Husband-and-wife activists remain in legal limbo

Freelance artist Wang Yuwen (王玉文), better known by his online alias “Wang Zang 王藏,” and his wife, Wang Liqin (王利芹), were detained in the summer of 2020 and reportedly tried together for inciting subversion at the end of 2021. However, the outcome of the trial remains unclear.

Wang Zang had a prior brush with the law in 2014. He was detained in October 2014 for vocally expressing support for the “Occupy Central” movement in Hong Kong, though the procuratorate in Beijing Tongzhou District decided not to file an indictment in July 2015. Wang continued to protest restrictions of freedom of speech after moving to Yunnan.

In the 18-page indictment filed by the Chuxiong Prefecture Public Security Bureau in Yunnan in September 2020, Wang was accused of giving interviews to foreign media in 2019 and 2020. Wang shared his opinions on the escalating censorship and pessimism over Hong Kong’s “one country, two system” status. The summary also accused Wang of spreading false information on Twitter to attack China’s socialist system and leaders. Wang was detained on May 30, 2020 and arrested on July 3, 2020 for inciting subversion.

Wang’s wife, Wang Liqin, was accused of the same crime. However, according to the indictment, her main crime appeared to be supporting her husband. She allegedly helped him record and spread the messages, advocated for his release following his detention, and broke the promise she made to the police not to discuss the case on Twitter. She was detained on June 17, 2020 and arrested on July 24, 2020.

The couple was to be tried in April 2021 by the Chuxiong Prefecture Intermediate People’s Court, but the trial was postponed and reportedly took place in December. The court has yet to announce the judgment or sentencing. In China, the criminal conviction rate is nearly 100 percent. Both Wangs remain at the Chuxiong Detention Center, leaving their four young children under the care of elderly grandparents.

Independent author & activist sentenced for picking quarrels

“Picking quarrels and provoking trouble” (PQPT) is the most common “pocket crime” favored by authorities to punish activists on vague or trumped-up charges.

Huang Xiaoming (黄晓敏), a former teacher at a Xinjiang Party School turned independent author and activist, was reportedly sentenced to four years for PQPT by a court in Chengdu, Sichuan, in early October 2022. He is due for release in May 2025.

The acts leading to his imprisonment are unknown. Huang has conducted and shared interviews with petitioners and is a vocal advocate for the Sichuan activist Huang Qi (黄琦, not related).

Huang Xiaoming has been imprisoned twice before for the same offense in 2010 and 2018, first for his support of Huang Qi, and later for supporting Zi Su (子肃) and the call for a general election within the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Notable sentence reductions

Information uncovered by Dui Hua’s research continues to corroborate its view that for endangering state security crimes, individuals convicted of espionage or illegally trafficking in state secrets for foreign entities are more likely to receive clemency than people convicted of non-violent speech and association such as subversion, splittism, and inciting subversion or splittism.

Wang Ruiquan (王瑞泉), sentenced to life imprisonment for Taiwan-related espionage in February 2010, received his third sentence reduction of four months in July 2021. Scheduled for release from Guangdong’s Beijiang Prison in March 2031, Wang was accused of photographing secret documents including those discussing preparations by the People’s Liberation Army to curb Taiwanese independence.

In another case, Chen Xinghu (陈兴湖) was granted a five-month sentence reduction in April 2022, two years after the four-month reduction he received in 2020. The specifics of his case remain unclear. Available official sources only state that Chen was sentenced to 11 years in prison in May 2017 for illegally trafficking in state secrets for a foreign entity. At the time of writing, he has four more years to serve in Guangdong’s Yangchun Prison.