The “Guangming Daily” editorialist was arrested for an unauthorized lunch with a Japanese diplomat. His real sin was recommending moderation to the CCP, including on issues of state control of religions.
by Yang Meixiang
The family of Dong Yuyu, a famous journalist in China, has decided to inform international human rights organizations that he has been indicted on charges of espionage. Dong had been arrested in February 2021 while he was having what the authorities characterized as an “unauthorized” lunch with a Japanese diplomat at the Novotel Xin Qiao hotel in Beijing. He was later formally arrested, and indicted for espionage on March 2023.
Following warning from the authorities, relatives had decided not to divulge news about its detention, but now believe that Dong’s situation is so precarious that it may be better to speak out and seek the help of international human rights groups and media.
Speaking on conditions of anonymity, one of Dong’s colleagues told Bitter Winter that “the idea that he can be a spy is just ridiculous. The charges have been invented by those who did not like his articles.” Dong was the deputy director of the editorial pages of the “Guangming Daily,” a newspaper whose owner is the Chinese Communist Party, and which is supervised by the Party’s propaganda department. Dong has been one of the most popular journalists of the “Guangming Daily” for more than thirty years.
Dong was also a scholar of international law and Japanese issues. He had been a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University from 2006 to 2007, a visiting scholar at Keio University in Japan in 2010, and a visiting professor at the Graduate School of Public Policy at Hokkaido University in 2014.
Although in no way disloyal to the CCP, Dong advocated a reformist and moderate approach in line with Deng Xiaoping’s “reform and opening up,” including on issues of state control of religions. While Xi Jinping has purged from Chinese media the Maoist “left,” he is now also purging the Dengist “right”—all this while extolling the merits of both Mao and Deng.
This is a typical Communist approach, and one also aimed at reminding journalists that no criticism of Xi Jinping or critical comparison with previous leaders is allowed. Trumped-up charges await those even vaguely suspected of dissent.