‘Picking quarrels and provoking trouble’: how China’s catch-all crime muzzles dissent

In August, two Chinese activists were sentenced to 15 months in prison for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” after archiving censored internet materials during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.The broadly worded criminal charge has been widely criticised for its potential to be used to muzzle dissent. Known as a catch-all offence or a “pocket crime”, the charge has been used by Chinese authorities against human rights activists and dissidents for a wide range of behaviours.What is…