Chinese AIDS activist/Web journalist speaks out

[Revised version, January 7, 2003 after airing of show]

Irvine -- Last fall, Dr. Wan Yanhai spent a month in detention in Beijing for e-mailing a document the state deemed "secret". The document was a report on the tainted blood scandal in Henan Province, China, which has killed and disabled millions, according to Dr. Wan.

Wan was instrumental in spreading the word about the scandal that involved local authorities in that province. He is the recipient of the first Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights from the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Human Rights Watch, which was accepted by his wife Su Zhaosheng at a ceremony in Montreal during his detention.

On Tuesday, January 7, 2003, our first show of 2003, Subversity, a KUCI public affairs interview program, airs an interview with Wan Yanhai, where he talks about his detention, his eventual release, and what he plans to do in future.

His interview airs from 4-5 p.m. on January 7, 2003 on KUCI, 88.9 fm in Orange County, California, and is Web-cast via on realaudio and mp3.

Dr. Wan, a current Fulbright New Century Scholar based at CSU Northridge, expects to return to China to continue his research and activism. During his detention, many groups called for his release, including the Washington Post and the New York Times. ACT UP in New York and Paris demonstrated in his support. Before his detention, he had signed a petition protesting new restrictions on web sites in China.

The NY Times editorialised September 16, 2002: "China is weakening its case for international support by failing to release Dr. Wan Yanhai, the missing AIDS activist who was instrumental in revealing the epidemic among rural farmers and in organizing people with AIDS to demand that the government provide treatment. His family and colleagues say he is in government custody. If so, Beijing should acknowledge his whereabouts and set him free. There would be no better way to demonstrate the kind of openness that is critical to any successful campaign against AIDS."

The Washington Post editorialized September 2, 2002, before Chinese president Jiang Zemin visited George W. Bush: "The other striking conclusion that emerges from Dr. Wan's disappearance, aside from the atmosphere of secrecy, is how shortsighted are the regime's policies. Facing the risk of an Africa-style AIDS crisis that could decimate its population and economy, any forward-looking government would welcome the efforts of such activists. But Mr. Jiang and his cronies care more about their reputations. News of an AIDS catastrophe in China, after all, might spoil a friendly Crawford barbecue."

The South China Morning Post in one of many editorials, wrote on September 22, 2002: "Calling Chinese Aids activist Wan Yanhai a threat to national security is akin to ignoring the killer disease. Yet, China's authorities have decided the man who has exposed weakness in the mainland's HIV/Aids policies must be silenced."

Our interview with Dr. Wan was conducted in Los Angeles on December 21, 2002.


Wan Yanhai's web site:
(in Chinese with some English-language articles)

UN site with a link to "China"

Human Rights Watch press release:

Awards for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights
2002 International Recipient: Dr. Wan Yanha

Awards press conference:

Fulbright New Century Scholars Statement on Detention of Wan Yanhai

ACT UP and Wan Demonstration
[Chinese with English translation]

Act Up zappe l'ambassade de Chine a Paris"

You Got Dissent! Chinese Dissident Use of the Internet and Beijing's Counter-Strategies [Rand Report]

State Control of the Internet in China

My op ed (in San Jose Mercury News) on him:
China's First AIDS, Gay Activist

1998 Subversity interview (in realaudio; second part):
State Repression

Photos of Wan

Thanx for listening as we continue our 10th year of programming.


Daniel C. Tsang
Host, Subversity, now Tuesdays, 4-5 p.m.
KUCI, 88.9 FM and Web-cast live via 
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Daniel Tsang, KUCI, PO Box 4362, Irvine CA 92616
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