‘Political Crimes’ Make a Comeback in China

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Originally published by Washington Free Beacon on January 15, 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping has revived the prosecution of dissidents for political crimes, according to a human rights group.

Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) says at least 22 political activists have beencharged with “inciting subversion of state power” and “subversion of state power” since May 2014. While authorities had begun to issue less politically motivated charges between 2012 and the start of 2014 such as “disrupting” public order—“perhaps to try to avoid both domestic and international criticism of clear political suppression,” CHRD suspects—explicit political prosecutions have returned:

A resurgence in political charges against HRDs has been observed especially with the crackdowns around the 25th June Fourth anniversary and on mainland supporters of the Hong Kong protests. Crimes like “inciting subversion” and “subversion” carry a heavier maximum sentence than offenses related to public and social order. As such, applying political charges suggests that authorities may be looking to punish “troublesome” members of civil society more harshly.

In addition, Hangzhou police have been holding two individuals affiliated with the banned China Democracy Party—Chen Shuqing and Lü Gengsong—on charges of “subversion of state power” since September 2014 (see report). Also, the outspoken human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强), who has been detained since May 2014, is facing a concocted charge of “inciting separatism,” another serious political offense, among four total charges.

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