Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism

Chinese journalist disappeared after criticizing leader

25 March 2016
Chinese President Xi Jinping, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. (EPA/Fred Dufour)

A Chinese journalist disappeared March 15 and was later confirmed to be detained by the police March 18.

Jia Jia, a Beijing-based freelance journalist and columnist at the website Tencent Online, was on the phone with his wife around 8 p.m, waiting to board his flight. However, when she called 15 minutes later, he was unreachable, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. He was incommunicado until his lawyer confirmed Jia Jia had been detained by authorities, according to The New York Times.

Before he disappeared, Jia had told friends he believed the police were looking for him in relation to an open letter that went viral calling for the resignation of President Xi Jinping, according to CPJ.

“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,” the letter said, according to a translation by China Digital Times, a website run by the University of California at Berkeley.

A friend of Jia Jia, Yunchao Wen tweeted about police questioning his parents about Wen being the author of the letter. It is uncurrently unknown who the author of the letter is.

“It seems it’s no longer enough for Chinese authorities to erase all trace of criticism — it now seems bent on erasing all trace of its critics, too,” Sophie Richardson, China director for Human Rights Watch, said according to the Times.

Earlier in March, the Chinese magazine Caixin published an article on its English-language website about an interview that had been deleted by the censors from Caixin's Chinese-language website, according to the BBC. However, that article on the English-language website was deleted within a day.

China is ranked 176 out of 180 countries in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index, and had 49 journalists in its prisons, as of December 2015, according to CPJ.

Monitoring press freedom and international affairs from Mid-Missouri Public Radio and the Missouri School of Journalism.
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