In the United States when people are treated unfairly or discriminated against, social media posts demand those wrong be corrected. Advocacy groups mount protests. Attorneys bring lawsuits.
China does not allow for similar responses.
Protesters on trial
Recently groups have protested against forced evictions that uprooted families in the Beijing area. Because the government considers this a sensitive issue, it detained over 200 activists and lawyers.
Attorneys at Beijing’s Fengrui law firm had been involved in the protests. One of the lawyers was charged with plotting with others at the firm to “attack the national legal system and provoke people’s hatred against the government.” At the end of his trial the court pronounced a suspended sentence. That perhaps indicates he had cooperated with the government. On August 2, another lawyer at the firm denounced his law partners and blamed “foreign forces” for the law firm’s activities.
Released by controlled
A third attorney been released on bail after "confessing" her involvement on videotape. However, her husband remains in detention on subversion charges. In addition, authorities are reportedly closely watching her grandparents and teenage son.
The Guardian quotes Maya Wang, a China researcher for Human Rights Watch, who indicated that in these cases China is “sending out messages both at home and abroad with its prosecutions.... The Communist party, she said, ‘is very leery of any kind of outside support that would create an alternate vision for China’s future.’”
In response the U.S. State Department issued a statement that decried the detention these attorneys and activists. “We call for an immediate end to the cases brought against them and to restrictions on their freedom of movement and professional activities,” it said.