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China: MeToo Journalist Is On Trial For “Subversion”

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The trial of a Chinese journalist and her labor rights activist ally is again laying bare China’s increasingly oppressive statute on civil society. Huang Xueqin, at one time an influential figure in the Chinese #MeToo movement, and Wang Jianbing, her ally, were apprehended by the authorities in September 2021. Over six months later, both now find themselves grappling with charges of “inciting subversion of state power.” The muddled legal terms underlying their charges make evident the continual tendency in recent years for Beijing to repress outspoken critics of societal issues in the nation.

Huang rose to recognition early in 2018 for her endeavors towards encouraging victims of sexual harassment to break their silence. Her creation of a social media outlet for reporting such cases of alleged misconduct further highlighted the abiding issue in universities and offices alike. Following her detainment in 2021 – not her first brush with the law – she delivered a handwritten testimony, affirming that “Being a journalist is not a crime,” the Times reports.

Her ally, Wang, demonstrated a commitment not only to the rights of the disabled but also laborers. He also stood as an advocate for the #MeToo community, providing a platform for harassment victims to come forward.

However, their bold stance led to severe reprisal from the authorities. In pillorying such advocates of change, Beijing has moved to silence critics and handcuff free speech, expanding their reign of censorship over voices that criticized alleged institutional abuses. The polarity between the public and the government has only widened in recent years, suggesting an intensifying trend of crackdowns on dissenters.

According to the human rights organization, Chinese Human Rights Defenders, China’s state organs have systematically crippled civil society over the past decade, pushing it into disarray. They’ve highlighted the increasingly ruthless tactics Beijing has opted to employ, including the arbitrary detainment of societal activists and their attempts to keep them silent.

The narrative of Huang and Wang is not an isolated one, but rather a testament to the crusade that Beijing has waged against an array of societal factions, be it activists, lawyers, business leaders, or intellectuals.

The pair’s trial, held at the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court, has perpetuated the government’s ironclad grip on civil liberties.

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