China: Prominent female #MeToo activist jailed for five years

Labour activist Wang Jianbing, who stood trial with Huang, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison.
In this photo released by #FreeXueBing, Chinese journalist Huang Xueqin holds up a #METOO sign for a photo in Singapore in September 2017.
In this photo released by #FreeXueBing, Chinese journalist Huang Xueqin holds up a #METOO sign for a photo in Singapore in September 2017. (File Photo | via AP)

A prominent female #MeToo activist in China has been handed a five-year jail sentence for "subversion against the state", BBC reported.

Sophia Huang Xueqin was convicted and sentenced on Friday, nearly 10 months after she went on trial.

Labour activist Wang Jianbing, who stood trial with Huang, was sentenced to three years and six months in prison.

Chinese authorities have not made it clear how the two stood accused of subversion. The trial was a closed-door hearing, BBC added.

But their supporters say they were detained because they hosted regular meetings and forums for young people to discuss social issues.

The Associated Press, quoting friends of the activist, earlier said that the two disappeared on Sept. 19, 2021, the day before Huang was scheduled to head to the United Kingdom to start a master’s degree program on gender violence and conflict at the University of Sussex.

Last year, the International Women’s Media Foundation gave Huang its Wallis Annenberg Justice for Women Journalists Award.

Supporters of Huang and Wang created a GitHub webpage two years ago to post case updates and share their thoughts. They expressed outrage last weekend that the trial had been delayed for so long.

China often silences activists by holding them incommunicado for a long time and then sentencing them to prison, The Associated Press added.

Huang Xueqin, an independent journalist, helped spark China’s first #MeToo case in 2018 when she helped a graduate student go public with accusations against her Ph.D. supervisor. The other activist, Wang Jianbing, is more known for his labor rights activity but also helped women report sexual harassment.

China’s #MeToo movement flourished briefly until it was snuffed out by the government, which sees powerful social movements as a potential threat to stability and the Communist Party’s hold on power, the AP noted.

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