Yang Hengjun: A Few Thoughts on my “Kidnapping”

When Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun mysteriously disappeared last month on a visit to Guangzhou, speculation was rife that he had been detained by security forces. Three days later, after he reappeared, he offered little explanation of his whereabouts during those days. An enigmatic blog post by Yang, translated by China Media Project, offers some clues:

Perhaps everyone knew that this day would come, and the day did come on that day. In the aftermath, there are a couple of points we should think about: Who is it that made everyone believe that a patriotic writer, calm and moderate, who writes stories and reasons things out would eventually come to such a day? Why is it that no one actually supposed that I might have been “kidnapped” by criminals who wanted to hold me for ransom, sold out by traitorous “friends,” possibly suffered a fallout with a business partner, or even maybe even a jealous lover? In a country in which they say a socialist system of rule of law has been fully built, how is it that the rational line of thought for the Chinese media leads them directly to the government in a “kidnapping” case so that they maintain a shameless and numb distance?

Think about the Qian Yunhui case (钱运会), think about the recent hoarding of salt, think about my “kidnapping” case. How is it that they all come to the same point? What I want to say is that the role I have played all along, and will continue to play, is the role of the calm intermediary, connecting the past and the future, connecting domestic [China] to the outside world. Calmly, and progressing step by step, I want to build our nation into a harmonious and stable one, strong and prosperous, a modernized nation that is free and democratic.

The goal isn’t asking too much. And on some level every citizen should take responsibility for realizing this goal. But I don’t want to shoulder that cold and serious joke I hear at every meeting: How is it that you haven’t been arrested yet?

Having been through this experience, I have added another dream. I dream that when I silently take my leave of you all, you will sigh and exclaim, “He’s tired, let him rest. We don’t need him anymore.” I hope when word comes that I’ve been “kidnapped,” our [foreign ministry] spokesperson and government will say, “We can’t lose a single citizen!” I dream that disappearances and missing persons in this country of ours happen because someone is ill, or because their mobile phone ran out of juice. I dream . .


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