Ji Xiaolong (季孝龙)

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Ji Xiaolong (季孝龙)

Crime: “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”

Length of Punishment: 4 years and 6 months

Court: Shanghai Pudong New District Court

Trial Date: June 21, 2023

Sentencing Date: October 27, 2023

Dates of Detention/Arrest/Indictment: August 31, 2022 (criminal detention); September 23, 2022 (formal arrest); March 17, 2023 (indicted), June 21, 2023 (trial), October 23, 2023 (sentencing)

Place of Incarceration: Pudong New Area Detention Center


Detention in 2022: Shanghai-based activist Ji Xiaolong (季孝龙) was taken away from his home by police on August 31, 2022 and his girlfriend received a criminal detention notice saying Ji was detained on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and held at the Pudong New Area Detention Center. On September 23, Ji was formally arrested on the same charge.  On March 17, 2023, Ji Xiaolong was indicted by the Pudong New District Procuratorate on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” The indictment accused Ji of sending out a large amount of “false information that harmed the country’s image” and of having 31, 217 Twitter followers.

During the spring of 2022, Shanghai instituted a strict COVID lockdown that lasted approximately two months, and caused numerous disruptions to economic and social rights. It particularly impacted vulnerable groups such as migrant workers and those with pre-existing medical conditions.

After getting out of prison in April 2022, Ji Xiaolong had been summoned by the police on seven separate occasions for his criticism of the Shanghai authorities’ handing of the COVID lockdown.

And although the COVID lockdown was not specifically mentioned in the indictment, Ji’s detention was most likely related to an open letter he published on August 29, 2022 criticizing Shanghai’s Party Secretary, Li Qiang, and calling on him to step down and take accountability for that lockdown, and the “humanitarian disaster” it caused. The letter also reiterated his opposition to Xi Jinping, expressed in 2018, for his “wild ambition” to amend the Constitution and “rule for life.”  The letter stated the police would not allow him to go back to his hometown to take care of his elderly parents and obtain his social insurance card. Ji Xiaolong created his open letter as an NFT so it could not be censored and would “always exist.” Just two days after issuing the open letter, Ji was taken away from his home and detained.

On November 14, 2022, over 115 friends and supporters of Ji Xiaolong signed an open letter that urged authorities to improve the situation for Ji Xiaolong in detention. The letter stated that Ji was sharing a cell, designed for 25 people, with 60 people. This overcrowding has made it very difficult to sleep. He also needed to see a dentist to pull some of his teeth.

On April 26, 2023, the lawyer for Ji Xiaolong visited him in detention. Ji appeared optimistic and in good spirits, but he said his teeth still had not been treated and the conditions were terrible in the detention center, with overcrowding and horrible food. The lawyer was not permitted to read Ji’s case files.

The trial of Ji Xiaolong took place on June 21, 2023 at the Shanghai Pudong New District Court. On October 27, 2023, Ji Xiaolong was sentenced to 4 years and 6 months on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

Since his detention, Ji’s hair had turned partially white and he had become extremely skinny.

Ji and his legal team had raised objections to the trial and asked for an extension, as they argued they were not given proper notice of three days. Ji did not know he would undergo a trial until he woke up on the 21st. Ji stated that all of his defence materials were at the detention center, but the judge rejected these requests.

The lawyers asked to exclude unlawfully obtained evidence, the statements made by Ji and his girlfriend, as they were made under duress and ill-treatment. The prosecution and the court agreed, and these statements would not be presented as evidence during the trial. 

Ji argued that this case was about Shanghai police taking revenge on him for comments made during the COVID lockdown period, and his opposition to the un-humanitarian way in which the lockdown in Shanghai was carried out. Ji said he did not regret suffering for voicing out the concerns of the masses. Ji Xiaolong’s father attended the trial, despite being sick, and he said he fully supported his son’s righteous actions. Ji’s lawyers, Ma Tianlin and Ji Zhongjiu argued that the evidence was collected unlawfully, and could not substantiate criminality. They said that ancient China’s “literary inquisition” (文字狱) had been replaced by “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”, which was again harming the Chinese nation. They requested Ji Xiaolong’s immediate release and the end of his persecution. Sentencing would take place another day.

Previous detentions

2015: In June of 2015, Ji Xiaolong was administratively detained for 10 days by the Shanghai City Pudong New Area police on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” in relation to his advocacy for democratic ideals.

2018: On July 20, 2018, responding to Xi Jinping’s call for a “Toilet Revolution,” meaning upgrading China’s toilet facilities, Ji Xiaolong went to various toilets in hospitals and universities and wrote with a marker, “When illnesses go untreated, Fat Xi Crazily Spends Money, Revising the Constitution to Become an Emperor, When Will the Misery End! Down with the Communist Party, Put Government back to the People, End Misery for the Masses, Overthrow Xi as the Core, Refuse to go Down the Path of the Cultural Revolution” (大病治不起,习胖狂撒币,修宪妄称帝、苦难何时毕!打倒共产党。还政于民,结束民众苦难。推翻习核心,拒走文革路). 

On July 27, 2018, Ji was detained by the Pudong New Area police on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,”and on August 25, he was put in “residential surveillance in a designation location.” On September 30, he was arrested on the same charge and held at the Pudong New District Detention Center.

On November 30, 2018, he was indicted, and his case was sent to the Shanghai City Pudong New District Court, where he went on trial on January 14, 2019 and found guilty and sentenced to 3 years and 6 months on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” He later served his time at the Shanghai City Baimaoling Prison’s Seventh Area (上海市白茅岭监狱七监区) . Prison officials used air conditioners to create extremely cold temperatures to try to get him to confess, which caused him to have health issues, including vomiting blood. They made death threats. His family sent him jackets and other clothing, as well as a Bible, but prison officials did not allow him to receive the items. On February 9, 2022, he was released.

Further Information

Urgent Life-Threatening Conditions in Lockdown Shanghai Demand Prompt Investigation 

China: End Censorship, Prioritize Human Rights over Politicized “Zero-COVID” 

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