In Guangzhou recently, the German TV station Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) was interviewing a young man about Southern Weekly when a team of plainclothes police allegedly swooped in and smuggled him into a white van. The description on the YouTube video from channel ChinaNewsChannal suggests that the officers kidnapped the man, Jiang Di, because he was giving the interview. Jiang had said — and this is all recorded — he hopes China’s papers, including Southern Weekly, can be more like foreign media, report the truth, and not compromise. There’s nothing there that’s very controversial, all things considered.
The last words he reportedly said were, “In fact I’m not afraid, not afraid.”
I saw this video earlier, and all the red flags went up. (I’m posting it now because the Washington Post’s Max Fisher just went ahead with the story, so it’s sure to be everywhere soon.) We know the Public Security Bureau does on occasion arrest people by throwing them into unmarked vehicles, but would they really do it in broad daylight in front of foreign media that’s conspicuously filming? No matter what you think of these PSB strongmen – sclerotic, cretinous, repugnant — you have to admit it seems unlikely they’d kidnap a citizen for giving an interview… right? Something else is going on here… right?
I don’t know. Let’s open it up for discussion. Especially if you’re German, lend us your two cents.
UPDATE, 11:24 pm: From Jo Floto, BBC’s Asia Bureau Chief in Beijing:
@beijingcream yes they did. Several times last week.
— Jo (@JoFloto) January 15, 2013
UPDATE, 1/16, 12:14 am (h/t Jonathan Alpart): According to a ZDF article published January 11 (it’s in German, so I’m relying on Google Translate here), the above incident happened on Thursday, January 10. Jiang Di told ZDF he was detained and interrogated for nine hours, but did not specify what he was asked. Then he was released.
The PSB officers apparently only moved in on Jiang after the cameras stopped rolling. The ZDF cameraman, judging by the video, then resumed filming.