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US Urges Thailand to Investigate Disappearance of Chinese Journalist

FILE - Chinese journalist Li Xin talks to an Associated Press reporter over Skype, at the AP office in New Delhi, India, Nov. 20, 2015.

The United States has called on Thai authorities to look into reports that a Chinese editor disappeared in Thailand after fleeing China where he was pressured into being a government informant.

A State Department official who asked not to be named told VOA Tuesday that the U.S. is aware of reports that Li Xin, who was opinion editor for the website edition of the liberal-leaning newspaper Southern Metropolis Daily, has disappeared in Thailand.

“We urge Thai authorities to investigate this disappearance and provide any information they may have of Mr. Li's whereabouts to his family,” the U.S. official said.

Li was traveling across Thailand earlier this month seeking political refuge.

According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Li told international media last November he fled China after being forced to work for years as an informant for the State Security Department on the activities of intellectuals, non-government organizations and rights activists.

A spokesman for the Thai government could not be reached on Tuesday.

The U.S. State Department has expressed concern about reports that Chinese journalists are under pressure from authorities.

"We will not be silent when human rights are violated," said Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel last week.

Li Xin’s wife, He Fangmei, said Thai police refused to discuss his disappearance and asked her to contact the Chinese Embassy in Thailand.

“Thailand and China are kicking the ball back and forth,” she told VOA’s Mandarin service on Sunday. She said her husband fled China because he did not want to be forced to be an informant.

The Chinese government insists it protects the rights of Chinese citizens and respects media freedom.