Huang published her essays on Hong Kong-based online platform Matters and had earlier written that police had harassed her family in the mainland on June 11. Huang Xueqin wrote at least two reports on the Hong Kong crisis while she was visiting there in August, but on her return to Mainland China the same month she was summonsed by authorities and her travel documents confiscated. She was again called in to collect her documents on October 17, from the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau but instead of being allowed home, she was formally arrested.
Huang is also known for her role in giving voice to China's version of the #MeToo movement in 2018, when she wrote on social media about her experience of workplace sexual harassment as a young journalist at a Chinese news agency. She also created an online poll asking other female journalists about their experiences of harassment.
Chinese authorities have developed an ongoing habit of arresting critical voices under the vague charge "making trouble and picking quarrels", particularly since China’s leader Xi Jingping assumed power in 2012. Human rights defenders have said the mainland authorities had stepped up harassment and detention of people expressing support for Hong Kong's ongoing protests.
The infringement on the civil liberties on journalists and dissidents inside mainland China remains largely hidden from the world as the screws tighten ever further on media controls and clampdowns with many journalists living in fear of retribution for critical reporting.
The IFJ said: “China needs brave voices like that of Sophia Huan Xueqin. She has given voice to important issues such as sexual harassment in China’s media and was simply doing her job in reporting on the situation in Hong Kong. The IFJ expresses solidarity with Sophia Huan Xueqin and those who have been targeted by authorities for exercising their freedom of expression.”