China’s Dissidents: a Long, Hopeful Struggle

Following Chen Guangcheng’s remarkable escape to Beijing and then New York, CNN’s Steven Jiang describes the growth of China’s home-grown rights movement, which includes some of Chen’s associates:

Hu Jia is an old friend of Chen and among the first people he met after fleeing to Beijing. A champion of democracy and political freedom, Hu, 39, was arrested and sentenced to three and a half years in prison on subversion charges before the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

[…] “I’ve always told the authorities, we’re playing the game of cat and mouse — but I am the cat,” he added.

Inspired by the likes of Hu and Chen, analysts see a trend of more people in the younger generation — armed with legal knowledge and Internet skills — joining the ranks of human rights activists at a time when mass discontent over problems like a widening income gap and rampant official corruption simmer beneath the surface.

Former English teacher He Peirong — known by her online name Pearl — was so touched by Chen’s story that she became involved in the plan to rescue him from his village to Beijing. Police in her hometown of Nanjing detained her for a week after Chen’s escape in April, but she says she feels no regrets.

“As we become more educated and better off, I think our political conscience will become stronger, as more people wake up to stand up for their rights,” she said, adding that police had warned her not to go to Beijing during the Party Congress.

The article also describes the current situation of Chen’s mother, brother and nephew, Chen Kegui, following the younger Chen’s arrest. See more on Chen Guangcheng via CDT.