Labor activist formally arrested

Missing labor activist Wang Jianbin (王建兵) has been formally arrested. His family received an arrest notice in early November. This is the first update the family has received since Wang went missing more than a month ago.

The notice, issued by the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau, states that Wang was arrested for inciting subversion.

Wang was in Shenzhen accompanying his friend Huang Xueqin (黄雪琴), who was preparing to travel to the United Kingdom to attend school. Both have been missing since the end of September.

Friends have speculated that Wang might have been facing endangering state security (ESS) charges at the time of his disappearance because he frequently hosted gatherings with fellow activists at his home in Shenzhen.

Activist convicted and sentenced in Chengdu

Veteran activist Chen Yunfei (陈云飞) has been convicted and sentenced by the Beidu District People’s Court in Chengdu.

Chen was detained in March 2021 for picking quarrels and provoking troubles when he conducted research and surveys on China’s “nine years of compulsory education,” with the goal of exposing systemic issues.

However, on December 3, 2021, the court convicted Chen for compulsory indecency, a crime akin to sexual assault, and child molestation. Chen was sentenced to a combined imprisonment of four years. The procuratorate accused Chen’s survey and interview of students of being equivalent to “stalking.”

Convicting activists of crimes of a sexual nature can be a way to use the stigma associated with such crimes to deter inquiries about activists and to frame advocacy efforts for them as immoral and illegitimate.

Chen was previously arrested for inciting subversion and convicted and sentenced to four years for picking quarrels and provoking troubles in 2017.

Xu Zhiyong trial facing legal uncertainties

Liang Xiaojun (梁小军), the defense lawyer for Xu Zhiyong (许志永), posted on his Twitter account that he received a preliminary notice from the Beijing Justice Bureau on November 26, 2021 informing him that his practicing license will be suspended.

The notice said that Liang has made numerous remarks on social media platforms, including supporting Falun Gong for religious freedom reasons and attacking constitutional principles and fundamental systems. The Bureau also criticizes Liang over his refusal to make amends after several “talks.”

The Beijing Justice Bureau has made the preliminary decision to suspend Liang’s license in accordance with China’s Lawyer Law. A hearing will be held, and Liang can appeal. However, the process will likely be merely procedural.

Xu was detained in February 2020 and was indicted in August 2021 for inciting subversion. The trial has been postponed to start before February 20, 2022, according to Ding Jiaxi’s lawyer Peng Jian, but the date has not been set. Liang losing his license before the trial likely means that Xu will face more legal uncertainties in his trial. Ding (丁家喜) and Xu were both arrested and indicted for inciting subversion for their work on the New Citizen Movement.

The Chinese government has long pressured and posed challenges to lawyers of “sensitive” cases. The court and procuratorate often obstruct lawyers from implementing successful legal defenses by denying them access to evidence or visitation rights on the pretense that the cases are sensitive and involve state secrets. The government routinely pressures defendants and their families to release their own lawyers and use court-appointed counsel. However, court appointed lawyers have been known to prioritize the interests of the prosecution over their clients, not cooperating with the defendants, and accepting the prosecution’s charges despite their clients’ protests during trials.