An anonymous letter calling on China’s President Xi Jinping to resign has caused a massive manhunt for the bold authors of the letter, published on a government-linked website and signed by “loyal Communist Party Members”. Reports came in that already around twelve employees of the website and a related technology company in China have been detained.
However, the Chinese government’s pursuit of those involved in the letter has expanded beyond China’s borders: Chinese authorities are now taking its search worldwide to take action against any who may have criticized the Communist Party, especially President Xi.
Chinese dissidents in the United States and Germany say that close relatives in China have been arrested.
One such dissident is Chang Ping, a columnist who resides in Germany. On Sunday Chang wrote that police detained his two brothers and a sister in southwestern Sichuan province. He went on to say that the Chinese authorities asked his siblings to contact him and demand that he stop writing articles that disparage the Chinese government, specifically one that he wrote (and was published by Deutsche Welle) about the infamous letter.
Chang recently wrote a piece that strongly chastised the Chinese government’s attempt to influence foreign press, also condemning what he called its “barbaric kidnapping” of his family members.
He also interviewed with Radio France International in which he offered his unfavorable view of the Communist Party, and said in that interview that he sees a power struggle underway within the CCP.
Prior to his status as exiled Chinese dissident, Chang, whose real name is Zhang Ping, had been a distinguished journalist and editor at Southern Metropolis Weekly in China. He was fired from the journal in 2011 for work deemed “inappropriate”.
On Friday yet another exiled dissident stated that his relatives were also taken away by Chinese police in southern Guangdong province. Wen Yunchao, also known as Bei Feng, who is a New York-based online blogger, said that his parents and brother were arrested after Feng tweeted a link to the letter on his blog.
Both Feng and Chang, while saying that they do publish work regularly that openly criticize the CCP, they did not have anything to do with the mysterious letter in question.
“I’ve always done what I think is right, and have always been willing to accept whatever fate brings as a result of that. The harassment and threats of the authorities allow me to see even more the value of my writings, and encourage me to work harder in future,” Chang wrote.
His sister has now been released, but Chang said that the government’s despicable actions against his family was just an attempt to hold loved-ones hostage in exchange for deleting his articles. In an email he wrote on Monday, Chang said: “I can’t take the blackmail. I have to go on.”
Further discussion on this incident and the CCP’s ever-growing reach on silencing critics, read the Washington Post’s article “With Hong Kong booksellers silenced, China now goes after exiled dissidents” at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/03/28/with-hong-kong-booksellers-silenced-china-now-goes-after-exiled-dissidents/.