What defines a “dissident” in China? Tim Johnson looks at the case of imprisoned activist Guo Feixiong:
In Guangzhou, Guo and I chatted, along with my assistant, and he offered some details about his life in detention. But then I spelled out to Guo that I wanted to investigate prison labor, what products are made in prisons, and who benefits from the huge cost advantages of such low-cost labor, Guo basically went mum.
To paraphrase, he said such a story would be harmful to China’s image and he would not collaborate. I was surprised. Stunned really. I thought that a fellow of his sensitivities would be interested in shedding light on the prison labor practice. But he was adamant in saying he thought such a story would end up hurting legitimate industries, and would do more harm than good. Thus, Guo’s patriotic and nationalist stripes emerged. It was an eye-opener. [Full text]