'Freedom in China Depends on Freedom in Hong Kong'

The wife of a detained Chinese lawyer highlights her husband's plight.

Wang Yanfang in Hong Kong, July 2, 2014, wearing a T-shirt with a photo of her detained lawyer husband Teng Biao.

Wang Yanfang is the wife of detained Guangzhou human rights lawyer Teng Biao, held on charges of "incitement to subvert state power." She recently joined a mass popular protest in neighboring Hong Kong to draw attention to her husband's case, and spoke to RFA about her trip to the former British colony:

I think Hong Kong people are very united in that they really care about their rights, the rights that they should enjoy, as well as their right to fight for freedom and democracy. Mainland Chinese have a different attitude.

I didn't go to [Beijing's representative office in Hong Kong]. A lot of my friends said it probably wouldn't change anything, even if I did go, and that they would probably know about anything we said while we were here. They wouldn't probably find out about it if we didn't go, too.

I didn't decide until the very last minute whether I was going to come or not, and the people who were following me said they couldn't be sure that was actually where I was going.

As I was crossing the border, the immigration and customs officials checked me twice, but I had nothing much at all in my bag, apart from a few clothes and some money.

Once they saw I didn't have anything with me, they let me go. But I had barely gone two paces when they called me back again for a second check.

Less freedom than before

I think Hong Kong people feel that there is less freedom than there was before, and that there is less and less freedom of expression, but it's still a bit freer than the mainland.

Hong Kong's freedom is intimately bound up with that of mainland China. If Hong Kong is free, then China will change gradually.

Freedom in China depends on freedom in Hong Kong.

[When my husband was detained and tortured last time around], the law didn't do us any good. I had the feeling that there was nothing I could rely on. My husband had been locked up, and I couldn't hire a lawyer, and that if I was locked up too, no-one would help me.

There is no rule of law in this country, so there is nothing for me to depend on, let alone freedom or justice. That was a very bad time.

I won't give up [even if they retaliate after I get back from Hong Kong].

Reported by Ren Ji and Xia Chen for RFA's Cantonese Service. Translated by Luisetta Mudie.