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Family of detained Chinese NGO worker Cheng Yuan reaches US

The wife and five-year-old daughter of detained human rights advocate Cheng Yuan were allowed to leave China after lengthy negotiations and have arrived in the United States.

Cheng and his colleagues, Liu Yongze and Wuge Jianxiong, remain in custody in China. They were charged in 2019 with “inciting subversion of state power” due to their work at Changsha Funeng, a Chinese grassroots non-governmental organization which provided legal advice in public health and discrimination cases.

The state has not granted them any meetings with defense lawyers hired by their families, and it is not known when their cases will be heard in court.

On Thursday, Cheng’s wife Shi Minglei announced on her Facebook page that she and her daughter had reached Texas. She thanked the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Consulate and also American nonprofit ChinaAid for negotiating and lobbying on behalf of the family.

“As celebrations continue through the night this Lunar New Year, I made the extremely difficult decision to leave with my daughter. So we embarked on this long journey leading us away from home during a pandemic. Each obstacle was followed by another. I was crippled by loneliness, by fear and pain,” she wrote. “And the moment I left China, my heart was overwhelmed by sadness and anguish and I just cried.”

Shi continued to say that she wished to tell the world to cherish their freedom and their lives, as her husband and his two co-workers might never regain theirs. She said that the family would not give up the fight until the three obtained their rights to representation and a fair trial.

“We as relatives will not shut up, until we see the Changsha trio released,” she wrote.

Changsha Funeng is known for its work in public interest law, launching court cases to fight for disability and discrimination rights.

Cheng, Liu and Wuge are all held by the Changsha State Security Bureau. Shi was also under close surveillance before she left for the States.

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