Report: Gao Yaojie under house arrest in Zhengzhou

According to a report in yesterday’s WaPo, police detained AIDS activist Gao Yaojie at her home on Sunday and prevented the octogenarian doctor from traveling to Beijing to apply for a U.S. visa. Dr. Gao, instrumental in exposing the severity of China’s HIV/AIDS crisis, planned to travel to the U.S. to collect an award from Vital Voices for her work.

Gao, a retired physician, was among the first to expose Henan’s blood scandal in which millions sold blood to unsanitary, often state-run health clinics, making the province the epicenter of China’s AIDS problem.

She wrote and distributed material warning people of the risks of blood-selling, making her a target of local authorities fearful of the social stigma and political sensitivity surrounding AIDS.

The story was told to Reuters by Beijing AIDS activist Hu Jia who claims that Dr. Gao is now under house arrest and that her telephone service has been suspended.

This is the not the first time that Dr. Gao has been prevented from leaving China to receive an award for her work, Chinese authorities also barred her from traveling to award ceremonies in 2001 and 2003.

Beijing’s actions could also come up as an early issue in the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Rodham Clinton serves as honorary chair for Vital Voices and her name was reportedly included in the invitation letter to Dr. Gao.

UPDATE via CDT: After the issue was raised by the US Embassy in Beijing, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu claimed that the ministry had no knowledge of Gao’s detention, according to a Reuters report. Jiang referred questions to the local Zhengzhou government (who is not talking) and reminded reporters that China was: “a country with a system of law and everyone is equal before the law.”

Richard Spencer also has a great post on his meetings with Dr. Gao and the difficulties she has had to endure as the result of her activism.

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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: 13 Comments

Some things never change. Both Hu Jia and Gao Yaojie have been subjects of harassment, when they should have been named national heroes. Everybody here loves their leaders, and I marvel at their ability to compartmentalize shit like this out of their collective consciences.

February 6, 2007 @ 11:21 am | Comment

Don’t they understand how damned they look like to anyone who has a conscience and can read.

Why Chinese government (at all levels) can be so arrogant and shameless by acting on things like this with no concerns of international criticism is sometimes beyond my belief.

It’s like the Emperor knew exactly he had nothing on him but went ahead anyway for there would be no policemen daring to stop his majesty for the indecency, and he was so brazenfaced that the utter contempt shown by the crowd became praise to him for this valiant roguery.

Ashamed.

February 6, 2007 @ 7:22 pm | Comment

Problem #1 – “an award from a U.S.-based advocacy group” – haha! we don’t know if this advocacy group is just merely a cover for the operation of CIA. One would never know – as we know the chaos of Iraq today was really started from some flimsy advocacy groups that have an axe to grind. I bet because of this, the chinese would automatically put that in the “i will think about it” list and are being suspicious.

Problem #2 – we don’t really know who this Gao Yaojie fellow is, what’s her history of conducting herself as a citizen, as a physician. We just don’t know. It’s easy for Reuters to pick up a story like that without investigating further under the cover – and we as the readers cheer on it or attack chinese government immediately because the event on the surface runs against the ideal of western democracy.

February 6, 2007 @ 10:49 pm | Comment

@ts Pardon??????? Excuse me but we do know about this woman. Do you walk around with your eyes shut?

Like the two earlier posters I am gobsmacked by this kind of behaviour, particularly when the opposite [a bit of cooperation and assistance] might have gained them a few brownie points, and for not much effort.

February 6, 2007 @ 11:04 pm | Comment

ts, I am warning you – you are right on the verge of being banned for trolling. I’ve been nice and let you say whatever you want, but this blog has dedicated a lot of space to these heroes, and if you dare badmouth them you are out of here for good.

February 6, 2007 @ 11:06 pm | Comment

I am not surprised at all. The government’s treatment on disidents has been fairly consistent (this old lady should not even be considered a disident). It is one of a few things in China that have never changed in the last few decades.

