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Son of Rights Lawyer Missing in Myanmar after Escaping China

FILE - Chinese rights lawyer Wang Yu speaks during an interview in Beijing, April 18, 2015. Her 16-year-old son has disappeared in Myanmar after trying to escape to the United States, a rights campaigner involved in the plan said on Oct. 11, 2015.

The 16-year-old son of a rights lawyer detained in China's sweeping crackdown on civil society has disappeared in Myanmar after trying to escape to the United States, a rights campaigner involved in the plan said Sunday.

Bao Zhuoxuan, also known as Bao Mengmeng, and two men helping him were taken away by local police from a guest house in a Myanmar border town on Tuesday, Fengsuo Zhou said by phone from San Francisco, citing information from the guest house in Mong La.

"The plan was for him to travel to Thailand and I would meet him there and help him seek refugee entry into the United States," Zhou said, adding that friends of Bao's family who live in San Francisco want to adopt him.

"He has expressed his will to study abroad, and eventually study law, like his mother," Zhou said.

Bao 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 civil society in China. 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.

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

Bao and his father were also 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 Bao was released after two days, but his passport was revoked, Zhou said.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.

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.

"We're really worried now. He's just a 16-year-old boy," said Zhou, who lives in San Francisco. "We know that the intention is to use him as a hostage against his parents, both of them famous human rights defenders, in particular Wang Yu. She has been very courageous, outspoken, one of the best human rights lawyers in China - she was arrested exactly for that reason."