Beijing-based citizen-journalist Xie Qiang, known under the pen name of Ma Xiao, was arrested on April 27 for “picking quarrels and stirring up trouble”, a deliberately vague charge used by the Chinese regime to silence critics. Ma, a contributor to US-based website Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) in 2008, has published a series of interviews with political prisoners on citizen-journalism websites and on Boxun News since 2013.
"By informing the Chinese public about the judicial system and detention conditions of political prisoners, two domains known for their lack of transparency, Ma Xiao was acting in the public’s interest and should not be punished,” commented Cédric Alviani, director of Reporters Without Borders (RSF) East-Asia Bureau, who urged the Chinese authorities to “immediately release Ma Xiao and all other journalists detained in China.”
Ma himself was previously detained for a short period in 2012, a few days before the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. More than 65 journalists and bloggers are currently jailed in life-threatening conditions in China. The country fell further down to 177 out of 180 in the 2019 RSF Press Freedom Index.