New York-based activist Wen Yunchao may not have had anything to do with a letter calling for the resignation of Pres. Xi Jinping; but, even from thousands of miles away, he’s suffering the consequences of being associated with it.
Even as they export their struggles, activists like Wen can still easily be punished by Xi’s government from afar. One of the easiest ways for them to carry out this overseas control is through the families of people like Yunchao, who are still living there.
Wen was tapped by Jinping’s government for rumors circulating that he was behind an anti-government letter that has made its way around China via the Internet. Despite the hard-line response, Yunchao denies that he penned the letter at all, reported The Guardian.
“There is no reasonable excuse for them to take away my parents and my brother, no matter how you look at it. I’ve told them very clearly I’m not the author of the letter, I did not aid anyone in broadcasting the letter, and third, that I did not post the letter on any website.”
According to Amnesty International, Wen’s immediate family was rounded up by Guangdong Province police on March 22. His mother, Qiu Qiaohua, 65, father, Wen Shaogan, 72, and younger brother Wen Yun’ao, 41, were all taken into custody and, by all appearances, remain locked up. Yunchao has grown especially frustrated after several public declarations that he was not the author of the anti-Xi Jinping letter. William Nee, China Researcher at Amnesty International, released a statement calling the arrests a violation of human rights.
“The authorities should call off the political hounding of those suspected to be behind the open letter and release all those detained in connection with it. The persecution of family members of dissidents is a draconian and unlawful tactic that makes a mockery of China’s claims to respect the rule of law.”
While the Chinese police’s investigation is shrouded in mystery, a few details have emerged that give some idea of where the search is headed. More than 20 people have been arrested in total in the efforts to find the authors of the letter. Among them was Chinese columnist, Jia Jia, whose lawyer said he was detained for warning fellow colleagues against re-publishing the letter.
The Xi letter itself seems to have kept its authorship vague on purpose, as it is simply signed “Loyal Communist Party Members.” The list of grievances focuses on the central issues confronting China, including the “economic, diplomatic, cultural and ideological spheres.” All of these fronts have seen overall failure, according to the author, and have resulted in a weaker China under Jinping.
“Comrade Xi Jinping, your carrying out a high-pressure anti-corruption campaign to correct unhealthy tendencies in the Party has had a helpful effect, but, since there are no supporting measures or objectives, it has given rise to an abundance of ‘slackness’ at all levels of government, with officials too afraid to work, discontent openly voiced by the people, and the deterioration of our economy exacerbated. We also see the main goal of the anti-corruption campaign to be merely a power struggle. We are worried that this type of inner-Party power struggle may also bring risks to the personal safety of you and your family.”
You can read the full “resign Xi Jinping letter” that got Wen Yunchao’s family detained on China Digital Times.
[Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images]