Chinese Refugee Pursues Freedom in Frederick

Lanjian Zhao risked his life to practice freedom of speech in China and suffered horrible consequences from Chinese authorities. Now he volunteers, giving out the groceries you help provide to the community through our Food Distribution Center.

Linjian was a journalist in China but officially left the profession in 2014 because of government repression. He started independently posting stories about social injustice online. When news broke of sex trafficking in China’s Yunnan Province, Linjian exposed the government’s role in covering up the scandal.

His reports made him a target of police from five provinces and cities. Throughout the spring of last year, Zhao endured multiple illegal and terrifying interrogations. “I didn’t know that freedom of speech was such a taboo topic [in China], and I never thought the police could be so cruel to a citizen like me.”

“At the most difficult time in my life, the only place I could think of that could help me was America.”

When he got the chance,  Linjian fled China through Malaysia. He arrived in New York City last summer.

In recognition of his bravery, he recently won the “Journalist Courage Award” from the non-governmental organizations China Women’s Rights and Christian Justice Alliance. He lived in New York City until recently, moving to Maryland since he has a contact here. Linjian felt that NYC is “too multicultural” and hoped to embrace American culture in our small-town environment.

Because of your support, the Mission offers groceries to hundreds of people every week. When  Linjian discovered this resource, he waited in line to receive food. He was impressed by the quantity of the food you provided and the friendliness of the volunteers who served him. The following week, he became a volunteer, and even though he speaks little English, he delights in giving food to those who need it.

Linjian’s journey to experience all of America’s freedom is complex. He has a long way to go but is determined to fight for his own freedom as a political refugee and for those oppressed in China. He says, “Freedom of speech is also the right to life.”


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