Fresh from his release from his latest prison sentence, veteran Chinese dissident Xu Wanping said Wednesday his political views remain unchanged despite spending nearly half his life in detention.
Xu was given an early release from the Yuzhou prison in the southwestern megacity of Chonging on Tuesday morning, after serving nine years of a 12-year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power.”
A former factory worker and member of the banned Chinese Democracy Party, Xu, 53, has spent a total of 20 years in various forms of detention since 1989.
He told RFA’s Mandarin Service Wednesday that he remained steadfast in his political views despite his time in prison, but that he did not yet know how he would spend his time now that he has been released.
“Of course my political views have not changed. How could I change them? It would be impossible for me to change my political stance,” he said.
“I’ll wait and see and familiarize myself with the current situation. I will have more time to read and write.”
Xu said he had been granted a three-year reduction to his original 12-year sentence, but did not specify the reason.
The early release comes with four years’ deprivation of political rights—which includes restrictions on voting and speaking to the media—Xu said, noting he needed to be “cautious” about talking with RFA.
Xu said that when he left the prison, authorities allowed him to take with him some of the essays he had written during his detention, but they had kept others after checking their contents.
He reported that his health was “average,” but his wife, Chen Xianying, who picked him up from prison on Tuesday, said she was concerned that the years behind bars had taken a toll on his health.
“I am worried about his health as he has been jailed for so many years of his life,” she said.
“He has devoted more than half of his life to the democratic cause—as he was first jailed in his twenties—and he has health problems all over his body that have never been taken care of completely.”
“All of his hair has turned gray,” she added.
Xu suffered from digestive, prostate, and various other ailments during his imprisonment, according to New York-based advocacy group Human Rights in China.
He was denied medical parole and some medical exams despite repeated requests, the group said.
Chen was beaten badly by prison authorities while visiting Xu, who was barred from attending his mother’s funeral when she passed away last year, according to the group.
Xu was first jailed for eight years in 1989 for taking part in pro-democracy protests in Chongqing.
In 1998, he was ordered to spend three years in a labor camp for inciting laid-off workers to protest, before being jailed again in 2005 following a wave of anti-Japanese protests.
Reported by Qiao Long for RFA’s Mandarin Service. Translated by Xiaoming Feng. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.