New York Times: Bao Zhuoxuan, Son of Detained Rights Lawyer, Is Said to Disappear in Myanmar

The New York Times
By Chris Buckley
October 9, 2015

Beijing — The teenage son of a detained Chinese rights lawyer is missing in Myanmar after his apparent detention by the authorities in a border town he had reached while trying to leave China for the United States, a rights campaigner involved in the escape plan said on Friday.

Bao Zhuoxuan, the son of Wang Yu, a lawyer who was detained in Beijing in July, was taken by uniformed men on Tuesday from a guesthouse in Mong La, a town in Myanmar close to the Chinese border, said Fengsuo Zhou, a former student activist now living in San Francisco.

Wang Yu, a human rights lawyer, was arrested at her home in
July. Her teenage son appears to have been detained in
Myanmar this week, a student activist said. Mark Schiefelbin/
Associated Press

The Chinese police had earlier confiscated Mr. Bao’s passport, seeking to stop him from going abroad, Mr. Zhou said in a telephone interview from San Francisco.

Mr. Zhou said he had traveled to Thailand and waited to meet Mr. Bao, also known as Bao Mengmeng, and two Chinese men accompanying him. But it became clear that their journey had gone awry.

“He was trying to reach the United States,” Mr. Zhou said. “But without a passport, this was the only route he could take.”

China Change, a group that monitors human rights issues in China, has also reported that Mr. Bao disappeared, along with the two supporters who were traveling with him, Tang Zhishun and Xing Qingxian.

“The hotel owner said that a dozen or so policemen had come, displayed Burmese law enforcement IDs and taken all three away,” the report said.

Mr. Bao’s disappearance adds to contention around China’s crackdown on lawyers who have used combative courtroom tactics and publicity to challenge the policies of the Communist Party.

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His mother, Ms. Wang, and his father, Bao Longjun — also a legal activist — have been detained by the police in Beijing as part of that crackdown, and officials haveaccused Ms. Wang of “inciting subversion of state power.” State news media have said Ms. Wang and her colleagues tried to use their prominence for illicit gain and to sow disorder.

The police in Beijing took away Mr. Bao’s passport in July, stymieing his plans to attend high school in Australia.

He “was constantly under surveillance, but he wanted to continue studying without interference,” Mr. Zhou said. “A family in San Francisco was willing to take care of him and help him to resume his schooling.”

Mong La, the town where Mr. Bao disappeared, is part of an unruly enclave thronged by Chinese people, many of them gamblers and smugglers crossing the porous border. Chinese citizens can enter the area even without a passport. The local overlord is a former Communist rebel, Sai Leun, who runs what is officially known as Special Region No. 4.

Mr. Zhou said the men who took away Mr. Bao and the two other men appeared to be police officers.

But U Zaw Htay, an official in the Myanmar president’s office in Naypyidaw, the capital, said his government had played no role in the apparent detention.

“The Myanmar government wasn’t involved in any matter there,” he said. “We don’t know about the arrest of the Chinese lawyer’s son. Of course, Mong La is close to the Chinese authorities.”

A police officer in Daluo, the town on the Chinese side of the border close to Mong La, said he had not heard of any arrests of fleeing citizens or of Mr. Bao.

Other relatives of Chinese dissidents have fled through Myanmar, including the wife and two children of Gao Zhisheng, a prominent rights lawyer once held in secret confinement. The Chinese government has also sought to choke off the flow of Uighur people, a Muslim minority, from fleeing abroad through Thailand.

Correction: October 9, 2015

An earlier version of the capsule summary with this article misstated Bao Zhuoxuan’s surname. He is Mr. Bao, not Mr. Zhuoxuan.


Wai Moe contributed reporting from Yangon, Myanmar.

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