Chinese journalist and activist Sophia Huang Xueqin is feared to have been detained in China after disappearing on September 19. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expresses concern for Huang’s safety and stands in solidarity with Huang who has faced harassment by Chinese authorities for exercising freedom of expression.
Huang, a freelance journalist and leading campaigner for China’s #MeToo movement, has reportedly not been contactable by friends since September 19, the day before she was supposed to travel from the Chinese city of Guangzhou to London, via Hong Kong.
There are concerns that she and labour activist Wang Jianbing, who was with Huang to see her off, have both been detained by the authorities. Sources familiar with the matter said Wang may have been apprehended over “incitement to subvert state power” because of the gatherings he and friends held at his residence. The reasons for Huang’s suspected detainment remain unclear.
The 33-year-old feminist journalist had originally planned to travel to Britain to commence postgraduate studies at the University of Sussex, after being awarded the British government’s Chevening Scholarship.
Asked to comment on Huang’s reported disappearance, a University of Sussex spokesman voiced concerns. “We are concerned about the safety and whereabouts of our student,” he said. “Our staff are liaising with Chevening to seek further details.”
Huang is known for her role in giving voice to China’s version of the #MeToo movement in 2018 when she wrote a survey report on sexual harassment and assault cases faced by Chinese women working in journalism.
In June 2019, she travelled to Hong Kong to protest the now-withdrawn extradition bill put forth by the Hong Kong government and blogged about her experience. In October 2019, she was subsequently detained over “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” and released three months later.
The IFJ said, “Huang’s disappearance is concerning as detainment has been increasingly used by the Chinese government to suppress political dissent. The IFJ stands in solidarity with Huang, who has faced continual harassment by Chinese authorities for drawing attention to important issues in the public interest.”