Last month, a Chinese court sentenced the civil rights activists and lawyers Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi to fourteen and twelve years in prison for “subverting state power,” a charge arising from an informal gathering of fellow activists the two had put together in 2019 in the southern coastal city of Xiamen. The following conversation, excerpted and translated, comes from an episode of the podcast Bu Mingbai. In it, host and New York Times reporter Li Yuan interviews Ding’s wife, Luo Shengchun, and Xu’s close friend, law school classmate and fellow activist Teng Biao, about who these two men are, how they came to their activism, and why they persisted despite previous imprisonments and amid mounting signs of personal danger.

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