China’s Repression of Human Rights Lawyers Will Leave ‘No One Left Standing’

China’s Repression of Human Rights Lawyers Will Leave ‘No One Left Standing’
Lawyer Daniel Wong, center, is escorted by police outside his office in Hong Kong, Jan. 14, 2021 (AP photo by Vincent Yu).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR contributor Rachel Cheung and Assistant Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curate the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive China Note by email every week.

After months of petitioning, Xu Yan just saw her husband for the first time in three years. A prominent human rights lawyer in China, Yu Wensheng was seized by a dozen police officers, including a SWAT team, on a January morning three years ago, when he left his apartment in Beijing to walk his 13-year-old son to school. Yu, who was nominated for a prominent international human rights award this week, had represented some of the 300 lawyers and activists rounded up in a massive crackdown in China in 2015. Hours before his arrest, he had written an open letter calling for constitutional reform.

After two years in detention without access to his family or lawyers, Yu was sentenced to four years in jail for “inciting subversion of state power.” His wife was only informed of the verdict of the secret trial, which began in May 2019, in a phone call from the prosecutor’s office more than a year later. So when the authorities finally allowed her to visit last week, the news came as such a surprise, her mind went “completely blank,” as she wrote on Twitter.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.