CHRD condemns unjust trial of journalist Huang Xueqin and labor activist Wang JianbingComments Off on CHRD condemns unjust trial of journalist Huang Xueqin and labor activist Wang Jianbing
On September 22, journalist Huang Xueqin and labor activist Wang Jianbing went on trial at the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court on the charge of “inciting subversion of state power.” CHRD condemns the Chinese government for its sham trial of Huang and Wang and urges the government to immediately and unconditionally release the two human rights defenders.
“Not even one day of detention of Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing could possibly be just. Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing’s treatment from the beginning to end at the hands of the police has been full of violations of Chinese law and procedural justice. It is the Chinese government who should be on trial for its behavior of unlawfully locking up its own citizens merely for the peaceful exercise of their human rights,” said Renee Xia, CHRD’s Director.
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. The court is set to pick another date to announce it. No details emerged about what took place during the trial. Lawyers and Wang’s father seem under pressure not to disclose any observations or make any statements.
If convicted, Huang and Wang face a maximum of 15 years imprisonment under the crime of “inciting subversion of state power.”
Since Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing were taken into custody on September 19, 2021, just one day before Wang Jianbing was preparing to see off Huang Xueqin to the airport where she would board a flight to the UK to study for a Masters’ degree at the University of Sussex, the detention of Huang and Wang has been marked by violations of their rights under Chinese and international law.
Wang Jianbing, born in 1980, was held incommunicado for the first several months of his detention, and authorities refused to disclose any information about his whereabouts or detention to his family, in violation of China’s Criminal Procedure Law. Only on April 1, 2022, over six months after his initial detention, was Wang Jianbing permitted to see his lawyer via a video conference for the first time. Wang said he had been held in a “quarantine area” for five months. At that site, he was detained alone and subjected to prolonged interrogations and deprived adequate food. He said he suffered from mental health issues and gastrointestinal problems.
Huang Xueqin, born in 1988, has not been allowed to see a lawyer of her choice. In February 2023, a report emerged indicating that Huang, had missed her period for five months. She had lost 5 kg of weight and was suffering from an endocrine imbalance. She was also reportedly subjected to prolonged and repeated interrogations, often beginning in the middle of the night.
In examining the case of Wang Jianbing, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined that he had been arbitrarily detained and should be immediately released.
“It’s highly likely that Huang Xueqin is facing reprisals for her work as an independent journalist and uncovering human rights abuses in China. Her detention and mistreatment in state custody should be yet another warning to the world about how far the Chinese Communist Party will go in suppressing independent journalists and free press,” said William Nee, CHRD’s Research and Advocacy Coordinator.
It has also emerged that over 70 of Wang and Huang’s friends were interrogated by police in Guangzhou in the months after their detention. Police were seeking testimony from their friends to build a criminal case against Wang and Huang. Activists note that Wang frequently engaged in informal gathering with friends, but that these gatherings did not have any explicit structure or political intent.
“Since many of Huang and Wang’s friends were reportedly detained and coerced to testify against them, this case may be about the dismantling of any remaining informal networks among formal civil society activists following unprecedented crackdowns in the past decade. Authorities view them as a potential threat to the totalitarian regime,” Nee added.
Huang Xueqin, as a journalist, was instrumental in launching #MeToo in China in January 2018 by helping survivors of sexual assault tell their stories publicly.. The public reckoning sparked by this movement led to changes in China’s laws recognizing sexual harassment as a civil offense. In 2019, Huang 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.”
Wang Jianbing is a social activist based in Guangdong province with years of wide-ranging experience in Chinese civil society, including in rural education, empowerment of persons with disabilities, and supporting workers who had contracted pneumoconiosis from poor working conditions.