When The Australian Tribune last touched base with this story, 53-year-old Australian–Chinese writer Yang Hengjun was quietly awaiting access to consular support in his state of ‘residential surveillance’ in China.
Hengjun was taken by Chinese authorities at the Guangzhou airport terminal on account of espionage charges, while waiting with his family for a connect flight to Shanghai.
A similar airport experience occurred back in 2011, where Yang was being followed by three men at a Chinese terminal.
Liberal MP Andrew Hastie believes Yang was detained for the threat this free-speaking Australian citizen brings to the Communist regime in China.
Turns out, Hastie was bang on the money.
As AAP reports, a close friend of Yang Hengjun — Sydney academic Dr Feng Chongyi — has given the media a letter he received from Yang, on Yang’s personal instruction that it be released if he was ever arrested.
The letter, written back in 2011, seems to affirm Andrew Hastie’s assumptions regarding the case.
Yang urges activists to continue the fight
In his letter, Yang emphasised the need for Chinese activists to ‘maintain belief in China’s democratic future, and, when it doesn’t put yourself or your family at risk, to use all your means to push China’s democratic development to happen sooner’.
He urged his supporters to continue his forward-thinking legacy, which pushes for ‘freedom, human rights, the rule of law, and justice to occur sooner’ in China.
‘If I can come out, I will continue my work. If I cannot come out or disappear again, remember my articles and let your children read them.’
And as for the time in which this letter was written — seven years ago — this is also explained. This letter coincides with the first airport ‘incident’ Yang experiences, which was a resolved as a flippant ‘misunderstanding’.
But in the letter, Yang reveals that this was not the case. In reality, he was abducted by government agents.
A message to China
The letter continues:
‘If I came out and said ‘the truth’, the authorities concerned would have been intolerable for a while, however, I can no longer return to China anyway, and can no longer continue to spread the tenants of freedom and democracy – which I was already doing with some scope.
‘I really believe that in China, spreading the philosophy [of democracy] is a vital task.
‘I will definitely continue to use my methods to contribute to China’s democracy.’
But in his current detained position, there is very little Yang can do to continue fighting for his cause.
Here’s hoping this message is ultimately delivered to the Chinese public. If not, Yang’s efforts to strengthen a democratic structure for China may all be for nothing.
In the meantime, only time will tell in how this letter will affect Yang’s chances of ever being released from detention. But we aren’t foolish enough to think that his chances have increased.
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