In halting televised confessions and emotional courtroom testimony, Chinese lawyers and activists held in a government crackdown have voiced the same ominous message: Shadowy foreign forces are funding, directing and encouraging activities bent on destabilizing China’s government and smearing its reputation.
The familiar narrative of a country besieged by foreign enemies – with the United States implied as ringleader – is a key element of China’s yearlong campaign to stamp out the country’s burgeoning legal activism movement. That effort drew new attention this week with the carefully scripted trials of a lawyer and three activists on subversion charges.
Though the tactic is far from new, political observers say the trials are a reminder of how the administration of President Xi Jinping has wielded the specter of foreign threats with far greater frequency and force, a reflection of the leadership’s deeply seated belief that China is locked in a pitched, strategic and ideological battle against the West. Read More