Reporters blocked in Inner Mongolia
Reporters, Chinese assistant detained in Inner Mongolia, blocked from interviewing teenage son of rights lawyer
Ulanhot, Inner Mongolia
Oct. 13, 2015
Philip Wen, Sydney Morning Herald and The Age
We arrived in Ulanhot by plane in the morning, and went straight to the address where Bao Zhuoxuan (teenage son of detained rights lawyer Wang Yu) lives with his grandmother. After speaking with both of them briefly (see story: http://www.smh.com.au/world/you-are-in-danger-we-are-being-monitored-20151014-gk8p0i.html), we (reporter, Chinese assistant and a third journalist from Japan chasing the same story) ran into four plain-clothes policemen/state security. Despite producing our press card and ID/passports, the police insisted on taking us back to the local public security bureau to "verify our identities". They asked some basic questions about how who we were, who we worked for, and what we planned in Ulanhot, but it became apparent their main motive was to eat up as much time until our scheduled return flights that night. I had come across this tactic during a similar incident in Xinjiang a couple years back. All told, despite constant protests at the lengthy delay, it took them seven hours before they declared that we had done nothing wrong. They said the grandmother and (rather improbably) Bao himself had declined to be interviewed, while making the observation that foreign journalists can interview anyone provided prior consent is given. The implicit threat being that, while in theory we were free to go and do what we pleased, we risked more severe consequences if we were picked up at Bao's door again. Four men were in plain clothes but only one was willing to flash a police badge with his ID. At the station where we were held for questioning, there were uniformed police.