- By Isaac Stone FishIsaac Stone Fish is FP's Asia editor. A Mandarin speaker, he lived in China for seven years before moving to Washington, D.C. His articles have also appeared in the New York Times, the Economist, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, and he has appeared as a commentator on MSNBC, the BBC, NPR, Al Jazeera, and PRI, among others.
Xi Jinping ascended to the presidency of China on Thursday — just a day after police summoned prominent dissident Hu Jia on the charge of "provoking quarrels and making trouble," according to a Reuters interview with Hu. The Chinese activist, who has advocated for democratic and environmental causes in China and was imprisoned from April 2008 to June 2011, has accused the authorities of beating him while he was in detention, according to a message his partner posted on Twitter.
Both Hu (pictured above with blind dissident Chen Guangcheng) and his partner Zeng Jinyan are active tweeters, and Zeng live-tweeted her search to find out what happened to Hu. Four hours ago, she tweeted, "At this point, Hu Jia should be calling his daughter on Skype to tell her stories…but I haven’t been able to reach him. If anyone has news, please send me an email. Thanks."
Soon, she started calling Zhongcang Police Station, a local station where Hu had been held before. "The policeman who answers the phone at Zhongcang Police Station has become rude, even though I say I’m Hu Jia’s wife," she tweeted an hour ago. "He refuses to tell me where Hu Jia is, instead he wants me to call Hu Jia. But I can’t get through to Hu Jia!" Half an hour ago, she tweeted, "A few netizens went to Zhongcang Police Station, and said that it’s heavily guarded-you can’t even get into the lobby. Usually you can easily enter Police Station lobbies…"
And then the news came: "Hu Jia says ‘I just finished eight hours of summons, and have been sent back home. This time I’ve been beaten pretty badly, so I wasn’t summoned for 24 hours. They saw that I was injured so sent me home early.’ Thanks everyone!"
Whatever the connection is between Hu’s alleged beating and Xi’s presidency (he became chairman of the Communist Party and chairman of the Central Military Commission, the top military body, in November) it’s an inauspicious sign.