Ran Xiang, a former Chinese Communist Party propagandist who called herself “chairman of the wumao party”, has given in interview tearfully complaining about the detention of her husband Yang Hengjun and calling on the Australian government to help them.

Yang Hengjun, a writer and former Chinese official with Australian citizenship, was arrested in January upon landing in Guangzhou from New York on charges of taking part in “activities that endanger national security.”

Ran Xiang, whose real name is Yuan Xiaojing, accompanied her husband. She has been banned from leaving China.

In an interview with ABC she said that she feared for her husband Yang Hengjun and urged the Australian government to “pay close attention to the human rights of an Australian citizen in Shanghai.”

“My family, a family member who I was with every day suddenly disappeared,” Ran Xiang said. “I have absolutely no idea whether he is well or even if he is alive or not. There is just no news at all. Also, I can’t do anything to help him through a legal process. So I am devastated. I just want him to come home safely.”

For years Ran Xiang made a career out of supporting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) online and earned the nickname “Great wumao.” In the 2000s she became a popular internet personality on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platoform, where she posed as a staunch defender of the Chinese Communist regime and as a nationalist. At times she expressed extreme positions, such as when she called for a “Tokyo massacre” to redress the infamous “Nanjing massacre” perpetrated by the Japanese army during World War II. But in 2018, she emigrated to the United States, drawing ridicule from some Chinese netizens.

Wumao” (literally 50 cents), is a term that refers to people paid by the CCP to spread regime propaganda online and engage with netizens critical of the Communist Party. The nickname originates from the myth that CCP trolls were paid 50 cents per post. The number of wumao is estimated to range between 500,000 and two million.

Chinese activist Zhang Lin, who currently resides in New York, commented on Ran Xiang’s video by comparing wumaos to “insignificant chives” which can be “harvested” or “trampled upon by the Communist Party anytime.”


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