News / Asia

    Well-known Chinese Columnist Disappears

    The Twitter page of prominent Chinese journalist Jia Jia is shown March 17, 2016. Jia disappeared from the Beijing airport Tuesday night while trying to board a flight to Hong Kong.
    The Twitter page of prominent Chinese journalist Jia Jia is shown March 17, 2016. Jia disappeared from the Beijing airport Tuesday night while trying to board a flight to Hong Kong.

    A prominent Chinese journalist mysteriously disappeared from the Beijing airport Tuesday night while trying to board a flight to Hong Kong.

    Friends of Jia Jia, 35, believe the politically engaged columnist's disappearance may have something to do with an open letter published earlier this month that called for the resignation of President Xi Jinping.

    According to Mo Zhixu, a writer and personal contact of Jia, the columnist had confided to a number of friends that he feared he would soon be detained for questioning over the missive, and that some of his family members had already been questioned by Chinese security personnel.

    According to family friends, the journalist's wife received a call from him around 8 p.m. on Tuesday to say he had passed through customs and was ready to board the flight. His phone was shut down some 15 minutes later, and Jia never arrived to give a lecture scheduled for Thursday at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

    Jia has written for numerous publications and has more than 80,000 Twitter followers. He had lived in Hong Kong for many years, but had quit his media job last month to take up a teaching position at China's Zhongshan University.

    His wife refused to be interviewed by the media, for fear it would adversely impact her husband's situation.

    Open letter link?

    According to a report by Reuters, Jia's lawyer, Yan Xin, said the journalist — who writes a regular column for Tencent Online — had warned Ouyang Hongliao, a former colleague and an editor at Wujie News, after Wujie had re-posted the letter calling for President Xi to resign.

    FILE - China's President Xi Jinping attends a meeting of the second Understanding China Conference, in Beijing, China, Nov. 3, 2015.
    FILE - China's President Xi Jinping attends a meeting of the second Understanding China Conference, in Beijing, China, Nov. 3, 2015.

    Yan also told Reuters that Jia, "had told him that he had no connection to the letter, which was signed by a 'loyal Communist party member.'"

    Chinese security officials said they initially suspected the site that published the open letter had been hacked by foreign opponents of China's communist party, but a technical check of the server showed no signs of a hack, leading officials to speculate the letter had been posted by someone writing for the site as part of a "political conspiracy."

    Mo told VOA's Mandarin Service on Thursday that Jia's friends believe that although the columnist has done nothing wrong, the current environment in China is such that nobody knows how long he may be detained for questioning.

    "Many friends believe [Jia] has nothing to do with the open letter incident," Mo said. "All he did was to alert his friend, but if [the government] wants to carry out a big investigation, individuals are too small [to do anything to stop it]."

    Beijing: No comment

    Whether Jia has been taken into custody has yet to be confirmed, and Beijing law enforcement officials have not responded to requests for comment. Jia's apparent disappearance comes amid mystery over five Hong Kong booksellers who dealt in gossipy books about Chinese leaders, and went missing only to resurface in Chinese custody.

    Xi has embarked on an unprecedented effort to clamp down on the Internet and censor opinions that do not fall in line with those of Communist Party leaders, including by imposing tougher penalties for "spreading rumors" via social media.

    "So we are very concerned," Mo said. "His mental state and his life will be greatly affected."

    The website, Wujie News, is jointly owned by SEEC Media Group, Alibaba, and the government of Xinjiang, a province in China's northwest.

    Jia has worked for media outlets in Hong Kong and on the mainland, including China's official Xinhua News Agency, Hong Kong's "Phoenix Weekly," China GQ magazine, Hong Kong's Sun TV, and other news organizations.

    This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Mandarin Service. Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Luke from: US
    March 18, 2016 11:11 PM
    If asked about the missing columnist, Xi will give an innocent smile and reply that he's on vacation somewhere. That's is life under the CCP.

    by: Interested Third Party from: Murica
    March 18, 2016 10:47 AM
    The USA has little room to complain about when it comes to arresting journalists that are critical of the State.

    When you take the plank named Mumia Abu Jamal from your eyes, then you can attempt to remove the mote from China's eye, without the rest of the world laughing too loudly.


    by: Robert from: Los Angeles
    March 18, 2016 9:35 AM
    "Kill a chicken, scare the monkeys."
    Way of life in the People's Republic.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora