Activists tell of ‘being travelled’ – sent on lavish trips, chaperoned by police – to keep them out of the government’s way.
As top Communist leaders gathered in Beijing the veteran Chinese political activist He Depu was obliged to leave town – on an all-expenses-paid holiday to the tropical island of Hainan, complete with police escorts.
It is an unusual method of muzzling dissent, but He is one of dozens of campaigners who rights groups say have been forced to take vacations – sometimes featuring luxurious hotels beside sun-drenched beaches, trips to tourist sites and lavish dinners – courtesy of the authorities.
It happens so often that dissidents have coined a phrase for it: “being travelled”.
He, 57, had not been charged with any crime but officers took him 1,400 miles (2,300km) to Hainan for 10 days to ensure he was not in the capital for this year’s annual meeting of China’s legislature, he said.
Two policemen accompanied him, his wife and another dissident for dips in the ocean and visits to a large Buddha statue, he said.
“We had a pretty good time because a decent amount of money was spent on the trip – the local government paid for everything.”
Altogether eight activists have told Agence France-Presse of being forced on holiday in recent years.
The pointer is from Mark Thorson.