Statement on Wang Quanzhang’s indictment, by Peter Dahlin

By Peter Dahlin

The indictment of Wang Quanzhang has circulated, with one of three points of prosecution resting on Wang’s work with what Chinese prosecutor calls “中国维权紧急援助组”, also known in English as ‘China Action’. His work for cases handled while working for Feng Rui law firm constitutes the other two points.


The co-founder of that small group, Peter Dahlin, is likewise the founder of today’s Safeguard Defenders (which also run, and one of several people who from ‘China Action’ and controls its legacy, including managing all its old documentation. With that in mind, Peter Dahlin today issued this statement.


The very mission of ‘China Action’ was to strengthen enforcement of China’s law,s the very opposite of claims that it was in any way or form working to violate or break Chinese law. There is no legal basis for the prosecution of Wang Quanzhang as presented by the prosecutor, and the court should, without delay, have Wang Quanzhang set free. Likewise, the prosecution of Wang for participating in the now famous Jiansanjiang case have no merit in law, and any legal violations were perpetrated by Jiansanjiang police, not any of the many lawyers involved.


The evidence, as indicated by the prosecutor – according to an older, sealed, indictment, includes testimony from several other people, all but one which was effectively disappeared during their interrogations, placed into ‘residential surveillance at a designated location’ (RSDL). The indictment names Wang Yu, Chen Songzhu, Xing Jianshen and myself, Peter Dahlin. All were held in solitary confinement, without access to a lawyer, incommunicado, and as testimony released before has shown in some of those cases, some received physical and mental torture. Any ‘evidence’ collected through such interrogations should be inadmissible, as per Chinese law.



Knowing, based on what has been said either in public or in private by all those named, there is nothing in what was said in those interrogations that can qualify as evidence for the charge of subverting state power – the crime Wang Quanzhang is charged with. Many other people have been investigated in relation to this accusation, all of whom has been set free. The insistence of using this point to prosecute Wang, but no one else, makes it clear the prosecution has no basis in law and is a political statement from the Chinese government.


No part of ‘China Action’s’ work, focused on training of lawyers in Chinese law, providing legal representation and aid, nor its research and limited reporting, in any way constitute subversion of state power, especially important to note as the group’s mission was to improve the enforcement of Chinese law, the very opposite of violating or breaking said laws. Furthermore, all documentation underpinning the work of ‘China Action’, all the way back to its founding year, 2009, has been preserved and can illustrate every aspect of ‘China Action’s’ work.


More information will be released once more information from the prosecution and court hearing becomes known.



Peter Dahlin


BBC Journalists Union Condemns China’s Broadcaster CCTV

BBC Journalists Union Condemns China’s Broadcaster CCTV and Supports Ofcom Complaint on Forced Confessions


BBC World News AGM: Chapel Meeting – Friday 21st December 2018 1.30pm, Richard Dimbleby Room, B1 NBH


Referral of China Central Television to OFCOM

BBC World News NUJ Chapel notes that China Central Television (CCTV) is opening its largest media hub outside China in Chiswick, employing over 300 staff. According to Reporters Without Borders, China’s state and privately-owned media are under the Communist Party’s close control, while foreign reporters are encountering more and more obstacles. More than 50 journalists and bloggers are currently detained.

This NUJ Chapel condemns moves to deepen control by the Chinese Communist Party of news and information and the online surveillance of its citizens. We also condemn how forced televised confessions, filmed and broadcast by CCTV, are now commonplace in China. 

This Chapel therefore supports the complaint filed by victim and former Reuters journalist Peter Humphrey with OFCOM against CCTV for operating in violation of the regulator’s broadcasting code and for complicity in committing gross human rights violations.  This Chapel states that broadcasters cannot be accomplices to torture.

Proposed: David Campanale

Seconded: Jatinder Dillon



21 December 2018 – The human rights organisation Safeguard Defenders has learned today that BBC television journalists have moved a resolution condemning China’s state broadcaster CCTV over its airing of forced confessions from China in the UK and supporting the recent complaint to Ofcom of victim Peter Humphrey against Chinese TV’s involvement in this human rights abuse.


