China puts AIDS activist Hu Jia under house arrest

Apparently they don’t want him visiting an “AIDS village” at the same time as an American delegation.

Hu Jia said police began a round-the-clock watch on his Beijing home last weekend. At least six or seven officers are present all the time, he said.

“When I tried to get out of my home on Monday, they physically stopped me,” Hu said. “They grabbed my neck and used their elbows to prevent me from leaving.”

The activist said he had been hoping to meet with a U.S. delegation on Friday in Shangcai, a village in Henan province.

Parts of Henan have some of the world’s highest rates of AIDS infection. Tens of thousands of people there were infected in the 1990s because of an unsanitary blood-buying industry, and in some villages nearly every family has a member with the virus.

Hu, 30, said the police told his mother on Wednesday that they didn’t want him to go to Henan and that they had arranged for him to go on a trip to the neighboring province of Anhui from May 29 to June 10. He said two officers would be accompanying him the whole time.

The US embassy is sending a delegation to Shangcai on those dates.

China is doing a lot to deal with the AIDS crisis, finally, and they could use this to help improve their image. Why then do they screw it up with stunts like this, reminding the world that for all the progress there’s still plenty of paranoia to go around?

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: One Comment

AIDS activism, development politics, and “free trade”

Peking Duck, China Herald and Bangkok Post: AIDS activism and access to treatment

May 27, 2004 @ 7:29 pm | Comment

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