Chinese US State Department adviser Miles Yu said “making people disappear is a major feature of the regime.” Video / Sky News Australia
Thousands of people have been uprooted from their homes and from the streets by Chinese authorities as part of a secret and sinister program to “wipe out” those who fall under the regime.
It doesn’t matter how rich and powerful a person is, or how anonymous and discreet – anyone who dares to criticize the Communist Party or does not espouse its values ââcan be targeted.
The most minor indiscretions, such as uttering a frustrated remark in the street that is heard, or serious missteps, such as speaking about government policy at a business conference, are not tolerated.
One of the most prominent victims, billionaire tech guru Jack Ma, founder of the gigantic Alibaba group – the Chinese version of eBay, Amazon and PayPal, united in one – spoke at the Bund summit in Shanghai in October 2020 and expressed frustration with banking services. regulation.
He was summoned to Beijing to meet with CCP officials, who then ended the IPO launch of its fintech Ant Group, which was said to have been one of the biggest stock market launches in history.
Ma then disappeared, as her business was fined billions and restructured and forcibly downsized.
When the billionaire finally reappeared more than three months later, it was in a brief video released by the CCP showing him in a rural school espousing the values ââof charity and nation-building, in which he claimed to have been ” re-educated “.
Since the start of 2021, there have only been a handful of vague sightings of Ma, the current location of which is unknown.
In recent times, more and more simply being rich and influential may come under scrutiny by Beijing, with authorities fearing that “fame” is some sort of creeping Western ideology.
Zhao Wei is a billionaire actress and singer who was suddenly wiped off Chinese social media and streaming platforms, for no apparent crimes – just to be popular.
The CCP has since banned music charts that indicate and promote popularity, and has placed limits on how often children and teens can play video games.
This is part of the effort to move away from the recent era where fame and fortune are desired, and towards a goal of “common prosperity”.
In addition to the powerful, ordinary citizens who stray from the beaten track are also at risk of being torn from their homes and taken to undisclosed places.
Human rights group Safeguard Defenders said that on average at least 20 people a day are “disappeared” by Chinese authorities for offending or disrupting the system and its guards.
The victims have no contact with their relatives and no access to lawyers while in detention.
“There is hardly any surveillance, torture is common,” Safeguard Defenders said. “These are state-sanctioned mass kidnappings (which constitute) the widespread and systematic recourse to enforced disappearances.”
President Xi Jinping was the architect of laws that gave authorities extraordinary and frightening powers to indefinitely detain those who fall under the regime, depriving them of their basic rights.
In a 2020 report, Safeguard Defenders estimated that around 30,000 people had “disappeared” since 2013, when the laws were enacted.
Many are held for a few days or weeks, some for months – or more. A few never come back at all.
Wuhan city businessman Fang Bin posted videos on social media showing a local hospital overflowing with Covid-19 patients and victims in the first weeks of the pandemic.
He was detained and has not been seen since.
Often, returning missing persons must then appear in court for questionable “crimes” and are quickly convicted and sentenced to even more sentences.
Zhang Zhan, a reporter who traveled to Wuhan in February 2020 to interview residents on how they were dealing with the lockdown, also shared videos on social media about her sightings.
In one, Zhang mentioned that Wuhan residents seemed more frightened of the government than of the virus, which apparently plunged her into hot water.
She was detained and without news for several months, before being sentenced in December to four years in prison for “becoming angry and causing trouble”.
It is not only Chinese citizens who are targeted, with a number of foreigners also caught up in Beijing’s barbaric reaction to perceived criticism and its apparent political retaliation.
An open letter signed by friends and colleagues of Australian journalist Cheng Lei, detained in China on August 13, 2020 and without news since, expressed serious concerns for her well-being.
Cheng, the face of China Global Television Network’s English-language news service, was gaining popularity with viewers, before being abruptly arrested on suspicion of “illegally supplying state secrets abroad.”
“We are convinced that she did nothing wrong …” reads the letter, produced with support from Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.
MEAA and Cheng’s supporters say, âWe are concerned about the deterrent effect his arrest has on the practice of journalism, which has never been so critical.
“Cheng Lei has, during his career, earned the respect of his colleagues for his simple business dealings.”
Cheng’s two children, aged nine and 11, are in Australia and are now in the care of family members.
“They have been separated from her for over a year now and she has had no contact with them since her arrest,” the letter said.
The status of her case is unclear, as is her current location.
The office of Foreign Minister Marise Payne did not respond to a request for comment.
Another Australian author, blogger and political commentator, Yang Hengjun, is currently awaiting the verdict of his espionage trial.
During his one-day hearing, held in secret, Dr. Yang insisted that he was “100% innocent” and revealed that he had been subjected to 300 interrogations by the authorities and tortured.
He has been detained since January 2019, when he was arrested after arriving in Guangzhou with his wife and child.
This kind of “disappeared” does not include the roughly 1.5 million Uyghurs imprisoned in a vast network of camps across China.
The persecution of the Muslim minority has been the subject of international condemnation for years, along with various independent inquiries which equate it with genocide.