Mr. Humphrey, a former Reuters correspondent for almost 20 years and then due diligence consultant for 15 years in China, submitted a detailed complaint to Ofcom on 23 November calling for curbs on CCTV’s UK broadcast rights due to CCTV’s role in extracting and broadcasting forced and falsified “confessions” from him and his wife twice (in 2013 and 2014) while they were held under duress in a Shanghai jail on false charges of illegally acquiring private information.


Ofcom is the UK broadcasting regulator which enforces UK broadcasting laws. Mr. Humphrey’s complaint has pinpointed 15 violations of this law by CCTV in its broadcasting of his forced “confession”, centering around CCTV’s violation of the law’s privacy and fairness provisions and the standards of content. Ofcom has yet to reach a decision on Mr. Humphrey’s complaint.


Mr. Humphrey, a British citizen, and his American wife Yingzeng Yu, were incarcerated in Shanghai from July 2013 to June 2015, and Mr. Humphrey was denied medical treatment in captivity, causing cancer.


Safeguard Defenders welcomes the principled decision taken by BBC journalists trade union, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), convened on Friday. This resolution upholds professional ethics and journalistic values against the encroachment of abusive media practices employed by CCTV, an arm of the Chinese Communist Party.


“We call upon all journalists in the UK to act in concert with this move by the NUJ group at the BBC”, Safeguard defenders director Peter Dahlin said.


“I am very grateful for this thoughtful action from the BBC NUJ members and for their devotion to ethical journalism and the law,” Peter Humphrey said. No genuine professional journalist anywhere should accept CCTV’s behaviour.”


Friday’s resolution (above) was adopted by the television arm of the NUJ in BBC Global News.

Further revelations about CCTV’s use of Forced TV Confessions

Following continued research into the phenomenom of Forced TV Confessions (FCs), and in particular research undertaken in collaboration with Swedish journalist and social commentator Kurdo Baksi on the true extent of how these are broadcast outside China, through its various international Channels, this brief post has been drawn up to highlight the key points, and offer an updated version of the earlier database on Forced TV Confessions. New revelations range from which international channels are used, or not used, to broadcast, either directly or repackaged, such FCs internationally, to the companies that airs them abroad – from the United Kingdom to Canada to Sweden and beyond. More data has also come forth about Dong Qian, the former CCTV journalists, expanded role in working with police to make these confessions.


Mass broadcasts of Forced TV Confessions by CCTV/CGTN internationally

At the time of writing, since Xi Jinping came to power, Chinese media, almost always CCTV, have aired 48 TV confessions on primarily national TV. The hidden number of confessions aired but not identified, and confessions aired by regional or provincial TV stations, is likely large. Those 48 confessions videos have targeted at least 106 victims, many of them journalists, lawyers, other rights defenders or those with a strong social media presence. Now, new research has uncovered at least 29 of those videos aired internationally, often in stark violation and in clear breach of target countries’ TV broadcast regulations.

CCTV4, part of CCTV, not the international arm CGTN, airs around the world in Chinese, targeting the Chinese diaspora worldwide, with at least 121 countries receiving its broadcasts. CCTV4, for its broadcasts, hold its own CCTV license in those jurisdictions where a license is required, separate from any CGTN license. It has aired at least 27 TV confessions, and airs such confessions with foreigners in those foreigners’ home countries, from Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and the United States.

CGTN – China Global Television Network, has, in additional to CCTV4’s broadcasts, has also broadcast, in reworked segments in English language, eight (8) or more of these confessions. Other CGTN, like CGTN Francais – China’s French-language global channel, has also broadcast several such confessions. No research has been made into CGTN’s Arabic or Russian language broadcasts yet.

