Xi Jinping critic flees China on jetski, crossing 200 miles to South Korea

South Korean authorities inspect jet ski after Chinese man detained

A Chinese dissident previously jailed for criticising Xi Jinping has fled China to South Korea by jetski in a desperate bid to escape the regime.

The man, identified as Kwon Pyong, 35, traversed hundreds of miles across the sea to safer shores in South Korea.

He was arrested on August 16 near Incheon on the west coast, with five 25-litre (6.6 gallon) fuel tanks attached to the back of the jetski.

Carrying just a helmet, binoculars and a compass, the man got stuck on the shores, and flagged emergency services before his arrest.

South Korean authorities did not publish any information about the man, but Dialogue China, a dissident group founded by veteran Chinese activists, claimed it was Mr Pyong.

Lee Dae-seon, part of the group, said Mr Pyong made the perilous journey after years of surveillance and political persecution by Chinese authorities.

He told NBC News: “He is now weighing whether to apply for refugee status in South Korea or choose a third country.”

Mr Pyong attended Iowa State University in the US before returning to China, and has been openly against Beijing’s censorship and regime.

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In August 2016, he famously tweeted a photo of himself wearing a T-shirt printed with mocking nicknames against Xi, including “Xitler”.

Just a month later, he was detained by police and indicted for his social media comments.

Mr Lee added Mr Pyong had been sentenced to jail and released in March 2019.

The two had been in touch since August 2019, with Mr Pyong expressing his intention to seek asylum overseas, Mr Lee said.

“Kwon told me he was ready to leave China and he would be heading to South Korea but I didn’t know how he was going to come,” Mr Lee said.

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