The U.S. State Department is calling on China to respect the freedom of a Chinese rights lawyer linked to the defense of one of 12 pro-democracy activists who attempted to flee Hong Kong for Taiwan in a small boat.
“We remain alarmed by human rights violations and abuses in China and call on the PRC (People’s Republic of China) to respect the fundamental freedoms to which their citizens are entitled consistent with China’s international obligations and commitments,” a State Department spokesperson told VOA on Thursday via email.
Chinese human rights lawyer Lu Siwei told VOA Mandarin by phone on May 10 that two days earlier he had been barred from leaving the country. Officers at Shanghai Pudong Airport kept him from boarding a Delta Air Lines flight to the U.S. where he was to participate in the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program, a one-year nondegree course of study for midcareer professionals sponsored by the State Department.
Lu did not specify where he was expecting to pursue the fellowship, and program administrators have not replied to VOA requests for information about Lu’s situation and the participation of Chinese officials. A request for comment to China’s embassy in Washington has gone unanswered.
Hong Kong 12
Lu, who is based in Chengdu, Sichuan province, in western China, was one of two lawyers who represented 12 Hong Kong residents, the so-called Hong Kong 12, after they were intercepted at sea by Chinese authorities as they tried to flee to Taiwan on August 23, 2020.
In January, the Sichuan Provincial Judicial Department revoked his license to practice law and the Sichuan Provincial Lawyers Association, a government-controlled entity, revoked his membership.
In March, Sichuan authorities banned Lu from going to Beijing to obtain a visa at the U.S. Embassy and warned he would not be allowed to leave China.