(TibetanReview.net, Mar21’16) – A Chinese journalist suspected to be linked to an open letter signed in the name simply of “loyal party members”, calling on President Xi Jinping to resign, has disappeared while on his way to board a flight from Beijing to Hong Kong to give a university talk, said the Cantonese Service of Radio Free Asia (Washington) Mar 18. The letter was posted on the news website Watching News, which is partially government owned, after it was hacked.
The journalist, 41-year-old Jia Jia, was last reported to have made a phone call at 8:00 PM at Beijing International Airport shortly after he had gone through immigration and was waiting to board a flight to Hong Kong. However, he failed to turn up at the Hong Kong City University on Mar 16 where he was booked to give a talk.
His wife was reported to have tried to call him back 15 minutes later, but Jia’s phone had been switched off by then. It remains unclear whether he was detained in the Beijing airport departure lounge or after he arrived in Hong Kong.
According to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Jia had told friends that police were looking for him in relation to the Mar 4 open letter, visiting homes of several of his relatives to ask about his level of involvement with the letter.
The letter was reported to have accused Xi of abandoning a decades-long consensus of collective leadership at the highest echelons of the ruling Chinese Communist Party and concentrating power in his own hands.
Watching News is said to be jointly owned by the private Chinese companies SEEC Media Group and Alibaba, and the government of Xinjiang. The appearance of the letter on a partially government owned website was reported to have sent shock waves through the Chinese media.
It was not clear how the authorities determined that Jia might be involved in writing or posting that letter. He and his friends were reported to have called up Watching News to take it down as soon as they saw the letter posted on its website by a hacker.
Jai was reported to be not a harsh critic of the government.
Jia, based in Beijing, had recently worked a number of freelance jobs including writing a column at online media portal Tencent and editing news for the Initium Media website.