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You would think life has moved on, and the Chinese government has gotten over Chen Guangcheng, the blind barefoot lawyer they had imprisoned and then placed under house arrest. But no, they haven’t. Exactly a year after Chen Guangcheng fled his heavily-guarded house in Dongshigu village on April 20, 2012, they are bearing down on him again by harassing and assaulting his family members in the village. Over the last year, the remaining family, and the village itself, have been carefully monitored, outside visitors were occasionally harassed, but it seemed nothing more than meanness on the part of local officials. Some of the pictures of the village brought to social media showed sunlight, trees, plain-looking farm houses, stone walls, and a general…. bucolic feel if […]


By Chen Guangfu Chen Kegui was tried and sentenced to three years and four months in prison on November 30th for “intentional harm.” Following the trial, his family received a statement, supposedly by Kegui, that he “abandons appeal.” Throughout his detention and trial, Kegui was denied access to his own defense lawyers. As someone who spoke to him shortly after the event that sent him to jail, I simply cannot stop marveling at how blatantly, and also how comfortably, power is abused in China. It’s sickening; it’s chilling. We translated his lawyers’ statement earlier, today we present a rebuttal by his father.  The Beginning On April 20, 2012, the blind Chen Guangcheng, risking his life, made an escape from his own heavily guarded home. After that, he passed through many […]


Last week, a photo emerged on weibo of a woman laying next to her aborted daughter*, and the Chinese Internet exploded in anger over how the One Child Policy was being implemented (The New Yorker has a good overview). I didn’t comment on this last week, not because of self-censorship or a disinterest in the story, but because I had failed to consider just how powerful that image was. In the hospital where I work, dozens of abortions take place everyday in the name of family planning; I had assumed most people were aware of the practice, and as I’ve discussed before abortions aren’t usually seen as a moral choice. While most of these would be considered “voluntary,” if there were no policy, these women would […]


For seven years Chen Guangcheng has been silenced in China for his role in opposing illegal forced abortions in Shandong province, that ended today with his arrival in the US. Even after his escape from thugs in Linyi, the gov’t in Beijing kept him in a tightly guarded hospital room. Finally, he will have a chance to talk openly about his experiences and the situation facing hundreds of other activists in China. I hope you will take a moment to reflect on the power of that image – a man once tortured and imprisoned, now is able to stand in front of the world. I wanted to say that he was no longer afraid of the Chinese gov’t and their reprisals, but much of Chen’s […]


Last week Chen Guangcheng entered a US embassy for the protection that the Chinese gov’t had failed to provide the innocent man. According to Chen’s friends, it was a step that Chen did not want to take. Today we will be looking at three lessons Chen’s case teaches us about China’s legal system. Chen Guangcheng would never call himself a dissident; he might hesitate to even describe himself as an activist. The incredible thing that we should keep in mind as representatives from the US and China decide Chen’s fate, is that he is a man who simply thought that the laws on paper should be enforced. Chen’s initial fame came from his efforts to protect the rights of the disabled and he fell afoul […]


As a China blogger, it’s a pretty big week, open rebellion in Wukan has attracted a flock of journalist, and then Hollywood star Christian Bale/Batman attempted to visit blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng. The big question floating around at the moment is does foreign pressure mean anything to China? Before I address that question I would first like to point out that Christian Bale has created one heck of a dilemma for China’s censors. The media gears have been spinning wildly to promote his new film, The Flowers of War, which opens today in China. I passed Mr. Bale’s image at least 4-5 times just on my way to work this morning. How are they going to block discussion of his trip to Linyi without limiting the […]


This week has seen renewed effort by netizens to visit Linyi, on what they call “group dating”, and instead of Dong Shi Gu, the destination was the People’s Square downtown. Three visitors were charged of “illegal gathering” and detained; a few more have been reported missing. And more are going. As for this week’s Weibo translation, we offer items about the citizen humanitarian effort in Beijing, the still unseen report about the high-speed train collision, what judiciary with Chinese character is like, Taiwan’s presidential debate, and more. Links to a couple of the items have been severed since I culled them, and you can join me to wonder why, but otherwise, click on date below item for link to the original. 翁涛yt:/Weng Tao/(investment executive associated […]


