An outspoken former Chinese rights lawyer has been arrested on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power”, as the government continues to crack down on activists and political dissidents. Qin Yongpei, 50, who often criticised Beijing on social media including Twitter, was arrested on Tuesday in southern China, according to an arrest notice seen by AFP. “He dares to say anything online,” his wife, Deng Xiaoyun, said. She said he had been accused of inciting state subversion “because it would be easiest charge to give”. On the defensive on human rights, China’s ambassadors go on the attack Qin “drew a lot of attention, and possibly retaliation, from the authorities for openly criticising and reporting high-level public officials”, said Doriane Lau, a researcher at Amnesty International. Qin, who was detained last month in Nanning, in the southern region of Guangxi, often took to social media to comment on topics deemed sensitive by the Chinese Communist Party, including pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The Chinese lawyer, who was disbarred in May last year, is also among the growing number of rights lawyers in China to be stripped of their license to practise – a method activists say effectively silences them without attracting as much attention as an arrest. China ‘could target trade talks and US companies’ over Xinjiang human rights bill The widespread disbarment of rights lawyers – at least a dozen have had their licenses cancelled or revoked since 2018, according to government documents – follows one of the largest clampdowns on China’s legal profession in the country’s recent history. A police sweep launched on July 9, 2015 saw more than 200 Chinese human rights lawyers and activists detained or questioned in a huge operation – later dubbed the “709 crackdown”– that rights groups called “unprecedented”. “That authorities arrested Qin is outright political persecution,” said Sui Muqing, a Chinese lawyer who was detained during the “709 crackdown” and a friend of Qin’s. His arrest is also “an escalation of political persecution towards lawyers”, he added. Nanning police did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.