Chinese dissident’s son barred from study in Australia
An 18-year-old Chinese student intending to study at Melbourne University was on Monday barred from leaving the country because his mother is a prominent human rights lawyer.
Migration officers at Tianjin Airport cut up the passport of Bao Zhuoxuan in front of him — on instruction, they said, from State Security Ministry colleagues in Hohhot in Inner Mongolia, where the family lives.
His father, Bao Longjun, asked The Australian by phone: “What has our son done wrong, to stop him going to study?
‘‘What crime has he committed to place him under such persecution?”
The reason given to the young man by the officers at the airport was that “your departure may jeopardise state security, so you’re not allowed to leave China”.
His mother, Wang Yu, 46, who works with the Beijing-based Fengrui law firm, is one of 300 human rights lawyers and support staff arrested in a nationwide sweep on July 9, 2015.
Ms Wang, a commercial lawyer who switched her focus following a verbal dispute with a railway official for which she was jailed for “intentional assault”, was eventually charged, after lengthy detention, with subverting state power, like many other lawyers.
She defended Ilham Toti, a Uighur intellectual, the “Feminist Five” women’s rights group, and followers of Falun Gong.
State news agency Xinhua described her as “this arrogant woman with a criminal record, blabbering about the rule of law, human rights and justice, roaming around under the flag of ‘defending rights’ ”.
The American Bar Association gave her its inaugural International Human Rights Award, in absentia.
Its president, Paulette Brown, said: “We recognise her important work to protect human rights and to advocate that the Chinese government respect the independence of the judiciary and the legal pro- fession, and observe fair trial and due process standards.”
Ms Wang was released at the end of last year after giving an apparently coerced televised “confession” that she had been used by foreign enemies to undermine China’s reputation.
She and her husband — who had also been arrested — agreed as a condition of their release, in discussion with Inner Mongolian State Security officers, that they would cease their public advocacy.
But Mr Bao said they considered that this agreement had now been broken, as a result of the punishment inflicted on their son.
The son had passed the International English Language Testing System examination, and was going to fly first to Tokyo to stay with friends as he awaited the hoped-for offer from Melbourne University.
He already has offers from three other Australian universities.
His parents were accompanying him at Tianjin Airport.
Shortly before the parents were held in the nationwide raid on lawyers two years ago, the son had gone to Beijing International Airport to fly to Australia.
The family had earlier arranged for him to complete his high school education in Australia.
But on this earlier occasion he was also barred from departing, and was taken by police to nearby Tianjin, where he was questioned, and his face was slapped.
He was escorted back to Hohhot — where he stayed with his grandmother after his parents were detained.
The Australian contacted the State Security Ministry in Hohhot to comment about this week’s airport incident, but the ministry has so far not responded.