December 30, 2018
After more than three and a half years of incommunicado detention, Wang Quanzhang has finally faced trial, but little is known of exactly what happened during the closed-door proceedings other than he fired his state-approved lawyer within minutes.
We had only first learned about his closed-door trial two days before, on Christmas Eve, along with his wife Li Wenzu, who on the morning of her husband’s trial was swarmed by state security officials who placed her under house arrest and forbid her to travel. Other supporters were likewise blocked from travelling for the closed-door trial, including Wang Qiaoling, wife of human rights lawyer Li Heping taken in the 709 crackdown and himself sentenced in a closed-door trial in April 2017.
Such treatment of friends and family is disgraceful and yet unsurprising.
It wouldn’t be the holiday season in China without the show trial of a high-profile dissident, and just as it did a year ago with the secretive trial of rights blogger Wu Gan, China has attempted to hide attention of Wang’s trial by scheduling it around Christmas. But we are not fooled by this vulgar holiday ritual.
What is really on trial is not Wang Quanzhang but Xi Jinping’s empty claims of governing according to the rule of law – yet not even China believes its own propaganda. Why else would it attempt to hide Wang Quanzhang’s trial behind Christmas, except because it knows it has something to hide?