Ching Cheong:“Once you're caught in” that spiral, suicide “can be the end”
For the first time since his release journalist Ching Cheong talks about his almost three years in prison. Sentenced without evidence for espionage in favour of Taiwan and released before completing his time thanks to outside pressure, he found comfort in prayer and religious and mystical texts.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – "Once you're caught in a downward psychological spiral, that can be the end of it, that is, to commit suicide," said journalist Ching Cheong as he spoke about his time behind bars after his release on 5 February.

“When I was formally arrested and handcuffed, when the door of the cell was shut with a loud bang, my heart was broken," he told the South China Morning. "I was so depressed that I doubted every single value that I had treasured in my life, like patriotism, honesty and poise. »

The Hong Kong journalist was arrested in April 2005 on espionage charges in favour of Taiwan. He was sentenced to five years in prison after allegedly confessing that he sold military information to Taiwan and set up a spy network to sell “state secrets” abroad. But he always denied and still denies those charges. In November 2006 his sentence was upheld after a one-day trial during which no evidence was presented.

Dissidents suggest that his arrest is connected to his research on Zhao Ziyang, party secretary at the time of the pro-democracy revolts and the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

In prison Ching was in solitary confinement for a long time and soon tired of writing and preparing for his defence. He only found strength in meditation and prayer.

I asked God to help me maintain my health, willpower and faith, to face the difficulties in life so that I could persistently follow the road of patriotism after regaining freedom,” he said.

He found comfort in reading philosophical and religious writings, including the Bible, Buddhist classics and the I Ching, an ancient Chinese text also called the Book of Changes. He also tried to keep in touch with what was happening “outside.”

His paper and friends fought hard to get him released, which occurred half way through his sentence.

Ching still believes in his country and in the possibility of improving it. Quoting a line from Lin Zexu, a noted patriotic official from the Qing dynasty, he said: “I will do whatever it takes to serve my country, even at the cost of my own life, regardless of fortune or misfortune to myself.”

This is “exactly what links the hearts of me and my friends.”