Wife, Daughter of Jailed Changsha Rights Activist Arrive in US

Wife, Daughter of Jailed Changsha Rights Activist Arrive in US Changsha rights activist Cheng Yuan is shown in an undated photo.
Photo sent by RFA listener

The wife of a Chinese NGO worker jailed for subversion after a secret trial last September has arrived in the United States with the couple's daughter.

Authorities in the central Chinese province of Hunan are believed to have secretly tried and jailed three non-governmental organization (NGO) workers, Cheng Yuan, Liu Dazhi, and Wuge Jianxiong, for "subversion of state power" in September after holding them incommunicado for nearly 18 months.

Cheng's wife Shi Minglei arrived in the U.S. with the couple's daughter on April 7, with the help of the Christian rights group ChinaAid.

Shortly after landing, Shi tweeted: "Cheng Yuan's wife and daughter are free!"

"Easter has just ended, and we have said goodbye to darkness ... and brought me and our five-year-old daughter to freedom, with the help of ChinaAid," she wrote.

Shi told RFA after her arrival that she still has no documentation to show that Cheng and the others have indeed been tried or sentenced.

"They acted illegally at every stage of the case," she said. "From the persecution of the family members following Cheng's arrest, to the later stages when the case had been sent to court."

"That has to be the reason that the authorities haven't made any details of the case public so far."

Legal help denied

The three defendants have been denied meetings with attorneys hired by their families since being detained on July 22, 2019.

The lawyers were told in March 2020 that the defenders had "dismissed" them and that the government had assigned them government-funded lawyers.

But the families said they believe that the lawyers were fired under duress, and said they have had no contact with the government-appointed lawyers.

For now, Shi said she was relieved to be beyond the reach of the state security police.

"It wasn't easy for us to get to the United States," she said. "I am very grateful that my daughter is now free, and that we can't be used as hostages, or as a way to threaten Cheng Yuan."

'No evidence at all'

Changsha Funeng co-founder Yang Zhanqing, who now lives in the U.S., said the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) often uses political cases involving public dissent or rights activism to make an example of its critics. The fact that they are not doing that in this case suggests that even the authorities can't believe in the charges against the Changsha Three.

"I'm guessing there is no evidence at all, and no legal basis at all [for bringing this case]," Yang told RFA. "It's purely a form of official retaliation."

Yang had earlier said that the three men were targeted because their rights work had received overseas funding, which the ruling Chinese Communist Party regards as "collusion with hostile foreign forces," and a threat to its national security.

Last year, San Francisco district supervisor Gordon Mar called in a letter to the city's mayor for the city administration to rethink its twinning ties to Changsha following the treatment meted out to the Changsha Three.

In a Dec. 24 letter to San Francisco mayor London Breed, Mar called on the city authorities to reconsider the twinning arrangement with Changsha, and for a letter to be sent to her Chinese counterpart Zheng Jianxin calling for the trio's release.

Reported by Yi Bing for RFA's Mandarin Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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