2 Journalists Imprisoned for Outspokenness & Hong Kong Democrats Targeted

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2 Journalists Imprisoned for Outspokenness & Hong Kong Democrats Targeted

China Human Rights Briefing

January 7 – 14, 2021

Mass Arrests in Hong Kong Under National Security Law Target Democrats

Hong Kong Police Force arrested 53 members of the pro-democracy camp in the early morning of January 6, 2021 on charges of “subverting state power” for holding a democratic primary election in July 2020. The use of the National Security Law against pro-democracy activists, legislators, academics, and lawyers marks a further deterioration in the human rights situation in Hong Kong. CHRD joined 34 organizations in speaking out against the arrests as a “wholesale attack on democracy in Hong Kong, and a criminalization of freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, and freedom of association.”

Former Journalist Zhang Jialong Sentenced to 20 Months for Outspoken Tweets

Nanming District Court in Guiyang City handed down a 1.5-year prison sentence to former journalist Zhang Jialong (张贾龙) on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” on January 8, 2021. Police initially seized Zhang from his home on August 12, 2019 and criminally detained him the next day. Authorities targeted Zhang for having “retweeted” or “liked” tweets either critical of the government or advocating media freedom. Shortly before police took him away, Zhang had “liked” a few tweets about the Hong Kong protests. Zhang was a journalist with Tencent until 2014, when he met with then-US Secretary John Kerry, and asked Kerry to help “tear down this great firewall that blocks the Internet.” As a result, he was fired from Tencent. He continued to make occasional comments on social media. Zhang vowed to appeal the prison sentence. He is currently held at the Nanming District Detention Center in Guiyang City and is expected to be released on February 11, 2021.

Journalist Li Xinde Imprisoned for Five-Years for Investigative Reporting on Corruption

Journalist Li Xinde (李新德) received a 5-year prison sentence on January 7, 2021 when he was convicted of “illegal business activity.” The Pizhou City Court in Jiangsu Province also sentenced Li’s son, Li Chao (李超), to one year in prison. Li Xinde vowed to appeal. Pizhou police initially detained Li Xinde in October 2019 and placed him in “residential surveillance at a designated location.” The arrest came shortly after Li had published on his website, which focused on exposing corrupt officials, a report that a court in Tianjin had wrongfully convicted a businessman. Li Xinde has worked as an investigative reporter since the 1980s. He founded and ran the “China Public Watchdog Network” anti-corruption website since 2003. His investigative reporting had previously led to prison sentences for corrupt officials and he has been featured in other media for his crusading reporting.

Lawyer Zhou Ze’s License Suspended as Administrative Punishment on Lawyers Widens

Beijing Judicial Bureau suspended for one-year the law license of human rights lawyer Zhou Ze (周泽) on January 7, 2021. The bureau cited the reason for this punishment as his releasing of a video on social media disclosing evidence of torture used by police against his client before a trial. Judicial authorities have increasingly used administrative penalties to punish the few remaining human rights lawyers after the 2015 “709 Crackdown.” Most recently, the family-hired lawyers of the “Hong Kong 12,” Lu Siwei and Ren Qianniu, received notices on January 4 and December 31, respectively, that authorities intended to revoke their licenses. On January 13, the Sichuan Judicial Bureau held a hearing on the disbarment of Lu Siwei. Authorities accused Lu of “endangering national security,” citing his comments critical of authorities on Twitter. Henan Judicial Bureau will hold a hearing on lawyer Ren Qianniu on January 19.

Strong Human Rights Safeguards Must be Included in EU-China Investment Agreement

CHRD joins a coalition of 36 civil society organisations in a Joint Appeal  to the European Institutions calling for the inclusion of enforceable human rights clauses in the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment. In the appeal, we expressed “grave concerns” at the omission of a human rights clause from the discussion about the agreement and from the agreement’s final text. The groups state that the omission “sends a signal that the European Union will push for closer cooperation [with China] regardless of the scale and severity of human rights abuses carried out by the Chinese Communist Party, even when Beijing is in direct and open violation of international treaties and continues to obstruct international monitoring of the human rights situation.”


Renee Xia, Director (Mandarin, English), +1 863 866 1012, reneexia[at]nchrd.org

Frances Eve, Deputy Director of Research (English), +1 661 240 9177, franceseve[at]nchrd.org

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