Chinese authorities arrested a prominent government critic Monday morning in northern Beijing, the New York Times reported.
Xu Zhangrun, a professor of law at Tsinghua University who has long criticized the Chinese Communist Party for making the country "increasingly repressive," has been imprisoned. Though Chinese police made no public comment on the matter, a friend of Xu and his family said the authorities detained the professor on the pretense that he had consorted with prostitutes.
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The law professor's criticism had intensified in recent months over China's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. In one column, Xu wrote that the communist regime "is a system that turns every natural disaster into an even greater man-made catastrophe. The coronavirus epidemic has revealed the rotten core of Chinese governance."
Xu has drawn government attention in the past for criticizing the Chinese Communist Party. The Xi regime suspended him last year for a 2018 essay which said "the political atmosphere of China is becoming increasingly repressive."
The regime has used similar strategies to silence other critics including Chinese citizens who reported on the government's response to coronavirus in Wuhan. Since April, the whereabouts of two such critics remain unknown, according to the Los Angeles Times.
China has accelerated its aggressive international posture in recent weeks. The communist government has imposed a Hong Kong national security law that allows for global extradition of dissenters, provoked a border clash with India that left 20 Indian soldiers dead, and last week conducted naval drills in a disputed area of the South China Sea.
Aggressive Chinese foreign policy has drawn concern from members of Congress. "We need to ensure that Western countries and our democratic values, our rule of law, our individual freedom, that's where people look for global leadership," Rep. Elise Stefanik (R., N.Y.) told the Washington Free Beacon in April. Stefanik, Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.), and others have introduced legislation aimed at decreasing American reliance on Chinese manufacturing.