Sun, Jan 15, 2012 - Page 11 News List

Chinese Christian dissident opts to stay in US as exile

Reuters, BEIJING

One of China’s most prominent Christian dissidents, Yu Jie (余杰), has gone into exile to the US after he said he was tortured in a crackdown on dissent, he said on Friday.

Yu said he would give a detailed account of the abuse and beating he suffered in detention, probably when he testifies before a US congressional panel planned for next week.

He said his treatment deteriorated sharply after his fellow dissident, Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

“My circumstances dramatically worsened and I experienced extremely cruel torture,” Yu said by telephone from near Washington.

“A few days before the ceremony awarding Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Prize, I was kidnapped and several people stripped me and beat me to the point where I collapsed and had to be taken to hospital,” he said.

Afterward, Yu said, he suffered from months of memory loss, sleeplessness and pain.

Liu was convicted in 2009 on charges of inciting subversion and sentenced to 11 years in jail. His jailing and the house arrest of his wife, Liu Xia (劉霞), have become the focus of an international outcry over China’s punishment of dissent.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is preparing for a leadership handover late this year, when its determination to fend off political challenges to its rule is likely to intensify.

Yu’s testimony could focus attention on that crackdown ahead of a planned visit to the US by Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), who is likely to succeed Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).

Yu’s writings have been banned in China for more than five years. However, before that he drew nationwide attention as a member of a cohort of young essayists who challenged CCP-blessed orthodoxies.

A Christian since 2002 or 2003, the 38-year-old has also criticized the government’s closures of “house churches” that refuse to accept official controls.

“Before I left, a senior officer with state security told me that I’d be allowed to go to the United States and return, but I should know that if I do things in the US that they don’t like, they won’t let me back,” Yu said.

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