03/11/2020, 15.05
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Beijing, Xu Zhiyong detained on charges of subversion

The human rights activist is guarded in a secret location. He risks between 8 and 15 years in prison. He accused Xi Jinping of mismanaging the coronavirus crisis, the trade war with the US and protests in Hong Kong. Chinese intellectuals criticize the regime; some in the West praise him.


Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Human rights activist Xu Zhiyong is imprisoned in a secret prison for "inciting subversion against state power".

Recently, he called on Chinese President Xi Jinping to resign over his personal failures. Friends and family members say that the former Law professor at Beijing University now risks between 8 and 15 years in prison. They claim to have obtained the information from the Beijing police after repeated requests.

The restrictive measures to which Xu is subjected, pending the completion of the investigation, can last up to six months, and do not allow contact with the family and his lawyer. His fiancée Li Qiaochu is detained on the same charge and in the same manner.

On the run for some time, after attending a meeting with democratic activists in Xiamen (Fujian) last December, Xu was arrested on February 15 in Guangzhou (Guangdong) during a "health check" to prevent the spread of coronavirus ( Covid-19).

The academic, founder of the New Citizens Movement, is a well-known critic of the Communist Party. He was imprisoned in January 2014, serving a four-year sentence, for his ideas in defense of democracy, and for denouncing the corruption of Chinese leaders.

Xu published an article on the web in early February claiming that Xi was "unable to handle" the coronavirus crisis. His accusation is that the regime’s clampdown on freedom of expression has contributed to the uncontrolled spread of lung infection. For the activist, the Chinese president has also failed in addressing the tariff war with the United States and pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Not only that, Xu attacks the "supreme leader" for what he calls "extravagant" projects: the Belt and Road Initiative, which should increase the country's geopolitical influence by improving commercial links between Asia, Africa and Europe; the "Xiong'an New Area", which aims to create three special development areas in the internal province of Hubei; and the national "poverty alleviation" program.

In the past, Xu accused the Chinese president of having created a "new model of totalitarianism". While in the West mulls the idea that the dictatorial nature of the regime has favored the containment of the epidemic in China, he - as well as Xu Zhangrun and He Weifang, other academics critical of the Party and its leadership - have raised their voices to emphasize that the repressive and tyrannical action of the authorities actually caused delays in the response, thus leading to the expansion of Covid-19.

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