Gao Yu, a veteran Chinese journalist, was sentenced by the Beijing Court on April 17 to seven years in prison for having “illegally provided state secrets to foreigners”.
Since the court did not specify what exactly she leaked, China observers believe the so-called “state secrets” are a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) directive, known as Document No. 9, outlining their ideological battle against western values. It specifically references seven topics (known as the “seven speak-nots”) that university professors shouldn't teach: universal values, press freedom, civil society, citizens’ rights, the communist party's past mistakes, crony capitalism and judicial independence.
Gao Yu began her journalist career in 1980s. She was jailed for more than a year after the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests for supporting the movement in her reports. She was jailed again for six years between 1993 to 1999 for leaking state secrets.
In this latest round of persecution, the 71-year-old reporter was detained in April 2014 and made to “confess” on state-run Chinese Central Television for making a “big mistake” after the police detained her son.
Overseas Chinese communities were outraged by the news of Gao Yu's sentence. The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, a NGO coalition established after the 1989 Tiananmen massacre, protested outside the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong, calling for her immediate release.
On Twitter, political dissident Hu Jia, who iscurrently under police surveillance in Beijing, explained why Gao Yu received such a harsh sentence for doing her job as a journalist:
— Hu Jia 胡佳 (@hu_jia) April 17, 2015
The “seven speak-nots” revealed the ugly side of the CCP. More accurately, it pinpoints the despotic nature of [current Chinese President] Xi Jinping. China is a country where revealing the ugliness of the state means jail time. Gao Yu's case exposes to the world how the CCP goes against universal values.
Wu Zuolai, a current affairs commentator, argued that the communist party's document should not be regarded as a state document:
— 吴祚来 (@wuzuolai) April 17, 2015
To sentence a 71-year-old journalist to seven years in prison is shameless. What sort of state secrets did Gao Yu leak? The “seven speak-nots” should be public document for people to read. Sister Gao only distributed the party document. As the ruling party, the document belongs to the party, so how can it be a state secret? Isn't this shameless? If the incident provokes international protest, the new leadership will be making themselves look ugly.
Wang Dang, a leader of the 1989 Tiananmen democracy movement, believed the case will serve as a wake-up call for those who still have hope for China's new leadership under Xi:
Some people keep praising Xi Jinping's policies as a “revival”. [Gao's case] reveals the true nature of “progressive China”. These are the acts of the so-called “confident party” — forbid any discussion of constitutional rule, forbid the world from knowing what they have forbidden. So ridiculous, so shameless and so cruel.
The case tell us: even after Xi Jinping took over the leadership, the CCP has continued to regress in its political reform and become more heavy-handed in its crackdown on dissent. As long as Xi is still in power, it will be a dark time for human rights.
Any expectations for Xi's authoritarian rule are based on their ignorance of the politics of the princelings, Xi Jinping and China. Gao Yu used her freedom to tell us this fact. If you still can't see it and expect that Xi will bring political reform, you are either nuts or an idiot.