News / Asia

Trials Continue for Chinese Anti-Corruption Activists

Policemen stand guard in front of a court where Chinese dissident  Zhao Changqing's trial is being held in Beijing, Jan. 23, 2014.
Policemen stand guard in front of a court where Chinese dissident Zhao Changqing's trial is being held in Beijing, Jan. 23, 2014.
VOA News
China is continuing the high-profile political trials of activists associated with the grassroots New Citizens Movement, which the government has cracked down on as part of its effort to crush its domestic critics.

Zhao Changqing and Hou Xin are set to stand trial Thursday in a Beijing court. They are charged with "disturbing public order" by organizing small groups that called for education equality and for officials to disclose their assets.

International observers, including several foreign diplomats, were barred from attending the hearings. Journalists were also kept away by police and plain-clothed officers, who have harassed those trying to broadcast near the proceedings.

Zhao's lawyer, Zhang Xuezhong, called the trial "fundamentally illegal," and said his client does not regret his advocacy work.

"He expressed that even after so many years of determined hard work, whether it's for the public disclosure of officials' assets or equal rights to education, and after already undergoing two criminal detentions, he regrets nothing," said Zhang.

On Wednesday, New Citizens Movement founder Xu Zhiyong refused to defend himself in court, staying silent in protest of what he considers an unfair trial.

The activists will almost certainly be found guilty, since China's state-controlled courts almost never rule in favor of the defendant, especially in politically-motivated cases. If convicted, they face up to five years in jail.

A total of seven New Citizens Movement members are standing trial this and next week. Three others were tried in December, though a verdict has not been delivered.

Although the group does support democracy and the rule of law, some of its ideals are at least similar to that of the stated goals of the Communist Party, which has also vowed to crack down on corruption.

Since coming to power last year, the party's chairman, President Xi Jinping, has launched an anti-graft campaign that has brought down several lower and mid-level officials accused of corruption.

However, Beijing has reacted angrily to the notion of a citizen-led anti-corruption campaign, arresting at least 20 people who made public calls for officials to publicly disclose their assets.

The U.S. State Department has criticized the crackdown, prompting an angry reaction from Beijing. On Tuesday, China's Foreign Ministry said foreign countries should not interfere with its internal issues.

The state-controlled Global Times on Thursday said Xu is not being tried for his opinions, but because he "probably advocated his political views by 'gathering crowds' which 'disrupted public order.'"

The paper, which often reflects official viewpoints, dismissed attempts to "tarnish" China's international image, saying Beijing will not let the West have a "dominant say in its own internal affairs."

You May Like

Map Shows Every US School Shooting Since 2013

There have been at least 150 school shootings in the United States since 2013, an average of nearly one per week More

Video In US, Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy

Holiday marks date Columbus discovered Americas, but some are offended by legacy because he enslaved many natives he encountered More

Video Kickboxing Champion Shares Sport With Young Migrants

Pouring into Europe by hundreds of thousands, some migrants, especially youngsters, are finding sports a way to integrate into new host countries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs