New York Times: Chinese Writer in Germany Says 3 Siblings Are Detained Over Xi Letter

Monday, March 28, 2016

The New York Times
By Edward Wong March 28, 2016

■ Beijing — A liberal Chinese writer living in Germany has said that security officers in China detained three of his family members in connection with a mysterious online letter that denounced the iron-fisted rule of President Xi Jinping.

The writer, Chang Ping, said on Sunday in a post on China Change, a pro-democracy website, that two younger brothers and a younger sister were “abducted by the Chinese police” and were the “latest victims” in official investigations of the letter, which was posted this month and demanded that Mr. Xi resign.

The detentions bring to 11 the number of people who have been held by security officers in a widening investigation of the origins of the letter. One freelance writer, Jia Jia, was released on Friday after being detained on March 15.

Mr. Chang wrote an article for Deutsche Welle on March 19 that criticized Mr. Jia’s detention. He also gave an interview to Radio France Internationale, or RFI.

President Xi Jinping of China. Chinese security officials have
detained 11 people so far in a widening investigation of the
origins of an online letter denouncing the iron-fisted rule of
Mr. Xi. Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Then, on Sunday, his three siblings, who live in Chengdu, in Sichuan Province, were taken away by officers from his father’s town, Duofu, when they went there to celebrate the older man’s birthday, Mr. Chang said.

He said he had not been able to contact his family members but had learned that the police wanted them to tell him to stop publishing any articles criticizing the Communist Party.

Mr. Chang, a former chief commentator at the Chinese newspaper Southern Weekend, said none of his family members had any relation to his work. He said he had no connection to the letter railing against Mr. Xi. “I don’t get involved in internal party power struggles, and I’ve no interest in doing so,” he wrote.

He also said: “I strongly condemn the Communist Party’s attempts to interfere with the freedom to publish of Western media like Deutsche Welle and RFI. I call for the international community to speak out against these barbaric kidnappings by Chinese police.”

In their investigation of the letter, security officers detained the parents and younger brother of another liberal Chinese commentator, Wen Yunchao. Mr. Wen, who lives in New York, has also said he had nothing to do with spreading the letter online.

The other four people known to be detained are the two top editors and two technicians at Wujie News, or Watching, a website set up by the party committee of the Xinjiang region.

The letter appeared on that site on March 4. It had been posted a few hours earlier on Canyu, an overseas Chinese website, according to China Change. And someone had emailed it around that time to people with China ties, including Bill Bishop, who lives in Washington and edits the newsletter Sinocism.

In recent years, Chinese security officers have detained family members of dissenting commentators or journalists living overseas to try to force those people to quiet down.

In August 2014, two brothers of an American journalist, Shohret Hoshur, were jailed in China and held until December 2015. They had been charged with endangering state security and leaking secrets. Mr. Hoshur is an ethnic Uighur from Xinjiang and often reports on violence there for Radio Free Asia, which is financed by the United States government.

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