Lawyer's Son Back in China after Failed Escape Attempt in Burma

By Louise Watt 12 October 2015

BEIJING — The teenage son of a rights lawyer detained in a sweeping crackdown on civil society is under house arrest in northern China after being grabbed in Burma while trying to escape to the United States, a family friend said Monday.

Bao Zhuoxuan, also known as Bao Mengmeng, is under 24-hour police surveillance at his grandparents’ house in Inner Mongolia and is not allowed contact with the outside world, Liang Bo, a San Francisco-based family friend, said by phone.

Bao, 16, is the son of Wang Yu, a lawyer who disappeared July 9 amid a rounding up of dozens of rights lawyers and social activists in a broad crackdown on groups that seek changes in society and that operate outside the Communist Party. Wang has represented people involved in politically sensitive cases and earlier this year was the legal counsel for one of five women’s rights activists jailed over a planned event against sexual harassment.

Bao and his father were detained on the same day by police at Beijing’s international airport on their way to Australia, where Bao was to attend high school. Bao was released after two days, but his passport was revoked, Zhou said. His parents are still missing.

Chinese authorities routinely put pressure on activists by targeting their family members.

After his release the teenager was watched and harassed by police in Beijing, and at times beaten by them, said Liang, who was intending to look after Bao in San Francisco. Beijing police did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

San Francisco-based rights campaigner Fengsuo Zhou, who was involved in the escape plan and was to help Bao seek refuge in the US, said: “He has expressed his will to study abroad, and eventually study law, like his mother.”

Zhou traveled to the Thai capital of Bangkok and grew worried when Bao failed to meet him there last week. He said that Bao and two men helping him leave China were taken by local police in the Burmese border town of Mong La on Oct. 6.

Liang said Bao was with his mother’s parents in Ulanhot city. Calls to two numbers for Bao’s grandmother were not answered. People who answered calls to Ulanhot police’s general and criminal investigation offices said they were not aware of the case.

The two men helping him to leave China were Tang Zhishun, 40, an engineer from Beijing, and Xing Qingxian, 49, a human rights activist in the southwest city of Chengdu, Zhou said. Their whereabouts was unknown.