Yang Hengjun, an internationally respected writer, based at Columbia University in New York City, was detained in Guangzhou airport in January en route to a visit to his family in Shanghai. He has been charged with “endangering national security.” However, it seems that the reason for his arrest may have been related more to an investigation he was conducting into China’s influence on politics in Australia. Additionally, his wife has been banned from departing from China as well. CCS has written the Chinese President urging Xu’s release and assurance for his safety while incarcerated.
The State Council General Office
Xichengqu, Beijingshi 100017
People’s Republic of China
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We write to express our concern over the treatment of Yang Hengjun, an internationally respected writer, currently based at Columbia University in New York City, who was detained in January 2019 for unspecified crimes involving “endangering national security”, although it seems apparent that the reason for his arrest may have been related more to an investigation he conducted into Chinese influence in domestic Australian politics.
Yang Hengjun, reportedly a former Foreign Ministry official, is now a citizen of Australia, and disappeared from Guangzhou airport en route to visiting his family in Shanghai. We are deeply concerned that Yang is held incommunicado and possibly at high risk of being tortured.
We write to seek clarification as to the reasons for his arrest. We urge you to see that he is released and allowed to return to his academic work unless he is charged with a legitimate criminal offense, and to take all steps necessary to ensure that he is safe and receives due process and a fair trial. We understand that Yang Hengjun’s wife, Xiaoliang Yuan, is currently banned from leaving China; this restriction should be lifted immediately.
Yang Hengjun is an accomplished scholar and writer, and has the right to freely express his beliefs and associate with friends, family, and colleagues, in China and in Australia, without harassment or intimidation or being subjected to arrest. We urge you to clarify the reasons for his detention, to prevent his torture and assure his safety, and to allow his family to travel freely.
We thank you for your attention to this most serious matter, and we look forward to receiving your response.
Joel L. Lebowitz, Paul H. Plotz, Walter Reich, Eugene M. Chudnovsky, Alexander Greer
Co-Chairs, Committee of Concerned Scientists
Ambassador Cui Tiankai,
Embassy of the People’s Republic of China
3505 International Place, NW
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 202 495 2266 I Fax: 202 495 2138