Even if you have fled China, if you are perceived by the government as being overly critical of the CCP you just might disappear, until you reappear in a Chinese prison. This upsetting article shows just how far China will go to persecute and silence its critics. Leaving the country might not be enough to escape its grasp. The article notes the disappearance of Li Xin, a human rights activist and columnist for the Southern Metropolis Daily, who vanished into thin air shortly after talking on the phone from Thailand with his wife. Even more terrifying is the case of political activist Wang Bingzhang, who had fled to the US, when he was lured to Vietnam to meet with other human rights activists.
“They were conferring over lunch in a restaurant near the China-Vietnam border when several men speaking Chinese ordered them into a car,” Wang’s daughter, Ti-Anna Wang, recounted in a Post op-ed. “Beaten, blindfolded and gagged, my father and his two colleagues were abducted into China by boat. They were left in a Buddhist temple in Guangxi Province for the Chinese authorities.”
Wang Bingzhang was sentenced six months later to life in prison and has been confined ever since — going on 14 years. He is 68 years old.
This blood-pressure-raising piece makes it clear that no one is safe, that China under Xi is exerting a take-no-prisoners approach to dealing with its enemies, even though “none of the victims has engaged in violence or committed crime.” And reaching its tentacles outside of China to kidnap activists is not very unusual. Brazen as these kidnappings are, the world has remained largely silent. The writer says you can understand this only if you follow the money. It’s all, he says, about business. China is just too big a player in international business for politicians to challenge it.
Britain may feel slighted when China makes a mockery of their agreement on Hong Kong autonomy. Sweden might wish that its passports would be respected, and the United States might regret China’s increasing repressiveness.
But business, apparently, come first. As long as that remains true, it appears that no critic of China, of any nationality, in any nation, will be safe.
China has become hell for thousands of activists and lawyers. When it seems it can’t get any worse, Xi always surprises us. Every day we see more stories of repression, whether it’s bookstore owners in Hong Kong or lawyers on the mainland. Forced public confessions in the style of the Cultural Revolution’s struggle sessions have been making a comeback as Xi pushes China ever further toward Maoism. I read stories like this and I have no regrets for leaving China, despite my love for so many of my friends there.
There are no limits to how far the party will go to silence any form of dissent (I know that’s nothing we don’t already know, but it is only getting worse). In a post below, I compared the disappearance of Hong Kong booksellers to the Nazi campaign called Nacht und Nebel. That is not extreme; check the link. People vanishing into the night is an exceptionally brutal form of repression, filling activists and lawyers throughout China with terror. When will the world speak out?
Update: America speaks out about the vanished booksellers. Good.
The United States has called upon China to shed light on the mystery surrounding the five missing Hong Kong booksellers, and to allow them to return home.
In a daily press briefing on Monday, the spokesman for the State Department, John Kirby, said that the US is “deeply concerned” about the disappearances of the five men associated with the Causeway Bay bookstore.
“These cases, including two involving individuals holding European passports, raise serious questions about China’s commitment to Hong Kong’s autonomy under the ‘one country, two systems’ framework,” said Kirby.
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.