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Home / World / The Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun disappears in China

The Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun disappears in China



SYDNEY, Australia – A well-known writer and former Chinese official with Australian citizenship flew from New York to China on Friday, despite warnings from friends who told him it was too dangerous.

Now he is missing and seems to have been arrested by the Chinese authorities.

Writer Yang Hengjun did not respond to his Chinese cell phone, although he repeatedly tried to reach him on Tuesday and Wednesday. He also did not answer any news about WeChat, the popular Chinese social media service.

Deng Yuwen, a Chinese journalist and current affairs commentator who knows Mr. Yang, said the writer disappeared from Guangzhou shortly after landing in the southern Chinese city.

"We do not know what Yang Hengjun did, which would cause the Chinese government to detain him," Mr. Deng said on the phone from New York. "In recent years, he has been very reserved and has not published anything that could be interpreted as anti-government policy."

Friends of him said they had told him that nothing was important about his calibrated caution and that his Australian citizenship would not be a deterrent. The Chinese government sees anyone who comes from China under the jurisdiction of the Communist Party of the country ,

"The intent of his writing is clear: he wanted to educate people about democracy and universal values ​​and has influenced many young people," he told Weican Meng, a friend of Mr. Yang and founder of Boxun News, a Chinese-language website in the United States.

"Before he returned to China, we had eaten together and some friends told him that this was not a good time to go," added Mr. Meng, whose pseudonym is Wei Shi. "The situation in China is now a bit like during the Cultural Revolution: people are being punished for talking about very insignificant things."

On Thursday, Chinese Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi told a meeting of police commanders in Beijing, China, to protect himself from political subversion and the "color revolution" attempts against the government.

Mr. Yang's family and friends believe that Mr. Yang is being held in Beijing.

Feng Chongyi, a friend of the writer and associate professor at the University of Technology Sydney who was arrested by the Chinese authorities in 2017, said he had talked to Mr. Yang's relatives. They told him that Mr. Yang landed in Guangzhou early Friday morning, but that he did not make his planned connection with Shanghai, Mr. Feng said.

According to Mr. Feng, Mr. Yang went to China in part. His US visa was about to expire in a few months and he was waiting in Australia for a residence visa for his wife and stepdaughter. They had traveled to China with him on this trip.

According to Mr. Feng's conversations with the writer's relatives, Mr. Yang and his wife were questioned about his wife for over 12 hours-probably at the Guangzhou airport-then allowed to go to Shanghai to deliver their daughter.

"At home in Shanghai," Mr. Feng added, "she cried and asked relatives not to contact them anymore, but said she would announce her whereabouts.

The writer's wife, Yuan Rui Juan, posted a picture on her Weibo page on Saturday from Beijing's main airport, "It's been a long time, my eyes are full of tears."

Mr. Feng said family members were anxious and seemed to have been silenced for the status of Mr. Yang. "When asked about Yang's situation, they say they are unable to discuss the matter," he said. "And they begged us not to ask."


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