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Imprisoned Chinese Feminists: Clinton Support 'Really Important'

Hillary Clinton’s message of support for five detained Chinese feminists has buoyed the beleaguered movement, a friend tells NBC News.
/ Source: NBC News

HONG KONG — Hillary Clinton’s message of support for five women detained in China after campaigning against sexual harassment and domestic violence has buoyed the beleaguered movement, a friend of those imprisoned told NBC News Thursday.

“As one of our members said, '[Clinton] should say something or she should stop calling herself a feminist',” the fellow campaigner said on condition of anonymity. “I feel a strong power now inspiring us to move on, her words are really important for us.”

On Monday, the likely 2016 U.S. presidential candidate called the detentions "inexcusable" in a tweet.

The plight of the five imprisoned women — Li Tingting, 25, Wu Rongrong, 30, Zheng Churan, 25, Wei Tingting, 26, and Wang Man, 33 — has become a source of international outrage. The five, all members of China Feminist Action League, were arrested March 6, two days before International Women’s Day.

On Wednesday, police in Beijing recommended that charges be brought against five activists who had been planning national campaigns against sexual harassment and domestic violence.

The pro-government Global Times newspaper blasted the former U.S. secretary of state in a Thursday editorial entitled: “Defending women’s rights is no excuse to hold street protests at will.”

It described her tweet a “a typical Western intervention” and accused her and Western countries of “trying to make the case political.”

Calls by NBC News to the Haidian prosecutor’s office and Public Security Bureau went unanswered. However, Wei Zhili, the boyfriend of Zheng Churan confirmed to NBC News that the charges of “disturbing order” had been submitted to the prosecutor’s office.

“It’s really a hard time for us these days,” Wei added.

NBC News' Eric Baculinao and researcher Julia Zhou contributed to this report.