Chinese woman accuses police of detaining her in secret location after Beijing protest

A video of a Chinese woman has been circulating on social media in which she is alleging that authorities have detained her and her friends in secret locations amid a crackdown on protesters who participated in last year’s massive demonstrations against China’s stringent Covid curbs.

The video, which reportedly shows Cao Zhixin, a 26-year-old editor at Peking University Press, began spreading online this week on social media websites.

In the video, Ms Zhiixin says she and five of her friends attended a riverside vigil in Beijing on 27 November, to mourn the victims of a building fire in Urumqi.

The deaths from the fire, which was linked to the enforcement of China’s strict zero-Covid policy, sparked widespread protests against the country’s stringent isolation laws.

The 26-year-old says she and her friends were summoned by the police a few days after the protest and released after 24 hours.

However, between 18 and 24 December, all her friends were detained again.

Ms Zhixin said she recorded the video, which is now in circulation, and gave it to her other friends to publish in case she is detained too.

“When you see this video, I have been taken away by the police for a while, like my other friends,” she says in the video which contains English subtitles.

She also alleged she and her friends were made to sign blank arrest warrants, without criminal accusations listed, and that police refused to reveal the location of their detention.

“Here and now, when I recorded this video, four of my friends have been taken away without any notices,” she adds, naming her friends as Yuanjing, Yuan Liu, Dengdeng (Zhai Dengrui) and (Li) Siqi.

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Ms Zhixin adds that their families have been desperately trying to find out where they were being held but authorities have not revealed any details.

While the video began circulating anonymously, a US-based scholar Jing Wang said she recognised Ms Zhixin as her editor of a translated book.

“We just chatted a few days before she disappeared,” Ms Wang wrote on Twitter. “Now, she is still out of reach. It breaks my heart to watch this video.”

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Ms Zhixin said she and her friends “followed the rules” at the vigil “without causing any conflict with the police”.

“We pay attention to the society we live in. When our fellows die we have the right to express our legitimate emotions. Our sympathy is for those who lost their lives and that’s why we went to the scene.”

She ends the video with a plea to help her and her friends.

“If they want to convict us, show the evidence to the public. Don’t let us disappear from this world unjustly,” she adds.