China puts prominent writers under house arrest as Kerry visits

Wed Jul 9, 2014 3:01pm EDT
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By Megha Rajagopalan

BEIJING (Reuters) - A prominent writer who has angered China by advocating Tibetan rights said she and her husband were placed under house arrest during a visit to Beijing by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Tsering Woeser told Reuters that state security officers had prevented her and her spouse, author Wang Lixiong, from leaving their home since they returned from a trip to the north of China on Tuesday.

Woeser, who has written several books on Tibet and last year was given a U.S. State Department "International Women of Courage Award," said she was detained after a U.S. Embassy staffer telephoned to invite her to meet a U.S. official for dinner.

Kerry is currently in Beijing along with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew for annual talks with Chinese officials on political and economic issues.

A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said the United States was "concerned" that Woeser and another recipient of the International Women of Courage Award had been placed under house arrest and prevented from attending the embassy dinner.

"We're looking into the matter to determine more details about what happened here and, of course, the reasons," Jen Psaki told a regular briefing in Washington. She did not name the other detained woman.

A senior U.S. administration official said Kerry raised the issue of human rights in a "direct, candid way" with senior Chinese officials on Wednesday, citing individual cases, including arrests made over the last several months.

"He described our perception of a trend in China, with an increase in arrests and an increase in harassment of individuals who are expressing political views," the official said, briefing reporters after the first day of talks.   Continued...

The Dalai Lama (L) bows to Chinese writer Wang Lixiong who was honored with the Light of Truth Award during a ceremony in Washington October 7, 2009.  REUTERS/Richard Clement