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Coronavirus: China Arrests President Xi’s Critic

Chinese language President Xi Jinping


Police in China have arrested a outstanding activist who had been a fugitive for weeks and criticised President Xi Jinping’s dealing with of the coronavirus epidemic whereas in hiding, a rights group stated Tuesday.

Anti-corruption activist Xu Zhiyong was arrested on Saturday after being on the run since December, based on Amnesty Worldwide.

China’s ruling Communist Occasion has severely curtailed civil liberties since Xi took energy in 2012, rounding up rights legal professionals, labour activists and even Marxist college students.

The loss of life this month of a whistleblowing physician who was reprimanded by police for elevating the alarm in regards to the lethal new virus earlier than dying of it himself triggered uncommon requires political reform and freedom of speech.

The “Chinese government’s battle against the coronavirus has in no way diverted it from its ongoing general campaign to crush all dissenting voices,” stated Patrick Poon, China researcher at Amnesty Worldwide, in an emailed assertion.

One other supply, who spoke to AFP on the situation of anonymity, stated Xu had been arrested within the southern metropolis of Guangzhou.

Guangzhou police didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Xu went into hiding after authorities broke up a December gathering of intellectuals discussing political reform within the japanese coastal metropolis of Xiamen in Fujian province, previous to the coronavirus disaster.

Over a dozen legal professionals and activists had been detained or disappeared after the Xiamen gathering, based on rights teams — and Xu’s detention seems linked to his presence on the assembly, defined Poon.

However whereas on the run, Xu continued to put up info on Twitter about rights points.

On February four Xu launched an article calling on Xi to step down and criticised his management throughout a spread of points together with the US-China commerce conflict, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests and the coronavirus epidemic, which has now killed practically 1,900 folks.

“Medical supplies are tight, hospitals are filled with patients, and a large number of infected people have no way to be diagnosed,” he wrote. “It’s a mess.”

“The coronavirus outbreak shows just how important values like freedom of expression and transparency are — the exact values that Xu has long advocated,” Yaqiu Wang, China researcher at Human Rights Watch, advised AFP.

However the disappearance of Xu illustrates how the Chinese language state “persists in its old ways” by “silencing its critics”, she stated.

Xu — who based a motion calling for better transparency amongst high-ranking officers — beforehand served a four-year jail sentence from 2013 to 2017 for organising an “illegal gathering”.

“That he was a fugitive for so many days while continuing to speak out, that in itself was… a kind of challenge to (Chinese authorities),” stated Hua Ze, a long-time buddy of Xu who advised AFP she misplaced contact with the Chinese language activist on Saturday morning.


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