Sources close to the family of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, who has been under house arrest at his home in Linyi since late 2010, told Reuters on Monday that provincial government officials in Shandong have answered calls to ease some restrictions on him and his family:
He Peirong, an activist based in the east Chinese city of Nanjing, told Reuters the Shandong provincial government had responded to some of the requests of Chen’s supporters. Those included allowing Chen to receive medicine sent by supporters and to allow his six-year-old daughter to go to school.
“He is at a delicate crossroads now,” said He, a Chen family friend. “The three conditions that we’ve requested the government for have basically been met.”
“Except the issue about seeking medical treatment — they haven’t allowed him to go to the hospital for a full check-up.”
County and town officials near Chen’s home who Reuters called about his case either hung up their phones when asked about him or said they could not speak to reporters.
He Peirong said she doubted that the recent concessions meant that Chen would win his freedom, an assertion backed by a source close to his family. Still, sources told He that some government officials believe they have “gone overboard” with the matter, indicating conflicting views about how to treat him.
While fellow activists, netizens, journalists and others have attempted to visit Chen, none have succeeded. Last week, ChinaGeeks translated a blog post by Beijing netizen Xiao Cuo, who sees Chen’s case as an opportunity for the development of civil society in China and urged fellow supporters to avoid violence and find creative ways to visit Chen:
On 27 November, he blogged about (as expected, the original is being deleted) his experience of distributing and putting up notices about Chen Guangcheng’s cause around Linyi city and Chen’s village. Rather than trying to approach him, they attached notices to electric poles, village house walls and even notice boards in Linyi University. These notices have attracted attention from students and local villagers. Perhaps the thugs responsible for holding up Chen are amongst them?
Xiao Cuo dubbed his project “Operation Old Military Doctor”. Back in the 1980s, roving doctors in China often boasted themselves as experienced “military doctors” who could cure many diseases in advertisements they put up on electric poles and street walls.
Tactically speaking, he advises netizens to adopt a low-profile, be swift in action, dress as locals and avoid going in large groups. Having a well-planned route is also important. To sustain public attention, he suggests disclosing operational results bit by bit first, before publishing a complete record. Sharing the route taken is also a good idea, so that others can plan different ones. Of course, his idea is only one possibility among many. He challenges netizens to use their imagination and implement even more brilliant plans.
In the meantime, the government’s Central Guidance Committee has named Linyi the “Most Civilized” prefecture-level city in China. The move has generated significant reaction from netizens, according to NDTV (see also a YouTube video on the news):
Former Shandong University professor Sun Wenguang says the award is simply a propaganda trick by the regime.
[Sun Wenguang, Former Shandong University Professor]:
“Linyi prefecture is so dark and so backward. Chen Guangcheng was just standing up for people’s rights and he was locked up for a few years, and when his sentence ended, he wasn’t allowed to meet anyone, including reporters. His rights have been totally snatched away. When you consider the events that happened to Chen Guangcheng in Linyi, you could say it is a most un-civilized city.”
See also additional CDT coverage of Chen Guangcheng.