China activist filmmaker charged with ‘picking quarrels and provoking troubles’ News
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China activist filmmaker charged with ‘picking quarrels and provoking troubles’

Police in China charged Chen Pin Lin, director of documentary “Not the Foreign Force,” with “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” according to Chinese human rights news watchdogs Weiquanwang and Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch.

The Thursday charges come after Chen’s arrest in January 2024. He has been in detention for more than a month. In a letter to his family members, the authorities accused him of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles,” which is criminalized by Article 293 of the Criminal Act. Human Rights Watch previously criticized Article 293 for its elusive definition and use against human rights defenders.

The film “Not the Foreign Force,” also known as “Ürümqi Road” in Chinese, depicts the nationwide protests against COVID-19 lockdown measures in China. The demonstrations erupted in Shanghai after a fire killed 10 people in Ürümqi, where lockdown policies had slowed down fire services. During the rallies, colloquially known as the “White Paper Protests,” participants held a piece of blank paper over their heads to symbolize their speechlessness over the tragedy. The protests ultimately prompted the Chinese government to lift all COVID-19 restrictions in December 2022.

Chen published the video via YouTube under the pseudonym “Plato.” It was republished by China Digital Times on 27 Nov. 2023, one year after the demonstrations started, though the original has since been deleted. In the caption, Chen criticized the Chinese government for shifting the blame to foreign forces. “The more the government tries to mislead, forget and conceal, the more we should speak out, remind and remember,” he wrote. “Remember the White Paper Protests.”

*Correction: The original version of this article mistakenly stated the video was first published via China Digital Times. In fact, it was originally published via YouTube, and then republished via China Digital Times.