By He Fei, published: October 17, 2015
Bao Zhuoxuan, the son of prominent rights lawyer Wang Yu and activist Bao Longjun, earlier this month attempted to escape China with the help of his parents’ friends, and was apprehended in Myanmar on October 6. His parents have been under secret detention, and denied access to lawyers, since July. The following post is a response to a report by China Central Television (CCTV) which suggested that Bao had been either deceived or forced into leaving China. The author of this post, published under the pseudonym He Fei on Weiquanwang, chooses to remain anonymous for reasons readily understood. The individual is understood to have strong information about the arrest of rights lawyers and the capture of Bao Zhuoxuan. — The Editors
On one of its most prominent morning news programs on Saturday October 17, China Central Television broadcast the report “The truth about the flight of human rights lawyer’s son: foreign forces stirring the pot and coercing him to leave China.” The editorial logic of the news item was confused, it contained numerous lies, and it pulled together disparate items to create a chain of so-called facts which entirely covered up the most important things about the situation. The purpose was to mislead the public.
I. Was he taken away, or forced to flee?
On July 9 Bao Zhuoxuan (包卓轩) and his father Bao Longjun (包龙军) were arrested at the Beijing Capital Airport. Zhuoxuan’s life went from heaven to hell in the space of a day. It was the beginning of the Chinese Communist Party’s mass arrest of rights lawyers, and Bao Zhuoxuan’s parents—Wang Yu (王宇) and Bao Longjun—became among the first targets they lashed out against.
That day, Bao Zhuoxuan and his father Bao Longjun were abducted at the airport, kidnapped and led away with their hands cuffed behind their backs. The 16-year-old Zhuoxuan was locked in solitary confinement for 40 hours, insulted and beaten by public security agents, and not given a meal for over 20 hours. When his aunt came to the Tianjin police lockup to take him home, he was informed that his passport had been confiscated. He was forbidden from going to the family home in Beijing, forbidden from meeting either journalists or friends of his parents, and forbidden from seeking legal counsel for his parents.
This 16-year-old minor was subpoenaed by the police four times within a few days, and each time repeatedly threatened and intimidated. Whenever they menaced him they’d claim “We’re doing this for your own good.”
While he was at the home of his paternal grandparents in Tianjin, anyone who visited was interrogated by police; notices of power of attorney, already signed, were snatched away; and lawyers who visited were given judicial warnings and called in for “a chat.”
Later, the police struck upon an idea: send the kid out to his maternal grandmother in the remote city of Ulanhot (乌兰浩特), eastern Inner Mongolia. It’s not that they cared what Zhuoxuan thought. They simply wanted to make it more difficult for anyone to have any contact with him.
The Ulanhot police put him under surveillance and made the same threats. Neither Zhuoxuan nor his grandmother were allowed to leave town.
In media interviews, Zhuoxuan is on record saying: “I don’t want to go to school in Inner Mongolia. Our family has planned and prepared for years for me to study abroad; it’s also what I want. We’ve already paid school fees and homestay costs… going abroad for my studies is my own wish… now they deprive me of the right to make my own choice.”
Zhuoxuan wants desperately to leave Ulanhot and go abroad to study.
If the Chinese police didn’t confiscate his passport, and allowed him his own legitimate rights to study overseas, would he be trying to flee the country?
CCTV, Xinhua, and Global Times all ignore these most basic facts in their reporting, and do their utmost to hide the repulsive manner in which this minor has been treated.
II. Why did he embark on such a dangerous journey? And what was the real danger?
If Bao Zhuoxuan had his passport, would he have embarked on such a perilous journey? This key point was ignored and expunged from the official reporting.
Official media also omitted the most important fact about the journey: what was the most dangerous part of trip? What did Zhuoxuan fear the most?
CCTV’s report includes several cuts to surveillance footage, often showing Tang Zhishun (唐志顺; family friend of Wang Yu and Bao Longjun) walking in front, while Zhuoxuan lingers back a few paces, following him. Both are often wearing hoodies to prevent from being identified.
So just what was Zhuoxuan hiding from?
Anyone with a bit of common sense will be able to tell you: he was most afraid of being discovered by the Chinese police, captured, sent back to Inner Mongolia, and being put under tight house arrest again—along with the regular threats and intimidation that come with it.
Clearly what gave the child the greatest sense of dread was none other than the Chinese government! And this why he made every possible effort to escape China.
III. Was he captured for crossing the border illegally, or because the authorities wanted to hold him hostage?
Those who have spent any time on the Myanmar border with China will know that anyone with a Chinese identification card won’t be subject to accusations of illegal immigration. Special Region No. 4 of the Shan state in Myanmar welcomes tourists from China, who come to spend big on gambling. In Jinghong (景洪; a Chinese city near the border) there are even special buses to take you to Myanmar. Once there you can use your Chinese ID card to get a tourist permit. If it was as CCTV would have it, the Myanmar police would be repatriating thousands of Chinese daily.
The Chinese regime has informants throughout Myanmar, especially in the border areas, and once they got word that Bao Zhuoxuan was there they crossed the border to grab him. They’d prefer to do this than let him escape, given that he’s a valuable hostage they can use to blackmail his parents.
