Chinese officials have detained one of Xi Jinping's most open critics who is a legal scholar most notable for being one of the most prominent voices in the country that is still publicly announcing his opposition to the president's ways.
Taking down the opposition
On Monday, a law professor at Beijing's Tsinghua University, Xu Zhangrun, was taken into custody by police officers while he was at his residence in the Chinese capital. His friends, citing a housekeeper who bore witness to the encounter with law enforcement and the official, revealed the arrest.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Xu was previously detained when he criticized President Xi's method of leadership, most notably for his writings that condemned the Communist Party's initial mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The professor demanded government officials to take responsibility for the crude responses and urged for political reform to enable freedom of expression in the mainland.
A Chinese official who personally knew Xu cited a Chinese idiom of an individual taking revenge during a favorable time by saying "They are settling accounts after the autumn harvest."
Geng Xiaonan, who talked with Xu's wife and students, revealed by telephone that police officers stormed the professor's home, taking him, his computers and papers.
Witnesses reported they saw ten official police cars and at least two dozen personnel who surrounded the residence before arresting Xu, as reported by The New York Times.
Geng noted that Xu was prepared for when they would take him away and had previously prepared a bag filled with clothes and toothbrush that he kept hanging on his front door. Despite being ready for the scenario, the actual incident still surprised Geng when it actually happened.
The Chinese government's detention of Xu is the latest of the string of steps officials have taken to take down the opposition. Last week saw Beijing passed the controversial new security law on Hong Kong that aimed to undermine political freedom and the city's autonomy from the mainland.
Xu's arrest also suggests the Chinese government's series of steps to taking intellectual critics into custody that openly oppose the Chinese Communist Party.
A voice for democracy
An Australian Sinologist currently residing in New Zealand, Geremie R. Barmé, said that Professor Xu "writes using a language of profound classical resonance" that he also credited to several writers from the West.
According to The Guardian, when called and asked about Professor Xu's whereabouts, a police officer from Changping declined to answer and stated they did not know of his arrest.
Chinese officials had banned Xu's publications in the mainland but were able to spread throughout the internet when users shared them in private channels. Xu first gained massive attention, while garnering the gazes of the Chinese Communist Party's defenders, for his 2018 essay condemned President Xi's political methods.
In the essay, the scholar wrote that the Chinese people, including the wealthy and elite, have become uncertain of the country's future and that they fear for their own safety within their own nation.
Despite multiple warnings from officials and colleagues of the university he worked at, Xu continued to write controversial publications aimed at the Chinese government.