The Chinese Regime Puts Its Cruelty on Full Display Ahead of Olympic Games

Renowned Chinese activist re-arrested, two days after his wife dies
By Peter Dahlin
Peter Dahlin
Peter Dahlin
Peter Dahlin is the founder of the NGO Safeguard Defenders and the co-founder of the Beijing-based Chinese NGO China Action (2007–2016). He is the author of “Trial By Media,” and contributor to “The People’s Republic of the Disappeared.” He lived in Beijing from 2007, until detained and placed in a secret jail in 2016, subsequently deported and banned. Prior to living in China, he worked for the Swedish government with gender equality issues, and now lives in Madrid, Spain.
January 21, 2022Updated: January 24, 2022


Human rights activist and writer Yang Maodong, also known by the pen name Guo Feixiong, faces the risk of becoming the defining victim of the Chinese regime’s increasingly harsh abuses.

As Beijing prepares to launch the Winter Games next month, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) took yet another step in its level of cruelty in punishing Yang.

Frankly, the growing attack on China’s beleaguered legal community has become so commonplace that much of it no longer registers, and foreign media seemingly find it hard to pay attention to the situation. With the latest development related to Yang, that’s likely to change, as the level of cruelty is shocking even for CCP standards.

Yang, 55, has played a key role in China’s rights defense movement for over 15 years as a lawyer who exposed political corruption. He was tortured by authorities and has been in and out of detention for years. The abuses he suffered represent the very worst of the Chinese police state.

The unrelenting harassment of Yang’s family led his wife, Zhang Qing, and their two children to flee to Thailand. In 2009, they sought refuge in the United States, where they have lived ever since. Yang has been separated from his family for over 10 years.

Since Yang was released from his latest incarceration, he has been forbidden to leave China. Just over a year ago, Zhang was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Yang desperately pleaded to the authorities to let him reunite with his family. But the authorities denied his request to be with his wife in her final months, despite the fact that there were no legal proceedings against him. They claimed that if Yang left China, he would somehow constitute a threat to national security.

Things grew so dire in a race against time that Yang appealed in public to CCP leader Xi Jinping and wrote to Premier Li Keqiang, and went on a hunger strike. In an open letter to the government, Yang asked the authorities to “have empathy for ordinary people.” But the CCP responded the only way it knows how—it disappeared Yang, and he went missing on Dec. 5 last year.

Sadly, on Jan. 10, Zhang passed away at the age of 55.

Then two days later, as observers reeled from the news of Zhang’s death, Chinese authorities arrested Yang for “inciting subversion of state power.” He barely had time to mourn his wife.

Yang’s extreme situation indicates a much larger trend. For almost 15 years, I’ve been providing aid to Chinese rights defenders facing persecution. I’ve also witnessed the changes in how the Chinese police attack their victims, and anyone involved in this field wouldn’t doubt my firsthand experience. Before Xi came to power and up to the present time, the persecution has transformed from being centered on imprisonment to something much bigger.

Nowadays, not only are the victims imprisoned, but upon release, they are denied a livelihood and forced to live off the help of friends or work odd jobs. Family members are not spared—children are denied access to schools, and the spouse is intimidated or harassed by authorities, detained, or even worse. Since at least 2017, Beijing has started to expand its use of exit bans, limiting a targeted individual’s ability to travel, especially if family members have moved overseas to avoid such persecution.

Yang, who has already spent 11 years in prison, is going to face more years behind bars after what will be a farce of a trial. This will further expose the continued deterioration of China’s judiciary. It will be yet another example of how Beijing is expanding its persecution from mere detention and imprisonment to a full-scale attack on the victims’ lives. The CCP’s cruelty and pettiness are on full display, just as the 2022 Winter Olympics are about to kick off in Beijing.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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