China

China’s rising authoritarianism has a stark human cost

China’s rising authoritarianism has a stark human cost

Li Heping spent his career trying to hold Chinese Communist Party officials accountable for their darkest behavior. He believed in an authority higher than the party — China’s own legal system. And for that, he suffered tremendously.

Since the late ’90s, Li, a 46-year-old human rights lawyer, had defended China’s most persecuted groups: dissidents, petitioners, victims of land grabs and forced demolitions, church leaders, practitioners of the banned spiritual group Falun Gong. Then came the “709” crackdown — named for July 9, 2015, the night it began — when authorities detained or interrogated more than 300 lawyers and their associates, including Li. They held Li without charge...

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