The United States is increasingly concerned by the apparent extralegal detention and enforced disappearance of some of China's most well-known lawyers and activists, many of whom have been missing since mid-February. U.S. State Department's then Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, P. J. Crowley, noted that "Teng Biao, Tang Jitian, Jiang Tianyong, and Gu Chuan all disappeared between February 16 and February 19."
Teng Biao is a lecturer at the University of Politics and Law in Beijing. Tang Jitian is a Beijing-based lawyer who has been active in defending the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis B. Jiang Tianyong was a school teacher who became a lawyer because of his interest in human rights, and has been active in defending religious freedom and human rights activists.
These and other lawyers have faced disbarment for taking on "sensitive cases," such as the defense of political dissidents, human rights activists, Uyghurs, Tibetans, and Falun Gong practitioners. Teng, Jiang, and Tang have had their law licenses revoked or unrenewed.
Gu Chuan is a writer and web editor. He was also an original signatory of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for constitutional reforms in China.
Teng, Jiang, Tang, and Gu, and other human rights activists, lawyers, and dissidents across the country have been detained or have gone missing.
Voice of America's China Branch reported that a non-government organization documented the detention of numerous human rights activists, after anonymous calls for protests in support of pro-democracy movements in the Middle East beginning in mid-February. Authorities raided the residences of at least eight activists and lawyers, confiscating laptops, computers, cell phones, and books. More than 100 individuals reported that they were questioned, threatened, or had their movements restricted by police.
"We have expressed our concern to the Chinese government over the use of extralegal punishments against these and other human rights activists," then Assistant Secretary Crowley said. "We continue to urge China to uphold its internationally recognized obligations of universal human rights, including the freedoms of expression, association, and assembly."