Terror as disappearances follow Chinese student communists' solidarity with striking workers

China's increasing inequality and rocky transition to market capitalism has created a rising tide of wildcat strikes from independent trade unions, who have found powerful allies in national student communist movements whose members were made to study Marxism in an effort to purge the country's intelligentsia of "bourgeois" ideologies of liberalism and democracy.

The students — who call themselves "Marxists" and "Maoists" — took the message to heart and mobilized in solidarity with the striking workers, in defiance of the Chinese state.

Now the state has struck back: Chinese communist student activists and leaders have gone missing, often after public kidnappings at the hands of presumed state enforcers who drive up in black, unmarked cars and force the students inside. Some of these students have not been heard from since.

The disappearances have created a wave of terror among the activists and their friends, who say that the retaliation is arbitrary and untargeted, sometimes aimed at prominent leaders and sometimes at young people who were essentially just bystanders during meetings and strikes.

But as public attention grew, the government quickly tightened the net around the young protesters. On August 11, one of the main organizers, Shen Mengyu, a graduate of Sun Yat-sen University, another elite school in southern China, was detained by a group of unidentified men.

Yue disappeared on August 24, along with a number of her fellow students. No official arrest reports have been announced yet by police and neither Shen or Yue have been seen since.

Following their disappearance, a group of alumni and students at Peking University set up the "Finding Yue Movement" to lobby for the graduates' release. One of the organizers, Zhang, was among those who disappeared in the past week.

"There is a pervasive sense of fear particularly after what happened in Peking University a few nights ago … (Zhang's) crime was essentially to draw attention to the fact that another student had disappeared," Friedman, the American professor, told CNN.

Young Marxists are going missing in China after protesting for workers [Ben Westcott and Yong Xiong/CNN]