Responding to Chinese #MeToo activist Sophia Huang Xueqin and labour activist Wang Jianbing being officially detained under the charge of “inciting subversion of state power”, Amnesty International’s China Campaigner Gwen Lee said:
“The Chinese government’s disdain for human rights has once again been laid bare by these unjustifiable charges for two activists whose only so-called crime has been to peacefully advocate for the welfare of others.
“Journalist Huang Xueqin has been targeted by the authorities after helping women in China report cases of sexual harassment and becoming a key figure in the country’s #MeToo movement.
“As well as shining a light on the dire treatment of victims of sexual violence, her arrest also exemplifies the Chinese authorities’ hostility towards journalists who dare to report the truth.
“Wang Jianbing, who has advocated for workers with disabilities and occupational diseases, is also facing a lengthy jail sentence on the same bogus “subversion” charge. No one should face jail simply for defending workers’ rights.
“Neither Huang Xueqin or Wang Jianbing have committed any internationally recognized crime. They must be released immediately.”
Sophia Huang Xueqin and labour activist Wang Jianbing were arrested in the Chinese city of Guangzhou on 19 September, the day before Huang was planning to leave China for the UK to study for a master’s degree at the University of Sussex.
Their families have confirmed that they have now been officially detained under the charge of “inciting subversion of state power”.
Huang Xueqin is a journalist who has been involved in several #MeToo campaigns to provide support and assistance to victims of sexual assault and harassment. She was previously detained between October 2019 and January 2020 and charged with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” after writing about mass protests in Hong Kong.
Labour activist Wang Jianbing (known to friends as “Pancake”) has provided legal support for people with disabilities and workers with occupational diseases. He is also a prominent supporter of the #MeToo movement in China.
Since their arrest, both activists have been prevented from choosing a lawyer or seeing family members. Meanwhile, several of their friends have been summoned by the police and had their homes searched and devices confiscated.
Since the massive crackdown on lawyers and activists in 2015, the Chinese authorities have been systematically using national security charges with extremely vague provisions, such as “subverting state power” and “inciting subversion of state power”, to prosecute lawyers, scholars, journalists, activists and NGO workers.