Chinese dissident Liu Bing could face detention in China after Germany rejects his asylum application and prepares to deport him

After being in exile in Europe for almost two years, Chinese dissident Liu Bing could be deported back to China on August 26. Since several dissidents who joined that gathering that he participated in have been arrested and detained, human rights organizations worry that Liu could face the same fate if he were deported back to China.

After attending a gathering in China’s Xiamen City to talk about politics in May 2019, Chinese dissident Liu Bing fled China to seek political asylum in Europe. However, Germany rejected his application and now he could be deported back to China on August 26.

According to him, several dissidents who also joined the gathering in Xiamen were arrested or interrogated by police soon after the meeting in May 2019, including a dissident from China’s Hubei Province, Yin Xiu-an, who was sentenced to four and a half years in jail for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” as well as Tai Chen-ya, who was arrested by police during the “1226 mass arrest” that took place in December 2019.

After he left Xiamen in May 2019, Liu went back to his hometown in Heilongjiang Province and participated in some human rights defending activities, which caught the local police’s attention. He decided to leave China in August 2019.

Liu first arrived in Serbia and then got to Germany in September 2019. He only spent two days at the refugee waiting zone at Germany’s Frankfurt Airport and he was allowed to enter Germany and began the process of applying for political asylum.

However, a few months later, he was informed that his application had been rejected, and he decided to try to seek political asylum in the Netherlands. After spending almost six months in the Netherlands, he was suddenly arrested by police in the Netherlands on June 3, informing him that he had violated the Dublin regulation and he would be sent back to Germany.

After spending one month at the refugee detention center in the Netherlands, Liu was sent back to Germany and he continued to wait for a final answer of his fate from German officials at a detention center in North Rhine-Westphalia. “The way that the German government handles my case is that apart from rejecting my application for asylum, they also informed me that I had violated some regulations related to refugees, so I will be deported back to China on August 26,” Liu said.

In fact, several Chinese dissidents and human rights lawyers, including Ding Jiaxi and Xu Zhi-yong, have been arrested and sentenced to several years in jail for participating in the two gatherings in Xiamen. In a tweet sent out on August 6, Ding’s wife Sophie Luo wrote that Ding and Xu’s lawyers have been informed that they have been officially charged on August 4.

Human Rights organization: Germany shouldn’t deport Liu back to China

After learning about Liu’s possible fate of being deported back to China, Chinese Human Rights Defender (CHRD), a human rights NGO based in Washington D.C., is concerned that Liu could face detention or unjust trials if he were to be deported back to China.

William Nee, the Research and Advocacy Coordinator for CHRD, said there is a principle under international law that mandates countries shouldn’t return someone to a situation in which they are likely to face persecution or torture.

“Since Liu Bing has participated in street protests, the Xiamen event, and Tiananmen commemorations, there are lots of reasons to suspect that if he was sent back to China, he could face torture, detention, or an unfair trial,” he said.

“Foreign governments may not understand that the social stability maintenance apparatus in China operates in every province and every city so even if it’s an activist that no one has even heard of outside of China, they are still closely watched by a whole team of people,” Nee added.

Liu said if he were to be deported back to China, he could face an unspecified period of detention before he was even sentenced. “I participated in some activities in the Netherlands and Xiamen, and the Chinese Communist Party may already have them on the record,” he said. “They won’t just let me go so easily, since I’m already on their blacklist. I might face the same fate as other participants of the gathering in Xiamen.”

When asked about the status of Liu Bing’s case, Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees said they decide on asylum applications on the basis of the Asylum Act (Asylgesetz), of the Residence Act (Aufenthaltsgesetz), as well as of European directives and regulations.

“The Federal Office decides on the asylum application on the basis of a personal interview and of a detailed examination of documents and items of evidence. Each asylum procedure is being checked individually. Therefore the asylum seeker gets the chance to explain his or her personal reasons for flight,” they wrote in an emailed statement.

Liu said he knew there could be a negative outcome but he didn’t expect his application to be rejected so quickly. “I knew Germany has a better reputation when it comes to processing asylum applications, but I think there are still some flaws in the Dublin Regulations,” he said. “I hope the German government will give me another chance to apply for asylum and let me share my experiences and the dangers that I could face in China.”

This piece was first published in Mandarin on DW’s Chinese website.

William Yang is a journalist based in Taiwan, where he writes about politics, society, and human rights issues in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.