Chinese-Australian political blogger and writer Yang Hengjun (杨恒均) has finally broken the silence on his two-day disappearance in Guangzhou. Here’s a quick recap of what happened: Shortly after tweeting one day in late March that he was being followed by three men at the Guangzhou Baiyun airport, Yang went incommunicado, sparking off a series of international media reports that yet another Chinese intellectual had gone missing. The Australian government began pulling its strings, and Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu, when pressed by foreign correspondents on the whereabouts of Yang, famously quipped, “I have not heard of that person.” On March 31, just two days after his disappearance, Yang resurfaced, assuring everyone he was safe, “recovering” from an “illness”, and on his way back to Australia.
In a new essay on his blog, Yang finally broke the silence on his short disappearance, but gave little clue as to what exactly happened those two days. The following translation comes courtesy of the China Media Project:
On what happened during the two days of his disappearance:
…during the two loneliest days of my life, I received so much friendship and care. Thank you all. All of you have helped me to recognize what is right and what is wrong. All of you have helped me to recognize that my choices have not been wrong . . .
I want to reaffirm that wish to take full responsibility for my neglect, and ask that everyone please forgive me. But I don’t wish to expend too much time trying to explain. I must devote more time to continuing with my work and mission, which has already become my life.
On the question of his nationality:
I’d also like to take this opportunity to express my feelings of thanks to people overseas, and particularly to overseas media and to the government of Australia. This thanks is mingled with a strong sense of guilt and shame. For years now, I’ve enjoyed the convenience and benefits of national treatment from Australia, and yet I have dedicated everything I have to China. I hope that some day they are able to understand me. A harmonious and stable China, strong and prosperous, and which respects human rights, conforms to the interests of the whole world.
At the same time, I wish to say to my readers, there are very special reasons why you have heard me say in various introductions that I am Chinese and that I hold Chinese nationality, and this is emphatically not a deception. Could anyone commit such a low-order mistake, least of all me, who has his Australian passport in hand when he travels in the West? Some day in the future you will hear me explain. But not now.
A few afterthoughts on his disappearance:
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?
The role he wants to play in the future, and a hint that he may disappear again some day:
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 . . .