Huang Xueqin (黄雪琴)Comments Off on Huang Xueqin (黄雪琴)
Huang Xueqin 黄雪琴
Crime: “Inciting subversion of state authority”
Length of Punishment: N/A
Court: Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court
Trial Date: September 22, 2023
Sentencing Date: N/A
Dates of Detention/Arrest: 19 September 2021
Place of Incarceration: Guangzhou No. 2 Detention Center
“Being a journalist is not a crime.” — From statement written by Huang Xueqin during her October 2019 detention.
Huang Xueqin, also known as Sophia, is an independent journalist and #MeToo movement leader. On September 19, 2021, Huang was due to leave for the United Kingdom to begin a master’s program at the University of Sussex on a British government scholarship, but she was detained that afternoon by Guangzhou public security while at the home of friend and labor activist, Wang Jianbing. Both would be held by Guangzhou authorities under suspicion of “inciting subversion of state authority” for months without contact with family or friends, or access to lawyers. Police also seized their personal belongings, including Huang’s journals.
Huang and Wang became known collectively by supporters campaigning for their release by the portmanteau “Xuebing.” For the first few months of their detention, information about the basis of their detention was mostly inferenced from the intense questioning to which authorities subjected those who knew them. Over several months at least forty of Huang and Wang’s friends and fellow travelers in rights defense circles across the country would be harassed and interrogated by public security in Guangzhou and across the country without legal summons. Authorities had identified them through surveillance footage gathered from a camera that had been installed at the front door of Jianbing’s apartment building. Those interrogated shared afterward that authorities downloaded the contents of their smartphones for investigation and pressured them to sign fabricated testimonies asserting that Huang and Wang had organized gatherings at Wang’s apartment to discuss politically sensitive topics. While many of these friends had indeed been hosted by Wang at his apartment, they report that they were mundane social gatherings where they talked about their daily lives, providing emotional support and sharing thoughts about charitable causes and art; their conversation rarely touched on political topics.
Another early source of public information about Huang Xueqin’s detention has been that uncovered by Wang Jianbing’s family the course of their advocacy. Wang’s family has sought information from authorities about his circumstances in the face of threats and warnings from public security officers not to seek additional information or legal help, and to remain silent in their son’s case. On September 28, 2021, nine days after losing contact with Wang, his family traveled from their home province of Gansu to Guangzhou and visited different departments of the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau to request information about Mr. Wang’s case. The only information was provided by officers at the Xingang police station, who said that Huang and Wang had both been arrested, but refused to provide information about their charges or whereabouts.
On January 25, 2022, more than four months after her initial detention, supporters found that Huang Xueqin Guangzhou No. 2 Detention Center for “inciting subversion of state power.” Sources indicate that in August 2022 Huang and Wang’s case was transferred to the Guangzhou City Intermediate People’s Court, and was awaiting the trial to start on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.”
In February 2023, the outside world learned that Huang Xueqin had missed her period for 5 months, had an endocrine imbalance, and had lost 5kg of weight.
On September 22, 2023, Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing went on trial at the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court.
According to report from the scene, security around the area of the courthouse was tight. The roads had been closed in the evening before the trial date. On September 22, police vehicles and motorcycles patrolled the vicinity. Security personnel in plain clothes dispersed and intimidated a few onlookers. Guards barred any family members from entering the court. After the lawyers pressed the judge for permission, only Wang’s father was allowed entry.
Seven foreign diplomats from consulates, including the US, the UK, Germany, France, and the Netherland, tried to observe the trial. Chinese security guards blocked their entry into the court, Reuters reported. The diplomats stood outside the court in a show of support. The trial ended without pronouncing a verdict.
On September 25, the indictment of Huang and Wang was made public.
As a journalist, Huang Xueqin was instrumental in launching #MeToo in China by helping survivors of sexual assault tell their stories publicly in January 2018. The public reckoning sparked by this movement led to changes in China’s laws recognizing sexual harassment as a civil offense. In 2019, she posted online about her experience observing the protests against the National Security Law in Hong Kong and was forcibly disappeared for three months by Guangzhou authorities under a form of incommunicado detention known as “residential surveillance in a designated location.”
After Xueqin’s detention in 2019, one survivor of sexual assault shared how Xueqin had supported her: “For me, Xueqin was a life saver. I was sexually assaulted and deeply troubled because of it… It was Xueqin who told me again and again that what happened was not my fault.”