By Yaxue Cao …Continued from earlier posts, this is part 3. Part 1, Part 2 From a Small Prison to a Big One Chen Guangcheng was released on September 9, 2010, and has been under illegal house arrest since then. His home is monitored by multiple cameras, floodlit 24 hours a day, and all communications with the outside world are severed. Close to a hundred men guard his home and are present on every road leading to his village, intercepting, beating, robbing, and humiliating visitors. After a video of him was smuggled out and shown to the world, he and his family were beaten. In a letter smuggled out later to seek help, his wife described how Zhang Jian (张建), the Deputy Party Secretary of […]


By Yaxue Cao …Continued from yesterday Forced Abortion and Sterilization In July 2004, the People’s Government of Linyi issued a directive to step up population control efforts. Unsatisfied with the results, Linyi government issued a more forceful directive in February 2005, marking the beginning of a vicious campaign in the 9 counties and 3 districts under its jurisdiction. The measures included: Raids—In the middle of the night when villagers were sound asleep, family control officials and their hired thugs would kick people’s doors open or enter their property by jumping over the enclosing walls, pulling everyone in the house away regardless of age, as long as someone in their family was hiding to avoid abortion or sterilization. Resisters were beaten on the spot. One house […]


By Yaxue Cao, published: November 12, 2011   To say life didn’t start promisingly for him is a vast understatement. He was born on November 12, 1971, in the impoverished village Dong Shi Gu (东师古) in Yinan County, Shandong province, the youngest of five boys. He lost his vision to high fever when he was around one year old. He didn’t go to school until 18 years old. In the Chinese countryside, where living is at its barest, expectations are a rare commodity to begin with, and for the disabled, there are none. For most of the part, they are seen and treated as a family scourge that must be borne. A Naughty Boy Despite blindness, he told friends he had a happy childhood. His […]


For over a month now we’ve been covering the story of Chen Guangcheng, thanks largely to Yaxue’s “Heard on Weibo” section. We’ve seen it grow from an online protest, to manifesting in the physical world with activists attempting to enter Chen’s village only to be beaten back time and again (this link is an incredible account of such a group). The issue is now widely known, and the angry question seems to be “How can Linyi’s government treat people this way?” But now the question is starting to shift to “How can the central government allow local thugs to treat people this way?” In China, calling for action from the Central government would typically be an ineffective approach. Most of the high-profile cases are never officially […]


This week’s Heard on Weibo offers translation of postings about the violence in Huzhou, Zhejiang province, where store keepers revolted against increased taxes; China should provide nuclear protection to North Korea; a young man being arrested for founding a pro-democracy website; what is “dignity”; and the continued activism to free the blind rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng (latest NYT report here and two powerful video clips: here and here). Click on date below item for link to the original. Zhou Tianyong / 周天勇/(Professor at University of Science & Technology Beijing) : The revolt against increased taxes in Huzhou is a milestone. In the past I have appealed many times regarding over-taxation, excessive fees and fines, high cost for small and micro businesses to borrow money, high […]


This week China’s central gov’t continued to urge the development of Chinese culture, which no one is entirely sure how to do (at the hospital I have heard several times that we need to promote our hospital’s culture). Sensing that Confucianism hasn’t really caught on overseas, the gov’t promoted Daoism in a world conference. Sam Crane from “The Useless Tree,” was quick to point out that Daoist philosophy might undermine the Party’s authority; for example: “The people are starving, and it’s only because you leaders feast on taxes that they’re starving.” A few days later, protests against taxes turned into riots in the town of Huzhou (if only they’d read the Daoist classics sooner). A reader who used to live in the city told me […]


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