News / Asia

Trial Begins for Chinese Anti-Corruption Activists

FILE - A policeman guards the entrance of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, Shandong province, Aug. 26, 2013.
FILE - A policeman guards the entrance of the Jinan Intermediate People's Court in Jinan, Shandong province, Aug. 26, 2013.
VOA News
Three grass-roots activist faced trial in China on Monday on charges that human rights activists say were fabricated in an attempt to stop their campaign for more political accountability.
 
Liu Ping, Wei Zhongping and Li Sihua were charged with illegal assembly for a picture they took and uploaded online. In the photograph the three stood in front of a residential building holding banners calling for Chinese officials to disclose their assets. A week after taking the picture, the three were arrested.
 
Zhang Dejin, a fellow activist from Fujian province, says that authorities in the city of Xinyu - where the trial is held - are playing games with the law.
 
“Today they charge you with one thing, tomorrow they charge you with another," he said. "They do not treat people like people should be treated, and they are not upholding the law.”

The defendants have been active in the New Citizens' movement, a loosely organized group that advocates for more transparency and accountability in government policies. In recent months, more than a dozen participants have been detained and accused of disrupting social order with their activism. Among the people targeted are prominent rights lawyer Xu Zhiyong and wealthy Beijing entrepreneur Wang Gongquan.

Independent filmmaker and activist Ai Xiaoming said that Monday's trial is an attempt to intimidate the whole movement.

“They are establishing a precedent and starting punishing members of the New Citizens' Movement,” Ai said.

The movement has been calling on China's government to uphold the country's constitution and protect citizens' rights. One of the group's key demands is for high ranking officials disclose their wealth to the public.

China’s new leaders have emphasized strictly abiding by the constitution and sternly dealing with corruption. The Southern province Guangdong has launched pilot schemes of asset disclosure among its low-level administration. But despite the tough language from officials, transparency activists have reported increasing harassment.

Ai Xiaoming said that by suppressing citizens' advocacy, the party is ensuring that its grip on society remains firm.

“Having a one party rule is the easiest way to govern for them,” she said, “If you do not have people monitoring officials, then the advantages are all to benefit the interest groups in power.”

Defendant Liu Ping is a long time petitioner for labor rights in China. She started her activism after being laid off from the state-run steel factory where she had worked most of her life.

In 2011, she ran as an independent candidate for her district’s People's Congress. Low level elections are often touted by China's leadership as a sign of the government welcoming people's participation. Yet candidates that decide to run independently from the party, like Liu Ping, are harassed during campaigns and usually prevented from appearing on ballots.
 
Zhang Dejin also ran as an independent in Fujian, and he too was eventually removed from the list of candidates.
 
“We are just ordinary citizens,” Zhang said, “and as we try to participate in the People's Congress, we are stifled by authorities and cannot find opportunities.”
 
Liu Ping is also charged with "gathering a crowd to disturb order in a public place" and "using an evil cult to undermine the law".
 
Liu's lawyer Zhang Xuezhong said the latter charge is related to an online post that Liu wrote in August 2012 calling attention to the trial of a member of the spiritual group Falun Gong, which the Chinese government considers an illegal organization.
 
Activist Ai Xiaoming said the trio will most likely be found guilty, but their personal sacrifice will in fact help the cause.
 
“This trial will have the effect of increasing their influence: more people will take note of their names and will support them," she said.
 
If found guilty, the defendants face a maximum of five years in prison. It is rare for courts in China to find defendants in criminal cases innocent, and analysts believe this case will follow the pattern.
 
Fellow activists who travelled to Xinyu to show their support for the defendants have reportedly been followed, detained, and in some cases escorted back to their homes by police.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs