Chinese Activist Faces Deportation After Escape to Meet Husband in Vietnam

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liu-shasha-305 Chinese activist Liu Linna, better known by her nickname Liu Shasha, in an undated photo.
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Authorities in Vietnam are preparing to deport a prominent rights activist who crossed the border illegally from China to be with her husband following a travel ban imposed on her by Chinese police, she said on Wednesday.

Liu Linna, better known by her pseudonym Liu Shasha, was detained by Vietnamese police at her hotel after crossing the border from the southwestern Chinese region of Guangxi last November to spend time with her Hong Kong-based husband, who is unable to travel to China.

"I have to be deported back to China according to their laws, and I was ... informed today that I will be fined four million dong (U.S. $187)," said Liu, who was still on the Vietnamese side of the border when she spoke to RFA.

Liu has been banned from leaving China through official routes, while her Hong Kong-based husband has been banned from entering the country, leaving the couple with nowhere to make a home together.

She said she had heard "more than one" Vietnamese police officer say that her money, cell phone and laptop would be confiscated.

"They will basically take your valuables away," Liu said.

But she added: "I believe that the Vietnamese authorities aren't to blame here. This situation has been forced on us by China."

Liu's husband Yeung Hung said the couple had been crossing borders illegally to meet since his "home travel permit" enabling Hong Kong citizens to visit mainland China was confiscated by Chinese authorities.

Hong Kong, China's Special Administrative Region, is a former British colony and still maintains an immigration border with the mainland.

"Shasha crossed the border into Vietnam illegally, because they won't allow her to leave the country officially," Yeung, who was able to travel freely on his Hong Kong-issued passport to Vietnam, told RFA on Wednesday.

"We had hoped to find some time to go traveling together before Chinese New Year," he said. "We tried to find a way to stop them from keeping us apart."

"But now look how things have turned out."

Crossing borders

Yeung said his wife's detention was likely linked to increased security in Guangxi after a number of ethnic minority Uyghurs had tried to cross the border into Vietnam.

He said that following the growing number of Uyghurs using that underground escape route, Vietnamese authorities are now routinely deporting escapees back to China.

"I went to the police station and made a statement today," said Yeung, who is still in Vietnam. "The situation doesn't look very good."

"I'm afraid that they will hand Shasha over directly to the Chinese police," he said. "Under Chinese law, she crossed the border illegally."

Yeung, who captained a converted Hong Kong fishing vessel that carried nationalist activists to the disputed Diaoyu islands, where they were detained and deported by Japan in October 2012, said the couple appears to have been permanently prevented from meeting by the authorities.

"They won't let her out, and they won't give a reason for it," he said.

Yeung was detained by police in Guangdong's border city of Shenzhen in December 2013, as he tried to cross from neighboring Hong Kong to meet Liu after his travel permit was revoked by Chinese police.

Guangdong authorities jailed him for eight months on charges of "illegally crossing a border."

Yeung's travel permit for Hong Kong citizens wishing to go to mainland China was revoked by the authorities in 2013, after he and Liu Shasha tried to visit Liu Xia, wife of jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, currently under house arrest in Beijing.

Accompanied by a Hong Kong camera crew, the pair got as far as the residential compound in a Beijing suburb where Liu Xia has been held under police guard since October 2010, holding a placard with the words "Liu Xia, everyone is behind you!" and shouting slogans through a megaphone.

The two activists were quickly detained, questioned for several hours, and then released. They married in August 2013.

Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo, 60, a literary critic and former professor, was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China" in a decision that infuriated Beijing, which says he has broken Chinese law.

He has been held since 2008 after helping to draft Charter 08, a manifesto calling for sweeping changes in China's government that was signed by thousands of supporters, and is serving an 11-year prison sentence for "inciting subversion of state power."

His wife Liu Xia has been held under house arrest at the couple's Beijing apartment since her husband's award was announced.

Reported by Xin Lin for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by Hai Nan for the Cantonese Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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