Chinese Man Who Questioned State Media Reporting Freed After Arrest in Dubai

Wang Jingyu is freed after being arrested by police while transiting Dubai airport.
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Chinese Man Who Questioned State Media Reporting Freed After Arrest in Dubai Wang Jingyu, 19, a Chinese national who holds permanent residency in the United States, had fled China after questioning official media reports of border clashes between Chinese and Indian soldiers.
Wang Jingyu

Authorities in Dubai have released a Chinese national who fled his home country after questioning official media reports of border clashes between Chinese and Indian soldiers, only to be arrested while transiting the United Arab Emirates airport.

Wang Jingyu, who holds permanent residency in the United States, was arrested by United Arab Emirates police on April 5, en route to Istanbul.

Wang, 19, sent out a message on May 20 calling on the international community for help after he was detained by Dubai police while transiting the country on his way out of China.

The State Department later called his arrest "a human rights concern," as U.S.-based activists made representations to U.S. officials in a bid to stave off his forcible repatriation to China.

Wang was freed and dumped aboard an onward flight to Istanbul in a single outfit of clothing and flip-flops, holding nothing but his phone and a passport, just hours after The Associated Press began asking questions about his case, the agency reported on Thursday.

“We remain alarmed by human rights violations and abuses in China and call on (Chinese) authorities to respect the fundamental freedoms to which their citizens are entitled consistent with China’s international obligations and commitments,” the AP quoted the State Department as saying.

He spoke to RFA's Mandarin Service from a police-run detention center in the United Arab Emirates city, where he could be facing a forced return to China.

"It was shortly after I got off the plane in Dubai. I was just about to head to the transit security check area, when I was suddenly stopped at the gate for no apparent reason," Wang said.

'Trumped up' charges

Wang was initially held on suspicion of "insulting a recognized monotheistic religion" in connection with comments he was said to have left on the website of a hotel in the Gulf state a year earlier.

Wang was told that the local prosecutors decided on May 11 not to proceed with those charges.

"The allegations against me were trumped up," Wang said in an interview with RFA earlier this month.

Wang said he suspected that the Chinese government may be behind his detention, and that the criminal case could be being used as a pretext to force him to return to China.

"They came to visit three times following my arrest, the first time from the Chinese embassy in Abu Dhabi, and the second two visits from the Chinese Consulate in Dubai.

"They asked me to sign some documents and said I could avoid going to jail," Wang said, adding that he had refused to sign, because the documents were in Arabic, which he doesn't read.

Emails inquiring about Wang's case received no reply from the Chinese Embassy in Abu Dhabi or the Chinese Consulate-General in Dubai at the time of his RFA interview.

But the UAE government source said there is no written record of Chinese embassy personnel going to the detention center to talk to Wang Jingyu.

Rendition dangers in Dubai

Bob Fu, president of the U.S.-based Christian rights group ChinaAid, said his group had helped to focus minds in Washington on Wang's plight.

"We immediately contacted high-ranking officials in the White House National Security Council," Fu told RFA. "Also certain officials in several sections of the State Department."

New York-based political affairs commentator Ma Ju, who has lived in Dubai, said there are established precedents for the CCP to ensure the rendition of its nationals from the UAE.

"There is a Chinese police station based in the UAE now," Ma said. "They claim that they are there to investigate economic crime, but their real job is to intimidate and arrest [Chinese] dissidents."

He cited the cases of dozens of Turkic Uyghurs who had been arrested and forcibly repatriated by Chinese police from Dubai and Abu Dhabi in recent years.

Wang was detained in absentia by police in his hometown, the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing, after he cast doubts of state media reporting after thousands of Indian and Chinese troops faced off in June 2020 at three or four locations in the western Himalayas after Beijing’s forces intruded into Indian territory, according to Indian security officials and local media.

But China denied breaching the LAC near the Galwan River in India’s snowy and mountainous Ladakh region.

Indian and Chinese troops later disengaged from the southern and northern banks of Pangong Lake, in an operation begun on Feb. 10, 2021.

An official source in Chongqing implied that China expects its extradition partners -- of which the UAE is one -- to arrest people transiting through their airports.

"Don't ask me about this; it's too sensitive," the source said. "But he was taken into custody ... go check whether there is an extradition treaty between China and the UAE."

An employee who answered the phone at the Chongqing municipal state security police command center declined to command when contacted by RFA on Thursday.

"What does Chongqing have to do with the UAE? We're not a diplomatic department," the employee said, before demanding to see press accreditation and declining to comment further.

Reported by Wang Yun and Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.


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