The World's Toughest Job: Pu Zhiqiang

It wasn’t safe for Pu Zhiqiang to go home. Or, to be more precise, he could go home, but once there he might not be able to leave again. Over the previous 48 hours, Chinese authorities had detained more than a dozen lawyers and activists. More than 80 dissidents had been put under house arrest. Two lawyers simply disappeared. Pu, a well-known free speech attorney, was among the so-called “rights lawyers” who might be swept up in any regime crackdown. (He had been detained a few months earlier, shortly before the Chinese scholar and dissident Liu Xiaobo received the Nobel Peace Prize.) Pu wasn’t sure why he had not been targeted yet. But he had a guess: He had been away on a business trip for a week. He simply hadn’t been home. When I reached him, he was still in Shanghai and planning to return to Beijing in a few days time. He gave the name of a teahouse near his apartment where we could meet. I was supposed to meet him there on a Saturday evening. Just to be safe, he would land at Beijing Capital International Airport and go directly to the teahouse.

Law, Politics