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Hollywood star and Interpol chief among those missing



It is not unusual for people who oppose the government to disappear in China, but the scope of the "disappeared" has increased since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2013.

Not just dissidents and activists , but also senior officials, Marxists, foreigners and even a movie star – people who have never publicly opposed the ruling Communist Party – were taken away by police to unknown destinations.

The expansion of the advertising network puts a strain on the lengths at which Xi's administration is willing to maintain control and authority.

A look at some of the missing persons in 2018 at the hands of the Chinese state.

FOREIGN COUNTRIES

China threatened "Serious consequences" if Canada did not release the hi-tech executive Meng Wanzhou, shortly after that the head of the Huawei was detained in Vancouver in December for possible extradition to the United States

The consequences materialized in a few days, when two Canadian men disappeared in China. Both have come into the hands of state security with the suspicion of endangering national security, a nebulous category of crimes that has been imposed on foreigners in recent years.

The former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was taken by authorities from a late evening Beijing road, a person who is familiar with his case said.

One consular visit per month is allowed and he has not been granted access to a lawyer, as is standard for state security cases.

Also detained is Michael Spavor, who organizes tours in North Korea from the border town of Dandong. China has not said whether their detentions are linked to Meng, but a similar scenario has taken place in the past.

A Canadian couple was detained in 201

4 for national security reasons shortly after Canada arrested Su Bin, a Chinese wanted for industrial espionage in the United States

Come Spavor, Kevin and Julia Garratt lived in Dandong, where they ran a famous coffee shop for almost a decade. They also worked with a Christian charity that provided food to North Korean refugees.

While Julia Garratt was released on bail, her husband was detained for more than two years before being deported in September 2016 – about two months after Su pleaded guilty in the United States

TAX-EVADING ACTOR

Fan Bingbing was living the dream of every starlet.

Since playing a decisive role at the age of 17, Fan has acted in dozens of movies and TV series, and has turned his success into modeling, fashion design and other initiatives that have made one of the highest paid celebrities in the world.

This made her a powerful icon of China's economic success, until the authorities reminded Fan – and her legion of admirers – that she too was not untouchable.

For about four months, Fan disappeared from public view. His Weibo social media account, which has more than 63 million followers, has remained silent.

His management office in Beijing was released. On his birthday, September 16, he arrived with a handful of greetings from the show's notables.

When he finally re-emerged, he apologized.

"I sincerely apologize to the company, to the friends who love me and take care of me, to the people and the tax office of the country," said Fan in a letter published on Weibo on October 3 .

He admitted to tax evasion. The Xinhua state news agency reported that Fan and its representative companies had been sentenced to pay fees and penalties totaling 900 million yuan ($ 181.1 million).

"Without the party and the great policies of the country, without the loving care of the people, do not be Fan Bingbing," he wrote, a warning to other Chinese celebrities.

Xinhua has agreed on his case: "Everyone is equal before the law, there are no" superstars "or" big shots. "No one can despise the law and hope to be lucky."

SECURITY INSIDER

Unlike many swallowed by China's opaque security equipment, Meng Hongwei knew exactly what to expect.

Meng, no in connection with the executive of Huawei, is a deputy minister of public security who was head of the Interpol, the organization based in France that facilitates police cooperation through the borders.

When he was appointed to the command, former human rights groups expressed concern that China would use Interpol as a tool to keep political enemies at bay around the world

Instead it is was captured by the security forces it represented.

In September, Meng became the last high-ranking official captured in Xi's anti-corruption campaign. The initiative is one of the main reasons of the wide popularity of the Chinese leader, but has been accused of using it to eliminate political rivals.

XI has undertaken to deal with high-level "tigers" and low-level "flies" in its repression. on grafting – a promise that he fulfilled by capturing prominent officials.

Meng had disappeared for weeks, before the Chinese authorities said he was under investigation for taking bribes and other crimes. A Chinese delegation handed a letter of resignation from Meng to Interpol's headquarters.

His wife, Grace Meng, told the AP not to believe the charges against her husband. The last message he sent was a knife emoji.

DARING PHOTOGRAPHER

Lu Guang left his mark by photographing the daily lives of HIV patients in central China. They were poor villagers who had contracted the virus after selling their blood to make a living – at a price of $ 7 a pint, they told Lu.

A former worker, Lu crossed the vast expanses of China to capture reality on its edge. He explored environmental degradation, industrial pollution and other gritty arguments generally avoided by Chinese journalists, who risk punishment if they pursue stories considered sensitive or overly critical.

His work earned him important awards such as the World Press Photo award, but his importance probably placed him on the radar of the government.

This November, Lu was traveling through Xinjiang, the extreme west region that deployed a vast security network in the name of fighting terrorism. He was participating in an exchange with other photographers, after which he would meet a friend in the nearby Sichuan province. It has never been presented.

More than a month after his death, his family was informed that he had been arrested in Xinjiang, according to his wife Xu Xiaoli. He refused to elaborate on the nature of the charges

STUDENT MARXIST

In the past, political activists imprisoned in China were mainly those who fought for democracy and the end of the one-party government. They represented a direct ideological threat to the Communist Party.

This year, the party focused on a new and surprising goal: young Marxists.

About 50 students and recent graduates from the country's most prestigious universities met in Shenzhen in August, an electronics production center, to gather factory workers who are trying to form a union.

Among these was Yue Xin, a twenty year old fresh out of Peking University. At the beginning of this year, it caused a sensation asking the elite school to release the results of its investigation into a case of decades-old rape

This time, she was one of the most influential personalities of the group for workers' rights, which appears in photographs with the fist raised in a Marxist salute and with a shirt that said "unity is strength" – the name of a communist Chinese patriotic song.

Yue, a passionate student of Marx and Mao Zedong, married the same values ​​as the party. He wrote an open letter to XI and the central leadership of the party that said all the wanted students were justice for Jasic Technology workers.

His letter quoted Xi's remarks: "We must adhere to the leading position of Marxism." Yue called Marx "our mentor" and compared his and Mao's ideas to spiritual sustenance.

Nonetheless, it ended up among those gathered in an incursion into the apartment that the activists were hosting in Shenzhen. While most have been released, Yue remains scattered. She has been missing for four months

– Associated Press writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.


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