Charter 08 is a manifesto initially signed by 303 Chinese
intellectuals and human rights activists. It was published on 10
December 2008, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights, adopting name and style from the anti-Soviet Charter 77
issued by dissidents in Czechoslovakia. Since its release, more
than 10,000 people inside and outside China have signed the
In 2009, one of the authors of Charter '08, Liu Xiaobo, was sentenced
to eleven years' imprisonment for "inciting subversion of state power"
because of his involvement. A year later, Liu was awarded the 2010
Nobel Peace Prize. Seven years later (July 2017), he died of terminal
liver cancer while still in captivity.
2.2 Outside of China
3 Signatories (selection)
4 See also
6 External links
Many of the original signatories were prominent citizens inside and
outside the government, including lawyers; a Tibetan poet and
essayist, Woeser; and Bao Tong, a former senior Communist Party
official, who all faced a risk of arrest and jail. The Charter
calls for 19 changes including an independent legal system, freedom of
association and the elimination of one-party rule. "All kinds of
social conflicts have constantly accumulated and feelings of
discontent have risen consistently," it reads. "The current system has
become backward to the point that change cannot be avoided." China
remains the only large world power to still retain an authoritarian
system that so infringes on human rights, it states. "This situation
must change! Political democratic reforms cannot be delayed any
Specific demands are:
Amending the Constitution.
Separation of powers.
An independent judiciary.
Public control of public servants.
Guarantee of human rights.
Election of public officials.
Abolition of the hukou system.
Freedom of association.
Freedom of assembly.
Freedom of expression.
Freedom of religion.
Free markets and protection of private property, including privatizing
state enterprises and land.
Financial and tax reform.
Protection of the environment.
A federated republic.
Truth in reconciliation.
The opening paragraph of the charter states:
This year is the 100th year of China's Constitution, the 60th
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 30th
anniversary of the birth of the Democracy Wall, and the 10th year
since China signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights. After experiencing a prolonged period of human rights
disasters and a tortuous struggle and resistance, the awakening
Chinese citizens are increasingly and more clearly recognizing that
freedom, equality, and human rights are universal common values shared
by all humankind, and that democracy, a republic, and
constitutionalism constitute the basic structural framework of modern
governance. A "modernization" bereft of these universal values and
this basic political framework is a disastrous process that deprives
humans of their rights, corrodes human nature, and destroys human
dignity. Where will China head in the 21st century? Continue a
"modernization" under this kind of authoritarian rule? Or recognize
universal values, assimilate into the mainstream civilization, and
build a democratic political system? This is a major decision that
cannot be avoided.
Protest in Hong Kong against the arrest of Liu Xiaobo
The Chinese government has said little publicly about the Charter.
On 8 December 2008, two days before the 60th anniversary of the United
Nations General Assembly's adoption of the Universal Declaration of
Liu Xiaobo was detained by police, hours before the
online release of the Charter. He was detained and later arrested
on 23 June 2009, on charges of "suspicion of inciting the subversion
of state power." Several Nobel Laureates have written a letter
Hu Jintao asking for his release; in response, the
Chinese government has suppressed them: at least 70 of its 303
original signatories have been summoned or interrogated by police
while domestic media have been forbidden to interview anyone who has
signed the document. Police have also searched for or questioned a
journalist, Li Datong, and two lawyers, though none have been
arrested. State media has been banned from reporting on the
manifesto. A blogging website popular with activists, bullog.cn,
which may have had ties to the Charter, has been shut down. On 25
Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison for
"inciting subversion of state power" activities by the court. On 8
October 2010 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for his long and
non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China".
Outside of China
A number of governments, including those of the United States and
Germany, as well as the opposition in Taiwan, have condemned
the harassment of supporters of
Charter 08 as well as hailing the
Charter. Western press has generally covered the Charter positively,
and international NGOs have supported its message. Other
international figures, including the Dalai Lama, have also voiced
their support and admiration of the Charter. There were also
protests in Hong Kong demanding the release of
Liu Xiaobo and other
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Charter 08.
Charter 77 (Czechoslovakia)
Charter 97 (Belarus)
Human rights in the People's Republic of China
Law of the People's Republic of China
Fifth Modernization (Wei Jingsheng)
^ "Over 5000 people have signed the Charter 08
(《零八宪章》签名已超过5000人)". Boxun. 17 December 2008.
Retrieved 15 December 2008.
^ Spencer, Richard (9 December 2008). "Chinese dissidents emulate
anti-Soviet heroes with Charter 08". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 10
^ A Nobel Prize for a Chinese Dissident, The New York Times, September
^ Why China's leadership should talk to the
Charter 08 movement,
Washington Post, 30 January 2009.
^ Small green shoots of rebellion among ordinary Chinese, Irish Times,
31 January 2009.
^ a b Macartney, Jane (10 December 2008). "Leading Chinese dissident,
Liu Xiaobo, arrested over freedom charter". London: Times Online.
Retrieved 10 December 2008.
^ Link, Perry. "
Charter 08 Translated from Chinese by Perry Link The
following text of Charter 08, signed by hundreds of Chinese
intellectuals and translated and introduced by Perry Link, Professor
of Chinese Literature at the University of California, Riverside". The
New York Review of Books. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
Charter 08 (translated from the Chinese by Human Rights in China)".
Human Rights in China. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
^ a b c China aims to silence reform call, BBC News, 12 January 2009.
^ Human Rights in China, "Independent Scholars Detained: Start of 2009
Crackdown?," 9 December 2008.
Manifesto on Freedom Sets China’s Persecution Machinery in
Motion, New York Times, 3 May 2009.
^ "刘晓波因涉嫌煽动颠覆国家政权罪被依法逮捕" (Liu
Xiaobo Formally Arrested on 'Suspicion of Inciting Subversion of State
Power' Charges), China Review News, 24 June 2009.
^ a b "Beijing acts to stifle dissident call for reform," Financial
Times, 3 January 2009.
^ "Media Ban on Charter Activists,"
UNHCR and RFA, 24 December 2008.
^ "Edgy China blog site shut amid Internet porn sweep Archived January
23, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.," Associated Press, 9 January 2009.
^ Sean McCormack, Sean McCormack (11 December 2008). "Harassment of
Chinese Signatories to
Charter 08 Press Statement Sean McCormack,
Spokesman Washington, DC". U.S. Department of State. Archived from the
original on December 14, 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
^ "China retaliates against signatories of rights charter". Trend
News. 11 December 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
Taiwan should heed "Charter 08" message,
Taiwan News, 25 December
^ "Independent Scholars Detained: Start of 2009 Crackdown?" Human
Rights in China, 9 December 2008.
^ "China: Retaliation for Signatories of Rights Charter Critic Liu
Xiaobo Remains in Police Custody". Human Rights Watch. 10 December
2008. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
^ "International PEN protests the detention of leading Chinese
dissident writer Liu Xiaobo". International Pen. 17 December 2008.
Archived from the original on 26 January 2009. Retrieved 18 December
^ "Statement From His Holiness the Dalai Lama". the 14th Dalai Lama.
11 December 2008. Archived from the original on December 12, 2008.
Retrieved 11 December 2008.
Full text of Charter 08: Original Chinese or Original Chinese (pdf),
English translation by Perry Link,English translation with postscript
by Perry Link, English translation by Human Rights in China
Charter 08 main site (Chinese) -- includes updated news and signature
Charter 08 main site (English) -- includes updated news and ability to
sign the charter online
"News about Charter 08," China Digital Times
"Chinese Support Charter 08," History News Network
"Over 300 sign 'Charter 08', a manifesto for human rights in China,
but some are already arrested