Only a few years ago, Chen Guangcheng, a blind man who taught himself the law, was hailed as a champion of peasant rights who symbolized China’s growing embrace of legal norms.
Mr. Chen helped other people with disabilities avoid illegal fees and taxes. He forced a paper mill to stop spewing toxic chemicals into his village’s river. The authorities in his home province, Shandong, considered him a propaganda coup and broadcast clips from his wedding ceremony on television.
All that changed last year, when he organized a rare class-action lawsuit against the local government for forcing peasants to have late-term abortions and be sterilized. Mr. Chen, 35, is now a symbol of something else: the tendency of Communist Party officials to use legal pretexts to crush dissent. [Full Text]
Chen’s wife is keeping a blog titled “Guangcheng, Come Home Soon.” See also a comment from the Letters from China blog and “Scuffles at China activist trial” from the BBC. More coverage of the trial is available via Google News.