Beijing police pressure high-profile dissident over skeptical social media post

Ji Feng is ordered to delete comments critical of a police claim that high-schooler Hu Xinyu took his own life.
By Hwang Chun-mei for RFA Mandarin
2023.02.07
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Beijing police pressure high-profile dissident over skeptical social media post Ji Feng, dissident and current affairs commentator, says state security police officers visited him after he posted skeptical comments about a news conference about the death of 15-year-old student Hu Xinyu. Credit: @jhf8964 Twitter
Photo: RFA

State security police in Beijing have paid a visit to outspoken veteran activist Ji Feng after he made a skeptical comment on social media about police claims that high-schooler Hu Xinyu died by suicide, Radio Free Asia has learned.

"I was approached by state security police because I commented on the Jiangxi provincial [police] press conference," Ji said. "I had written 'you can't lie to the Chinese people'."

The death of 1-year-old Hu Xinyu, whose hanged body was found after going missing for three months, has prompted widespread speculation over human trafficking and illegal organ harvesting gangs, leading the authorities to announce a crackdown on online 'rumor-mongering' in relation to the investigation.

Ji said the police had told him to delete the post.

"They asked me repeatedly if I had now deleted it," Ji said. "I told them I had deleted it, but they still shouldn't lie to the Chinese people."

"If I hadn't deleted it, they could have arrested me," he said. "It's that simple."

Ji said he didn't believe the police had coordinated their approaches, and that he was likely somewhat protected by his connections with prominent political journalist Gao Yu and other Beijing-based intellectuals.

He added that he was astonished to see that one of the four officers who visited him in his apartment had previously been assigned to monitor late former Communist Party aide and dissident Bao Tong, who died in November.

"I laughed to myself that they put the guy who had been in charge of Bao Tong in charge of me now," Ji said, adding that he wondered if he had gotten an upgrade.

He said the high-profile nature of the Hu Xinyu case was likely behind the move.

"The whole thing that sparked this was that they are afraid the shady organ transplantation business will be uncovered," Ji said. "I had been discussing this privately among our circle of friends [on WeChat]."

"[The police] said private discussions are one thing, but they shouldn't be posted on the internet," he said.

Ji had also posted a satirical poem to his Twitter account, taking aim at a number of half-explained public scandals in China in recent years, including the woman found chained by the neck in February 2022 in a Jiangsu outbuilding, the suspected Chinese spy balloon that was recently shot down over the United States, and the official claims over Hu Xinyu's death.

The poem, titled "Close your open eyes," is still visible on Twitter, and reads: "If you open closed eyes you'll see a Wandering Earth, a Wandering Balloon. You can't hide."

"A chain, two shoelaces ... a blow at the conscience of humanity.”

The poem continues: "You can't go home, and even if you can, it's not home any more ... Close your open eyes ... hear the balloon explode."

Translated by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Malcolm Foster.

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