Ahead of its National People’s Congress (NPC) which opens in Beijing on Friday and which places some under house arrest and taking others out of toown on enforced “vacations” under police surveillance, the ruling Communist Party (CCP) has tightened control of leading dissidents and rights activists.
Bao Tong, the late-out Premier Zhao Ziyang’s former political assistant was advised not to give interviews or comment online for the duration of the annual NPC session; a person familiar with the situation informed RFA.
“A couple of days ago the department in question contacted Bao Tong and told him to write nothing and not speak to the media,” said Bao Tong. “No tweets or articles.”
Outspoken political veteran reporter Gao Yu said she had received a similar warning and was going to remain under police guards during the NPC session in her home in Beijing.
“I was notified by the department concerned that a surveillance team would be put into my yard,” Gao told RFA. “That’s what [on Monday] they told me.”
Meanwhile, in the suburbs of the provincial capital, Guiyang, members of the prominent forum for debate on rights in the south-western province of Guizhou were compelled to take “vacations” before the NPC session
“Saturday, State Security Police called me to tell me that I had to come in to hear about the situation,” Mr Li Renke, member of the Guizhou Human Rights Forum, told RFA.
“They told me that they’d take me away at noon Tuesday and I’d get ready,” he said in a pre-departure interview. “They told me that I couldn’t bring my cellphone, and that if I cooperated with them at present, it would be better for me.”
Li said that he fully anticipates that other forum members will be subject to similar measures.
“I guess the others are going to be in the same situation exactly,” he said. “This is a coordinated operation, so definitely they will be taken out of the city.”
Zeng Ning, Huang Yanming, Liao Shuangyuan, Wu Yuqin, Shen Youlian and Yang Shaozheng also stated that they were likely to be targeting for enforced “vacations.”
“This is likely to last for about eight to ten days,” Li said.
Meanwhile, the Beijing authorities have reduced the length of the annual session of the NPC and of the advisory body of the China People’s Political Consultative Conference (CCPPC) which opens Thursday and postponed the return of high school students from the Lunar New Year to 15 March.
“The meeting’s length has been shortened,” said Gao Yu. “The CPPCC will open on 4 March and the NPC will be finished on 11 March.”