Chinese Government Critic Arrested in His Own Home During Live TV Interview: Report

"I have my freedom of speech," the retired professor told police. Then, the phone line went dead.



A retired Chinese professor was doing a live TV interview via telephone yesterday when police reportedly entered his home and arrested him.

Wenguang Sun, who used to teach at Shandong University, has been a harsh critic of Chinese President Xi Jinping's government. During a panel discussion yesterday on a Voice of America (VOA) Mandarin show called Issues & Opinions, Sun took issue with how much money China spends on foreign aid to Africa. The government should use those funds to help its own people instead, he said.

A recording from VOA, which is funded by the U.S. government, reveals what transpires next:

"Here they come again. The police are here to interrupt again," Sun says in Chinese, according to VOA's translation. He then addresses the police officers directly. "Did I say anything wrong? Listen to what I say—is it wrong? People are poor. Let's not throw our money in Africa….Throwing away money like this is of no good to our country and society."

Sun raises his voice as he appears to grow more concerned. 'What are you doing? What are you doing?" he asks police. "Let me tell you, it's illegal for you to come to my home. I have my freedom of speech." At that point, the phone line goes dead. According to VOA News, sources in China's Shandong province, where Sun lives, say he was placed under house arrest.

While "Sun was on a live telephone interview from his home, he reported to the VOA anchor that local police had forcibly entered his residence and demanded he end the interview," VOA spokeswoman Bridget Serchak said in a statement. "When professor Sun refused, the phone line went dead on live television. Subsequent efforts by VOA to re-engage with him for this interview have been unsuccessful."

Sun's apparent arrest came not long after he penned an open letter urging Xi to rethink China's foreign aid practices. It's not the first time he's voiced disagreement with his government. The New York Times reports:

Mr. Sun has a long history of antagonizing the Chinese government, including as one of the original signatories of Charter 08, a pro-democracy manifesto that was quickly suppressed. That document brought a lengthy prison sentence for one of its authors, Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize while jailed and died last year. Mr. Sun said his passport application was rejected in 2010 shortly before the Nobel ceremony, which he had planned to attend.

It's not terribly surprising that the Chinese government is silencing critics like Sun. The nonprofit group Reporters Without Borders ranks China 176th out of 180 countries in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index. According to the group, "members of the public can now be jailed for the comments on a news item that they post on a social network or messaging service or even just for sharing content."

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  1. “members of the public can now be jailed for the comments on a news item that they post on a social network or messaging service or even just for sharing content.”

    Like the UK, the Chinese government knows that some content is too dangerous to be allowed out there willy-nilly. They have the safety of the public herd to consider.

  2. It’s interesting how Reason will talk about guys in China but won’t mention this one guy from Twitter who had something dumb happen to him for some dumb reason. A bunch of hypocrites is what Reason is.

    1. Hey, the NYT is backing their newest hire for her history of racist tweets.

    2. ^ THIS

      This is exactly like Kevin Williamson being fired from the Atlantic or something. Also, that Gunn guy or something.

      1. Oh yeah! Thanks for mentioning those other dumb things that happened on Twitter for dumb reasons. I completely forgot about how much they need to be talked about.

  3. Preet Bharara must be turning green with jealousy. Such power. Just think what he could do with it.

    1. He wouldn’t hesitate to throw your libertarian ass in jail.

    2. Nah, our Red Guard is smart enough to wait until the interview is over before killing the guy and claiming that he was resisting arrest or something.

  4. But, what about the collusion?

    1. Duh, the Russians put the Chinese up to this

  5. B…b…but…Article 35 of the Constitution of the PRC says: Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.

    1. Oh wait, I need to read to Article 41: Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have the right to criticize and make suggestions regarding any State organ or functionary. Citizens have the right to make to relevant State organs complaints or charges against, or exposures of, any State organ or functionary for violation of law or dereliction of duty; but fabrication or distortion of facts for purposes of libel or false incrimination is prohibited.

      Gets’em every time.

      1. Why do you think so many Western powers-that-be are all hot about fake news?

  6. I have my freedom of speech.

    It’s cute that he thinks that. Or that China throwing money at Africa is about anything more than enriching the Party.

    1. Oh, but he does.
      Sadly, there is nothing you have that cannot be taken from you.

  7. The Chinese experience has really put a damper on the notion that if we just trade with brutal regimes eventually they’ll change their ways.

    The trade argument about maintaining peace still holds, though

    1. And not trading with them accomplishes what again?

      1. Demand that they lower trade restrictions or no good Google services….

        1. Isn’t that Google’s choice, not the government’s?

          1. Wait… I thought it was a trade war?

            1. How on earth is that responsive?
              Why is it not Google’s choice? Why is it the government’s?
              Any so-called trade war is irrelevant.

