Prominent Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Disappears

, Prominent Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Disappears

Prominent Chinese Human Rights Lawyer Disappears

BACKGROUND

Human rights lawyer, Zhang Xuez-hong, had been “taken away” after writing an open letter criticising the Chinese Government’s COVID-19 response and their push for constitutional change. He was forcibly removed from his Shanghai home after posting on their social media platform, WeChat. The letter was directed to all members of China’s National People’s Congress and criticised the nations lack of a modern constitution and its shift of the social freedoms in this pandemic. He goes on to explain that:

“Chinese Constitution is just a manual used by the ruling party to organise and run its regime and that “Twenty-two days before [the country’s first major lockdown] of the city, Wuhan was still investigating and punishing citizens who had disclosed the epidemic, including Dr. Li Wenliang.. showing how tight and arbitrary the governments suppression of society is”

Dr Li Wenliang was the infamous Wuhan doctor who first raised the alarm over COVID-19 and had later died from the disease. Mr Xuez-hong also goes deeper within his post on the strict control regimes by questioning the lack of transparency and scrutiny, the silencing of whistleblowers, the incompetence of their local government and the overall disaster caused by the quarantine measures. One of the main reasons of this kidnapping by police was that he himself was in fact a member of the Communist Party of China, for which he relinquished back in 2012.

Prior to this event, he was removed from teaching position in 2013 as a professor for constitutional law and subsequently had his law license removed just last year after defending several human rights activists and fellow human rights lawyers. This practice by China has become a norm for censoring criticism and dissenters by having them put in jail or disappear after any statements. There are even reports claiming that the government is attempting to silence survivors from the pandemic of their own nation in a bid to stop any dissent.

THE “GREAT FIREWALL” OF CHINA HAS GOTTEN WORSE UNDER XI JINPING

The term “Great Firewall” is in reference to the large number of international websites blocked from China, including Google, Facebook and Twitter. China has even begun to block any VPNs to get around this firewall and has forced Apple to remove any VPN applications in their app store. There are over 600 million people using social media in China.

This comes after Chinese legislatures had voted, almost unanimously, to amend any presidential term limits, officially casting President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely. Just weeks prior to this, extensive censorship from the President had declared any links or reference of the words “immortality” and “lifelong” as illegal.  Earlier this month, a former prosecutor was arrested by 10 police officers in Hefei over his comments online about the removal of presidential term limits.

WHAT IS NEXT?

According to the Human Rights Watch report, the legislation amended by the Chinese Communist Party has now strengthened its power over the governments bureaucracy in its major overhaul of central government structure. This now gives authority for the new government body, the National Supervisory Commission, which holds the power to detain anyone exercising public authority for up to six months. This can be without fair trial procedures in a system called “liuzhi”. This was evident in recent years with their stepped-up repression on 1.3 million Turkic Muslims in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region as well new regulation in Tibet now criminalizing traditional notion of social action, namely community mediation by religious figures.

Australia has now officially backed up Europe’s motion for an independent investigations into the origins of the COVID-19 epidemic. Our Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt has stated earlier this week:

“We support the EU motion which includes an independent investigation, regulatory work on wet markets and also the potential for independent inspection powers”

China is now threating to impose massive and prohibitive tariffs on Australia if they do not stop with their support for an investigation. The Chinese ambassador has also made claims that a possible “consumer boycott” of Australian goods and services which can include education and tourism to meat and wine. This calls into question into our future relationship with China and what Australia proposes to do with respect of your international relations.

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