The Chinese regime again uses the famous and ambiguous crime of “inciting subversion of state power” to justify the accusation against Xu Qin, a woman dedicated to defending citizens’ rights through her NGO “Chinese Power Watch.” Paradoxically, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is hindering the right to legal defense and a fair trial by freezing the case and not allowing her lawyers to exercise their representation.
Xu Qin, a co-founder of Chinese GO Power Watch, was arrested a year ago on subversion charges. She has since been held at the Yangzhou Detention Center in Jiangsu province, awaiting trial. Whether she will be tried or even sentenced later this year is unknown.
Xu Qin is considered an exemplary citizen who abides by Chinese law. Her peers believe her to be a tireless advocate for human rights and peace principles.
A pre-trial hearing on Xu Qin’s alleged “incitement” case was held on November 4 at the Yangzhou Detention Center. Of the two defenders appointed by Xu Qin, only lawyer Ji Zhongjiu was invited to attend.
Last April, the Yangzhou Intermediate People’s Court issued a criminal judgment on Xu Qin’s case. The court invoked force majeure reasons to justify the trial being postponed indefinitely. This court decision has caused the world to worry that the authorities will imprison Xu Qin for a long time. Her advocate Cheng Hai said that thanks to the defense’s efforts, the court finally granted the appeal and made a new decision after more than half a year.
Accused without evidence
It all started in January 2018 when Xu Qin was detained on suspicion of “picking quarrels and causing trouble.” She was then held criminally responsible and transferred to “residential surveillance at a designated place.” On April 24, 2020, the Yangzhou Municipal Procuratorate added the charge of “inciting subversion of state power.” In the same year, Xu Qin was released on bail but remained under residential surveillance for more than three years. Finally, in November 2021, Xu Qin was detained by the authorities on charges of “incitement.”
There is no mention of evidence to prove the alleged offenses. However, the court proceedings have followed the course that criminal cases usually follow when the accused is guilty. In addition, there are significant and unjustified delays in the judicial process.
The Chinese criminal process established that the cases must be resolved within 15 days, but seven months have passed, and the court of the Chinese communist regime has not yet issued a decision on when the trial will take place. This means that the case remains frozen, awaiting a judicial decision.
Although the law establishes that there must be a legal justification to freeze the proceedings, the cause invoked does not reasonably justify the postponement of the trial, which constitutes an abuse of power. According to defense counsel Cheng Hai, the force majeure invoked concerning epidemic risk is unsustainable since the risk does not exist.
Liu Shihui, a lawyer following Xu’s case, said: “Some alleged testimonies and other evidence created out of thin air are a kind of persecution against her and a kind of fabrication out of thin air. It can be said that Xu Qin is an exemplary citizen, an exemplary human rights defender who abides by Chinese law and the principles of peace, rationality, and non-violence. The authorities wanted to arrest her for her years of solidarity with the persecuted Mr. Qin Yongmin and his wife Zhao Suli, who had been missing for many years.”
Xing Jian, a former citizen reporter for “June 4 Tianwang” who also followed Xu Qin’s case, told Radio Free Asia recently, “Xu Qin went on three hunger strikes during her detention…it is very likely that she was tortured and physically and mentally abused by officials, resulting in her poor physical health. The official use of nationalism and national sentiments to force her family to refuse to contact the world is undoubtedly to cover up the crime, and a serious threat to Xu Qin’s life and safety. “
The fate of lawyers defending dissidents
Of the two defenders appointed by Xu Qin, only attorney Ji Zhongjiu was recognized in the criminal proceedings as a legal representative.
The other defense counsel, Cheng Hai, whose lawyer’s license was revoked four years ago, was not included in the proceedings. Cheng Hai denounced the authorities for depriving him of the right to defend Xu Qin, even though the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Law allow him to do so.
Cheng Hai said, “I am acting as an advocate, relative and friend, which is possible under the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Law. Although I do not have a lawyer’s license, I can still serve as an advocate. The defense formalities were submitted to the Yangzhou Intermediate Court in February last year and so far, it has not notified me to collect the indictment. I was not notified about my request to examine the file, and I was not notified about the right to a judicial defense. It may have been to avoid a plea of not guilty.”
The reality of lawyers defending people who dissent from the Party’s communist ideology is not very different from defendants without evidence.
The case with the most media coverage is that of human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. Gao was a former member of the People’s Liberation Army and later of the CCP, i.e., he was well acquainted with the mechanism of the repressive civil rights apparatus that he later went on to fight.
As a lawyer, Gao Zhisheng won significant cases against Chinese government agencies and successfully represented a case before the Supreme Court of China. He later began sponsoring Christians and Falun Dafa practitioners, regularly persecuted by the CCP for their faith.
For those who found in Gao a spokesman who could defend their human rights from the state terrorism of the Chinese Communist regime, Gao was the voice of “China’s conscience.” This recognition made him a target for the CCP and the target of repeated cycles of abduction, torture, and release.
Under the same procedure as Xu Qin, Gao was charged in 2006 with the crime of “inciting subversion of state power”. He was released in 2014 under constant surveillance. Since 2017, Gao’s whereabouts have been unknown, and his enforced disappearance is indeed presumed.
Like Xu Qin, Gao advocated for fair treatment and equal protection under the law for those currently victims of the CCP’s legal persecution apparatus.
Gao also brought to the world’s attention the plight of Chinese Falun Dafa practitioners and openly called on the government to end their systematic harassment, arrest, and torture, which continue to occur today. Following his findings, he publicly resigned from the CCP, declaring it a “cruel, untrustworthy, inhumane and evil party.”
Xu Qin, Cheng Hai, Gao, and so many others have surely not given up on the last consequences for a reason. Indeed, they believe a just, merciful, and tolerant China will come once the evil regime falls.