Son of Chinese rights lawyer detained in Myanmar

BEIJING - The teenage son of a prominent human rights lawyer being held in China has been detained in Myanmar, a family friend said Saturday, adding that Chinese police were responsible.

Men who appeared to be police took 16-year-old Bao Zhuoxuan away from a guesthouse in a town close to the border on Tuesday as he was trying to escape China, family friend Zhou Fengsuo told AFP.

"The (Chinese) government is using him as a hostage," Zhou said, adding he did not know the whereabouts of the teen and two men who had been looking after him.

Chinese security agents "are kidnapping their own citizen basically, the only reason is to use him against his parents, which is just so shameful," he added said.

Police in Inner Mongolia, where Bao was reportedly staying with family before his escape attempt, said they "had not heard" of his alleged detention.

Chinese officials confiscated Bao's passport in July, when both his parents were detained in a sweeping crackdown on lawyers who had taken on cases the government deemed subversive.

Beijing does not tolerate organised dissent and often denies passports to political activists, as well as members of ethnic minorities.

But some still manage to escape via China's relatively porous borders with Southeast Asia.

Mong La, the town where Bao was taken, is in the north of Myanmar where rebel groups have for years been in conflict with the government.

Two men helping the teenager, Tang Zhishun and Xing Qingxian, were also detained in the town, Zhou said, citing the owner of the guesthouse where they had stayed.

Tang and Xing's homes in China were later searched, suggesting that "Chinese police apparently have synchronised actions with the police in Burma," Zhou added.

Zhou lives in San Francisco and said he had planned to meet Bao in Thailand before bringing him to the US to seek asylum.

Chinese police detained Bao's mother Wang Yu, an outspoken human rights lawyer, in July and later accused her of "subverting state power," according to her attorneys.

His father Bao Longjun has also been held for months along with around a dozen other activists labelled as a "criminal gang" by state media.

Chinese security officials sometimes punish the family of dissidents it says have broken the law.

Liu Xia, wife of jailed writer Liu Xiaobo, was kept under house arrest for years after her husband was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010.