Ching Cheong, the chief China correspondent of the Singapore-based Straits Times that was jailed in China for supposed espionage but freed recently, has made his first statements after his well-deserved rest. He lost more than 30 pounds (13.6 kilograms) during the more than 1,000 days that he was in prison. Here are Ching Cheong’s quotes, compiled from various news sources quoted below:
On his innocence:
I have never done anything that endangers national security or harms my country’s interests… I have stressed in court that I never had any intention to work as a spy, that at no time was I in possession of any national secrets, let alone handed them over to Taiwan.
On his health:
I feel a lot better now. I still haven’t made an arrangement [for a medical checkup]. I have been taking a rest and seeing my friends these days. I just felt a bit tired after coming back. I have lost a lot of weight, more than 30 pounds.
While Ching Cheong was ‘not too sure’ if his release had anything to do with the Games, Reuters notes that China has a “history of freeing high-profile political prisoners and dissidents ahead of major state visits or events”.
Ching Cheong’s hopes for greater openess and ‘social harmony’:
This year is the 30th anniversary of China’s reform and opening and our first Olympics. I hope the Beijing government will announce an amnesty to help create greater social harmony.
On his time under detention, Ching Cheong revealed a ‘horrible downward spiral’ of self-doubt and considered suicide:
My body clock was turned upside down and (the investigators) applied mental stress so you voluntarily succumbed to them…
I began to lose confidence, lose hope, and had low self-esteem. When you are in such a situation, the downward spiral begins to kick in and the end result is to commit suicide…
[Asked if he came close to suicide] Yes, when you have to dismiss everything you’ve long held precious to you. At that time I was so depressed that I doubted every single value that I have treasured for life. After a long and painful review, I decided that I had not made any wrong decisions
Ching Cheong’s father died in 2006 at 82 years of age while he was under detention, something that his wife and family kept from him:
I just couldn’t accept this story. I cried, I kneeled down and it was really a hard time for me.
While it is unclear if Ching Cheong will return to the Straits Times, AFP reveals that he plans to write a book about his 1,000 days in prison.
Previously on Shanghaiist:
Released: Ching Cheong, journalist
1000th day of Ching Cheong’s imprisonment
Detained Straits Times journalist Ching Cheong ailing in prison
Straits Times: Freed ST journalist calls for China Olympics amnesty
The Standard: Freed scribe grateful for parole
The Canadian Press: Hong Kong journalist denies spying for Taiwan after release on parole
AFP: Hong Kong journalist contemplated suicide in China jail: report
Photo from the Straits Times.