Given the excessive conviction charge of Chinese language courts, Dong is nearly sure to be discovered responsible of a cost that carries a penalty of greater than 10 years in jail.
A petition calling for Dong’s launch has been signed by greater than 60 outstanding present and former journalists and lecturers, together with Bob Woodward of The Washington Publish and Matthew Pottinger, a former journalist in Beijing who served as deputy nationwide safety adviser within the Trump administration.
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Dong’s case highlights the acute lengths Chinese language authorities are going to sever connections between Chinese language residents and foreigners, seen as a destabilizing power.
In keeping with individuals acquainted with Dong’s case, the fees — which may solely be seen by his attorneys — cited Dong’s connections with foreigners. Along with frequently assembly international diplomats and journalists in Beijing, he was a Nieman fellow at Harvard College from 2006-2007, a visiting fellow at Keio College in Japan in 2010 and a visiting professor at Hokkaido College in 2014.
In keeping with relations, who spoke on the situation of anonymity for concern of retribution by authorities or Chinese language nationalists on-line, no proof of any monetary or different transactions or financial advantages has been introduced.
“[The family’s] hope was that investigators may perceive that his international ties weren’t suspicious however a traditional a part of his job and a traditional interplay between peoples in most elements of the world,” mentioned a press release from the Dong household on Monday.
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The Japanese diplomat whom Dong met was additionally detained after their lunch and held for hours earlier than being launched. The Japanese authorities later demanded an apology, however China’s International Ministry responded solely that the diplomat had engaged in actions “inconsistent with their capability in China.”
The Nationwide Press Membership mentioned in a press release launched Monday that China ought to enable such high-level person-to-person contacts. “It makes their nation stronger. He has helped the world have a greater understanding of China and has introduced again with him from Japan and the U.S. a really full understanding of life in these international locations,” it learn.
Dong’s arrest has been seen as an indication of how the boundaries are being redrawn throughout Chinese language chief Xi Jinping’s third time period, as authorities train much more management over society following widespread protests decrying the tough coronavirus restrictions final yr.
On the time of his detention, Dong had been working for the Guangming Day by day — one of many nation’s 5 main Communist Celebration-affiliated newspapers — for greater than 30 years. (He was three months away from retirement when he was taken away.)
Dong is simply the newest journalist to be focused. Cheng Lei, an Australian journalist with CGTN, the worldwide model of state broadcaster CCTV, has been detained since 2020 on nationwide safety prices. Final yr, Haze Fan, a reporter with Bloomberg Information, was launched on bail after greater than a yr in detention on suspected nationwide safety violations.
“There’s an ever-tightening noose round Chinese language media,” mentioned Angeli Datt, China analysis and advocacy lead at PEN America, a bunch advocating free speech. “It’s the [Communist] social gathering often flexing its energy to indicate its whole management and to frighten others. Connections to foreigners are delicate below Xi, as propaganda recently has been characterised by xenophobic narratives.”
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As a younger man, Dong participated within the 1989 Tiananmen pupil protests that had been violently put down by the Chinese language navy. After serving a yr of laborious labor, he returned to Beijing and was capable of maintain his job on the paper.
Dong, who remained a liberal thinker and nonparty member, pushed for change inside the system. A prolific author who might be discovered at his pc most weekends and evenings, he known as out firms, authorities businesses and native governments, and commented on the social problems with the day. He gained a number of Chinese language journalism awards and was identified to mentor younger reporters.
Dong remained clear-eyed in regards to the authoritarian flip his nation was taking, and he used his platform at one of many nation’s most influential state papers to face up for residents. In an article in 2018, he criticized officials in Jiangxi province for taking coffins away from grieving residents as a part of a authorities drive to chop down on land burials. The article went viral, and officers later apologized and pledged to “respect the useless.”
Over time as he grew to become extra well-known, he grew extra cautious. In keeping with individuals near him, Dong knew he was being watched and made some extent to carry all conferences with international contacts in public locations in full view of others, together with any state safety who could be monitoring.
Dong represents a shrinking pool of Chinese language intellectuals who assist bridge the hole between China and the worldwide neighborhood. He was identified to be longtime buddies with the Japanese ambassador to China and was standard amongst his Nieman fellowship cohort. A 2012 article of his that was printed within the Chinese language version of the New York Instances, “I need my son to review in the USA,” nonetheless circulates on Chinese language social media as we speak.
Ultimately, Dong’s liberal views would come again to hang-out him. In 2017, he got here below investigation for an essay he wrote in 2012, one month earlier than Xi formally got here to energy, and was branded an “anti-socialist” for his earlier writings. Over the previous 5 years, he wrote much less.
In that 2012 essay, printed within the journal China By way of the Ages, he wrote that constitutional democracy was “the victory of human nature and the selection of human nature.”
“Nobody is keen to be pushed and enslaved by others or the federal government. Nobody likes to permit different individuals or the federal government to unconditionally take over their issues,” he wrote.