Radio host talks fugitives into jail

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 September, 2005, 12:00am

Radio host Xiang Fei received a shocking message when she was in Sichuan earlier this month, on her way to visit a man whom she persuaded to surrender to police seven months ago.

The text message on a mobile phone, reading, 'I want you to help my life or death', was sent by Yu Zhaoming. He was wanted for killing his wife during a fight six years ago before fleeing to Guangzhou and Zhejiang , leaving his three children behind in Jiangxi .

Watching the China National Radio late-night talkback-show host describe on television how she had moved two fugitive criminals to surrender to police, Yu thought Xiang could also help him.

After 13 days of counselling by Xiang, the 36-year-old turned himself in to Beijing police last Sunday.

'He only knew me from television. He had never listened to my show, so he didn't know much about me,' explained Xiang, who has been a radio host for more than 10 years.

'I put a great deal of effort into building up his trust in me, so that he would believe my words were in his best interest.'

They once talked on the phone for three hours until Xiang's mobile phone battery eventually ran out.

In February, Gu Haijun, who had been on the run after murdering a workmate 12 years ago, sought help from Xiang after listening to her programme about picking the right path in life. Gu, who is now awaiting trial in Sichuan, decided to turn himself in to Beijing police after 13 days of persuasion from Xiang.

Learning of Gu's experience from radio, Yuan Bingtao, on the run since stabbing his wife and killing her lover in 2001, sent a message to Xiang two months later. Yuan, whose trial is scheduled to begin in Shaanxi on Tuesday, surrendered to police after a week's contact with Xiang.

'The most important thing is my attitude towards them,' Xiang said. 'I treat them as normal people and respect them. They have very low self-esteem.

'Physically, they are stronger than I am. They can pose a threat to me, but they are all very weak psychologically. The reason they come to me is I'm psychologically stronger than they are.'

Xiang is still in contact with her three listeners, now behind bars, and their families by exchanging letters once a month.

The talkback-show host said the three had set an example to others on the run after committing similar crimes and she would continue to extend a helping hand to others if needed.