Thu, Nov 29, 2018 - Page 1 News List

Prominent Chinese photographer taken by cops, wife says

AP, BEIJING

Chinese photographer Lu Guang attends the Pingyao International Photography Festival in Pingyao, China, on Sept. 20, 2014.

Photo: Reuters

Lu Guang’s (盧廣) photographs exposed the everyday realities of people on the margins of Chinese society: coal miners, drug addicts, HIV patients. Now, the award-winning photographer is at the center of his own stark story.

Lu was taken away by state security agents three weeks ago for unknown reasons, his wife, Xu Xiaoli (徐小莉), told reporters late on Tuesday.

Lu was traveling in Xinjiang on Nov. 3 when she lost contact with him, Xu said.

He had connected with photographers one week before in Urumqi and was scheduled to meet a friend in Sichuan Province on Nov. 5, but he never showed up, she said.

A friend of Xu helped her inquire about her husband’s whereabouts in his home province of Zhejiang, where authorities said that Lu and a fellow photographer had been taken away by Xinjiang state security.

They did not give any further details, the friend told Xu.

“I know that he wouldn’t have done anything illegal,” Xu, 45, said in a telephone interview from New York City, where she is studying art design and raising their child.

Xinjiang’s propaganda department did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment.

When asked about Lu during a regular briefing yesterday, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Geng Shuang (耿爽) said he was not aware of the situation.

Lu won first prize in the World Press Photo contest for a series on poor Chinese villagers who became infected with HIV after selling their own blood to eke out a living.

His photos tackle gritty subjects, such as pollution and industrial environmental destruction — issues traditionally avoided by the Chinese press because they risk punishment for exposing societal problems that the government might consider sensitive.

However, Lu never had problems with the police before, Xu said, adding that she was not aware of any photography projects he had planned for his Xinjiang trip.

“He has a strong sense of social responsibility,” she said. “He believed, after confronting the faces of the destitute, that there were things that people should know. At the very least, he believed that [his photos] might motivate them to help others, to trigger change and make things better.”

Lu’s profile on the World Press Photo Web site says he is the recipient of numerous other photography honors, including Germany’s Henri Nannen Prize in Photography and a National Geographic Photography Grant.

Lu was the first photographer from China to be invited by the US Department of State as a visiting academic, it said.

Xu said she believes it was Lu’s first visit to Xinjiang.

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