              1. If its a war, then government gets to fight that war.

                1. Non-responsive, and really quite stupid.
                  What constitutional authority does the government have to control Google in China?
                  To say nothing of what moral authority.
                  Google is a private company. The government is not permitted to operate it as if it were a government bureau. Not without a taking and consequent remedies.
                  The most it might’ve attempt under color of constitutional law, is block Google from doing business there entirely, and it’s very difficult to see how they could either justify such a move or, indeed, pull it off.
                  Taxes and tariffs can hurt Google, but that’s a different thing from directing how they do business.

                  1. Trade with foreign nations is regulated by Congress per the US constitution.

                    It should regulated as free trade but its not. Its certainly not free trade coming out of china.

                    Since we have managed trade because china refused Trumps offer of free trade, google is under usa regulation.

          2. When it involves foreign nations, no it is not. Especially nations that are hostile to us. Certainly we trade with China (and have treaties and everything!), but China is biding it’s time while stealing as much technology as humanly possible from U.S. firms and we all sort of collectively shrug and say it’ll be the next administrations problem.

            Or are you in favor of, say, Lockheed Martin selling F-35 plans to China? Or General Electric selling plans for uranium enrichment equipment to North Korea?

            1. Some people, like Knott, demand the USA cannot defend itself or represent its interests.

              All trade is evidently in a vacuum.

      2. You can support trade and still realize that it’s not a panacea for all the world’s problems.

        It does not seem to liberalize countries, which doesn’t mean that there are no benefits, just that liberalization isn’t one of them

    2. Not when you consider that they used to be far worse and today are pretty darn *liberal* compared to, say, the 1970’s.

      Of course, currently there seems to be an upswing in power-hungry strong-men taking control in countries all over the world, including China.

      1. The Chinese are better than during the Cultural Revolution, which is a low bar to clear

        1. Look, they’ve murdered only a fraction of the political enemies that they were murdering a few decades ago!

          -Modern American Leftists

  8. WHAT, the Commies don’t like dissent? Color me surprised.

    I thought we Americans were just supposed to buy their cheap crap, let them steal our technology, and cater our internet platforms to help them crack down on dissenters.

    1. There is no “we.”
      There is no “our.”
      You’ve gone full-blown collectivist.

      1. You want ‘we’ Americans to do what you want. You have been non-Libertarian for some time.

        1. How long have you been suffering from TFS? Because it’s gotten really obvious over the last two months.

          1. What’s TFS?

            Is that like TDS but from a Lefty who is so upset that they try and flip-the-script but fail miserably?

        2. Cites required to support that accusation.
          The only thing I want ‘we’ Americans to do is follow the NAP. Leave people alone, to flourish or not as it may be.
          You are all about conflating the disparate and disjoint into collectives, and dictating behavior based on your fantasies.

          1. The NAP allows one to defend oneself from attack.

            1. And from there it’s just a short step to considering everything an attack.

              1. ‘Attack’ is pretty self-explanatory.

                Excuses for warfare are a dime a dozen though.

          2. The only thing I want ‘we’ Americans to do is follow the NAP. Leave people alone, to flourish or not as it may be.

            So, you’re saying we should suspend all trade with China given their record on the environment, the treatment of their own people, their attitudes towards American intellectual property and patents, not to mention their belligerence towards neighboring countries that just so happen to be our allies? Oh, not to mention their belligerence towards us in particular.

            Good to know, except that you made the opposite point for some reason. Tell me, is it not a violation of the NAP to hand someone a gun and a thousand dollars to murder your neighbor? According to you, it is absolutely fine and in line with the NAP. I contend that it is not.

  9. This is the same Communist Party in charge of China that sent tanks and military troops into Tiananmen Square shooting thousands of protesters.

    That was 1989, only 31 short years ago.

      1. LC is Titor!

        1. I never even heard of that dude, John Titor. Nice one.

      2. yeah, 29 years. Not a good math day.

  10. According to the group, “members of the public can now be jailed for the comments on a news item that they post on a social network or messaging service or even just for sharing content.”

    *clears throat nervously*

  11. “Let me tell you, it’s illegal for you to come to my home. I have my freedom of speech.”

    In an exchange during the Marc Lemire case, lead CHRC investigator Dean Steacy was asked “What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate?” Steacy responded:

    MS KULASZKA: Mr. Steacy, you were talking before about context and how important it is when you do your investigation. What value do you give freedom of speech when you investigate one of these complaints?

    MR. STEACY: Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.

    MS KULASZKA: Okay. That was a clear answer.

    MR. STEACY: It’s not my job to give value to an American concept.

  12. How many worldly awoken liberals think Xi is literally Hitler?

    1. My money is on zero.

      For some reason, Lefties are leery of openly supporting the Communist Party in China.

  13. Look, I only want the answer to one question: is China still making cheap iPhones?

    /Typical American

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