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10 Jan 2016

Sui-Lee Wee, Reuters

China: 4 detained labour activists formally charged amid "most sweeping clampdown in two decades"

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“China arrests four labour activists amid crackdown: lawyers”, 10 Jan 2016

China has formally arrested four labour activists who have helped workers fight for their rights, lawyers for two of them said on Sunday, as the government steps up a crackdown on activists pressing for change within the system.

Rights groups say the current clampdown on dissent is the most sweeping in two decades in China, where a slowing economy has led to a surge in labour disputes, particularly in the southern manufacturing powerhouse of Guangdong.

Zeng Feiyang…was charged with "disturbing social order", said Cheng Zhunqiang, his lawyer. Zeng is one of China's most prominent labour activists, many of whom have campaigned for the legal rights of workers, such as proper work contracts and social insurance contributions. Two other activists, Meng Han and Zhu Xiaomei, have also been arrested on the same charge, said Yan Xin, Meng's lawyer, and Cheng. He Xiaobo was arrested on a charge of embezzlement, according to New York-based rights group China Labor Watch…Both lawyers said they had been unable to meet their clients since their detentions, in contravention of Chinese law…