By Machel

In the Woman in Chains case, the authorities have already reported that a DNA test confirms her identity as Xiao Huamei, from Yunnan.  However, the existing evidence shows that the truth may not be that simple.

First, do officials have any motive not to tell the truth? Obviously they do.

With respect to the social phenomenon of women’s trafficking, the most intolerable situation is the sort described in the [fictional] movie “Blind Mountain”: a completely normal girl is tortured and abused for a long time because she refuses to give in after being trafficked. There is no way to escape, no choice but to wait to die, and even be driven insane. This itself is tens of thousands of times more miserable than the situation where girls in impoverished mountainous areas are abducted [for marriage purposes] but accept their fate, or where, in general, people with mental illnesses are abused.

What is even more tragic than this in the movie is its ending. After the young woman has worked hard to get the news of her abduction out to her father, she clearly sees hope, but in the end she still cannot be rescued. But if there are others involved in the imprisonment of the Woman in Chains, then this reality is far more absurd than that in “Blind Mountain.” Even as people throughout the whole country are trying to save the Woman in Chains, it is not only the people of the village who are committing evil, but the entire Chinese government system itself.

And is the Woman in Chains really Xiao Huamei? This is the unavoidable question at the heart of the matter. Since the case has been strictly sealed by the authorities, and no news has come out since then, we can only analyze the current situation and look at the evidence piece by piece:

Middle picture below: There are two known photos of the person said to be Xiao Huamei, one from her hometown in Yunnan and the other from her certificate of marriage to Dong Zhimin.  One of the photos is somewhat blurry, but even so, anyone who sees these photos may find it difficult to convince themselves that the Woman in Chains is Xiao Huamei.

2. Appearance.  What should Xiao Huamei now look like when in her forties or fifties? Just look at the photo of her supposed half-sister Guang Mouying (bottom). It is easy to find photos of them comparing them to each other on the Internet, and Fang Zhouzi has them on Twitter.

Chinese-language caption (top photo): February 20, 2022: The Institute of Empirical Science of the China University of Political Science and Law (Institute of Forensic Science and Technology) carried out composite identification tests, and the results are consistent.

Chinese-language caption (bottom photo): The half-sister (younger sister, same mother, different father) of Xiao Huamei, Guang Moying. Photo source: blog of Fang Zhouzi.

3. DNA. Officials say that biological samples were taken from the clothes from Xiaohuamei’s late mother, and a DNA comparison test proved that the Woman in Chains was her daughter.  But I would like to ask, since Xiao Huamei’s half-sisters are still alive, have you done a comparative DNA test for them? If it was done and a sister relationship was proven, do you think the authorities would hide it?  If the test has not been conducted, why not? The advantage of using old clothes left behind by a deceased mother several years ago to check DNA is that it is easy to carry out. Only one hair was said to be found, and nothing more. Even if they found a second hair and it did not match, it could then be explained that this hair may not have been left by the same person. And it is actually quite easy to prove whether this “solid” evidence is valid. Find a credible third-party organization to conduct DNA tests on the Woman in Chains and the known sisters of Xiao Huamei. The cost of a few hundred yuan would be enough to quell the raging controversy on the Internet, so why not do it?

4. Accents.  Everyone has seen that the Woman in Chains still has the ability and desire to communicate.  And Xiao Huamei was in her teens when she was abducted, and was not completely mad. Her appearance can change, but her native accent cannot. There are many relatives in Xiao Huamei’s hometown, in particular her younger sister and uncle, who have known her well since she was a child. Was it common for them to see each other?  They have not met since the woman said to be Xiao Huamei was released. This would be enough to prove that the Woman in Chains is Xiao Huamei.  Even if only for humanitarian reasons, this should be done. If the government prohibits this, why do you think that is?

5. The timing of the birth of the children, and the mental state of the Woman in Chains as revealed in the judgment

The eldest son of the Dong family was born in 1997, 13 years before the birth of the second son. According to the verdict, the Woman in Chains was able to take care of herself and work in the fields until she gradually developed serious mental illness after giving birth to her second son. In the interim 13 years, why did Xiao Huamei not have a child during her peak childbearing years, yet had one a year after entering the age of declining fertility? Because of family planning?  We know that family planning was still strictly enforced around 2000.  Is there a possibility, that by the time the second was born Xiao Huamei was by that time no longer around, and the habitual offender Dong Hu had found another woman?

