Jiang Tianyong
Current Status

Serving a two-year jail sentence

Case Summary

Jiang Tianyong was born in 1971 in Henan province where he worked as a teacher from 1995 to 2004. In 2004, he moved to Beijing to pursue his interest in human rights, where he passed the bar in 2005 and began working at Beijing Globe Law Firm.

Mr. Jiang specialized in cases concerning religious persecution, in part because of discrimination he himself experienced as a Christian in China. Due to his legal representation of various religious groups, he has been prevented from meeting with his clients, placed under surveillance, detained and interrogated, blocked from traveling, and eventually disbarred. His family has also been harassed, threatened, and physically abused.

State surveillance of Mr. Jiang has taken a variety of forms. On May 25, 2009, in anticipation of the 20th anniversary of the 1989 pro-democracy movement, police began monitoring Mr. Jiang’s movements and “escorted” him whenever he left his property. From June 3 to June 7, he was confined to his home. When he requested a meeting with U.S. President Obama during the President’s visit to China in November 2009, he was taken into police custody and interrogated for 13 hours, then released to house arrest until Obama’s visit ended.

On July 9, 2009, the Beijing Justice Bureau announced that Jiang Tianyong’s license to practice law would not be renewed, along with those of Li Heping, Li Xiongbing, Li Chunfu, Wang Yajun, and Guo Shaofei (all human rights lawyers). This action was purportedly based on articles 23(1)(3) and 23(1)(4) of the Methods for the Management of Lawyers’ Practice, which authorizes the local justice bureaus to cancel a lawyer’s license if his law firm terminates his contract of employment or the license of the law firm itself has been revoked and the lawyer is unable to secure employment by another law firm within six months, or if for any other reason the lawyer stops practicing law. When Mr. Jiang asked his firm and the Justice Department for an explanation of why his license was not being renewed, the Justice Department told him that his law firm was responsible, while the firm manager said the decision was made under pressure from the Justice Department. Mr. Jiang was also told that his contract with the law firm had already expired at the end of 2008 despite the fact that the law firm had extended his employment contract to November 2011.

After his disbarment, Mr. Jiang was continuously harassed. On November 9, 2009, upon returning to Beijing from a four week visit to the United States during which he gave speeches about human rights abuses and testified before Congress, he was detained and interrogated, his wife was beaten, and his 7-year-old daughter was interrogated. In September 2010, Mr. Jiang and his family frequently returned to their home to find that the door locks had been jammed, preventing them from entering, but the police refused to investigate.

Additionally, Mr. Jiang is no longer permitted to travel internationally. In May 2010, he was blocked from flying from Beijing to Hong Kong. On October 30, 2010, he was prevented from flying to the United States, where he had been invited to observe the midterm elections and meet with congressmen, U.S. district court judges, and legal scholars, on the grounds that if he left China he could endanger state security. On February 1, 2011, Mr. Jiang was stopped at the border of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, from where he had hoped to travel to the United States for a human rights conference, on grounds that he was a suspected criminal.

On February 16, 2011, Mr. Jiang attended a luncheon where he and other lawyers and activists discussed ways of helping Chen Guangcheng, a lawyer then being held under draconian conditions of house arrest. Mr. Jiang was seized by police after the meeting, interrogated and beaten. Although released, he was detained again on February 19 and his personal computer and other personal items were confiscated. He was released two months later, on April 19, 2011.

In May of 2012, while attempting to visit Chen Guangcheng in the hospital, Mr. Jiang was beaten and placed under surveillance. After days of authorities monitoring him and his family, Mr. Jiang left Beijing. On May 13, 2013, Mr. Jiang was among eight lawyers taken into custody in Ziyang County after going to visit the Ziyang Legal Detention Center,  allegedly the largest “black jail” in Sichuan Province. While in custody the lawyers were beaten by police and interrogated before being escorted out of Yingjie Township on May 14.

In August 2017, Mr. Jiang disappeared into police custody on his way home, and was later brought up on subversion charges. In November 2017, he was sentenced to two years in prison.

Last updated July 18, 2018

Other Resources

Chinese Human Rights Defenders, Chinese Authorities Resort to Violence Against Human Rights Defenders (5/ 9-14, 2013), available at http://www.chrdnet.com/2013/05/7768.

Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, Addendum, Summary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received, ¶345-52, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/22/Add.1 (Feb. 24, 2010), available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/13session/reports.htm.

Jiang Tianyong, “Human Rights Attorneys in China Very Active But Find Themselves in a Dire Situation,” July 5, 2009, available at http://www.cecc.gov/pages/roundtables/2009/20090710/FinalLawyersStatements_bob%20Fu.pdf.

Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Leandro Despouy, Addendum, Situations in specific countries or territories, ¶72, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/41/Add.1 (May 19, 2009), available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/11session/reports.htm.

Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya, Addendum, Summary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received, ¶588-90, 656-60, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/10/12/Add.1 (March 4, 2009), available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrcouncil/10session/reports.htm.


China Aid Association, “19 Lawyers Write Anti-Torture Open Letter in Response to Hooding of Fan Yafeng & Gao Zhisheng,” Jan. 18, 2010, available at http://www.chinaaid.org/2011/01/19-lawyers-write-anti-torture-open.html.

China Human Rights Lawyers Defense Group, “Eight Lawyers Detained for Over 12 Hours, Seven of them were Beaten Up Outside Sichuan’s Largest Black Jail,” May 14, 2013, available at http://chrlawyers.hk/en/content/seven-lawyers-disappeared-after-being-beaten-outside-sichuan-largest-black-jail

Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, “An Evaluation of 30 Years of the One-Child Policy in China,” hearing transcript, Nov. 10, 2009, available at http://tlhrc.house.gov/hearing_notice.asp?id=1201.

The New York Times, “China Finds Lawyer Who Exposed Torture Allegations Guilty of Inciting Subversion” https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/world/asia/china-lawyer-jiang-tianyong-sentence-subversion.html