China accused by Amnesty of targeting Chinese students abroad for activism

China accused by Amnesty of targeting Chinese students abroad for activism
China accused by Amnesty of targeting Chinese students abroad for activism

The NGO accuses Beijing of carrying out “transnational repression”, based on interviews conducted with dozens of Chinese studying in eight countries in Europe and North America.

Beijing is targeting Chinese people studying abroad because of their political activism, the NGO Amnesty International said on Monday, May 13, with some reporting cases of harassment of members of their family in China.

In a report, Amnesty accuses Beijing of carrying out “transnational repression”, based on interviews with dozens of Chinese students studying in eight countries in Europe and North America.

China does not tolerate political dissent and uses sophisticated technological tools, even physical intimidation, to act on its territory. Interviewed students who had attended events such as the Tiananmen commemoration abroad said their family members had been threatened, Amnesty reported.

“Threats to family members in mainland China included having their passports revoked, being fired from their jobs, not being able to get promoted or receive retirement benefits, or even limiting their physical freedom,” it said. affirmed the NGO.

Stress, paranoia and depression

Students interviewed also claimed to have been banned from posting messages on Chinese social networks and to being monitored there. However, these platforms are often the only means of communicating with family remaining in China due to the blocking of certain applications on the Chinese internet.

One student told the NGO that police showed his parents “transcripts of his WeChat (a Chinese messaging app) conversations with family members.”

Survey participants reported practicing self-censorship in class and social interactions, and complained of mental health concerns caused by the feeling of being watched, citing conditions ranging from “stress and trauma to paranoia and depression.

“I would really like to publish my thesis (…) but I am worried, so I have chosen not to do it,” lamented a student.

“A climate of fear on university campuses”

Beijing did not immediately react to Amnesty International’s report. China, however, rejects accusations that it targets nationals living abroad, saying it respects the sovereignty of other countries and acts within the law.

A report published last year by Freedom House, an independent but largely state-funded organization, reported cases of “transnational repression, including pressure on other states to forcibly extradite members of the Uighur minority.

According to Amnesty International, Beijing’s targeting of students has “created a climate of fear on university campuses in Western Europe and North America, which has had a negative impact on students’ human rights.”

“The impact of China’s transnational repression poses a serious threat to the free exchange of ideas that is at the heart of academic freedom,” said Sarah Brooks, director of Amnesty International’s China program.

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