China’s Line in the Sand | Emily Sundberg

It was with a sense of discomfort that Li Ming and his family discussed the #PrayforPeace movement in China with their visa staff last year. Li, a prominent human rights lawyer and Falun Gong practitioner who had fled China for exile in the United States, was due to return in June with his family to speak about the persecution of the group there. The state-controlled Chinese embassy had given his visa, which had been in place for some time, a “yellow card”—a warning that he was to be questioned. At the same time, Li was participating in the anti-China protests in Austin, Texas. At least 21 people in the country had either been imprisoned or severely beaten for participating in the demonstration last summer. For the Chinese embassy, this had become increasingly dangerous.

But there was another twist—the expression “yellow card” had not been heard in China since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. At that time, the Chinese Communist Party and then-President Jiang Zemin used the foreign press to monitor opposition voices in the West. Journalists who answered calls from the security services were left permanently on hold. And on 9 July 1989, 11 people were killed in an anti-riot police raid on a newspaper office in Shanghai, causing an international uproar over censorship and human rights violations.

On 15 June 1989, Xi Guoqiang was in Lufeng, the capital of Jiangsu province, where the neighbourhood of Yangmen had witnessed violence during the day. Xi ran to the ground, moaning—a typical sign of trauma, according to doctors—but nobody believed him. Two doctors in the office by the time had already recognised the signs and left. They looked around. Nobody spoke. Finally, they put Xi through a series of X-rays: from foot to head. The medical records will tell you that in fact Xi was not injured—he had simply passed out. No one in Lufeng stopped to think what this man could have been thinking of.

Read more in The World Post by Emily Sundberg

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