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Special feature: Locating Civil Society: Communities Defending Basic Liberties

Rights Defence (weiquan), Microblogs (weibo), and Popular Surveillance (weiguan)

The Rights Defence Movement Online and Offline
Teng Biao
Translated by Stacy Mosher
p. 29-39


The rise of China’s rights defence movement has occurred in tandem with the rapid development of the Internet in China. Various forms of rights defence inside and outside of the courtroom have emerged and developed alongside changes to China’s ideological, political, and legal systems and social structure. Similarly, Internet technology such as microblogs and other social media are enriching the modalities of activity in the rights defence movement, enhancing the mobilisation capacity of activists, and accelerating the systematisation of popular rights defence, profoundly affecting China’s ongoing political transformation.

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Bibliographical reference

Teng Biao, « Rights Defence (weiquan), Microblogs (weibo), and Popular Surveillance (weiguan) », China Perspectives, 2012/3 | 2012, 29-39.

Electronic reference

Teng Biao, « Rights Defence (weiquan), Microblogs (weibo), and Popular Surveillance (weiguan) », China Perspectives [Online], 2012/3 | 2012, Online since 01 October 2015, connection on 18 June 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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About the author

Teng Biao

Lecturer at China University of Political Science and Law; he practices law at the Beijing Huayi Law Firm, he is the Director of China Against Death Penalty, Beijing. He holds a PhD from Peking University Law School. In 2003, he was one of the “Three Doctors of Law” who complained to the National People’s Congress about unconstitutional detentions of internal migrants in the widely known “Sun Zhigang Case.” Since then, Teng Biao has provided counsel in numerous other human rights cases, including those of rural rights advocate Chen Guangcheng, rights defender Hu Jia, the religious freedom case of Wang Bo, and numerous death penalty cases. He has also co-founded two groups that have combined research with work on human rights cases: “Open Constitution Initiative” (Gongmeng / now Gongmin) and “China Against Death Penalty” (

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