recommended indictment in his case. Sui reported that Huang’s longstanding poor health had worsened, apparently turning life-threatening, and that detention center authorities had stopped providing Huang’s medical treatment on July 5, 2017. (In 2010, Huang was diagnosed with incurable and potentially fatal crescentic glomerulonephritis, which had led to limited kidney function. To treat the condition, Huang reportedly must take nine medications daily and has frequently been hospitalized, including just months before he was detained in 2016.) Sui has indicated that Huang’s crescentic glomerulonephritis had necrotized, putting him at risk of rapid renal failure, and that he is also suffering from hydrocephalus (accumulation of fluid in the brain), heart disease, emphysema, and effects of pneumonia. Sui observed that Huang has also lost a great deal of weight.

At the meeting in July 2017, Huang also told Sui that he had been interrogated by rotating teams of several dozen investigators and forced to stand for four to six hours a day over a period of several weeks. Officers had reportedly tried to get him to confess to crimes while being videotaped, but Huang has not yet been coerced into confessing to any crimes.

The reported decline of Huang’s health created deep fears on the part of his family and supporters that he may die in detention. In 2017, lawyers Sui and Li applied multiple times for Huang be released on bail on medical grounds, but the requests were repeatedly denied, including in January, twice in February 2017, and that April.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion in April 2018 that Huang’s detention is arbitrary and he should be immediately released and compensated. The Chinese government ignored the opinion and authorities eventually announced that he would face trial on June 20, 2018, but the hearing was suspended without any official reason given.

In September 2018, an indictment was reportedly reissued in Huang’s case. In it, the charge against Chen Tianmao, a case co-defendant, was changed to “negligently providing state secrets to foreign entities.” (Another initial co-defendant, Yang Qiuxiong (杨秀琼), reportedly did not appear in the document.) In October 2018, prosecutors added a criminal charge against Huang—”intentionally leaking state secrets”—raising the possibility of an even harsher prison sentence should his case go to trial.

In late October 2018, it was reported that authorities in Sichuan had purposely underestimated the dire state of Huang’s health, likely to cover up his actual condition; in particular, Huang’s blood pressure was actually higher than previously revealed, with lower readings the apparent result of using old equipment. (Huang himself relayed this information to lawyer Liu Zhengqing during a detention center visit on October 23.) The lack of open disclosure of Huang’s condition was perhaps an official tactic for authorities to avoid even more critical attention on his case and greater public pressure to release Huang. The revelation only spiked concerns that Huang’s condition was even bleaker than previously believed. Despite reported attempts by detention center officials to allow Huang additional treatment, the Mianyang City Public Security Bureau refused to allow this move, due to “political” nature of Huang’s case. In late December 2018, several UN independent human rights experts expressed concern over Huang’s health and again called for his release.

As Huang Qi’s health only worsened, his elderly mother, Pu Wenqing (蒲文清), born December 31, 1933, also became more publicly active in seeking his medical release, by writing open letters and petitioning government authorities. As a result of her advocacy, however, authorities dispatched thugs to follow, intimidate, and eventually detain Pu in December 2018.

Mianyang City Intermediate Court attempted to put Huang on trial on January 14, 2019 behind closed doors. No information about the trial was made public by authorities. Only one of Huang’s lawyers, Li Jinglin, was allowed to attend, with lawyer Liu Zhengqing not notified of the trial after Guangdong judicial authorities began disbarment proceedings against him. Authorities did not allow supporters, journalists, or diplomats to attend the secret trial, and several activists were intercepted by police or forced to travel.

Days after the aborted secret hearing, Huang’s mother Pu Wenqing was allowed to return home on January 21, 2019 but was not free, with police officers living inside her home and guarding the building complex. She has been followed 24/7 by police and restricted from giving interviews and speaking with friends and supporters. Pu Wenqing hired a new lawyer, Zhang Zanning (张赞宁), after the January hearing but he was not granted a meeting with Huang after making two requests in February 2018. Pu’s health has deteriorated while held under de facto house arrest; she was diagnosed with lung cancer in the spring of 2019 and is weak and in extremely poor health.