After the three were captured, Chinese living in Mong La, and some locals there, found out what happened: the chief of the local tourism bureau is a Chinese government agent, and he passed on the information about Bao Zhuoxuan’s whereabouts. The three of them (Bao Zhuoxuan, Tang Zhixun, and Xing Qingxian [幸清贤]) were then arrested.
Both Myanmar and Chinese police participated in the raid, but official media reports elided this detail—it too deeply contradicts the Chinese government’s much vaunted claims about respecting Myanmar’s sovereignty.
The wives of Tang Zhixun and Xing Qingxian said that both Tang and Xing have got Canadian or U.S. visas, and that if they wanted to go to America they could do so easily—they don’t need anyone to help them.
IV. Why did they initially hide his whereabouts after capturing him?
After contact was lost with Bao, Tang and Xing in Myanmar, overseas Chinese living there and local people began making enquiries about their whereabouts. To this day the families of Tang Zhixun and Xing Qingxian have not received legal notice that they were taken into custody by police.
The Chinese asked police in Myanmar to get rid of all traces of the operation, even going to the hotel the three were staying in and deleting surveillance footage.
This certainly wasn’t a matter of protecting the privacy of a minor, as the official media falsely claimed. Initially, the authorities’ goal was to secretly capture Bao, not let the public know, and not let lawyers get involved. They wanted to force them into submission in a closed information environment.
Later, when the paper bag could no longer contain the fire, they hastily pulled together this report with all the “details” ten days after the incident. And these so-called details were falsely stitched together as a way to retaliate against those who attempted to help the boy.
V. Why were his parents Wang Yu and Bao Longjun allowed to meet reporters but not their their lawyers ?
Since their arrest on July 9, Wang Yu and Bao Longjun haven’t been able to see a lawyer, and CCTV and other official media now have carried these distorted reports about them. Some of the scenes look as though they were secretly recorded, then cleverly and carefully edited together, with pieces of dialogue and context missing. It’s hard to believe that what was shown on CCTV represents their true attitude and thoughts.
If even defense lawyers have not been able to visit them, why was official media allowed to do so?
[While Wang Yu is presented sympathetically, as a worried mother in the recent item, it is interesting to note that in July CCTV vilified her in another distorted report. – The Editors]
VI. What’s the story behind the teacher?
There was a particularly ridiculous figure in the CCTV report: Meng Fanling (孟凡玲), a school teacher in the First High School of Ulanhot, Inner Mongolia. (After the report was broadcast, Internet users tracked down this person’s name and information.) Meng said that the Bao Zhuanxuan had told her that a mysterious man had furtively approached him on the streets of Beijing and said he’d take him overseas.
Before July 9, Bao Zhuoxuan’s family had already arranged for Bao to go to Australia to study; from July 9 on, Bao never returned to Beijing. Ms. Meng, being a teacher, don’t you have any idea about what you’re talking about when you lie to the world on television?
Ms. Meng’s evasive glances and stalling speech are telling. How can a teacher, who is supposed to be a role model for others, go against her conscience and spread shameless lies?
VII. What does Bao Zhuoxuan himself want?
The CCTV report emphasized how the wishes of the boy must be respected. But we know that Bao Zhuoxuan, in interviews after his mother and father were arrested, clearly stated that he hopes he can go abroad to study. The police don’t want to give up their hostage, so they’re not letting him leave. After Bao was returned to Inner Mongolia, a journalist went to the house to interview him, but was stopped by the grandmother. Bao clearly expressed the wish to be interviewed, however.
So we must ask: does the child have the freedom to accept interviews? Do other family members have the freedom to accept interviews? If the child is really free like you claim, then please return his passport.
VIII. On the matter of ‘overseas organizations’
This is a recurring theme: it seems that every time the authorities want to blacken someone’s name, they say there are “overseas organizations” or “anti-China forces” involved. The righteous act of individual citizens trying to help a young man attend the school of his choosing gets forcefully distorted into the work of some organization.
After Wang Min (汪泯) and Xu Wenli (徐文立), two veteran overseas dissidents, were reported by Global Times (《环球时报》) to have been involved, and then refuted that they had been, CCTV’s reports simply changed their names to “Wang so-and-so” and “Xu so-and-so.” This is just absurd. Making things up should at least be done with some logic: if Wang Min and Xu Wenli were involved in trying to help Bao Zhuoxuan escape, why would they deny it? They both live safely outside China.
“Overseas organizations” and “anti-Chinese forces” are part of the daily vocabulary for CCTV and other state media. But like encouraging donations to the China Red Cross, or stirring up hatred against Japan, they’re becoming more and more of a joke.
In sum, the practice of the authorities and the official media is that they’ll seize anyone they can, and then force them or cheat them into reading from the script they’ve written. These dirty tricks don’t fool anyone anymore.
The Vilification of Lawyer Wang Yu and Violence By Other Means, July 27, 2015.
A Child Hunted Down by the Chinese State, October 12, 2015.
原文《何飞：16岁少年被迫逃亡，遭中国央视歪曲报道》, translated by China Change.