China media: Rights lawyer's son used by anti-China forces

BEIJING: China worked with police in neighboring Myanmar to nab the 16-year-old son of a detained rights lawyer and send him back home because he had been coerced into a plot to illegally migrate, Chinese state media said Monday.

Activists have said the boy was trying to flee from house arrest within China after his parents — rights lawyer Wang Yu and legal activist Bao Longjun — were detained in July in a sweeping crackdown on civil society.

The teenager, Bao Zhuoxuan, at the time was at the Beijing airport on his way to Australia to attend high school when he and his father were intercepted by Chinese police. Since then, Chinese authorities confiscated his passport and placed him under house arrest in Inner Mongolia with his grandmother.

A network of activists then tried to help Bao escape to the United States, where he had hoped to study, activists have said. However, he was detained along with two men in northern Myanmar over the weekend and returned Monday to his grandmother's house where foreign journalists have been barred from speaking with him.

On Thursday, the state-run Global Times, quoting unidentified police sources, said an illegal immigration ring hostile to China arranged for Bao's escape but that the plot was thwarted by Chinese police. It said police acted on intelligence and formed a special operation to catch Bao.

The newspaper said two activists, Tang Zhishun and Xing Qingxian, and Bao all admitted to the act of illegal immigration after they were caught by Myanmar police and that Chinese police had collected evidence against the trio, including their phone contacts with foreign personnel and a video of them crossing a border checkpoint.

The Global Times also quoted Bao's parents — who are in secret detention — saying they were opposed to foreign forces taking their son out of China.

The newspaper article suggested that hostile foreign forces were using the boy to smear China. Critics say Chinese authorities have unfairly punished the teenager by intimidating him and depriving him of his right to travel by confiscating his passport.