A politically engaged Chinese journalist has disappeared on his way to Hong Kong. His friends believe authorities abducted him due to an open letter he wrote that demanded President Xi Jinping resign.
Jia was last heard from around 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday when he called his wife from the Beijing airport as he was about to board a flight to Hong Kong. 15 minutes later, his phone was unreachable. While his plane landed in Hong Kong at 11:30 p.m., Jia never showed up to his friend’s flat where he was supposed to stay the night. He also missed a lunch appointment with another friend the next day, Apple Daily reports via HKFP.
According to China Change, before embarking on his trip, Jia confided to a number of friends that he feared he would soon be detained and questioned.
Jia Jia is a well-known journalist, media personality and social commentator. He publishes a regular column in Tencent Online and is also known for being an avid Twitter user. He hasn’t posted a new tweet since last Saturday.
The website Wujie News published the letter signed by “loyal Communist Party members.” The authors criticize Xi for “abandoning the principle of collective leadership” and putting all the “power in his own hands” while “indulging” those who flatter him.
Xi toured the different press offices where he demanded “absolute loyalty” from the outlets. The authors of the letter said his demands “dismayed the whole nation.” According to The Guardian:
“Comrade Xi Jinping, we have no choice but to point out that, precisely due to your gathering of all power into your own hands and making decisions directly, we are now facing unprecedented problems and crises in all political, economic, ideological, and cultural spheres,” it said, according to a translation by China Digital Times, a website run by the University of California at Berkeley.
“[Your actions] make those of us who experienced the Cultural Revolution unable to not secretly worry,” the letter added. “Our party, country, and people cannot bear another decade of calamity!”
His wife said he called her after he cleared customs at the Beijing airport. He went to his gate for his Hong Kong flight, but never showed up “to a planned lunch” the next day.
“I do not know if he was taken from the airport lounge or from the plane or in Hong Kong,” said one friend.
Human rights activist Zhou Fengsuo said Jia “told friends he feared he was being investigated and could be detained.”
China has punished journalists in the past that stray too far from the narrative. Last August, a journalist “confessed” to causing panic by reporting on the stock market. The government even banished a French journalist for her exposé on its treatment of the Muslim Uyghur minority.