I tend to read a lot of news about China, and as anyone that reads any amount of news must feel, I tend to become desensitized to it all. China news, like news the world over, tends to focus on the negative, the crime, the corruption, the crazy…
Because of this self-censorship, I breeze past a good number of articles in any given day as they just don’t shock me anymore. The ones that do, well, they happened in some far-off village in Guangdong, or Gansu, or some place I’ve no connection with.
Not this week.
SUZHOU, China (AP) — An American fugitive accused of raping his daughter and posting videos of the abuse on the Internet lived openly in China, even enjoying visits from his new wife and registering at a local fitness club under his own name.
Information provided Saturday by the Powerhouse Gym also provided some clues about the months Freeman lived in the eastern Chinese city of Suzhou.
Freeman, one of America’s 15 most wanted men, was captured Tuesday after more than a year on the run while trying to enter Hong Kong from China using his own passport.
Staff at the Powerhouse Gym in Suzhou [ed. I’m quite sure this was the SIP location, judging from the photo in the AP article] recognized Freeman immediately from his photo posted on the Department of Justice Web site. Gym computer records showed he registered under the name John Freeman and listed a Suzhou mobile phone number as a contact. Calls to the telephone number were answered by a recorded message that said the phone was turned off.
Gym patrons said Freeman worked out almost every day and seemed friendly. One man said the fugitive had something of the air of a celebrity about him.
Though not quite as infamous as SE Asia for its housing of pedophiles, this of course raises a good number of questions of how much access Freeman had to children in Suzhou while he was here. Just damn creepy.
Also this week comes news out of Dalian:
[ObserveChina/ESWN translation] A police officer with the Dalian Railroad Department fired five shots to kill a family of three who had showed up to demand compensation.
The local government and publicity department censored all news. All information on websites were deleted and the media were not allowed to cover the story. The world still do not know what will happen to police officer Su Kai who fired the shots as well as the results of the police investigation.
On April 26, the sounds of five gunshots rang out in the duty room of the public security bureau in Xiongyuecheng town, Dalian. A taxi driver Wang Hongwu, his wife and his 62-year-old father were dead. The police quickly sealed the news so that the local media could not report on the incident.
The Publicity Department forbade the national media from following up. The truth of the case is being investigated. But the attempt to black out the news is seriously violating the right of the victims’ family and the people as a whole to know. It is also possible that there is a risk for black box transaction behind the scene. All this is eroding the people’s trust in the local government.
Though this technically took place in Xiongyuecheng, a small town well north of Dalian city, it still hits close to home.