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.
William Ide
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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs