Tiananmen Square crackdown

Chinese-Australian artist to be deported after detention in Beijing

Guo Jian was taken into a 15-day custody on a visa-related matter, Beijing tells Canberra

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 June, 2014, 11:35am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 June, 2014, 12:09pm

A Chinese-born Australian artist detained in Beijing before the 25th anniversary of the June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown will be deported after 15 days in custody, Australia said on Friday.

Guo Jian, a former protester in the 1989 student-led pro-democracy movement, was taken from his home in suburban Beijing by Chinese authorities on Sunday night after a profile of him appeared in the Financial Times newspaper in commemoration of the anniversary of the crackdown.

“Chinese authorities have advised that Mr Guo was detained on a visa-related matter,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement.

“We understand Mr Guo will be detained for 15 days and then required to depart China,” it said, adding that the Australian government would provide consular help during his detention.

The department said consular officials were allowed to visit Guo in Beijing.

The detention of Guo, 52, was part of a string of detentions of artists, lawyers, scholars and journalists ahead of the Tiananmen anniversary amid intense government efforts to deter coverage by international media of its remembrance.

Guo, a former soldier who was studying art in Beijing in 1989, had been swept into the student protests at the time and witnessed the military crackdown that began on the night of June 3 that year.

Discussions of the protest and its military suppression are taboo in China, and authorities tighten security ahead of the anniversary each year.

But this year’s suppression was harsher than in previous years, as police rounded up activists who had received only warnings in the past.

The run-up to the anniversary was marked by the detention of at least 66 rights activists, according to rights group Amnesty International.

Authorities on Thursday released on bail three activists – dissident writers Liu Di and Hu Shigen, and government think-tank researcher Xu Youyu – who had been detained for a month for attending a meeting to commemorate the protests.