Xu Zhiyong, Jiang Tianyong, Yang Huiwen

Legal scholar Xu Zhiyong, center, seen after a meeting at a restaurant in Beijing, China in 2009. Pic: AP.

BEIJING (AP) — A Beijing high court has upheld a guilty verdict against the founder of a Chinese grassroots movement that promoted clean governance.

The Beijing Supreme High Court ruled Friday that the trial court was proper in finding Xu Zhiyong guilty of gathering crowds to disrupt public order and sentencing him to four years in prison.

China observers and rights advocates say the persecution against Xu is political because Beijing is clamping down on anything that could grow into a political force, even though the demands of Xu’s loosely knit New Citizens group are in line with government goals, such as curbing corruption and providing equal education opportunities.

Xu’s offense largely stemmed from several rallies he organized in front of the Chinese Ministry of Education to demand equal education rights.

Subscribe to Asian Correspondent

Receive our weekly round-up of the most important stories in Asia

We will never give away, trade or sell your email address. You can unsubscribe at any time.