Probe International in the News

An appeal to the Chinese government – let Guo Feixiong see his wife

Premier Li Keqiang is urged to lift the travel ban on Chinese rights activist Guo Feixiong as his wife battles end-stage cancer in the United States.

Guo Feixiong, a Guangzhou-based rights activist, writer and “barefoot lawyer,” first experienced the hard hand of retribution for his work as a rights advocate when he was taken into custody and beaten on multiple occasions in 2005 and 2006. He served his first jail sentence in 2007 (after being held in pre-trial detention for 17 months) on a trumped up charge activists say was payback for having published a book on a political scandal in China’s north-eastern Liaoning province. During his time in custody, Guo was tortured, deprived of sleep and shocked with electric batons. Released on September 13, 2011, Guo would once again run afoul of the authorities in 2013, when he was indicted for the crime of “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place,” along with Sun Desheng, another activist. Guo received a six-year prison sentence for “subversion” and gained his release on August 7, 2019. For reasons of safety, Guo has remained apart from his wife, Zhang Qing, and their two children for the past 15 years – Zhang and children were granted political asylum in the United States. After Zhang was diagnosed with terminal cancer in early January of this year, Guo has repeatedly tried to leave China to see his wife but remains blocked from boarding a flight to the US on the grounds of “endangering national security”. Guo responded by launching a hunger strike and sought international attention for the case, but he later disappeared and is believed to have been taken away by the authorities.

By China Change

To Whom It May Concern in the Government of China:

We are a group of scholars in China studies with longstanding interests in the progress of human rights and the rule of law in China. We write to express our deep concern with the current plight of Chinese citizens Yang Maodong (whose pseudonym is Guo Feixiong) and his wife Zhang Qing.

Zhang Qing, who has been living in the United States, was found in January 2021 to be suffering from intestinal cancer. This cancer, now in a terminal stage, has created an urgent need for her husband Guo Feixiong to travel to the U.S. to be with her. China’s Ministry of Public Security, however, has so far prevented him from leaving China on grounds that he “may endanger national security.” Zhang Qing’s condition is deteriorating quickly and the situation is now precarious.  

We understand that Guo Feixiong has maintained contact with Chinese public security officials at all relevant levels and has appealed repeatedly for permission to leave China, but to no avail. We further understand that Guo Feixiong has recently been taken away by police and that his present whereabouts are unknown.

We note that Guo Feixiong, as a citizen of China, by Chinese law, enjoys personal freedom and the right to travel. The life of his wife hangs by a thread. The ways in which the relevant offices of the Chinese government have handled this matter violate not only Chinese law but basic standards of humane treatment.  

We call upon the leadership of the People’s Republic of China to respect Chinese law and human dignity by immediately releasing Guo Feixiong so that he can join his wife.

Very sincerely,

Jean-Philippe Béja, Research Professor Emeritus, CNRS/CERI-Sciences-Po, Paris, France

Jerome A. Cohen, Professor at New York University School of Law

Perry Link, Chancellorial Chair Professor for Innovative Teaching Comparative Literature and Foreign Languages, University of California, Riverside

Andrew J. Nathan, Class of 1919 Professor of Political Science, Columbia University

Tomoko Ako, Professor, University of Tokyo

Carole J. Petersen, Professor of Law, William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawai’i at Manoa     

Alison W. Conner, Professor of Law Emerita, University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Colin Hawes, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney

Kevin Carrico, Senior Lecturer, Chinese Studies, Monash University

Edward Friedman, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin

Patricia Adams, Executive Director, Probe International

Winston Lord, Former US Ambassador to China

Mareike Ohlberg, Senior Fellow, the German Marshall Fund of the United States

Warren Sun, Adjunct Associate Professor, Chinese Studies, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia 

Mareike Ohlberg, Senior Fellow, the German Marshall Fund of the United States

Arthur Waldron, Lauder Professor of International Relations, The University of Pennsylvania

Josephine Chiu-Duke, The University of British Columbia

Minxin Pei, Tom and Margot Pritzker ’72 Professor of Government and George R. Roberts Fellow, Claremont McKenna College 

Michael S. Duke, Professor Emeritus, Chinese and Comparative Literature, University of British Columbia

Mark Sidel, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Antonia Finnane, Honorary professorial fellow, University of Melbourne

Eva Pils, Professor of Law, Dickson Poon School of Law, King’s College, London

Harriet Evans, Emeritus Professor of Chinese Cultural Studies, University of Westminster

Lun Zhang, Professor, Université de Cergy-Pontoise

Steven I. Levine, Professor (retired), University of Montana

Tim Wright, Emeritus Professor of Chinese Studies, University of Sheffield

Eric Meyer, Journalist, corresponding member at the French Academy of Overseas Sciences (Academie des Sciences d’Outre-Mer) 

Dorothy J. Solinger, Professor Emerita, Dept. of Political Science, UC Irvine

Louise Edwards, Emeritus Professor, FAHA, FASSA, FHKAH, School of Humanities and Languages, UNSW Australia

Robert A. Kapp, Independent

David Schak, Griffith University

Andrew Chubb, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Lancaster University, UK

Barrett L. McCormick, Professor Emeritus, Political Science Department, Marquette University

Martin K. Whyte, John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Sociology, Emeritus Department of Sociology, Harvard University

Scott Waldron, Associate Professor, School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, the University of Queensland

 (The names are in the order they are received at

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