Chinese #MeToo activist sentenced to 5 years in prison

Ms. Huang, who will appeal her sentence, wrote on social media about her experience of workplace sexual harassment as a young journalist at a Chinese news agency, in the wake of the global #MeToo movement

Updated - June 14, 2024 12:40 pm IST

Published - June 14, 2024 12:39 pm IST - Shanghai

A Chinese journalist who popularised the country’s stalled #MeToo movement was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday for “inciting subversion of state power”, a group of supporters said.

Sophia Huang Xueqin was sentenced by Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court alongside labour activist Wang Jianbing, who was handed three years and six months, the group called Free Xuebing — an amalgamation of their names — said on social media platform X.

Ms. Huang, who will appeal her sentence, wrote on social media about her experience of workplace sexual harassment as a young journalist at a Chinese news agency, in the wake of the global #MeToo movement.

With Wang, she was involved in running a regular gathering in the southern city of Guangzhou, a member of the supporters’ group told AFP last year, before they were both detained in 2021.

Their trial took place in 2023, with international rights groups raising concerns over the pair’s health during their detention.

On Friday, Ms. Huang was accused of “publishing distorted, provocative articles and speeches attacking the national government on social media”, and “gathering overseas organisers to participate in online training for ‘non-violent actions’”, according to supporters.

Wang was accused of posting “untrue articles and speeches attacking China’s political system and government” and joining “(subversive) overseas online groups” including one commemorating the deadly Tiananmen Square crackdown of 1989.

The meetings in Guangzhou, which took place from November 2020, “incited participants’ dissatisfaction with Chinese state power under the pretext of discussing social issues”.

Amnesty International’s China director Sarah Brooks blasted the sentences as “malicious and totally groundless convictions”.

“Sophia Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing have been jailed solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, and they must be immediately and unconditionally released,” Ms. Brooks said.

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