On July 9, rights lawyer Wang Yu was detained from her home in Beijing, and her 16-year-old son Bao Zhuoxuan was detained at the airport with his father on their way to Australia, where he planned to study. In subsequent weeks, more than 200 rights lawyers and activists were rounded up for questioning or brief detentions, while at least 26 of those “have been criminally detained or placed under residential surveillance at a designated place without access to lawyers,” according to China Change. Wang Yu remains in detention on suspicion of “subversion,” and her family have been repeatedly visited by police, who confiscated Bao Zhuoxuan’s passport. It has now been reported that Bao Zhuoxuan has disappeared from a guesthouse in Myanmar, where he was traveling with two adult guardians en route to the U.S. San Francisco-based activist Zhou Fengsuo had planned to meet them in Thailand. From China Change:
The hotel owner said that a dozen or so policemen had come, displayed Burmese law enforcement IDs, and taken all three away.
On October 7, friends and at least a lawyer went to local police bureau to make inquiries about the three, but the police denied of detaining anyone. They then visited the local Burmese law and politics office but found no information about the three.
Friends then reported the missing of the three to local police, demanding the Burmese authorities to search for them. Afterwards, friends went back to Huadu Guest House to ask more questions. Upon arriving, they saw two Burmese policemen speaking to the owner. After the police left, the female owner wouldn’t answer any of their questions anymore. [Source]
Mong La, the town where Mr. Bao disappeared, is part of an unruly enclave thronged by Chinese people, many of them gamblers and smugglers crossing the porous border. Chinese nationals can enter the area even without a passport. The local overlord is a former Communist rebel, Sai Leun, who runs what is officially known as Special Region No. 4.
Mr. Zhou said the men who took away Mr. Bao and the two other men appeared to be police officers.
But U Zaw Htay, an official in the Myanmar president’s office in Naypyidaw, the capital, said his government had played no role in the apparent detention.
“The Myanmar government wasn’t involved in any matter there,” he said. “We don’t know about the arrest of the Chinese lawyer’s son. Of course, Mong La is close to the Chinese authorities.” [Source]
As Philip Wen reports for Fairfax Media, Bao was traveling through Myanmar without a passport, and his current whereabouts and those of his companions, Tang Zhishun and Xing Qingxian, are unknown:
The route through Myanmar represented Mr Bao’s best chance of fleeing China given his passport had been confiscated by Chinese authorities when he was forcibly stopped from his boarding his flight to Australia in July.
“I started to scream but one of the men put his hand over my mouth,” Mr Bao told Fairfax Media in a phone interview in July. The teenager was thrown into a van and detained alone for two nights, before being released to family in Tianjin and then Inner Mongolia. [Source]
Read more about Wang Yu and the detention of rights lawyers this summer, via CDT. Refinery29 also published a profile of Wang Yu last week. The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice and the Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers recently released a report titled, “Plight and Prospects: The Landscape for Cause Lawyers in China.”