China jails veteran activist Chen Xi for 10 years


Policemen patrol at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China. Chen Xi, a veteran activist who participated in the 1989 Tiananmen protests, was jailed for 10 years today.


Feng Li

Chen Xi, a veteran activist who participated in the 1989 Tiananmen protests, has been jailed for 10 years.

The sentence comes just days after China sentenced another Tiananmen activist, Chen Wei, to 9 years in prison. Wei was one of hundreds of dissidents who were held by Chinese police earlier this year in order to to prevent the "Jasmine Revolution," a series of planned protests inspired by the Arab Spring. 

More from GlobalPost: China sentences dissident Chen Wei for 9 years

Chen Xi's 10-year jail term is one of the heaviest sentences for political charges since Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo was jailed two years ago for dissent, according to the Taipei Times.

Human rights groups have accused Beijing of cracking down on activists under the cover of the Christmas holidays so that they would not receive as much attention from diplomats or media, BBC News reported.

"It does work really well because there's no diplomatic activity around Christmas," said Nicholas Bequelin, an Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch. "By the time the diplomats get back to their desks, the sequence of events has moved on." 

Xi was convicted of "subverting state power," the same conviction used against Wei. Chen Xi had posted 36 essays online, many of which were critical of the Chinese Communist Party. He also hosted a human rights forum in southwestern China.

More from GlobalPost: How China silences its fiercest critics 

Chen Xi's wife Zhang Qunxuan told reporters that her husband was innocent that he would be appealing his conviction, the BBC reported. 

“If the government wants democracy and progression, you need people who speak out their negative opinions,” she said. “To subvert you — can he do that? Does he have any army? Does he have a police force? Does he have courts? With a piece of paper and a pen, can he subvert you? Are you so fragile?”

Xi has been jailed several times since his participation in the Tiananmen protests. Gao Zhisheng, one of China's most well-known rights lawyers, was sent back to jail earlier this month by a Beijing court.