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The novelist and political blogger Yang Hengjun has gone missing in China. Yang, who was born in China and lives in Australia, was in the Guangzhou airport on Sunday. He called a colleague and said he was being followed by three men. Some time after, according to the Associated Press, Yang called his sister and said that he'd been detained by security officers.

Yang has lived in Sydney with his family for a few years, and he's believed to carry an Australian passport. This Tuesday, the Australian government released a statement saying that it was "urgently seeking to confirm the man’s whereabouts and well-being." But for the moment, Yang's whereabouts are unknown.

As a writer, Yang wears two hats. He's a spy novelist, writing works like Fatal Weakness, a thriller about espionage and corruption in the American and Chinese governments. And he's a blogger who's written repeatedly about China's need for democratic political reform.

"I believe China has two choices now: political reform and democracy or cultural revolution,'' Yang said in December. ''The first is a path of life. The latter may be a path of life for some but for the nation it is a road to death.''

Yang's not the only critic of the Chinese government to go missing in recent days. When calls started appearing on the Internet for a Jasmine-style uprising, the state moved swiftly to end any such movement before it could begin. The New York Times reports that "the Chinese government has detained scores of rights advocates, political writers, lawyers and dissidents since late February ... At least 25 people are being held for what Chinese officials call criminal investigation, but many others are being detained extra-legally, for no stated reason."

At a news conference in Beijing on Tesday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu took a question about Yang, whom a colleague has described as "the most influential political blogger in China."

"I have not heard of that person," said Jiang.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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