SYDNEY, Australia – A well-known writer and former Chinese citizen of Australian citizenship from New York in China on Friday, despite warnings from friends who told him it was too dangerous.
The writer, Yang Hengjun, did not respond to his Chinese phone despite the repeated attempts to contact him on Tuesday and Wednesday. He also did not respond to WeChat, the popular Chinese social media service.
Deng Yaven, a Chinese journalist and commentary on current issues who knew Mr. Yang, said the writer seems to have disappeared shortly after landing in the southern Chinese city.
Australia's Foreign and Trade Ministry has confirmed that the government "is looking for information about an Australian citizen . missing in China. "
A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said there was no case. US officials did not respond to requests for comment. Yang was detained in 2011, but his disappearance is now an additional risk. The trade war between the two countries shakes the Chinese economy. President Xi Jinping pushed the country into more muscular authoritarianism. And the December arrest in Canada of Huawei's senior manager, China's most important telecom company, has brought revenge from China.
Last month, Chinese police detained two Canadians, Michael Kovurgh and Michael Spaver, as officials in Beijing called on Canada to release Mun Wangzhou, Huawei's executive director, who was detained for possible extradition to the United States on charges of fraud. The Australian economy is supported by China's export of raw materials, especially iron ore. But in recent years, relations between the two countries have been disturbed by Australian complaints of political interference from Beijing.
In August, Australia rejected Huawei's potential involvement in developing the country's 5G phone network, a move that angered the Chinese government. Yang, a 53-year-old journalist and commentator working for the Chinese Foreign Ministry before moving to Australia and becoming a citizen in 2000, spent the last two years with his family in New York where he worked as a visiting scientist at Columbia University.
In his writing, he criticized the Chinese government. But in recent years he has avoided interviews with the media and avoids the frankly opposing Communist Party. In December he revised one of his previous papers on the rule of law in China, saying, "I have faith in the future, but without today's efforts and sacrifices the future will never come. For people like me, the goal, the dream is the future to arrive earlier. "His friends told him he had been told that none of his cautious prudence had any significance and that his Australian citizenship would not act as a deterrent, because the Chinese government sees someone of Chinese origin under the jurisdiction of the Communist Party of the country.
"The intent of his writing is clear – he wanted to educate people about democracy and universal values and influenced many young people," said Weican Meng, a friend of Mr. Yang's and founder of Boxun News, a Chinese website in the United States.
"Before returning to China, we had food together and some friends told him that it was not a good time to go," added Mr. Meng, whose name is Wei Shi. "The situation in China is now a bit like the Cultural Revolution: people are punished for talking about very insignificant things."
On Thursday, China's public security minister, Zhao Kheji, told a police commander in Beijing to protect himself from political subversion and attempts to fuel a "color revolution" against the government. Yang's family and friends believe that Mr. Young is being held in Beijing.
Feng Chongyi, a friend of the writer and assistant professor at the University of Technology in Sydney who was detained by the Chinese authorities in 2017, had spoken to Mr Jan's relatives. They told him that Mr. Young had arrived in Guangzhou early on Friday morning but did not have his planned relationship with Shanghai, Mr. Feng said.
According to Mr. Feng, Mr. Jan went to China partly because his visa in the United States had to expire in a few months, and he was waiting for a visa to stay in Australia for his wife and daughter. During this trip they traveled with him in China.
According to Mr Feng's conversations with the writer's relatives, Mr Jan and his wife have been questioned for more than 12 hours – probably at Guangzhou airport – before Mr Young's wife. He was then allowed to went to Shanghai to leave his daughter.
"Home in Shanghai," Feng added, "she is in tears and has asked relatives not to contact them again, but said she would publish her whereabouts.
Writer's wife, Yuan Rui Huang, published a photo on his Waibu site on Saturday at Beijing's Main Airport, with the inscription "It's been a long time, my eyes are full of tears."
Mr. Feng said family members are cowardly and seem to have been silent about Mr. Yang's status. "Asked about Yang's situation, they say they are unable to discuss the issue," he said. "And they asked us not to ask. Teng said he had spoken to security sources in China, and believes Mr. Yang could be accused of espionage, a broad indictment in China, which may simply involve discussing issues that the government considers sensitive.
His latest blog on the website praised President Trump for trying to close the "loopholes" Mr Young allowed other governments and migrants in the western countries to take advantage of the tolerance and hospitality of these societies. Over the past decade, Yang has been developing a great experience as a blogger in China, and then an equally enthusiastic audience at WeChat, where he also advertises lectures and classes for which he charges a fee.
One of his latest reports on WeChat to enroll for his study and living classes in the United States, Australia and other Western countries, lessons that will include his "thoughts about history, economy, culture and politics."
From Friday, his bill is silent. .