Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chen, China and America

The disputed story of a blind activist raises difficult questions for both superpowers

AT RARE moments the future of a nation, even one teeming with 1.3 billion souls, can be bound up in the fate of a single person. Just possibly China is living through one of those moments and Chen Guangcheng is that person. A blind activist from Shandong province, Mr Chen emerged from poverty, fought for justice and paid the price with his own liberty. Last month he made a bid for freedom and became ensnared in the impersonal machinery of superpower politics. What now befalls him and his family raises questions about Sino-American relations and the character of Chinese power.

In many ways, Mr Chen is the best of modern China. Blind since childhood, poorly educated until adulthood and then self-taught, he became a lawyer, never a safe career in a country where might is right. As a peasant activist fighting local battles—which makes him a much more potent force in China than politicised members of the urban elite such as the artist Ai Weiwei (see article)—he was praised for years by the local government for advocating the rights of disabled people. Then he crossed the line by taking on the local party over the abortions and sterilisations it enforced as part of China’s strict one-child policy. After four years in jail on spurious charges, Mr Chen was kept prisoner in his own home for 19 months. Read more......

No comments:

Post a Comment

Everyone is encouraged to participate with civilized comments.