Wang Jianbing

China: ‘Malicious’ conviction of #MeToo and labour activists shows Beijing’s growing fear of dissent

Responding to the sentencing of Chinese #MeToo activist Sophia Huang Xueqin to five years in prison and labour activist Wang Jianbing to three years and six months in prison, both for “inciting subversion of state power”, Amnesty International’s China Director Sarah Brooks said:

“Tomorrow marks exactly one thousand days since Sophia Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing were arrested. These convictions will prolong their deeply unjust detention and have a further chilling effect on human rights and social advocacy in a country where activists face increasing state crackdowns.

“In reality, they have committed no actual crime. Instead, the Chinese government has fabricated excuses to deem their work a threat, and to target them for educating themselves and others about social justice issues such as women’s dignity and workers’ rights.

“#MeToo activism has empowered survivors of sexual violence around the world, but in this case the Chinese authorities have sought to do the exact opposite by stamping it out.

“These malicious and totally groundless convictions show just how terrified the Chinese government is of the emerging wave of activists who dare to speak out to protect the rights of others.

“Sophia Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing have been jailed solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, and they must be immediately and unconditionally released.”


Guangzhou Intermediate Court today sentenced Sophia Huang Xueqin to five years in prison and labour activist Wang Jianbing to three years and six months in prison for “inciting subversion of state power”. Sophia Huang Xueqin said in court that she would appeal.

Sophia Huang Xueqin is a journalist who has been involved in several #MeToo campaigns to provide support and assistance to survivors of sexual assault and harassment. Wang Jianbing 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.

Their conviction is related to their attendance at weekly gatherings with fellow activists, hosted by Wang Jianbing; their participation in online human rights education; and online posts on issues deemed “sensitive” by the Chinese government.

The pair were arrested in Guangzhou on 19 September 2021, the day before Huang was planning to leave China for the UK to study for a master’s degree.

Since their arrest, both activists have been prevented from seeing family members. Meanwhile, dozens of their friends have been summoned by the police and had their homes searched and electronic devices confiscated. Sophie Huang Xueqin is believed to have been subjected to ill-treatment in detention, leading to the dramatic deterioration of her health.

In January 2023, Sophia Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing were transferred to Guangzhou City No 1 Detention Centre, awaiting trial at the court.

The Chinese authorities systematically use national security charges with extremely vague provisions, such as “subverting state power” and “inciting subversion of state power”, to prosecute lawyers, scholars, journalists, activists, NGO workers, and others. 

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention determined in 2022 that Wang Jianbing was being arbitrarily detained and has repeatedly called on China to repeal the crime of “inciting subversion” or bring it into line with international standards.