The young woman who fled China after being diagnosed with schizophrenia, is now an activist in Hong Kong, seeking to end the “one-sided and dangerous” crackdown on asylum seekers in the Chinese city.
In February 2017, Yu Qian was detained by Chinese police after returning to Hong Kong after an eight-day trip to China.
She said that after returning home, she found out that she had schizophrenia, which is a form of mental illness that causes psychosis.
“I was terrified.
I felt I had no choice but to flee.
I couldn’t sleep, my head hurt.
I could feel myself shaking, my hands shaking,” she told Al Jazeera.
Yu Qian fled from her home in Wuhan in north-western China to Hong and Taiwan in March 2017.
She had to wait until her case was resolved in the US, before she could travel to mainland China to seek asylum.
Yu said that her family were concerned about her safety, as they had lived through similar experiences.
“We have no idea how she would get to Hong, or even where to go.
I just feel like she’s scared,” she said.
Yu’s family, along with her father, had no idea that Yu was having a mental health crisis.
Yu, who now lives in Taiwan, said that she has been experiencing “the most horrendous persecution” from the Chinese authorities.
She was forced to stay in a hotel for three months.
“It’s like living in hell, you can’t even leave your room without being searched,” she explained.
“I can’t eat, I can’t shower, I’m scared.
It’s terrifying, I don’t know what to do.”
Yu’s father has not been able to visit his daughter, as he is currently in hospital.
Yu has filed a complaint with the US Consulate in Hongkong.
“They said they would consider it as an emergency and they’re not going to take any action,” she recounted.
“The consulate does not allow people to leave China without their own visa, but I can only go to the consulate by myself.”
Yu has been granted temporary protection status by the US.
She has not yet been able or willing to leave her home, and she fears that she will never be able to return to China without having to pay a high fee to return.
“There’s not even enough money for me to send her money, as she has already spent her entire life savings, including her parents’ house,” Yu said.