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.
The Australian Foreign Ministry confirmed that the government "is seeking information about an Australian citizen who was reported missing in China."
A spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry said she has no information about the case, and American officials did not respond Request for Opinion.
Mr. Yang was arrested in 2011, but his disappearance now poses an additional risk.
China's relations with the United States and its democratic allies continue to deteriorate, with a trade war between the two countries shaking the Chinese Economy President Xi Jinping has pushed the country to a more muscular brand of authoritarianism, and the arrest of a senior executive of Huawei, China's main telecommunications company, in Canada in December has led to retaliatory measures from China.
Last month arrest The Chinese police were the two Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. When officials in Beijing urged Canada to liberate Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's executive, who was arrested for fraud in the United States, was released.
If Mr. Yang's imprisonment lasts longer, it could become a burden on Australia's volatile relations with China. Australia's economy was supported by commodity exports to China, particularly iron ore. However, relations between the two countries have been hampered in recent years by Australian lawsuits for political interference from Beijing.
In August, Australia refused to allow Huawei to participate in the development of the country's 5G telephone network, angering the Chinese government. 19659002] Mr. Yang, 53, a writer and commentator who worked for the Chinese Foreign Ministry before moving to Australia in 2000, spent the last two years with his family in New York, where he works as a visiting scholar at Columbia University ,
In his letter he has seen the Chinese government critical. In recent years, however, he avoided interviewing the news media and avoided a direct opposition to the Communist Party.
In December he repeated one of his earlier articles on the rule of law in China, stating, "I have faith in the future, but without today's efforts and sacrifices, the future will never come. For people like me, the goal is the dream that the future arrives earlier.
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."
Mr. Feng said he spoke to sources of security in China and believes that Mr. Yang may be charged with espionage, a widespread indictment in China that involves discussing matters that the government considers sensitive.
In Mr. Yang's In his last blog post on his website, he praised President Trump for trying to close "loopholes" that, according to Mr. Yang, would allow other governments and migrants from Western countries to tolerate and To use the hospitality of these societies. Yang has developed a large following in China over the past decade and then an equally enthusiastic audience on WeChat, where he also requested lectures and courses for which he charged a fee.
One of His Recent Announcements on WeChat Invited Readers In order to teach for his classes in the United States, Australia and other Western countries, he would also include his "Thoughts on history, economics, culture and politics".
Since Friday his report is silent