On the Release of Five Feminist Activists in China – Statement by Gender Scholar Wang Zheng

By Wang Zheng, published: April 13, 2015


Professor Wang Zheng, of University of Michigan.

Professor Wang Zheng, of University of Michigan. Online phot. 

It is to my great relief that the authorities have decided to release the five feminists on bail. However, we insist that the police drop all charges against the five rather than treating them as “suspects”, restricting their physical mobility and job opportunity, and deprive them of their freedom and rights as citizens. Our fight for their total freedom continues.

In the Chinese context, this is the first time that a group of detained social activists are released all at once. This decision suggests: one, the unprecedented huge mobilization of global feminist and other non-governmental organizations’ support is effective. The massive grassroots based petitions not only pushed their own respective state politicians to respond, it also demonstrated clearly to the Chinese government that this petition is not instigated by a nation- based political enemy, but by a global political force – transnational feminists and other grassroots organizations for social justice and equality.  This global political force cannot be suppressed by the Chinese state, or any national state. And no nation state should treat this global political force as its enemy. That would be too foolish.

Two, the Chinese government is not a monolithic entity and the decision is a compromise among different political factions or state branches. It can be imagined how ferocious the contentions behind the scenes were over how to handle this hot potato in their hands. The final compromise shows clearly that there were officials in the system who pushed very hard towards a positive solution.

For both above reasons, today I am hopeful. History does not end but evolves with contentions of various forces in an indeterminate manner. I am grateful for the amazing transnational support to five Chinese feminists. I feel fortunate that there are still officials in the Chinese government who chose to stand on the side of social justice, or who simply have the sensibility of not sticking to a stupid mistake.

That said, I am fully aware of the grave challenges Chinese feminists confront with. As long as non-governmental organizations’ activism for advocating and implementing laws relating to gender equality or any other issue is defined as criminal, there will be no safe zone for feminists as well as activists working in other realms for social justice. Thus, our efforts cannot stop here with the release of the five. We need to further help the government understand that feminists are an extremely important social group to move China towards the realization of rule of law. The five young feminists should be treated as exemplars of modern citizens who have a strong sense of citizens’ rights and responsibilities and who have the capacity to take action to not only advocate for new laws but also to implement the laws in a country where there remains a huge gap between the laws on paper and the actual implementation.

And we have all noticed the UN’s awkward silence in the global uproar against the detention. Now the global activists are shifting their gaze to the UN who has the plan to co-host the Global Summit for Women with China, and see if they will do something constructive to set the five feminists totally free.

Finally, I am hopeful also because throughout this process I have been witnessing the rise of an increasingly large group of extremely brave young feminists that include men. The detention and the global support have totally galvanized a whole cohort of young Chinese in and outside China, turning them into social activists with deep commitment and a global vision. They are absolutely my sunshine through this ordeal. As Yan Wenxin, a male lawyer who involved in the case, commented, “The feminist group’s amazing solidarity, tenacity, and braveness is truly admirable.” Yes, the event has turned the term “feminist” a glorious one. Today so many young women on the Wechat proudly declared, “I am so proud of being a feminist!”


Wang Zheng (王政)

April 13, 2015




Detention of Five Chinese Feminist Activists at the Juncture of Beijing+20 – An Interview with Gender Scholar Wang Zheng, April 11, 2015

Lawyer Wang Qiushi’s statement (he represents Wei Tingting) via @Stone_SkyNews:

Statement by lawyer Wang Qiushi

Statement by lawyer Wang Qiushi

3 responses to “On the Release of Five Feminist Activists in China – Statement by Gender Scholar Wang Zheng”

  1. […] Updated at 17:01 PDT on April 13, 2015: China Change has posted a statement by University of Michigan Women’s Studies Professor Wang Zheng, in which she mentions her relief following the release but also calls on Beijing to drop all charges and restrictions. Wang continues to offer observations on what precipitated Beijing’s decision: […]

  2. tarasherab says:

    Reblogged this on tarasherab.

  3. […] the fact that there is a release on “bail” is a positive development and many have praised the international outcry for precipitating the women’s release.   Certainly the international […]

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