The Wall Street Journal
4 August 2016
A Chinese court sentenced a lawyer whose firm is known for taking on politically sensitive cases to seven years in prison, in what a former colleague said was an unexpectedly harsh sentence, signaling that Beijing intends to keep squeezing the already constricted space for dissent in the country.
The lawyer, Zhou Shifeng, was a target in a government sweep a year ago in which roughly two dozen lawyers and activists were arrested and more than 300 others briefly detained or interrogated. That began an offensive against what was once a growing human-rights movement among Chinese lawyers.
Appearing in court on Thursday in the city of Tianjin, Mr. Zhou was the first lawyer among those arrested to face trial. He was sentenced to seven years after he pleaded guilty to subverting state power, according to the official Xinhua News Agency...
Mr. Zhou’s sentence suggests other arrested lawyers will face similar punishment. It also indicates authorities’ concern over the influence of lawyers as Chinese President Xi Jinping pushes a broad crackdown aimed at stifling challenges to the Communist Party’s authority.
“If you look at the landscape of resistance, you don’t see many other people left,” said Fu Hualing, a law professor at Hong Kong University. “Falun Gong is pretty much gone. The only ones that can stand up to the government are the lawyers. They have the organizing power, so they pose a threat.”... Click here to read the full article.