For more details, download and view the newly updated database (bilingual) here: Forced TV Confessions Database EN, CN 2018-12-18


Dong Qian: exposed as a key journalist in the attack on 709 lawyers

At the height of use of FCs, often tied to political campaign or crackdowns, against the 709 lawyers, Dong Qian, a high profile journalist with CCTV, emerged as a central figure. Over a period of a year CCTV ran FCs with some 20 different victims, some of whom were paraded on TV multiple times, and Dong Qian has now been named by four of those victims, as well as by Wu Gan, another 709 activist police and CCTV together tried to force to make such a TV recording but refused. As Dr. Liu Sixin exposes in his testimony in the new book on CCTV’s role in these Forced Televised Confessions, Dong Qian is seen not merely being one of several journalists brought in to extract, record, and produce such FCs, but taking an active coordinating role. Several other 709 activists who have been willing to provide background information have not felt secure enough to expose certain details, such as the specific journalists involved, and yet others have been too fearful to speak at all. Nonetheless, Dong Qian’s role in a slew of these, and her key role, often among several other journalists, have been exposed. Dong Qian left CCTV on murky grounds, and for now only rumors exist on how she exited CCTV.

More details on the true scope of CCTV’s collaboration with the Police, and on how Chinese state/party media is now expanding its broadcast and production centers around the world, and how it relates to Xi Jinping’s going out policy, is available in Safeguard Defenders new book, edited by Peter Dahlin, Trial By Media – China’s New Show Trials and the global expansion of Chinese state media.



Foreigners targeted through Forced Televised Confessions

Much has been made of the potential forced TV confessions from current Canadian detainees Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. However, CCTV has not only aired such TV confessions of Canadians before, but aired those confessions in Canada (Chen Zhiheng, Chen Zhiyu). Likewise, confessions by two Swedes, Safeguard Defenders’ Peter Dahlin and Hong Kong-based book publisher Gui Minhai have likewise been aired in Sweden. The list concerning other foreign victims, and broadcasts of their confessions in their home countries, goes on.

So far nine (9) such Forced TV Confessions with foreign victims have been broadcast internationally by CCTV4 – in Chinese, while China Global Television Network (CGTN) have also produced and aired tailored English-language broadcasts, so far eight (8) such Forced TV Confessions have been identified as broadcast on CGTN (English) internationally. In addition, a cursory look shows that some of those have also been aired in French language productions on CGTN Francais. More research could well find more broadcasts on CGTN’s Spanish, Arabic, and Russian channels.

Should Michael Kovrig or Michael Spavor appear on CCTV in a Forced TV Confession, chances are those confessions will likely be broadcast in Canada and around the world too.



Storm brewing over CCTV/CGTN broadcasts in several countries

CCTV4 and CGTN are made available in a great many countries, and is accessible in a variety of forms, from terrestrial broadcasts to Satellite and Cable. The United Kingdom holds one of the strongest TV broadcasting regulatory bodies (Ofcom), and is currently assessing a complaint against CCTV and CGTN made by UK victim Peter Humphrey is collaboration with Safeguard Defenders. The complaint was filed in tandem with a much-covered press conference held in London by Peter Humphrey and Peter Dahlin on November 23 this year.

Both precedent and the official Broadcasting code makes it clear CCTV/CGTN stands a very real risk of losing their license to broadcast there for these systematic and serious breaches of the Broadcasting code. Several additional complaints have been completed and stand ready to be filed.

In Sweden, due to CCTV4s broadcast of those Swedish citizen’s Forced TV Confessions, and due to the work by Swedish journalist Kurdo Baksi, there is a growing discussion of how the media company Telia offers both CCTV4 and CGTN in Sweden, referred to as ‘blood money’ by Sweden’s Peter Dahlin in an open letter in Sweden’s largest newspaper most recently.

In Canada, CCTV4 is being made available through cable transmissions, including by Shaw Communications and Rogers Cable, the latter one of Canada’s largest such provider, and which also offers GCTN. CGTN Francais is likewise available through Bell Fibe TV. In the United States terrestrial, Cable and several Satellite providers offer CCTV4 and CGTN, from DirecTV to Dish Network to Comcast, despite repeat broadcast of Forced TV Confessions of American citizens.