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Chinese #MeToo activist sentenced to 5 years in prison, supporters say

A Chinese journalist who popularized the country’s stalled #MeToo movement was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for “incitement to subvert state power,” a group of her supporters said.

Sophia Huang Xueqin was sentenced along with labor activist Wang Jianbing by the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court, receiving three years and six months, the group called Free Xuebing – an amalgamation of their names – said on X.

Huang, who is appealing her sentence, wrote on social media about her experiences with sexual harassment in the workplace as a young journalist at a Chinese news agency, in the wake of the global #MeToo movement.

Together with Wang, she was involved in organizing a regular rally in the southern city of Guangzhou, a member of the supporters group said last year, before they were both arrested in 2021.

Their trial took place in 2023, with international rights groups raising concerns about the couple’s health while in detention.

On Friday, Huang was accused of “publishing distorted, provocative articles and speeches attacking the national government on social media” and “bringing together foreign organizers to participate in online training for ‘nonviolent actions,’” ​​supporters said.

Wang was accused of posting “untrue articles and speeches attacking China’s political system and government” and joining subversive “overseas online groups,” including one commemorating the deadly 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

The Guangzhou meetings, which took place starting in November 2020, “aroused participants’ dissatisfaction with Chinese state power under the pretext of discussing social issues.”

Amnesty International’s China director, Sarah Brooks, described the sentences as “malicious and completely unfounded convictions.”

“Sophia Huang Xueqin and Wang Jianbing were imprisoned solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression, and they must be released immediately and unconditionally,” Brooks said.

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