In January, a video of a Chinese woman chained by her neck in a cold, in shack went viral. The woman was allegedly abducted and trafficked, then physically and mentally abused, and forced to give birth to eight children. It has aroused widespread public outrage.
The video was filmed by a vlogger in Feng County, rural Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. It shows a woman standing in a shack wearing only a thin, pink sweater despite the visibly freezing temperatures outside.
The woman appeared in a daze and did not seem to understand what was happening around her. The only thing she tried to tell the vlogger was: “This world doesn’t want me anymore.”
After the heart-wrenching video went viral, many activists attempted to help Yang, but most were met with resistance or arrest at the hands of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) authorities.
Now, Vision Times is shedding light on one of those activists in an exclusive interview. The man involved is Mr. Li — a Chinese national who now lives in Japan.
Li, who went under an alias for fear of reprisal from the Chinese communist regime, told the Japanese edition of Vision Times that he was moved to action after watching footage of the Xuzhou chained mother. Li then organized a team of activists to go to Feng County to help Yang.
Li said: “I first saw the video of the chained woman in February 2022. I was very angry at the time, and believed that the incident had struck a chord with people on a universal level.”
Li continued: “I then set up a group on WeChat, urging like-minded people to connect and figure out ways on how we could help her.”
Li recalls that after one of the posts received over 40,000 views in a single day, over a thousand internet users showed interest in visiting Feng County.
After that post went viral, Li arranged for volunteers to travel to Jiangsu Province on Feb. 22. However, before the group could even meet up in Feng County, Domestic Security officers stopped him midway and crushed the plan. They had followed him all the way from his village.
Li then described how the police had taken him to a jail where he had been detained in a windowless room. The room has just a bed, a tiny table, some stools, and a restroom. Even though it didn’t appear to be a prison, he said that he could not go anywhere since the door was locked from the outside.
Food was given and garbage was collected regularly. However, he had nothing to do, so I asked for a book to read. At first, the guards did not allow it. But as Li persisted, saying that he at least needed something to do, a staffer finally gave him a few books.
Li said: “In the following days, I spent the whole time reading.”
While in detention, Li also recalled seeing a chalkboard in one of the offices with terms like “maintaining stability” inscribed on it. This term refers to the Party’s excuses for the use of stringent social measures and censorship.
Li said: “I remember seeing phrases like ‘ideological construction of colleges and universities,’ ‘management of Xinjiang-related individuals,’ ‘people of interest living overseas,’ and ‘terrorism-related individuals…'”
He also saw many tasks set up by the National Security Office. This is the department that drafts “management” rules for people under current watch by China’s Ministry of Public Security.
Li said that guards would check on him every day. They would record their conversations. Later, a different team of officers would review the transcripts to make sure the details he was providing them were accurate.
He asked the staff what they would do to him. They were first evasive, but after a few days, they hinted that they would probably release him following the Two Sessions. Two Sessions refer to the yearly gathering of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress.
Six days after the Two Sessions were finalized, Li was released.
He said: “At that time, I felt that I could no longer stay in China, so I came back to Japan.”
He was released in late March after spending roughly a month in Chinese detention.
Reflecting on the case, he thought his phone must have been hacked. And as such, his whereabouts and correspondence were constantly monitored and tracked.
He added: “Even if your phone is turned off and airplane mode is enabled, the real-time location of that phone can still be monitored.”
According to Li, Chinese surveillance and facial recognition technologies are also very developed now.
Li also believes that the authorities may have been alerted about his posts on WeChat channels.
Two other volunteers traveling with him to Feng County have also been arrested. Their current status is unknown.
Li said: “I’ve been trying to get an update on their situations but haven’t been able to.”