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Advancing a peaceful transition to democracy in China through truth, understanding, citizen power, & cooperative action

Gong Min Walker Disappears In Shanghai

Washington, DC,  June 2, 2010. Initiatives for China announced today the disappearance of a man last seen walking past the UN Pavilon at the World Trade Expo in Shanghai, China.  On May 20, Australian citizen, Mr. Zhang Xiaogang entered Mainland China via Hong Kong with the intention of taking a “Gong Min” or citizen walk to protest the Chinese government’s policy of forced evictions. Witnesses in Shanghai report that Zhang was arrested in his hotel after walking past the UN Pavilion on the Expo grounds wearing a T-Shirt with the words in Chinese which said “Gong Min Walk. Support the Sparrow Initiative.”  The Sparrow Initiative is the name for the citizen protest against the Chinese government’s forced evictions of citizens without compensation or due process.

Citizens of Shanghai are particularly outraged by the forced eviction of over 18000 families to clear land for the Shanghai International Trade Exhibition. The Expo opened on May 1, 2010. The Sparrow Initiative was formed by one of evictees, Ms. Hu Yan who has taken her five year struggle with the Chinese government  to the United Nations.  Ms. Hu is now in DC and will speak at the open mic forum at the restaurant, Busboys & Poets, on 5th Street & K on June 2.  Other citizens have joined the Sparrow Initiative including Xu Xiaoqi, daughter of General Xu ZhiZhong, one of the founding generals of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Ms. Hu’s email to Initiatives for China president, Yang Jianli is printed below.

“It is ironic that a few weeks ago, Secretary of State Clinton, handed out teddy bears to children at the U.S. exhibit while she was standing on ground that contained the pulverized remains of 18000 homes. And now a man is arrested for just walking”  said Jim Geheran, Director of Initiatives for China. “I wonder if she understands the frustration building inside the hearts of Chinese citizens. Does she think that this frustration will dissipate by handing out teddy bears?” continued Mr. Geheran.

“Most people in the West are unaware of the frustration of the Chinese people who suffer greatly under a government that rules outside the rule of law and is not subject to the system of checks and balances such as a free press, an independent judiciary, or the right to petition.” said Dr Yang Jianli, President of Initiatives for China. “These are structural problems with the government of China, which are inconsistent with membership in the global society of the 21st Century.”

Despite Mr. Zhang’s apparent arrest.  Dr. Yang has said that more people are preparing “Gong Min” walks.  “The government cannot keep people from walking. It cannot hold a gun to its people forever”  Dr. Yang commented.

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