A former Chinese state prosecutor criticized Xi Jinping’s plan to rule indefinitely and now he’s been arrested

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NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images

  • China reportedly arrested a man this week who criticized the country’s plan to scrap presidential term limits.
  • This appears to be the first arrest of someone who has protested the plan, though at least one dissident was sent away on a forced “holiday” ahead of China’s annual legislature meeting this week.
  • The arrest shows the length China is willing to go to in order to clamp down on dissent.

A former state prosecutor was arrested this week after he criticized President Xi Jinping’s plan to scrap term limits, according to his family.

Shen Liangqing, a long-time activist, was reportedly arrested by 10 police officers in Hefei on Tuesday night, according to a Radio Free Asia report.

“They had a warrant with them, calling him for questioning, and the reason given was suspicion of ‘picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,'” Shen’s son Shen Li told Radio Free Asia.

The police reportedly said Shen was in trouble for “saying stuff online” and copied content from Shen’s phone and computer, before taking both away.

Shen reportedly made comments online about Xi’s plan to remove presidential term limits recently, and his friends and family believe this to be the cause of his arrest.

If so, this might the first publicly-known arrest on the issue, though BBC did capture the moment another dissident, Hu Jia, was sent away on a “holiday” paid for by the police, as China’s legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC) got underway earlier this week.

But the government’s attempt to clam down on opposition has largely been traditional.

After the term-limit change was announced, the government censored dozens of words and phrases online, lawyers in one province were warned they could be banned from practising for up to five years if they dissented online, and at least one university was warned not to discuss the matter with students.

For Shen, this is not his first NPC-related arrest.

In the lead-up to the NPC in 1998, Shen was sentenced to two years in a forced labour camp after sending a critical letter to the government and contacting human rights groups. In 2015, Shen was arrested for “disturbing the public order” after he retweeted a post about a series of warehouse explosions in China that killed hundreds.