CHINA: When Leniency Is Severity

CHINA: When Leniency Is Severity

Four years in jail is a stiff punishment for joining in a peaceful demonstration. Still, the seven individuals sentenced earlier this month to two- to four-year prison terms for their part in Beijing's 1989 Tiananmen Square protests got off relatively lightly. Ordinarily in China, their alleged crimes -- ranging from spreading counter-revolutionary propaganda to subversion -- bring 10- to 15-year terms.

The trials, which were closed to reporters, were the first related to the Tiananmen affair; at least another 355 protesters are yet to have their day in court. In demonstrating leniency, the court was clearly influenced by international pressure to...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!