August 22, 2017
Activist and former rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong was tried for inciting subversion in Changsha on Tuesday, pleading guilty under what supporters suspect was heavy coercion. Jiang disappeared last November while visiting the family of Xie Yang, a rights lawyer detained in the sweeping Black Friday crackdown in 2015 who has since been tried for inciting subversion and is now reportedly under house arrest. In March, Jiang was publicly accused of helping fabricate Xie’s graphic accounts of torture in detention, and confessed to this on state TV, again under suspected coercion. The Guardian’s Tom Phillips reported on his trial, and his claims of being led astray by foreign instigators:
“I’m ashamed of it,” Jiang told the court, according to the English-language China Daily, which sent a correspondent to cover proceedings in a sign of Beijing’s determination to shape the narrative around the prosecution.
According to the state-run broadsheet, Jiang admitted to attending overseas training sessions where he was encouraged to reject China’s political system and ruling party. “So I wanted to make a change,” he reportedly said.
[…] In an online video released by the court, Jiang appears asking for clemency: “Please give me another chance to be a human being … and to make up for my wrongdoings … Once I am free I will never return to my old ways … I sincerely ask the court to set me on a path towards the sunshine.”
[…] In a front-page story, apparently timed to coincide with Tuesday’s trial, the China Daily quoted Chinese academics who heaped praise on the “transformative changes” witnessed since Xi became leader in late 2012. “China has made great progress in advancing the rule of law,” claimed Jiang Guohua, a law professor. [Source]
UC Berkeley law professor Stanley Lubman offered a more skeptical assessment at ChinaFile earlier this month, writing that progress exists “more in policy than in practice.”