February 7, 2007 @ 6:59 am | Comment

ts,

That’s why I pasted the link to Vital Voices in the post. I would suggest visiting their website and see what kind of “CIA” activities these remarkable women are doing around the world.

If you wish to comment, please read carefully before doing so.

February 7, 2007 @ 8:20 am | Comment

richard,

Badmouthing? Badmouthing who?

I have made two points above if you have read it carefully.

First point I stated that chinese government is very suspicious of any foreign advocacy groups, regardless what’s their proclaimed mission. Did I badmouth anyone? No.

My second point was, Americans in this country don’t know who this person is, why she was detained, and what her personal history of interacting with her own government was. Something “bad” happened, and wasn’t in agreement with our taste, we called foul, based on our idealogy. I said hold it, we don’t know what’s exactly going on.

Did I badmouth anyone? No.

February 7, 2007 @ 10:12 am | Comment

Jeremiah,

When I post my comment this morning, I didn’t read the second link (Vital Voices) you put up there . Now I read everthing including the news update.

So it looks like the group is really a semi-government agency carrying out government mission all over the world.

From the update news item, it has the following:

“In 2001, Gao was barred from leaving China to collect the Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights. Two years later, authorities prevented her from going abroad to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service.”

What does that tell us? It tells us that Gao has been having problems with the chinese government since 2001 – from the chinese government’s point of view, she is a trouble maker.

Well, that’s explains everything.

February 7, 2007 @ 10:27 am | Comment

ts, you write:
we don’t know if this advocacy group is just merely a cover for the operation of CIA.

and

we don’t really know who this Gao Yaojie fellow is, what’s her history of conducting herself as a citizen, as a physician. We just don’t know.

You see, genius, you are trying to cast aspersion on this story, to tell us “it’s the CIA and naive reporters who are making the heroes look good, when in truth we don’t know – maybe they are actually bad.” We just don’t know! Only, if you follow the links and do your homework you will indeed know. Do you really want to know?

Don’t get legalistsic on me. We know what you are doing. You might not have said “they are bad,” but you are doing your best to say that without being held accountable for saying it. You are badmouthing them by claiming their fame is a CIA conspiracy and claiming we don’t really know about them – liuke there might be a dark side to them.

Cut the crap – everyone sees right through you. And I repeat – you are on the verge of being banned but I am trying to give you a little slack. You can’t come in here and throw shit against the wall and then hide behind technicalities (well, I never said they were bad”).

February 7, 2007 @ 10:34 am | Comment

Trouble makers are revolutionary with no exception. What happened to the revolutioary spirit once CCP took over the government. Also, this is about people’s health, which is an important subject for the continuation of China’s growth. Learn to take some criticisms and act on them, or China’s growth will eventually blow up on its face.

A little background on my stands, I am pro-unification of Taiwan (hopefully without using force). I am happy to see China growing at incredible speed. However, there are so many problems undermining China’s economic growth i.e. corruption, potential banking fall out, unbalanced male/femal ratio, income ratio is getting worse (I though communist suppose to show concern on this), of course the AIDS problem, and again corruption (in the name of saving face). I believe CIA is the least of its problem.

Btw, good blog!

February 8, 2007 @ 4:19 am | Comment

Taiwan seems to have nothing to do with this post. But why the hell would Taiwan be willing to be unified by China?

And Taiwan must be the last concern of most Chinese who have to worry about food safety, health care, air pollution, child education, and AIDS/H-C contaminated blood bank.

China should beg to be unified by Taiwan. No matter how morally degraded Chen shuibian is, Dr Gao wouldn’t have been house arrested for wanting to accept an award under his administration.

February 8, 2007 @ 8:14 am | Comment

[...] posted about this earlier, and one of the commenters took the same path as those who are insulting Dr. Gao on the Internet, [...]

October 26, 2008 @ 12:31 am | Pingback

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