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Another AIDS activist, Wan Yanhai, flees China

Wan Yanhai has left China for the United States, soon after fellow AIDS activists Gao Yaojie also left and Hu Jia was sentenced to jail. Beijing is putting more pressure on nongovernment organizations (NGOs).

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China’s best-known HIV/AIDS activist has fled China complaining of intolerable government pressure, sowing disappointment and despondency among his fellow campaigners here.

Wan Yanhai’s sudden departure to the United States “is a big loss for this country,” says Lu Jun, head of Yirenping, a nongovernmental organization working on behalf of those diagnosed with AIDS and other health concerns. “It suggests that the political space for AIDS campaigning in China is getting seriously tighter. I am disturbed.”

Mr. Wan, the outspoken founder of Aizhixing, which has become famous for its readiness to criticize the government, told the Associated Press in a phone interview from Philadelphia on Monday that “the attacks from the government had become very serious for my organization and for me personally. I had concerns about my personal safety and was under a lot of stress."

Wan is no stranger to trouble with the Chinese authorities. He has repeatedly been detained or taken in for questioning by the police since he took up the cause of 150,000 people in the province of Henan who were diagnosed as HIV positive after taking part in a government-sponsored blood donation drive in the 1990s.

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