A 10-year-old is on trial in China. Reason: leaking “state secrets”


Cheng Lei’s case is not the only one, as China has a long history of detention.


Citing allegations of “state secrets” leaking, China has detained people for 10 years, conducted closed-door trials and violated the basic principle of a fair trial.

Worryingly, the term “state secret” used by China is broad and very vague. Chinese law does give a definition of the term as such.

In one of the incidents, 10-year-old Cheng Lei, who was born in China and migrated to Australia, was detained by Chinese authorities for allegedly disclosing state secrets. The Australian Embassy announced in August 2020 that they had been notified by Chinese authorities that Cheng Lei was suspected of illegally disclosing state secrets outside of China and had been detained.

However, no details were given to the embassy of the trial as it took place behind closed doors. Her lawyer and family are not allowed to talk about the trial. Family visits are prohibited and Cheng Lei has limited contact through letters.

Her elderly parents and children live in Australia and are very concerned. The Australian ambassador was unable to attend the trial. In its defense, Chinese authorities said the decision would be announced at a later date, but no details have been provided yet, The Hong Kong Post reports.

Graham Fletcher, Australian Ambassador, said Speaking to the media: “This is deeply worrying, unsatisfactory and regrettable. We cannot have confidence in the validity of a process conducted in secret. Under our consular agreement, we would be able to should be to attend court cases.”

Cheng Lei’s case is not alone, as China has a long history of detention and conducting closed-door lawsuits. According to the media, China’s criminal laws have been used to crack down on foreign human rights activists and media, as well as citizen journalists reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic and the human rights violations during the protests in Hong Kong and by Uyghur Muslims.

Another offended form of detention used by China is Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL). This form of detention has been widely criticized for being archaic and a gross violation of human rights. Allegations of extreme physical and mental torture, including psychological torture by detainees under RSDL, have been made.

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