China court sentences Chinese #MeToo activist Huang to 5 years for subversion

#MeToo and Labour Activists Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing Sentenced in China
Activist Huang Xueqin and Labour Advocate Wang Jianbing (Photo - Web)

A Chinese court on Friday sentenced leading #MeToo activist Huang Xueqin to five years in prison after finding her guilty of inciting subversion of state power, in a case that has drawn international condemnation over Beijing’s crackdown on dissent.

The Guangzhou People’s Intermediate Court also sentenced labor activist Wang Jianbing to three and a half years on the same charge, according to a campaign group supporting the activists and a copy of the court verdict.

Huang, a 35-year-old independent journalist, plans to appeal the sentence, her supporters said. It remained unclear if Wang, 40, would also file an appeal.

“The sentence was longer than we expected”, said a spokesperson for the Free Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing campaign group, who requested anonymity citing safety concerns. “It is completely unnecessary. So we support Huang Xueqin’s intention to appeal”.

Huang and Wang were detained in September 2021 after holding gatherings where they discussed social issues with Chinese youth. Authorities accused them of inciting subversion, a vague charge frequently used to target dissidents.

During their closed-door trial last year, the pair denied any wrongdoing. Ahead of the verdict, the campaign group stated their activism for labor rights and women’s rights should not be criminalized.

There was heavy security around the Guangzhou court on Friday, with police questioning bystanders.

Huang, who covered the #MeToo movement and 2019 Hong Kong anti-government protests, had been scheduled to fly to Britain to begin a master’s degree at the University of Sussex on a British government-funded scholarship before her arrest in 2021. She was previously detained for three months in 2019 over her activism.

The harsh sentences underscore Beijing’s intensifying crackdown on dissent and activism in recent years under President Xi Jinping’s hardline rule.

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