Tang Jingling
Current Status

In prison

Case Summary

Tang Jingling was born in the 1970s. He practiced law at the Huazhijie Law Firm in Guangzhou, Guangdong province prior to 2006, when lost his license. His clients included villagers fighting corruption, children who suffered brain damage as a result of vaccinations, relatives of those killed by counterfeit medicines, uncompensated victims of land grabs, and arrested rights defenders including Guo Feixiong.

On February 2, 2006, Mr. Tang was working with activist Guo Feixiong on an election recall case in Taishi. As he left Mr. Guo’s residence, a group of unidentified men began to follow him and one of them hit him in the head from behind.  The group surrounded him, hit him again and stomped on his feet. He escaped and went to the local police station to report the crime, but he police refused to process a complaint.

A few weeks later, in April of 2006, Mr. Tang lost his license to practice when the Hauzhijie Law Firm, under pressure from authorities, refused to sponsor his annual license renewal.

After his disbarment, Mr. Tang continued to be harassed by law enforcement officials. On November 27, 2009, he was a guest lecturer at the Guangzhou College of Vocational Technology on the topic of internet censorship and Twitter. A member of the campus security force sat in on his class, stopped the lecture, arrested Mr. Tang, and took him to the local police station for interrogation. He was released after three hours of questioning.

On September 18, 2010, Mr. Tang was briefly seized by local police and warned against participating in expected anti-Japan protests. On November 24, he was detained for four hours at a security checkpoint before being released.

On September 5, 2012, while in the middle of his investigation regarding the death of Li Wangyang, Mr. Tang was detained and held sleep deprived by authorities for over five days, and released with his cell phone, laptop and camera destroyed by the Guangzhou municipal police. Preceding the 18th Chinese Communist Party Congress in November 2012, Mr. Tang was warned by police not to leave Guangzhou, receive guests, or grant interviews.

On May 29, 2013, in anticipation of the 24th anniversary of the 1989 pro-democracy movement, Tang was warned by police not to meet with friends around the anniversary, and was taken away from his house to “go travel.” In early June 2013, Mr. Tang was detained on suspicion of “disturbing public order” and questioned for six hours by police after attempting to visit detained activist Liu Ping in Jiangxi province.

In January 2016, Mr. Tang was sentenced to the Maximum five-year prison sentence for “inciting subversion of state power”. He has been incarcerated since.

Last updated July 18, 2018

Other Resources

Chinese Human Rights Defenders, “Chinese Police Detain Anti-Graft Activist’s Supporters,” June 3, 2013, available at http://chrdnet.com/2013/06/chinese-police-detain-anti-graft-activists-supporters/

Zan Aizong, “Rights Defense and ‘Non-Violent Non-Cooperation’,” Human Rights in China, available at http://www.hrichina.org/public/contents/article?revision_id=161425&item_id=161424.


Human Rights in China, “Lawyer Retained by Li Wangyang Unlawfully held for Six days,” Sep. 11, 2012, http://www.hrichina.org/content/6288

Radio Free Asia, “Lawyer detained over Twitter lecture,” Feb. 12, 2009, http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/lawyerdetained-11302009170103.html?searchterm=None.

SCMP, “Chinese rights lawyer Tang Jingling dealt maximum 5-year jail sentence for subversion” https://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/1906542/chinese-rights-lawyer-tang-jingling-dealt-maximum-5