Other Group

Safeguard Defenders




Right-Of-Center Human Rights Advocacy




Madrid, Spain

Associated Organizations:

China Action

Safeguard Defenders is a private foundation based in Madrid, Spain that campaigns internationally against censorship and state-sponsored kidnappings in China. It also provides legal training and assistance to Chinese nationals facing persecution by the Communist Chinese government. 1

Safeguard Defenders took over the work of China Action, which also opposed censorship and imprisonment of public dissenters in China. In 2016, China Action dissolved after staff members were arrested or disappeared and kept the names of most of its staff anonymous as a result. 2


Based in Madrid, Spain, Safeguard Defenders is a private foundation registered in the European Union. It was founded in 2016 as a successor of China Action after Chinese authorities detained some of its staff members while other members of its staff went missing at the same time. 3

China Action was founded in 2009 in Beijing by Peter Dahlin from Sweden and Michael Caster from the U.S. alongside Chinese human rights activists. It was a network of pro-bono legal aid centers across China that assisted Chinese people facing abuse by law enforcement and the government. Safeguard Defenders’ website states that towards the end of China Action’s existence, it faced harassment from China’s Ministry of State Security and had its operations shut down multiple times. 4

Safeguard Defenders states that it took over China Action’s mission after China Action dissolved in 2016 and that it is more prepared to operate more securely and effectively by working through remote sites in various countries. 5

Criticisms of the Chinese Government

In December 2017, Safeguard Defenders published a blog post clarifying statements made in its book The People’s Republic of the Disappeared about China’s use of Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL), describing it as “another piece in China’s totalitarian apparatus of terror and control.” The article argues that China’s RSDL activities, which were legalized in 2013, demonstrate how the Chinese government has normalized the disappearance of public dissenters and advocates for the international community to intervene due to the severity of it as a human rights violation. 6

Safeguard Defenders published a blog post in January 2018 stating that Chinese President Xi Jinping is an authoritarian who has been committing the greatest human rights violations against the Chinese people since 1989. It states the Chinese Communist Party “weaponize[s] the law” through legislation such as Article 73, which it claims permits the government to detain people through RSDL activities without regard for their safety. 7

Criticisms of Communism

In a June 2018 blog post, a representative of Safeguard Defenders argued that the atrocities committed by China regarding the disappearance and internment of Uighur Muslims are typical activities of a Communist country. It continued that under Communism, individuals do not have the right to due process and that the desire to so-called “liberate” people by re-educating them at the cost of their freedoms and human rights is necessary for a Communist government to operate. 8

In April 2020, Safeguard Defenders published a blog post arguing that China’s inadequate and failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic is due to its government being Communist. It claims that because China is Communist, its government is compelled to censor public critics of the government to cover-up any potential mismanagement, which also caused it to be inactive in response to the emergence of the virus to prevent people from thinking that there were any problems. It also states that covering up the origins of the virus is also problematic as it prevents research that could prepare the country for future pandemics. 9


  1. “What We Do.” Safeguard Defenders, December 29, 2020. https://safeguarddefenders.com/en/what-we-do.
  2. “About Us.” Safeguard Defenders, January 22, 2023. https://safeguarddefenders.com/en/about-us.
  3. “About Us.” Safeguard Defenders, January 22, 2023. https://safeguarddefenders.com/en/about-us.
  4. “About Us.” Safeguard Defenders, January 22, 2023. https://safeguarddefenders.com/en/about-us.
  5. “About Us.” Safeguard Defenders, January 22, 2023. https://safeguarddefenders.com/en/about-us.
  6. “Shining a Light onto the Abuses of the Chinese State.” Safeguard Defenders, December 3, 2020. https://safeguarddefenders.com/en/blog/shining-light-abuses-chinese-state.
  7. “Why Is RSDL the Most Feared Type of Detention in China?” Safeguard Defenders, February 10, 2021. https://safeguarddefenders.com/en/blog/why-rsdl-most-feared-type-detention-china
  8. “Adrian Zenz Speaks about Mass Disappearances in Xinjiang.” Safeguard Defenders, January 11, 2021. https://safeguarddefenders.com/en/blog/adrian-zenz-speaks-about-mass-disappearances-xinjiang.
  9. “The Communist Party’s Rule by Fear Endangers Chinese Citizens-and the World.” Safeguard Defenders, December 3, 2020. https://safeguarddefenders.com/en/blog/communist-party-s-rule-fear-endangers-chinese-citizens-and-world.
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