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Briefing

5 things to know about China's crackdown on critics

In recent weeks, Beijing has arrested more than a dozen activists associated with a prominent anticorruption campaign, the latest chapter in an ongoing crackdown against government dissidents and their families. What led up to the crackdown and what is likely to be the fallout from it? 

- Staff writer

This 2009 file photo shows legal scholar Xu Zhiyong at a meeting in Beijing, China. (Greg Baker/AP/File)

1. Who is being targeted?

When Xi Jinping became president of China earlier this year, he publicly pledged to clean up government corruption. But when a group of activists calling themselves the New Citizens' Movement unfurled banners in Beijing in March calling for officials to publicly disclose their assets, Mr. Xi's government swiftly retaliated. Since then 16 activist leaders have been arrested – including human rights lawyer Xu Zhiyong, detained in late July. He had not been heard from until a visitor to the jail smuggled out a video in which Mr. Xu urges Chinese citizens to defend their rights as citizens.

Another activist, veteran journalist Chen Min (who writes under the pen name Xiao Shu), was briefly detained in early August for circulating a petition to have Xu freed.


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