Employee of Japanese newspaper arrested in China for 'picking quarrels'

"Picking quarrels and provoking trouble” – a controversial and vague charge for which offenders can be jailed for up to 10 years – given as the reason for detention, Nihon Keizai newspaper said

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 May, 2014, 3:08pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 May, 2014, 4:46pm


More on this story

A Japanese financial newspaper confirmed to the South China Morning Post today its Chinese news assistant in Chongqing had been detained.

The authorities handed a “so-called notification of detention” to the family of the assistant, a mother-of-one who has been named as Xin Jian by her husband, on Monday afternoon,

The document named “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” – a controversial and vague charge for which offenders can be jailed for up to 10 years – as the reason for detention, the Nihon Keizai newspaper (NIKKEI) told the Post.

The newspaper issued a brief report on its website yesterday saying its Chinese assistant was taken away by local police from her apartment in Chongqing on May 13 to assist with the ongoing investigation of detained human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang.

Earlier this month Pu, who took part in the pro-democracy protests in 1989, was criminally detained on the same charge as the news assistant after attending a May 3 seminar marking the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen crackdown.

His niece, together with a Beijing-based NGO worker and former journalist who was reportedly close to him, were also placed in detention.

“The only thing we can do at this moment is to confirm the facts [about the detention] … We cannot predict what charges the [mainland] authorities will press on our assistant,” the newspaper told the Post.

NIKKEI added it had yet to be officially informed about the detention by the mainland authorities.

Wang Haichun, the husband of the detained news assistant, posted his phone number and home address on Weibo after receiving the detention notification, asking microbloggers to take care of his family if he himself was detained.

“Both Xin Jian’s parents and I could not stand her detention any more. I plan to release some information tomorrow. And please help me take care of my family if I disappear,” his Monday post read.

But Wang told the Post on Tuesday the authority had already “talked” to him, and he would not release further information on Xin’s detention because he feared it would “infuriate” the authorities.

“Both I and my parents-in-law are worried if she may be treated improperly there [at the detention centre],” he said.

Wang quit his job in Chongqing after Xin was taken to a detention centre in Beijing and flew to the capital. “But I could not meet her in person,” he said.

He Zhengsheng, the mainland lawyer of murdered British businessman Neil Heywood, had been hired to represent Xin, Wang added.

Two weeks into her detention, Wang wrote of a dream he had had about the release of his wife on Weibo yesterday. “We drove home in silence ... She told us how bad the meals and the TV programmes were at the detention centre as if it was not a big deal.”

Xin posted on Sina Weibo a day before her detention: “May has been a sad month to me. Since 2008, I’ve witnessed so many separations in this month ... Those who have met me in May, I hope you are safe wherever you are. Life is always unpredictable. But I believe love will never fade.”

Her Weibo account has not been updated since May 13.