Beijing’s crackdown on dissidents continues, with recently missing Chinese journalist Li Xin briefly emerging from the void to claim that he returned willingly to China for “an investigation.”
Former editor for the website of the Southern Metropolitan Daily, Li, 37, spilled an impressive quantity of beans last year on the Chinese government, including claims that state security had coerced him into informing on other journalists and NGOs. He then went missing in January en route from Thailand to Laos.
Li’s wife He Fangmei, who is four months pregnant with their second child, took a call from Li on Wednesday at a police station in Henan, and is positive that her husband was acting under duress, The New York Times reports:
He said, “Wife, it’s me, Li Xin.” He said that he’d returned to China voluntarily and was under investigation, but he didn’t say where he was in China.
He told me to celebrate the New Year holiday with his family and to make sure I kept healthy.
I said to him, “Where are you? Just where are you? Tell me. At the very least, I have to find a lawyer for you.” But the line was silent for a long time, and I knew someone at his side was telling him what to say, and he said, “Don’t get involved. Don’t ask so much. I’m doing fine.”
I do not believe it. I 100% do not believe it. I felt he was forced to say those words, that he said them against his will. Each time I tried to ask him a question he interrupted me.
Yet, Thai authorities claim that Li’s immigration records show no sign of him having left the country. “There is no indication whatsoever that Mr. Li Xin was abducted from Thailand,” merely said a Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman.
Needless to say, no comment has emerged from the Chinese government.
Following an unsuccessful attempt in India to apply for a US visa, Li had fled to Thailand to seek official refugee status.
Friend Yan Bojun, a fellow Chinese refugee residing in Thailand, places his last sighting of Li at January 9, a day before Li’s disappearance. “I warned him to be very careful in Thailand,” Bojun shared. “It is very dangerous here. The CCP is very strong here.” So it would seem.
Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai disappeared from his Bangok apartment in late October of last year, only to resurface last month on state television, confessing to have returned to China voluntarily to stand trial for killing a college student while drunk driving more than a decade ago.