On July 29, 2019, Mianyang Intermediate Court in Sichuan convicted Huang of “intentionally leaking state secrets” and “ illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities” and handed him a 12-year combined sentence and 20,000 RMB ($2,900 USD) fine. He received three years for the “intentionally leaking state secrets” charge and 11 years for the other charge. Huang was moved to Bazhong Prison on December 24, 2019.

On April 11, 2020, Huang’s mother Pu Wenqing issued an open letter about her detiorating health and wish to see her son one last time. Pu is worried about Huang’s health and his condition is still unknown. Days later, Pu Wenqing spoke with officials from Bazhong Prison about visiting her son. The prison official said “higher up” officials have ended prison visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also claimed that Huang was also not allowed to speak on the telephone with his mother due to unspecified prison “rules”.

On September 17, 2020, authorities granted Huang Qi his first communication with his mother since being detained in 2016. Bazhong Prison allowed Huang and Pu to hold a video call.

Huang Qi established China’s first-known rights monitoring website in 1998, disseminating reports about citizens who had been trafficked and disappeared. By the mid-2000s, the website had evolved to report on human rights violations and complaints against the government. Huang has served two previous prison sentences, totaling eight years, in reprisal for his human rights work. He received a five-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” in 2003. During his incarceration, Huang was often tortured and mistreated, including being shackled and physically and sexually assaulted, and often forced to sleep next to the restroom. In 2009, his lawyers reported Huang had two tumors growing on his chest and stomach, and was suffering from headaches and heart troubles. They applied for release on bail for medical treatment, but authorities never responded.

Huang resumed his advocacy work after his release, in June 2005. Police detained him again in 2008 after he met with families of children who died in schools that collapsed in the Sichuan earthquake. The following year, Huang was sent to prison for three years for “illegal possession of state secrets.” After his release in 2011, Huang continued to document human rights violations, and he has regularly faced harassment and detention around “sensitive” periods, including annual Chinese Communist Party meetings. After his second prison term, Huang Qi was diagnosed with a kidney disease, and has needed to take daily medication to manage the illness.

Huang Qi, born in 1963, graduated from Sichuan University and was formerly a businessman. Huang’s work in citizen journalism has received international awards, including two from Reporters Without Borders, which awarded 64 Tianwang the Press Freedom Prize in 2016, and honored Huang in 2004 with the Cyber-Freedom Prize.

*CHRD’s Watch List of Detainees and Prisoners of Conscience in Need of Medical Attention

Further Information

CHRD and NGO coalition call on Chinese President Xi Jinping to pardon journalist at risk of dying in prison, July 23, 2020 (中文版本)

Grant a Dying Mother’s Wish, May 6, 2020, by Frances Eve, CHRD

Seven UN Special Procedures Inquiry to China on Violations of Rights of Huang Qi, August 27, 2019

Chinese Authorities Wrongfully Imprisoned Huang Qi and Should Release Him, July 30, 2019, CHRD

China: Release Huang Qi, Respect Right to Fair Trial, January 14, 2019, CHRD

China: UN human rights experts gravely concerned about Huang Qi’s health, December 20, 2018, OHCHR

China: Immediately and Unconditionally Release Huang Qi & Ensure Access to Prompt Medical Care for all Detained Human Rights Defenders, November 5, 2018, CHRD

Opinion No. 22/2018 concerning Liu Feiyue and Huang Qi (China), Opinions adopted by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention at its eighty-first session, 17–26 April 2018

第 22/2018 号关于(中国)刘飞跃、黄琦的意见, 羁押问题工作组在 2018 年 4 月 17 日至 26 日召开的第八十一届 会议上通过的意见

Communiqué Alleging Arbitrary Detention and Torture of Huang Qi, September 2017, CHRD

China Must Release Jiang Tianyong, Liu Feiyue & Huang Qi, Honor Commitment Made at UN to Protect Rights, November 30, 2016, CHRD

Jail Sentence Upheld for Activist Huang Qi, February 7, 2010, CHRD

Several Activists and Dissidents Languish in Detention despite Serious Illnesses, November 5, 2009, CHRD

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