Chinese news assistant detained ahead of Tiananmen anniversary

Foreign media workers Wednesday expressed alarm at Beijing’s detention of a Chinese employee with a Japanese newspaper, the latest in a series of arrests before the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of China said it was “alarmed and deeply concerned” by reports of the detention of Xin Jian, which “raise the disturbing possibility that she is being punished for the routine discharge of her professional duty on behalf of her employer”.

“The FCCC calls on the authorities to present evidence that Ms. Xin has broken the law or, in the absence of such evidence, to release her immediately,” it said in a statement.

Xin, an assistant for Japan’s Nikkei newspaper working in the southwestern megacity of Chongqing, was taken away from her home by police on May 13, the paper said earlier.

She was detained on suspicion of “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”, the paper said, citing a detention notice given by police to Xin’s family on Monday.

The vague charge has been increasingly abused by the ruling Communist Party to round up dissenters, journalists and others it sees as a challenge to one-party rule, rights groups say.

Xin’s detention came after a recent interview she conducted with Pu Zhiqiang, one of China’s most celebrated human rights lawyers who was himself recently detained on the same charge, Nikkei has said.

Pu was detained in Beijing earlier this month with four others who attended a private seminar to discuss the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests.

They were crushed on June 4 that year when soldiers killed hundreds of unarmed civilians.

Police have detained on criminal charges some 20 prominent liberal academics, lawyers and activists in the past month, according to the US-based group Human Rights in China.

China tightly censors domestic media and has arrested several prominent journalists in the past year, while foreign reporters are subject to surveillance and restrictions on their freedom of movement.

Those restrictions increase in the run-up to dates the Communist Party deems sensitive, such as the Tiananmen anniversary.

Xin’s husband Wang Haichun lamented his wife’s detention in a series of postings Tuesday and Wednesday on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

“This time 14 days ago, you were taken away,” he wrote on Tuesday morning. “8:35 on May 13. Our family should mark this moment.”

“Please come back soon,” he added. “I can’t take being alone any longer.”


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