Fujian Province: Chinese Medicine Doctor Sentenced to 5.5 Years

Dr. Li Jianxi's hometown, Xiamen City, Fujian Province (Image by Zhang Guifu/Getty Images via Canva)

Dr. Li Jianxi's hometown, Xiamen City, Fujian Province (Image by Zhang Guifu/Getty Images via Canva)

Mr. Li Jianxi, a 55-year-old physician and Falun Gong practitioner in Xiamen City, Fujian Province, was sentenced to 5.5 years and fined 50,000 yuan (approx. 7,000 USD) on November 23, 2023.

Jimei Public Security Police arrested Dr. Li in June 2022. After going through patients’ medical records, police called them to ask if Dr. Li had spoken to them about Falun Gong or given them materials about the persecution.

Leading up to Li’s arrest, he was repeatedly harassed by local Political and Legal Affairs Committee officials and security agents, including attempting to pressure Dr. Li’s landlord to terminate the lease of his office.

Dr. Li’s sentence is among numerous cases of the Chinese judiciary arbitrarily punishing Falun Gong practitioners for their belief or information sharing. Though reports have not explicitly stated what law Dr. Li was charged with, it is likely Article 300, “using a dissident organization to undermine implementation of the law,” the standard pretext for persecuting Falun Gong practitioners.

Dr. Li’s sentencing was first reported by Weiquanwang (Rights Protection Network), a network of Chinese rights defenders, and has subsequently been covered by Radio Free Asia, and Minghui, an overseas Falun Gong website that publishes first-hand accounts from citizen journalists across China. Earlier reports from Minghui reveal details about Dr. Li’s arrest and the persecution he has faced for over 20 years.

Years of Surveillance and Harassment

Soon after the persecution of Falun Gong started in 1999, Dr. Li went to Beijing to appeal for the right to practice the meditation discipline and was detained for 15 days. Since then, security forces have kept Dr. Li under close watch.

He studied medicine under a famous Chinese medicine doctor, Li Ke, and became quite well known himself. Local security officials have gone to great lengths to damage the renowned doctor’s career. In 2020, the Jimei District Political and Legal Affairs Committee ordered the Health Bureau and Drug Administration to inspect Dr. Li’s clinic three times in the span of four months. Each time health officials came to investigate, they were accompanied by armed police. But they found nothing to incriminate him.

Nevertheless, authorities attempted to pressure his landlord into terminating the lease of the clinic, claiming Dr. Li had engaged in “illegal activities.” According to Minghui, several security officers also posed as patients seeking medical consultation to collect evidence against him.

Arrest and Show Trial

After arbitrarily detaining Dr. Li on June 19, 2022—as well as his wife, son, brother, medical staff, and two patients—police went through the clinic’s medical records to collect his patients phone numbers. Police then called the patients and asked if Dr. Li spoke to them about Falun Gong or gave them informational materials, such as flyers about the persecution.

While his family members, staff, and patients were all released, Chinese security forces placed Dr. Li under residential surveillance for 14 days before taking him into custody on July 4, 2022. The Jimei District Court approved his arrest a month later on August 10. For over one year he has been held at the Xiamen No. 3 Detention Center.

The Jimei District Court held a virtual hearing on November 23, 2023. As far as Dr. Li’s family is aware, this was his only trial. Without any prosecution argument or defense from his attorney, the judge simply announced that Dr. Li was sentenced to 5.5 years and fined 50,000 yuan (approx. 7,000 USD).

Dr. Li’s case exemplifies a broader issue in China’s judicial system—namely, a disregard for the rule of law, particularly in Falun Gong trials. These verdicts often seem to reflect the biases of the judiciary rather than the outcome of a thorough legal examination. Furthermore, the application of Article 300, a controversial law used to prosecute Falun Gong practitioners intensifies the legal ambiguity. It criminalizes “using a dissident organization to undermine implementation of the law,” yet fails to specify which laws are supposedly being undermined. Moreover, any debate over the unconstitutionality of Article 300 is systematically suppressed in courtroom proceedings—a significant obstacle for lawyers defending Falun Gong practitioners and a sobering reminder of the challenge Falun Gong activists face in their road to freely practicing their faith.