Stanford Report Online

Stanford Report, February 7, 2001
Hua's second conviction, 10-year sentence dismay colleagues


A Stanford researcher who was arrested in China three years ago on charges of revealing state secrets has been convicted for a second time and sentenced to 10 years in prison, according to published reports.

Hua Di, a Chinese nuclear weapons expert at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), has appealed the conviction and is expecting a decision soon, the New York Times reported Feb. 3.

"I am very disappointed and dismayed to hear now that Hua Di has been convicted a second time," said Scott Sagan, co-director of CISAC. "It is my hope that the appeal will go forward and be successful. In addition, I would hope the Chinese authorities would take Hua Di's health into consideration. We don't have full information on the details of the conviction, nor have we received information about the status of his health and subsequent treatment."

Hua, 64, was receiving chemotherapy treatment for male breast cancer when he traveled to China in January 1998 for a family funeral. Hua is a Chinese citizen but holds permanent U.S. residency. Despite assurances from Chinese security officials for his safety, Hua was detained shortly after his arrival in Beijing and has been incarcerated ever since. Song Yongyi, a Dickinson College librarian and historian who was detained in China for six months and held in a cell next to Hua until being released in January 2000, reported that Hua's health was very poor at the time. Chinese prisoners are denied medical checkups, Song said.

"[Hua] has been in prison now for over three years and I personally hope that authorities in Beijing will consider his health condition in whatever final decisions are made," Sagan said.

Last March, in an unusual move for a politically sensitive case, an appeals court nullified Hua's initial conviction and 15-year sentence. It was sent for retrial to the Beijing First Intermediate Court after a higher court agreed with part of Hua's appeal "that the evidence used to convict him was insufficient or inadequate, or what the court called unclear," said Professor Emeritus John Lewis, who worked closely with Hua. Sagan said that decision made him "slightly optimistic" that Hua might be released until he heard last week that his colleague was secretly re-indicted in September and convicted and sentenced again on Nov. 23. Hua's lawyer filed an appeal on Nov. 28, according to published reports.

Hua joined CISAC in July 1989; he worked on the center's Project on Peace and Cooperation in the Asian-Pacific Region. A child of the Communist elite, Hua was a senior military scientist in China who fled to the United States in June 1989 after he publicly criticized the government's crackdown on the pro-democracy movement and feared arrest. At Stanford, Hua collaborated mainly with Lewis and wrote influential articles that Chinese prosecutors have charged included vital state secrets. Lewis has said the work was based on publicly available documents.

According to Sagan, Hua wrote about Chinese military policy, nuclear weapons history and arms control thinking at Stanford. "This work served the important and useful function of helping to explain Chinese defense policy to American audiences, which served to encourage cooperation and understanding between the two countries," he said. 

Hua Di