Xi Jinping's Ruthless China Crackdown Should Surprise Nobody

Michael Sainsbury

July 9 marks the third anniversary of what is now know in China as 709, the crackdown by President Xi Jinping's ruling Communist Party on one of the bravest groups of lawyers anywhere: China's weiquan or human rights lawyers.

On July 9, 2015, hence 709, about 300 lawyers, legal assistants and activists from across China were rounded up. Most were interrogated and released but about 40 were taken into custody. Several said they were tortured, beaten, shackled and given electric shocks, while others said they were deprived of sleep, forced to take medication and held in painful positions.

The group has since been a target for the party, particularly during the three-year crackdown following the June 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre when at least 1,000 people were killed.

Many have been incarcerated in recent decades but under Xi's rule, now in its sixth year, the process of eliminating enemies and suspected enemies has stepped up several notches, and for the first time since Mao Zedong's rule, Xi has introduced a systemic program of religious persecution.

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