Human Rights in China: The Case of Xu Zhiyong

Presentation author(s)

Cindy Chen ’22, Boston, Massachusetts

Majors: Political science; Chinese language and culture
Minor: Spanish language and culture


Xu Zhiyong is a Chinese civil rights activist and former university law lecturer who, due to his activism, has been on the radar of Chinese authorities for almost two decades. From his representation of families during the 2008 Chinese milk scandal to his unofficial leadership of the reformist New Citizens’ Movement, Xu’s profile has only grown since the early 2000s.

In February 2020, after spending two months on the run as he criticized the Chinese government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, Xu was detained. In January 2021, Chinese authorities began investigating him for “subversion of state power.” Having previously been arrested and imprisoned on the charge of “gathering crowds to disrupt public order” in 2014, he is looking at a long prison sentence.

In this presentation, I will discuss Xu’s importance to China’s human rights movement and the worsening crackdown on Chinese civil society, of which Xu’s situation is symbolic. In addition, I will propose an advocacy campaign on his behalf that will coincide with the 2022 Winter Olympics.


Beth Dougherty

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