Beijing Uses Pension System to Punish Dissidents, Faith Groups

By Haizhong Ning
Haizhong Ning
Haizhong Ning
Haizhong Ning was a state employee and worked for a real estate company in China, before moving abroad and working as a reporter with a focus on Chinese affairs and politics for more than seven years.
and Yi Ru
Yi Ru
Yi Ru
December 15, 2021 Updated: December 17, 2021

News Analysis

Chinese rights defenders are often deprived of their pensions as a punishment by the Chinese Communist regime.

The 74-year old Cui Xuemin, formerly a teacher at a junior college in Heilongjiang Province, received such treatment after she defended her rights to practice Falun Gong. She was imprisoned for three years and had her retirement pension revoked.

Cui retired in 1998. In a recent interview, she told the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times that the regime canceled her retirement fund in October 1999.

“I have not received a dime since,” she said. Cui is now in political asylum in Canada.

Many Chinese Falun Gong adherents have reported similar experiences, according to, a U.S.-based website that documents the regime’s brutal campaign of persecution against the practice of Falun Gong since July 1999.

Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, is a meditative practice that includes a set of moral teachings based on the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance. The regime started the persecution of Falun Gong in July 1999. Since then millions have been detained in various facilities, while hundreds and thousands have been tortured, according to the Falun Dafa Information Center.

Weaponizing the Pension System

In recent years, many Chinese dissidents and rights defenders also became victims of pension suspensions.

The following are examples:

Sun Wenguang, a retired professor of Shandong University, had his retirement pension reduced from professorship to staff level in 2018, due to his view of democratic reform in China.

Cai Xia, a retired professor at Central Party School, had her retirement benefits revoked in 2020 due to her remarks that were charged as being “serious political problems and that damage the country’s reputation” by the regime.

Yan Zhihua, a Chinese historian, had his pension canceled in 2020, due to his book documenting the death of 1.4 million local residents in a district of Sichuan Province during the 1959-1962 Great Famine.

“It is personal savings, it should not have been abused as a political means,” said Chien-yuan Tseng, president of New School for Democracy.

In an interview with the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times, Tseng commented that depriving personal pension is murderous and inhumane, “It’s political blackmail.”

Legality Concerns

Zhu Shengwu, who had previously practiced law in China, told the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times, “Pensions are basic rights and can’t be canceled,” which is true according to the Party’s law and international law.”

He said that the regime says one thing, but does another, “it advocates rights to survival, but it also blatantly deprives people’s survival means.”

He also said that none of the Party’s laws stipulates suspension of retirement pensions during imprisonment. But he saw many elderly Falun Gong adherents were deprived of their pensions while subjected to imprisonment for exercising their freedom of belief.

Falun Dafa Information Center spokesperson Zhang Erping emphasized that there have been many elderly Falun Gong adherents mistreated by the regime since the persecution campaign started.

He said that in just March this year, at least five Falun Gong adherents over 80 years of age were known to be imprisoned.

He particularly mentioned the United Nations Principles for Older Persons, adopted in 1991. It states: “Older persons should be able to live in dignity and security and be free of exploitation and physical or mental abuse” and “treated fairly regardless of age, gender, racial or ethnic background, disability or other status, and be valued independently of their economic contribution.”

However, “as a member state, the regime is taking the lead in undermining this UN principle,” Zhang said.

Haizhong Ning was a state employee and worked for a real estate company in China, before moving abroad and working as a reporter with a focus on Chinese affairs and politics for more than seven years.
Yi Ru