Chinese snatch-squads roam the globe, kidnapping dissidents and critics

It's not just dissident Hong Kong booksellers who're being snatched — China's snatch-squads have kidnapped expatriate dissidents (including those with foreign passports) from Sweden, Burma and Thailand.

These dissidents later turn up in mainland Chinese media, having "confessed" to crimes against the state.

It's a Made-in-China version of America's extraordinary rendition program, but with Chinese characteristics — notably, the public appearance of dissidents after their kidnapping to make gestures of remorse for their "crimes" against China.

Western governments have either been silent on the abductions, or made the weakest of protests.

Months after Lee's colleague Gui went missing, he reappeared on Chinese television last week to deliver a choreographed "confession" — for a car crash that took place in 2003.

Within the week, in an unrelated case, a second confession by a Swede was broadcast on state television. It featured Peter Dahlin, who has worked to support Chinese lawyers. He disappeared on his way to the Beijing airport on Jan. 3 and was held for nearly two weeks before being given access to consular officials. He was finally released Monday evening and deported, colleagues said.

A Chinese journalist, two dissidents and the son of a jailed civil rights lawyer also have gone missing or been forcibly repatriated from Thailand and Burma in the past three months, heightening the perception that for critics of the Chinese Communist Party and their families, nowhere is safe.

Pursuing critics, China reaches across borders. And nobody is stopping it.
[Emily Rauhala and Simon Denyer/Washington Post]