Pang Jian, a Catholic writer and activist who resides in the northern province of Hebei in China has been taken by Chinese authorities and was charged with suspicion of "splitting the country." The 30 year old writer who also goes by the name of Gao Yang, was taken by Chinese authorities from his home in Pangcheng village in the Gaobeidian city of Hebei. He was arrested after he reported on forced demolitions and evictions in Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei.
Jian's father, Pang Jingxian told Radio Free Asia that his son went to line up for COVID testing when he was detained by Chinese authorities, who later came to their home to conduct a search and confiscate the Catholic writer's belongings. Jingxian said that "we didn't hear anything for a while" after the arrest of his son in January.
It was only later on when the police sent them a notice of formal arrest dated January 15 and January 28. The notice of detention stated that Jian was criminally detained on suspicion of "inciting secession" at 11 a.m. on January 15.
Jingxian lamented, "After they notified me, I went to visit him a few times, but we haven't heard anything since then." He admitted that they could not contact his son, nor have they found a lawyer to represent him.
The Catholic writer was known for documenting Hebei's "extensive Catholic church community and unique culture," the report said as per his U.S. based friend, Ryan Shi. He shared that Jian would take photos of "almost all of the Catholic churches in Hebei, as well as local customs and architectural features."
He was also featured in Hong Kong media, talking about the underground Catholic community in Hebei. In China, religious communities must register with the government, hence being forced to agree with and even push for the communist regime's teachings, in order to be allowed to operate.
Cai Quan, a U.S. based friend of Jian, theorizes that the Catholic writer is "in some kind of illegal detention." Meanwhile, an employee from the Gaobeidian Detention Center who answered an inquiry on July 3 said that Jian was still being held on suspicion of "inciting secession." The employee added that his health was "very good" and that he did not have any mental health issues. However, he was not allowed visitors due to COVID restrictions.
China's crackdown on journalists who oppose the communist state and its ideals continues and has increased under President Xi Jinping. In April, Al Jazeera reported that Reporters Sans Frontières or Reporters Without Borders (RSF) named China as the world's "biggest jailer of press freedom defenders" in 2021 with more than 120 detained in the communist state, "often in life-threatening conditions."
Chinese authorities also used the COVID pandemic to crack down on journalists reporting facts that do not align with the CCP's narrative. As of the release of the report in April, seven journalists were taken after they covered the COVID pandemic in China. Among them was former lawyer and journalist Zhang Zhan.
More than 450 social media users in China were also briefly detained by Chinese authorities for sharing what the communist regime deemed as "false rumors" about COVID.