Four Years With No Contact, is Chinese Lawyer Gao Zhisheng Alive?

By Jennifer Bateman
Jennifer Bateman
Jennifer Bateman
July 22, 2021 Updated: July 22, 2021

Gao Zhisheng, a prominent Chinese human rights lawyer who has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize, was last seen in August four years ago and has not been heard from since. His whereabouts, life, or death remain unknown. At the closing ceremony of the International Religious Freedom Summit 2021 on July 16, his daughter, Grace Gao, called for the public to remain concerned about all those who, like her father, have been persecuted by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for defending human rights, faith, and freedom.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and U.S. congressman, Rep. Chris Smith attended the summit, and each expressed concern about the persecution of religions and faith groups by the Communist Chinese regime.

Grace Gao (Geng Ge) talked about how her father, Gao Zhisheng, a respected lawyer, became the target of suppression by the CCP because he defended faith groups that the Chinese authorities were persecuting. 

From 2006 till today, Gao Zhisheng has been detained, severely tortured, and disappeared many times. Four years ago, again, his family lost all knowledge of his whereabouts and safety. 

Grace Gao also recounted how her family was tracked by police and how eight police officers forcibly entered their two-bedroom apartment to spy on the family.

“Because a lot of people who are in jail…I think the only thing that keeps them alive its some people outside are caring about them, and are still praying for them. It’s very important,” said Ms. Gao.

She also joined Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council (FRC) and conference presenter, in “praying for the victims of Chinese Communist persecution, praying for Gao Zhisheng, that they are not alone, that the world cares about them, and that good will eventually prevail over evil,” tweeted Geng He on July 16, wife of Gao Zhisheng, who escaped China and brought her two children to the United States in 2009. 

In a video, Perkins praised Ms.Gao for taking the torch of freedom from her father and prayed that Gao Zhisheng would soon return to carry that torch again. He also said, “We will take up their call and we would speak on their behalf.”

Gao Zhisheng’s Wife Worries: He May Have Been Persecuted to Death

On August 13, 2017, Gao Zhisheng, who was still under illegal house arrest, suddenly lost all contact with the outside world. Gao’s wife Geng He, his family, and others have asked the relevant CCP departments for his whereabouts, but have not been given any information.

For the past three years, Gao Zhisheng “no phone calls, no messenger, no one knows anything about him, nothing, and he seems to have evaporated into thin air,” said Geng He at a protest rally in front of China’s Consulate in San Francisco on April 19.

Geng He said she imagined that she would one day be reunited with Gao Zhisheng, but now realizes that the idea was naive and she underestimated the evil of the CCP. She said that “an ominous premonition is getting stronger and stronger that Gao Zhisheng is likely to have been persecuted to death, otherwise he will definitely find a way to contact us to report peace, I know him.”

Geng He and Gao Zhisheng publicly announced their withdrawal from the CCP in November 2005 and Gao stated that he had converted to Christianity in the Epoch Times on December 13, 2005

In August 2006, Gao Zhisheng’s license to practice law was revoked. He was secretly abducted and painfully beaten and tortured for four months. In December of the same year, he was sentenced to three years in prison and five years of probation for “inciting subversion.”

In February 2009, while on probation, Gao Zhisheng was taken away by the authorities; in April 2010 he appeared briefly in Beijing and accepted an interview with the Associated Press; however, for the following 22 months, he was again out of contact with the outside world.

In August 2014, it was revealed that Gao Zhisheng was imprisoned in a Xinjiang prison, during which time he was subjected to various forms of torture, including electric shocks to his genitals. After his release from prison, Gao Zhisheng continued to be closely monitored by the authorities and then disappeared again on August 13, 2017.

With Great Courage, Gao Zhisheng Defended the Peaceful Faith Group Falun Gong

In early 2001, the Chinese Ministry of Justice named Gao Zhisheng one of the “Top Ten Lawyers in China,” and he was promoted on television. 

Beginning in 1996, Gao Zhisheng was advocating for the rights of vulnerable groups in China.  In 2004, when he began representing Falun Gong practitioners in lawsuits, he became the target of suppression by China’s Political and Legal Affairs Commission, the top Communist Party agency in charge of national security and stability maintenance.

After representing at least two Falun Gong cases and personally investigating Falun Gong practitioners being tortured and persecuted for their beliefs, on October 18, 2005, Gao Zhisheng issued  open letters to CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, asking the authorities to stop the torture and persecution of Falun Gong believers, indicating that the CCP’s persecution was “extinguishing the conscience and morality of the nation.”

In March 2006, the CCP crime of forced organ harvesting from Falun Gong practitioners was exposed. Gao Zhisheng publicly expressed his willingness to participate in an investigation of the allegations and wrote to former Canadian Secretary of State (Asia-Pacific) David Kilgour and international human rights lawyer David Matas, inviting them to China to take part.

In June 2006, the Chinese Communist authorities refused the requests of the two Canadians to enter China to conduct an independent investigation.

In August 2006, Gao Zhisheng’s life went into a tailspin when he was secretly arrested, tortured, and sentenced to prison and the persecution and maltreatment began that continues to this day. 

Hong Kong political commentator Xu Xing wrote an article in late 2005 praising Gao Zhisheng as “the bravest person who dared to touch the most dangerous forbidden zone of the human rights movement.”


Jennifer Bateman
Jennifer Bateman