Chen Guangcheng: Activists, Ambassadors, Cartoonists & Congressmen

Activist Chen Guangcheng and his family remain under house arrest in southern Shandong province, and a stream of supporters continue efforts to gain access to them. As Chen’s birthday (this Saturday, November 12th) approaches, some supporters have planned flashmobs to mark the occasion, but authorities appear to be taking heightened precautions, with regular visitor He Peirong reportedly under “semi house arrest” in Nanjing. Reuters reported last week that, faced with intransigent officials and empty guarantees of safe passage in Linyi, some of Chen’s would-be visitors have taken their complaints to Beijing: Some of the supporters were beaten by dozens of men in plain clothes while trying to visit Chen on Sunday, and their complaints were later ignored by the local police, said Mao Hengfeng, a petitioner from Shanghai. She said the petitioners then went to Beijing’s Ministry of Public Security, but it was not clear whether officials accepted their petition expressing concerns about Chen’s treatment. “We were roughed up and pushed around, and some of us were hurt, but the police didn’t lift a finger and ignored our complaints,” Mao told Reuters about the weekend incident in Linyi. “Now we want the Ministry of Public Security to do something about Linyi — it’s a place without any law or rights.” But Jerome Cohen, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed based on his Nov. 1 testimony to the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, wrote that the image of the Linyi government as a rogue, independent actor is a misconception. While limited aspects of the story may indeed be cases of local-vs-national government, he argues, the situation as a whole is part of a broader program in which Beijing is entirely complicit. There are three myths about Mr. Chen’s plight that must be dispelled. One is that such cases of persecution and ...
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