Hu Jia in China’s Legal Labyrinth

Far Eastern Economic Review May 2008

by Jerome A. Cohen and Eva Pil

On april 3, 2008, the Beijing Number One Intermediate People’s Court convicted Hu Jia, a 34-year-old Chinese commentator and activist, of the crime of “inciting subversion of state power” through publication of five articles and two interviews. It sentenced him to three and a half years in prison and subsequent deprivation of his political rights, including that of free expression, for another year. Although Mr. Hu’s case has remained virtually unknown to the Chinese people, by the time of sentencing it had become famous worldwide. When on April 17 foreign journalists asked Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu about it, she gave the standard mofa response to inquiries about political prosecutions: “The case was handled in accordance with Chinese law. China is a country under the rule of law, it abides by the law. No person is above the law and no one has a right to interfere with it.” rule of law, people inside as well as outside the country have reason to be afraid, so flawed was it in both process and substance. [Continues in pdf format]

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