News / Asia

China Puts More Anti-Corruption Activists on Trial

Zhang Xuezhong (C), a lawyer for Chinese dissident Zhao Changqing, argues with plain-clothed policemen as he refuses to show them his identification card in Beijing, Jan. 23, 2014.
Zhang Xuezhong (C), a lawyer for Chinese dissident Zhao Changqing, argues with plain-clothed policemen as he refuses to show them his identification card in Beijing, Jan. 23, 2014.
China is continuing to hold high profile trials of anti-corruption activists this week. On Thursday, court proceedings began for another member of what is called the "New Citizens Movement", a grassroots group that is calling on high-ranking officials to disclose their assets and advocating rule of law.

The trial of Chinese dissident Zhao Changqing ended quickly on Thursday as he dismissed both of his lawyers. Members of the New Citizens Movement say the trials against them are a mockery of the legal process.
Zhao's lawyer Zhang Xuezhong said his client's decision to dismiss him is a strategy aimed at delaying the proceedings until after the New Year holiday to try to draw more attention to the case.
Zhang said that since there were so many serious irregularities in the way the courts are handling the cases, Zhao dismissed his lawyer to keep the court from quickly wrapping up the case. He said that now the court will have to give him 15 days to find a new lawyer.
Members of the group argue that by gathering to raise awareness of, and boost support for, their causes they were only exercising their legal right to freedom of expression and assembly.
In addition to Zhao, another member of the group Hou Xin was also tried separately on Thursday. She also maintained her innocence during the hearing.
Most of the accused have so far pleaded not guilty in court. One member of the group, a well-known businessman Wang Gongquan was released Wednesday after the court said he confessed to planning and inciting a mob to disturb public order.
Members of the New Citizens Movement, including its founder Xu Zhiyong have been accused of orchestrating five rallies in Beijing last year.  Dozens have been taken into custody across the country and at least 10 are on trial in the capital.
Xu Zhiyong remained silent during his hearing on Wednesday and only spoke at the end of the proceedings when he tried to deliver a final statement.

Xu's lawyer, Zhang Qingfang, said that although his client’s statement was expected to last 50 minutes, court officials cut him off 10 minutes after he began.

Zhang said that while his concluding remarks were originally divided into nine parts, Xu was cut off when he got to the second part about assets disclosure. The court said it did not want to hear what he was saying and that it had no relevance to the case.
In his concluding remarks, Xu asked why China could not set up regulations for assets disclosure when so many other countries have done so? He asked. "What are you afraid of?"
He also argued that his case was not about free speech or public order but whether Chinese authorities recognize a citizen's constitutional rights.
Zhang said the court was more humane in some ways, urging Xu, a 40 year-old legal scholar, to speak in his defense during the trial rather than remain silent.
Zhang said that he and his client are still not satisfied, especially because of the big scale irregularities in the trial, including handling the defendants in the same case separately and not permitting all of the witnesses to appear in court.
Despite their alleged crimes of participating in and organizing the same events, members of the New Citizens Movement are being tried separately. Their lawyers say that is a violation of Chinese legal procedure.
Five other activists are scheduled to stand trial Beijing and the southern city of Guangzhou on Friday and Monday.

You May Like

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs