A Brookline resident, who was a former political prisoner in China and human rights activist, appears to have been detained in Hong Kong as of today, as he tried to make his way into China before the Olympics. In my e-mail in-box, I just received this news from the Initiatives for China, located in Boston.
At approximately 3:00pm Hong Kong time...Dr. Yang Jianli, Harvard Senior Fellow, survivor of the 1989 Tienanmen Square Massacre, former political prisoner, and President of Initiatives for China, was blocked from entering Hong Kong on his way to a humanitarian mission on Mainland China. He is currently held in a detention cell at Hong Kong Airport in violation of his rights as a Chinese citizen with a valid Chinese passport, and also under article 12 of the UN Covenant for Human and Civil Rights to which the Chinese government is a signatory. Please contact your representatives to demand his release and your colleagues and associates to do the same." The site went on to describe Yang as "a former political prisoner who served five years in jail in China for "espionage". He refused early release and served his full sentence so he would retain the right to a Chinese passport. Dr. Yang was released in April 2007 and returned to his home in Brookline, MA in August 1007. Dr. Yang is a legal resident of the United States. Dr. Yang had previously entered Hong Kong as recently as March 2008 without incident.
The news isn't shocking given Yang's outspoken views and the timing of his visit just two days before the Olympic opening ceremonies. Still, if he is being detained in Hong Kong, which is under the Chinese jurisdiction, it is yet another example of how China hopes to stop any sign of political disruption during the games. Updates to follow on what happens to Yang.