China Rights Activist Xu Zhiyong Arrested for criticizing President Xi handling of coronavirus

Coronavirus outbreak shows just how important values like freedom of expression and transparency are – the exact values that Xu has long advocated, Amnesty International reports.

Prominent Chinese activist and legal scholar Xu Zhiyong have been arrested for criticizing China President Xi Jinping over the coronavirus crisis

The former university lecturer and rights lawyer, was released in 2017 after serving a four-year prison sentence for his legal activism.

He was arrested on Saturday night while staying at the home of fellow activist Yang Bin, who had also spoken out against China’s censorship of debate on the virus.

Among those also detained for attending the Xiamen meeting are lawyers Dai Zhenya, Ding Jiaxi and Zhang Zhongshun, who have been held under

Xu has been in the authorities’ sights ever since he attended a meeting of human rights activists in Xiamen in December, and he has since criticized President Xi’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

On February 4, Xu released an article calling on Xi to step down and criticised his leadership across a range of issues including the US-China trade war, Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests and the coronavirus epidemic, which has now killed nearly 1,900 people.

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

The activist went into hiding after authorities broke up a December gathering of intellectuals discussing political reform in the eastern coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian province, prior to the coronavirus crisis.

He is a co-founder of the New Citizens’ Movement, a collection of lawyers and activists demanding civil rights protections and rule of law.

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