China’s Crackdown on Dissent Grows: Activist Liu Xianbin Sentenced to Ten Years in Prison

On Friday, China sentenced pro-democracy activist Liu Xianbin to ten years in prison and two years and four months deprivation of political rights on the charges of slandering the Communist party in his writings, says Amnesty International. Liu was charged with ‘inciting subversion of state power,’ which is a ‘grave charge that is often subject to broad interpretation by the judicial authorities,’ according to the New York Times.

The recent uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have alarmed China’s Communist government, which continues to censor reports about the protests that led to the ouster of presidents in Tunisia and Egypt, and to demonstrations even in Syria, whose government is one of the most repressive and closed in the Middle East. Human rights groups say that the 43-year-old Liu’s sentence is unusually harsh and is a further sign that the Chinese government is increasing its crackdown on dissent in the wake of anonymous calls on the Internet in February for a ‘jasmine revolution’ for people to protest the Communist Party’s rule in a number of cities throughout China.

Recently, more than two dozen Chinese writers, activists, and lawyers have been detained on criminal charges, with some simply disappearing into police custody. Says the New York Times:

Mr. Liu is no stranger to China’s unforgiving judicial system. A veteran of the 1989 democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, he was arrested two years later and given a two-and-half-year term for “counterrevolutionary propaganda and incitement,” stemming from posters he wrote calling for an end to government repression. In 1999, after helping to establish the China Democratic Party, he was given a 13-year sentence.

In the months after his release Mr. Liu promptly resumed his agitation for political reform. He signed Charter 08, an online petition that called for expanded liberties and universal suffrage, and wrote articles that promoted nonviolent protest. A number of essays stridently criticized the Communist Party.

During his two-hour trial Friday at the Suining Intermediate People’s Court, prosecutors introduced two articles as evidence, including one entitled “Street Protests are an Important Tactic for the Chinese Democratic Movement.”

Liu’s wife, Chen Mingxian, was in the courtroom on Friday when her husband was sentenced; in a telephone interview with the New York Times, she said that, when Liu attempted to speak, he was repeatedly cut off by the judge. Even when Liu, who has spent almost one-third of his life in jail, was living with Chen and their 13-year-old daughter, restrictions were placed on him so that he could not find a job. In addition, security agents often put pressure on prospective employers to take back offers of employment from Liu.

In recent weeks, the Chinese government has also increased restrictions on foreign journalists and closed Tibet to foreigners, all further signs that its ruling Communist party is at least a bit concerned about calls for democracy in repressive regimes around the world.


Previous Care2 Coverage

China Crackdowns on Journalists, Closes Tibet to Foreigners

China Cracks Down on Human Rights Defenders, Liu Xiaobo’s Wife a ‘Hostage’


Photo of Hong Kong demonstrators in support of Liu Xianbin by 美国之音 青越 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Bernadette P.
Berny p.4 years ago

Mao started the communist party...a party FOR the people....but it is a party..AGAINST the people now....for the nouveau riche AND the old party gang...wake up .....and let the people live!

Patricia Geller
Patricia Geller4 years ago

The US will not stand up to China - they own us!! The best we, the people, can do is stop buying 'made in china' products.

Janet K.
Janet K.4 years ago

It is only a matter of time before the protests begin in earnest in China.

John E.
John E.4 years ago

Is there ONE government on Planet Earth honest enough to endorse the principle of Wikileaks?
Certainly not China.... Or the US .....or ... I could go on.
The short answer appears to be a definite "NO".

Nelson B.
Nelson Baker4 years ago

You are supporting the actions of the Chinese government every time you buy a product the label "made in China"

Marilyn K.
Marilyn K.4 years ago

China is the most difficult to deal with on the Human Rights issue as we have known all along that they hold a strict dictictorial government with great power and will kill all dissenters without mercy. The UN should intervene by presenting them with some sort of sanctions in not allowing opposition suggestions from their people.

Bon L.
Bon L.4 years ago

Thanks for the info.

tara lav
Bracha Kay4 years ago

And what is the UN doing?

Lynn C.
Lynn C.4 years ago

Doesn't sound much different than what's being done right here.

Warren Webber
Warren Webber4 years ago

"...continues to censor reports about the protests that led to the ouster of presidents in Tunisia and Egypt, and to demonstrations even in Syria..."

Lol! The Chinese govt might have to censor out the whole world, the way the world is showing that humans can't be kept under tyranny forever! Do they think their Great Cyberwall will keep the invasions of supposed "bad" truth from getting in, especially when so many inside the Wall welcome the invasion?