The father of a woman who splashed ink on a poster of Xi Jinping appears to have been taken away by police during a YouTube live-stream on Friday night.

In a series of broadcasts this week, the father had been calling upon police to explain what crime his daughter had committed and to disclose where she is being held. On the evening the protest video was posted on Twitter last week, the woman said police were outside her door. Her account was deleted shortly afterwards, sparking fears that she was in police custody.

YouTube video

Fellow Twitter users have since identified her as Dong Yaoqiong from Zhuzhou, Hunan.

Her father Dong Jianbiao featured in a clip on Friday, streamed live by artist Hua Yong. They were interrupted by men knocking at the door. From the exchange that followed, they appeared to be plainclothes police officers who wanted to take Hua and Dong away for investigation. They did not respond when Hua asked for documentation.

The video ended in chaos, with the men outside forcibly entering Hua’s residence. The camera swings wildly as Yong yells: “Do you have a search warrant? Do you have a search warrant?” It was the last video he posted.

Daughter ‘missing’

Hua Yong was detained last year after documenting mass migrant evictions in Beijing, posted a series of live interviews with Dong’s father on Thursday. Hua had been voicing support for Dong on Twitter and in his live YouTube videos.

dong jianbiao
Dong Jianbiao. Photo: Screenshot/Youtube.

Dong showed his ID card, household registration document, and family photos in the clips to prove that he was the father of Dong Yaoqiong.

The 61-year-old coal miner from Zhuzhou, Hunan, said he did not know that his daughter was in trouble until police asked to speak to him on Sunday.

They asked him about his daughter’s education and work history.

YouTube video

“I said: ‘did something happen to my daughter?’ They said… your daughter [broke the law] by attacking state leaders. That’s what they said: attacking state leaders.”

He said police declined to give him any documentation or to let him see his daughter. He also said he was not given information about whether she had been detained or the exact charges she was facing.

“They didn’t tell me exactly what [her situation is] – just said she attacked state leaders.”

Patrick Poon, China researcher for Amnesty International, told HKFP that “attacking state leaders” does not appear in China’s criminal law. Instead, the country’s constitution states that citizens have the right to criticise and make suggestions regarding state organs and functionaries, Poon said.

“What the public security is saying on her case seems to suggest that they can define the law themselves,” he said.

“First of all, she should be allowed to access to a lawyer of her own choice first, and she should be released immediately unless she’s charged with an internationally recognised crime. But so far, we haven’t seen the authorities are handling the case even in accordance with China’s Criminal Procedure Law.”

‘Kidnapping by bandits’

Hua said Dong drove 26 hours from his home to Hua’s studio in Yunnan.

He wrote a letter to the police in Shanghai and You County, his hometown. “Please tell me what law my daughter broke and where she is being held… if there are no procedures then it is a kidnapping carried out by bandits.”

YouTube video

He spoke to the police in You County while he was filming a video.

“I want to see my daughter. If she’s alive then I want to see her, if she’s dead I want to see her body,” he told them.

“My daughter committed no crime,” he said.

A woman who answered the phone at Shanghai’s Municipal Public Security Bureau told HKFP she was unable to provide information on the case. HKFP has contacted Hua and the Yunnan public security bureau for comment.

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.