Activist Couple 'Kept Apart'

An engaged couple has been separated by Chinese authorities since calling for protests against Japan last year.
2011-12-12
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Screen grab of Cheng Jianping's controversial tweet, Oct. 17
Screen grab of Cheng Jianping's controversial tweet, Oct. 17
Photo: RFA

A couple who had planned to marry before the bride-to-be was sent to labor camp over a retweet the authorities didn't like say they are now being forced to live hundreds of miles apart.

Wuxi-based activists Hua Chunhui and Cheng Jianping were engaged to be married, but their wedding plans were disrupted in November 2010 after the authorities took exception to something Cheng posted via the microblogging service Twitter.

Cheng, who posted as WangYi09, was detained on their planned wedding day after she posted an anti-Japanese message.

Released last month from a one-year term in labor camp by local police, Cheng was immediately taken back to her hometown of Xinxiang, in the central province of Henan, according to Hua.

Hua said on Monday that he was himself held in secret detention by Wuxi's state security police until Sunday.

"I got home at around midday [on Sunday]," Hua said. "It was the Wuxi state security police [who detained me]."

But Hua, whose 'disappearance' ended a few days ago said he had no idea why he had been detained.

"They seemed to think that these were normal measures," he said. "They said they were acting on orders from higher up, which told them to take me 'on holiday.'"

Cheng tried to travel to Wuxi to visit Hua recently, but Hua disappeared on the day of her arrival.

Hua was taken to a mountain resort in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

He said he hasn't been allowed to see Cheng since Oct. 28.

"I haven't seen [Cheng] since they took me away from the gate of my home on Oct. 28 last year," he said.

"If things hadn't been this way, I would have seen her much sooner."

'Angry youth'

Cheng was handed her term in labor camp for "disturbing social order," for postings she made online, state security police said at the time.

Cheng's sentence was sparked by a retweet dated Oct. 17, 2010, which called on the nation's "angry youth" patriotic movement to charge in and smash the Japanese pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo, which ended in October.

"Angry youth! Charge!" Cheng added to an original tweet by Hua.

Hua's tweet read: "Actually with these anti-Japanese demos, the smashing of Japanese goods and so on is nothing new. It was done many years ago by [former Nanjing University professor] Guo Quan. If you really wanted to kickstart things [add energy] it would be better to fly to Shanghai and smash the Japanese pavilion at the World Expo."

Cheng's sentence came amid a wave of anti-Japanese protests over a simmering territorial dispute sparked by Japan's detention of a Chinese fishing boat captain in the East China Sea.

The sometimes violent 2010 demonstrations were believed to be the largest in more than five years, and included protests and marches in Chengdu, Xi’an, Zhengzhou, and Hangzhou.

Reported by Xin Yu for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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