Chinese Rights Activist Officially Arrested 2 Days After Terminally Ill Wife Dies in United States

By Alex Wu
Alex Wu
Alex Wu
Alex Wu is a U.S.-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on Chinese society, Chinese culture, human rights, and international relations.
January 21, 2022Updated: January 21, 2022

A well-known Chinese rights activist and lawyer has been formally arrested by the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau, just two days after his terminally ill wife passed away in the United States.

Yang Maodong—also known by the pen name Guo Feixiong—was officially arrested on Jan. 12 after being secretly detained and held for allegedly “inciting subversion of state power”.

The 55-year-old had been repeatedly denied requests to go to the United States to take care of his wife, Zhang Qing, who passed away in Germantown, Maryland on the morning of Jan. 10. She was 55 years of age.

To avoid persecution from the Chinese regime’s collective punishments on family members, Guo’s wife escaped China with their two young children in February 2009, arrived in the United States two months later, and obtained refugee status in November 2009.

The couple had not seen each other for 15 years.

Guo Feixiong
Chinese rights activist Yang Maodong, also known by his pen name Guo Feixiong. (Supplied)

Since January 2021, Guo has made applications to go to the United States to take care of his wife who was diagnosed with late-stage cancer.

Family members, including Guo’s sister Yang Maoping, and supporters, also called upon the authorities to let him leave China for the United States to look after his wife but to no avail.

Guo was last heard of in early December when he again tried to go to the United States when Zhang was in critical condition. He sent a message to his friend on Dec. 5 saying: “I’m arrested.”

Guo had earlier been intercepted at Shanghai airport and detained by public security in January 2021 when he tried to go to the United States to look after his wife.

On Jan. 14, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price issued a statement expressing condolences for Zhang’s death.

The statement called on the “PRC to immediately grant Guo humanitarian relief and allow his travel to the United States to be reunited with his children and grieve the passing of his wife.”

The Chinese regime was also urged “to live up to its international commitments on human rights and end its use of arbitrary detentions and politically motivated exit bans,” the statement said.

“The PRC must stop punishing individuals for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

Epoch Times Photo
Chinese human rights lawyers Gao Zhisheng (L) and Guo Feixiong pictured in a restaurant in January 2006. (The Epoch Times)

The Chinese regime has also harassed Guo’s sister Yang Maoping in Shanghai. 

Yang told the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times that on Jan. 15, Guangzhou National Security went to Shanghai to pay her a visit.

“They came to the hospital that I work for at noon and told me that Guo Feixiong was officially arrested, but they didn’t give me any official document about it,” Yang said.

She said they threatened her and forbade her from communicating with Guo’s friends. They also asked her or Guo’s brother to go to the United States to deal with Zhang’s funeral.

On Jan. 17, an insider supplied The Epoch Times with an arrest notice issued by the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau dated Jan. 12, showing that on that date at 19:00, the authorities arrested Guo on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.”

Guo is currently being held at the Guangzhou No. 1 Detention Center.

The Epoch Times called the Guangzhou Public Security Bureau switchboard asking to be transferred to the National Security Detachment to confirm Guo’s arrest. The female operator said, “Wait a while,” but there was no response after that.

Epoch Times Photo
Supporters of Guo Feixiong outside the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles on Dec. 6, 2021 call upon the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to release him so that he could see his dying wife Zhang Qing. (Xu Xiuhui/The Epoch Times)

Lin Shengliang, a Chinese dissident in exile in the Netherlands, told The Epoch Times that according to the Chinese regime’s own laws, Guo has civil rights and the freedom to travel.

“However, in practice, such rights are repeatedly breached by the communist authorities,” Lin said.

Wang Guoxing, from the Federation for a democratic China, said that Zhang was not afraid of the regime and while she was in China she never left Guo even when he was persecuted. But she couldn’t see Guo before she died, because the communist regime wouldn’t let her.

“The CCP is the culprit of this humanitarian tragedy, and it has never stopped causing such tragedies,” Wang said.

Guo participated in the June 4th student democratic movement in 1989, which was violently suppressed by the Chinese regime.

He is one of the important participants and leaders of China’s New Citizens Movement and the Southern Democracy Movement. He has been actively advocating for freedom, democracy, and civil rights in mainland China.

On numerous occasions he has been detained by the authorities for his rights activism, defending Falun Gong practitioners, and demanding that the property and wealth of communist officials be publicized.

For his rights-related work, Guo has been imprisoned by the communist regime for a total of 11 years.

Gu Qing’er and Hong Ning contributed to the report.