Asia

China begins first trial for activist tied to 2015 crackdown

  • Yuan Shanshan, third right, the wife of detained Chinese lawyer Xie Yanyi, carries her child as she talks to a police officer while other plain clothes security personnel film journalists near the Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People's Court in northern China's Tianjin Municipality on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016. The court in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin has begun to try the first of four human rights advocates charged with subversion of state power, marking the first publicly acknowledged hearing in a yearlong case shrouded in secrecy and involving hundreds of Chinese human rights activists.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

    Yuan Shanshan, third right, the wife of detained Chinese lawyer Xie Yanyi, carries her child as she talks to a police officer while other plain clothes security personnel film journalists near the Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People's Court in northern China's Tianjin Municipality on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016. The court in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin has begun to try the first of four human rights advocates charged with subversion of state power, marking the first publicly acknowledged hearing in a yearlong case shrouded in secrecy and involving hundreds of Chinese human rights activists.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)  (The Associated Press)

  • Yuan Shanshan, the wife of detained Chinese lawyer Xie Yanyi, carries her child as she is questioned by plain clothes security personnel near the Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People's Court in northern China's Tianjin Municipality on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016. The court in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin has begun to try the first of four human rights advocates charged with subversion of state power, marking the first publicly acknowledged hearing in a yearlong case shrouded in secrecy and involving hundreds of Chinese human rights activists.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

    Yuan Shanshan, the wife of detained Chinese lawyer Xie Yanyi, carries her child as she is questioned by plain clothes security personnel near the Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People's Court in northern China's Tianjin Municipality on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016. The court in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin has begun to try the first of four human rights advocates charged with subversion of state power, marking the first publicly acknowledged hearing in a yearlong case shrouded in secrecy and involving hundreds of Chinese human rights activists.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)  (The Associated Press)

  • A police car passes by the Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People's Court in northern China's Tianjin Municipality on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016. The court in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin has begun to try the first of four human rights advocates charged with subversion of state power, marking the first publicly acknowledged hearing in a yearlong case shrouded in secrecy and involving hundreds of Chinese human rights activists.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

    A police car passes by the Tianjin No. 2 Intermediate People's Court in northern China's Tianjin Municipality on Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2016. The court in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin has begun to try the first of four human rights advocates charged with subversion of state power, marking the first publicly acknowledged hearing in a yearlong case shrouded in secrecy and involving hundreds of Chinese human rights activists.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)  (The Associated Press)

A court in northern China is trying the first of four human rights advocates charged with subversion of state power after being arrested last year in a sweeping crackdown.

The official Xinhua news agency said Tuesday that a trial had begun for the activist Zhai Yanmin, who was arrested last July as part of a countrywide government campaign against lawyers and activists. Prosecutors announced last month they would try a lawyer and three activists including Zhai. More than a dozen others remain jailed, their legal status uncertain.

Xinhua said the trial would be open and attended by five foreign media outlets and other observers. Police cordoned off the Tianjin No 2 Intermediate People's Court on Tuesday, one day after protesters flanked by foreign diplomats demanded more information about the cases.