Wan said he decided to leave because of mounting mental stress due to the authorities’ intimidation of him as well as their move to regulate overseas donations to local groups, complicating efforts to get money from supporters in other countries.
“As an organization and personally, the attacks from the government had become very serious. I had concerns about my personal safety and was under a lot of stress,” Wan said.
“When I am in China, the authorities look at me like I am a bird in a cage. They say: ‘If you don’t listen to me, then I will eat you’,” he said. “But after I leave the country, they will see me in a new light, because I am no longer in their cage.”
Despite greater openness in recent years and an acknowledgment that the spread of AIDS is accelerating, China’s communist leadership is deeply suspicious of independent activists, and Wan has one of the highest profiles among those working on AIDS in China.