6. Why did Dong Zhimin receive such a light sentence?

Sentencing Dong Zhimin heavily to lessen the indignation of the public would have been the simplest and most effective response anyone could imagine. Yet why did the authorities render such an unbelievable verdict of mere domestic violence once the Woman in Chains had gradually faded out of people’s memories, when this sentence generated a new wave of public anger, and at the same time brought the focus of criticism back to the government?

Perhaps a reasonable explanation is, because Dong Zhimin lied. He used a lie to lessen his guilt, trying to cover up two major problems:

  1. Where is Xiao Huamei ?
  2. Was it another woman who was abducted and tortured to the point of insanity?

And officials found that Dong’s story fit their needs perfectly. Using the story of Xiao Huamei, an abducted woman from a remote mountain village, second-marriage, mentally ill, plain-looking and abandoned by her family, could perfectly conceal the story of the unyielding Woman in Chains who suffered horrific torture and never yielded to what people could see with their own eyes had happened to her. If Dong Zhimin was given a heavy sentence, he would lose any motivation to lie, and so then wouldn’t the thing to do then just be to tell the truth?  The lies that officials had told before had tied them to Dong Zhimin and his fate. They had no choice but to grab the wrap themselves of Dong’s execrable story, and open the door to face themselves the flood of scolding from the public.

7. What is the current state of the Woman in Chains?  Why have the authorities restricted her personal freedom for so long?

We can see that a year ago she was still able to communicate with people, she was very friendly to strangers, and she also had the desire to communicate. When she was first rescued, the authorities sent her to a mental hospital for treatment. They also tried to send official media to shoot some video and publish it to convey to the public that she was fine in every respect. But inevitably and immediately things went wrong. From the details in the video, people discovered things were edited out, and that the woman in chains was being bound by restraining belts and her limbs were tied to an iron bed. This treatment was worse than when she had had a chain around her neck.

In the face of public doubts, if you were an official, what would you do?

  1. If her condition had substantially deteriorated, and she had to be tied up because she was hurting herself or others, then there would have been 24-hour monitoring in the mental hospital, and it would have been easy to find evidence of this to explain the condition of the Woman in Chains and the reason for tying her up.
  2. While waiting for the Woman in Chains to recover, the authorities could shoot some heart-warming interactive videos, with open family visits to ease the public’s worries.

However, since the last video of the Woman in Chains to this point emerged, more than a year has passed, and she has just disappeared without any news emerging. In fact, the cost of such blocking all news has been extremely high. Officials not only blocked online public opinion, but also closed the village of Feng County, Xuzhou for a great while, and even closed the village of Yagu Village, Yunnan Province, Xiao Huamei’s hometown. Why did officials do this? Perhaps they discovered that it is too difficult to lie to the public. No matter how well-prepared you are, the more information you send out, the more holes will be found in the story, and the more difficult it will be to explain yourself. So, just put on a posture of a dead pig unafraid of boiling water, don’t say anything, and block all possible information leaks. What can be done to you then?

And all of this makes it impossible not to worry about the current situation of the Woman in Chains.  If she is really now profoundly mentally ill, it’s fine as far as officials are concerned. And if officials are able to maintain their lies, for them this will be the best result of all. But what if she starts to feel better? I’m afraid this will cause the people who are imprisoning her to be in a constant state of panic.  Moreover, she may have been able to deceive the Dong family by faking mental illness for decades, making them relax their vigilance, finally enabling her to spread her information to the outside world. But now, if she is facing a group of real psychiatrists, can she continue to pretend?

Thinking about the matter again, it is really alarming, something that makes one shudder if one thinks about it carefully.

In sum, the evidence that can be directly verified online, including photos, accents, and appearance, all points to the fact that the Woman in Chains is not Xiao Huamei.  And obviously there is a very simple way to verify whether it is or not. If the government doesn’t do this, and prevents others from doing it, we have every reason to suspect that the Woman in Chains is not Xiao Huamei, and the government knows this and is deliberately concealing it.

And from any perspective, the long-term restriction on the personal freedom of the Woman in Chains, whoever she is, by  CCP officials is a shocking and extraordinarily vicious crime.


(This piece was translated from Yibao Chinese. If republished, please be sure to add the source and link before the text when reprinting: )


The views of the author do not necessarily represent those of this journal.