World Press Photo award-winning photojournalist who was known for his work in documenting the environmental damage in China, Lu Guang, has vanished. According to his wife, Guang, who lives between NYC and Beijing has been missing since November 3rd.
Guang was last seen meeting with photographers in the capital of China’s remote Xinjiang province, Urumqi. In an interview with NBC his wife, Xu Xiaoli, said she “was initially not very concerned when he failed to get in touch.” Though, it was when he missed a charity event with another colleague on the 5th, she suspected something was up.
She explained, “The authorities haven’t informed me of his whereabouts. More than 20 days and no word from him. The longer I wait, the more worried I am.” After a while of radio silence from the authorities, she reached out to the wife of the photographer that initially invited him to Urumqi on the 3rd. She let Xu know that both Lu and her husband were both taken away by state security. She continued, “I don’t know whether this is because of his work. I don’t know why he was detained. He only went there to have a professional exchange with other photographers.”
On the other hand, his colleague Robert Pledge at Contact Press Images says “you can do some guesswork” – and explained that security is particularly tight in Xinjiang. “Lu has a camera, he goes around taking pictures, he’s nosy. He gets into trouble with local provincial authorities because they don’t want bad publicity.” Now, with his disappearing, bad publicity is all both the province and the country are getting as this situation has only shone a light on the mistreatment and prosecution of journalists.
More than 40 journalists have been imprisoned by China officials by the end of 2017, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). The only other country that’s jailed more journalists is the infamous Turkish government.