Radio Free Asia: Activist’s Family Escapes China

Radio Free Asia 2012-01-24

The wife and son of a Chinese opposition party founder will highlight his case in the US.

Photo courtesy of ChinaAid

Guo Quan’s wife and son arrive in Los Angeles, Dec. 23, 2012.

The wife and son of jailed Chinese opposition party activist Guo Quan have arrived in the United States to raise awareness of his case, activists said this week.

Guo’s wife Li Jing and his 12-year-old son Guo Chengyi arrived in the U.S. on Monday, fellow activists said.

“They have … arrived in Los Angeles,” said Bob Fu, founder of the U.S.-based Christian rights group ChinaAid. “In a few days’ time they will travel to Washington D.C. to attend some events, and then they will be lodging a special appeal to Congress and the American people,” he said.

Fu said Guo’s family had arrived in the U.S. via a roundabout route to mask their intentions from the Chinese border authorities.

“They went via Indonesia, Singapore, and South Korea,” he said. “They left legally to go to some other countries, but they didn’t tell anyone they really intended to go to the U.S.”

“They are fine,” he added.

Guo’s mother, Gu Xiao, said she had been kept in the dark about the family’s escape until after they arrived.

“After my grandson finished school for the holidays, my daughter-in-law said she was going to take him on holiday to Singapore … and they said they’d be back in the Lunar New Year,” Gu said.

“My daughter tried to call her cell phone but it was switched off,” she said. “Only today did we get a call from the U.S. saying that my grandson is in America. My first reaction was ‘great’!”

“Only after that did I start crying,” she said. “The person I spoke to said they were fine and very happy, and that my grandson’s English wasn’t bad.”

Many Chinese dissidents and their families have been prevented from leaving the country, or have been sent back from neighboring countries in Southeast Asia after their governments came under strong political pressure from their larger neighbor.

Petition party

Former university researcher Guo, 43, was detained Nov. 13, 2008 by police near his Nanjing home and formally charged with “subversion of state power” the following month. He was sentenced on Oct. 17, 2009, to 10 years’ imprisonment, having been refused access to his own lawyer during the trial.

Guo’s arrest sparked a wider investigation into the opposition New People’s Party, which he claimed had 10 million members among the country’s most disgruntled citizens.

The party was set up to represent anyone petitioning the government and the ruling Communist Party for social justice in land disputes, forced evictions, and allegations of official wrongdoing.

Guo was fired from Nanjing Normal University on Dec. 6, 2007 for allegedly violating its constitution and rules on the conduct of faculty.

On Dec. 14, 2007, he was expelled from the Communist-approved token opposition group Democratic Parties and Factions, and on Dec. 17 last year announced the founding of the New People’s Party, with himself as chairman.

The main focus of the party was petitioners, and Guo claimed a membership of 10 million dispossessed ordinary people, including petitioners and former military personnel.

Guo wrote that the party’s platform was to represent ordinary people and to stand for a multiparty political system, including social welfare benefits and private property rights protection.

Afterwards, Guo updated his “Cutting Edge of Democracy” Web site almost daily, with a total of 347 articles posted by the time it was closed by the authorities.

The last known attempt by Chinese political activists to set up an opposition party ended in December 1998 with the sentencing of China Democracy Party (CDP) founders to lengthy jail terms.

Zhejiang dissident Wang Youcai, Wuhan-based Qin Yongmin, and Beijing-based Xu Wenli were sentenced respectively to 11, 12, and 13 years in prison on charges of “instigation to subvert state power.”

The wife and children of jailed Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng fled to the U.S. in 2009, citing continuing official harassment of their family, which was affecting the children’s mental health and the eldest child’s education.

Reported by Wei Ling for RFA’s Cantonese service, and by Qiao Long for the Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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