China silences #MeToo journalist with five-year sentence

Supporters attribute the arrests to informal gatherings at Wang's flat that addressed a wide range of social problems, including feminism and labour rights.

Huang Xueqin
China's #MeToo journalist Huang Xueqin. Photo Credit: Thomas Yau/South China Morning Post/Getty Images

A court in southern China has sentenced popular #MeToo journalist, Huang Xueqin, on charges of “inciting subversion of state power.”

Huang, who was sentenced by the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court, was instrumental in initiating China’s #MeToo movement by elevating the voices of sexual harassment survivors and exposing systemic concerns.

Wang Jianbin, a labour activist and co-defendant, was sentenced to three and a half years. Both Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbin have previously spent nearly three years in pre-trial custody, a reflection of China’s opaque legal system.

Amnesty International have denounced the verdicts, emphasising the implications for human rights and social campaigning in the face of rising official crackdowns.

The BBC report stated that Huang’s arrest in 2021 ended her ambitions to obtain a master’s degree in gender violence in the United Kingdom. Authorities have offered few specifics about the allegations, but supporters attribute the arrests to informal gatherings at Wang’s flat that addressed a wide range of social problems, including feminism and labour rights.

The Chinese government’s strategies included convening more than 70 friends and supporters to question and coerce false testimony. This draconian approach not only isolated Huang and Wang, but also demolished their support network, silencing a key voice in China’s battle for justice and human rights.

Huang’s case exemplifies the ruling Communist Party’s dread of opposition and resolve to suppress any new action. Her appeal, as well as the international outcry around her case, highlight China’s poor situation of freedom and civil rights, in which the court system is used as a tool of political repression.

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