An Internet activist living in New York says Chinese officials have detained three members of his family in southern China.
Chinese officials are reportedly searching for the author of an open letter calling for the resignation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Activist Wen Yunchao said his parents and younger brother have been missing since Tuesday. He says the government harassed his family. Wen has been a vocal critic of China’s government.
However, he denied involvement in the letter. He said he shared the letter on his Twitter account after it was published in China.
Wujie news posted the letter March 4. That was the first day of annual meetings of top Chinese Communist Party officials, known as the National Party Congress. In the letter, Xi is blamed for "unprecedented problems" in China, and it calls for him to step down.
A second Chinese reporter is said to have disappeared Tuesday from the Beijing airport as he tried to board a flight to Hong Kong. He has been identified as writer Jia Jia. His lawyer told Western news agencies that police "took away" the writer after he warned other reporters against re-publishing the letter.
Two top editors and two other technicians from that website are also reportedly being held.
Experts say the widening police probe suggests that investigators do not know who wrote the letter and are under pressure to find out.
The letter was signed by "Loyal Communist Party Members" and has spread widely by email.
Experts say Wujie was designed to report on Xi's economic plan to increase Chinese investment and trade in Asia and Europe. It began operations in September 2015.
President Xi has increased control of Internet coverage in China and removed opinions that differ from Communist Party leaders. The crackdown has brought harsher punishment for writers and editors whom the government says have spread rumors.
I'm Mario Ritter.
Lou Lorscheider reported this story for VOA. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
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Words in This Story
harass –v. to mistreat or bother in a constant, repeated way
vocal –adj. loud or outspoken
unprecedented –adj. not seen before
probe –n. an investigation, an effort to find out something