The journalist who sparked the #MeToo movement in China sentenced to 5 years for subversion

Huang Xueqin, a Chinese investigative journalist known for her involvement in the #MeToo movement was sentenced today to 5 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” after nearly 1000 days of detention. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for her immediate release.

Chinese investigative journalist Huang Xueqin (Sophia Huang) was sentenced to 5 years in prison on the charge of “incitement to subvert state power” by a court in Guangzhou (southern China) on Friday 14 June, 2024. Huang, a figure of China’s #MeToo movement was arrested in September 2021, one day ahead of her departure to study in the United Kingdom. With heavy presence of police in the court surroundings preventing journalists and supporters from entering the courtroom her partner and labour activist Wang Jianbing also received a 3-year and 6 months sentence under the same charge. 

Huang was tried behind closed doors on 22 September 2023, but verdict was not announced at the time. During her detention, she has been subjected to torture, reportedly experiencing stabbing pains in her waist resulting from prolonged interrogation in the "tiger chair", a notorious torture tool used by the Chinese police.

“Huang Xueqin was only serving the public interest by shedding light on social issues and should never have been detained, not to mention tortured or sentenced to such a heavy prison term. We urge the international community to build up pressure on the Chinese authorities to secure her release alongside all other 118 journalists and press freedom defenders detained in the country.

Cédric Alviani
RSF Asia-Pacific Bureau Director

In 2018, Huang, a journalist covering a range of topics from women’s rights and corruption to industrial pollution, conducted surveys revealing the prevalence of gender-based harassment in the media industry. She also helped put forward China’s first #MeToo case in one of China’s most prestigious universities in Beijing and created a social media platform for reporting on sexual harassment. In 2019, Huang was already detained for three months under the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” for covering the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. 

China, the world's biggest prison for journalists and press freedom defenders with at least 118 detainees, is ranked 172nd out of 180 countries in the 2024 RSF World Press Freedom Index.

172/ 180
Score : 23.36
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