Chinese Christian activist Hu Shigen has been sentenced to seven years and six months in jail and will be stripped of his political rights for five years, according to CCTV. Hu’s trial began at the Tianjin Second Intermediate People’s Court on Wednesday, the same day of the sentence.

Hu was found guilty of “subverting state power.” He pleaded guilty to his crimes and said that he would not appeal.

Hu Shigen in court. Photo: CCTV screenshot via China Human Rights Lawyers Group.

Patrick Poon, a researcher at Amnesty International, said that Hu may have gotten a heavy sentence “because the Chinese government wants to set an example to the other activists what consequences they would face for their human rights work.” He also said that “it looks like the authorities regard Hu Shigen as the one who masterminded the actions.”

Hu was detained on July 10 last year as part of the “709 crackdown” on lawyers and activists. He began to take part in activism after the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre and was a leader of underground churches in Beijing. Hu was detained for two years in 1992 and then sentenced to 14 years in jail for counterrevolutionary crimes. He was released in 2008.

Fengrui employee Zhai Yanmin speaking on TV last year. Photo: Sina screenshot.

Fellow activist Zhai Yanmin was sentenced to 3 years of imprisonment with a four year suspension on Tuesday. Zhai was employed by the Beijing Fengrui law firm, which found itself in the centre of the crackdowns.

See also: Detained Chinese activist sentenced to three years as wife unable to attend trial

Gou Hongguo and Zhou Shifeng also face the same charges – “subverting state power” – and are awaiting trial. Zhou is the director of the Fengrui law firm and Gou, like Hu, is a Christian activist.

Poon said it is very likely that the trials for two others will take place this week as the Tianjin court and Xinhua “have been so well-prepared in releasing the information about the trials of Zhai and Hu in the past two days.”

Correction 5/8: A previous version of this article suggested that Li Heping was awaiting trial along with Zhai, Zhou and Hu. In fact, activist Gou Hongguo was likely to be facing trial in the same week. 

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.