by WorldTribune Staff, February 3, 2019
It is common for activists who speak out against the Chinese government to go missing.
Since supreme leader Xi Jinping took power in 2013, the practice of taking away dissidents has expanded.
In 2018, however, whisking away the defiant was taken to another level. No only did activists and dissidents disappear, but also a high-level official, foreigners, Marxists, and even a movie star were taken away by police to unknown destinations, a report said.
Related: Communist is as communist does: China celebrates Karl Marx but arrests Marxists, January 29, 2019
The Associated Press compiled a report on some of the people who went missing in 2018 at the hands of the Chinese state:
In September, Meng Hongwei, a vice-minister of public security who was also serving as chief on Interpol, was taken away by the same Chinese security forces he represented.
Meng, a long-time Communist Party insider, was missing for weeks before Chinese authorities said he was being investigated for taking bribes and other crimes. A Chinese delegation delivered a resignation letter from Meng to Interpol headquarters.
Meng became the latest high-ranking official caught in Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, which the supreme leader has been accused of using to eliminate political rivals, the AP report said.
“Everybody in China is at risk,” Meng’s wife, Grace, said. “Everyone should be concerned that something like this could happen to them.”
Yue Xin, a recent graduate of Peking University, was among a group of students detained for supporting factory workers in Shenzhen who were trying to form a union. She had also pressed the school to release the results of its investigation into a decades-old rape case.
“Yue, a passionate student of Marx and Mao Zedong, espoused the same values as the party. She wrote an open letter to Xi and the party’s central leadership saying all the students wanted was justice for the workers at Jasic Technology. Yue called Marx ‘our mentor’ and likened the ideas of him and Mao to spiritual sustenance.”
Despite her avowed Marxism, Yue was detained along with the other students. While most have been released, Yue remains unaccounted for. She has been missing for four months, the report said.
The arrest in China of two Canadian men on suspicion of endangering national security, was seen by many observers as retribution for Canada’s detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou.
Meng was detained in Vancouver in December for possible extradition to the U.S. for suspected violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was taken by authorities from a Beijing street late in the evening, a person familiar with his case told the AP. He is allowed one consular visit a month and has not been granted access to a lawyer, as is standard for state security cases.
Also detained is Michael Spavor, who organizes tours to North Korea from the border city of Dandong.
In his career as a photographer, Lu Guang chronicled the everyday lives of HIV patients in central China, exposed environmental degradation and industrial pollution – topics generally avoided by Chinese journalists.
“His work won him major accolades such as the World Press Photo prize, but his prominence likely also put him on the government’s radar,” the AP report said.
Lu disappeared in November while traveling through the Xinjiang region, where China is detaining some one million Muslims in re-education camps.
Chinese authorities have confirmed, without disclosing why, the Lu is being held.
More than a month after he went missing, Lu’s family was notified that he had been arrested in Xinjiang, according to his wife Xu Xiaoli.
Fan Bingbing has headlined dozens of movies and TV series, and parlayed her success into modeling, fashion design and other ventures that have made her one of the highest-paid celebrities in the world.
For about four months, Fan vanished from public view. Her Weibo social media account, which has more than 63 million followers, fell silent, the AP report said.
Fan was last seen in public on July 1. When she finally resurfaced in October, she admitted to tax evasion and apologized.
“I sincerely apologize to society, to the friends who love and care for me, to the people, and to the country’s tax bureau,” Fan said in a letter posted on Weibo on Oct. 3.
State news agency Xinhua reported that Fan and the companies she represents had been ordered to pay taxes and penalties totaling 900 million yuan ($130 million).
“Without the party and the country’s great policies, without the people’s loving care, there would be no Fan Bingbing,” she wrote.
“That China feels so emboldened to disappear even one of its most famous actresses … should be a real wake up call that anyone within China could be next,” human rights advocate Michael Caster wrote for CNN in September.