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Please return next week, when we will slap you in the face

I travelled to Shandong Province last week to report on the story of Chen Guangcheng, a blind lawyer being held under extrajudicial house arrest. "House" is too narrow a term -- his entire village has been blocked off by plainclothes security.

On Thursday night, over dinner at a Kentucky Fried Chicken, I interviewed an activist named Wang Xuezhen.

Wang told me that the last time she'd tried to enter Chen's village, men put a bag put over her head and kicked her repeatedly. They also stole all of Wang's belongings.

She was headed to a police station the next morning to file a complaint and try to get her stuff back. I tagged along to see what would happen. At the station in Linyi,  a city that has administrative oversight of Chen's village, Wang watched a group of men outside with concern.

She spoke with a police officer -- "my cell phone was smashed by unidentified people" --  took the paperwork her gave her and then pulled out a cell phone to make some calls.

She dialed her husband, a fellow activist and then a Chinese journalist to let them know what was happening.

“I don’t want to be beaten, I just want to get my things back," Wang said into her cell phone. At the end of it, an officer asked her to come back the next week.

Wang did return this week, to another police station closer to Chen's village. Peter Foster, a journalist from The Telegraph, was there and described what happened in a report published today:

"The policeman’s hand slapped the woman’s face with an audible crack. Standing only five feet tall in her trainers, barely the height of her assailant’s epaulettes, she took the blow without a cry ... Stumbling out of the police station and holding her stinging face, Miss Wang bitterly observed a truth about contemporary China: the country’s lawlessness begins with the law itself."

Later in the article, Foster explains that:

"Ironically, Miss Wang and two others had paid a visit to the local police station to ask for protection from the thugs who – just like the officer who struck her and removed the Velcro patch with his police number on – operate above the law, but apparently with its tacit support.

Their request was met with scorn.

'You are citizens of China, of course you are free to visit the village,' said the senior officer, who would not give his name, but did wear his ID number, 076970. 'If there are problems we will protect you, but we cannot protect you against imaginary difficulties.'

It was then that Miss Wang started to argue, retorting that the last time she came to Dongshigu, on September 21, a bag was put over her head before she was beaten and robbed and yet the police offered her no protection and refused to investigate her case. After firing a particularly strong insult at the officer, that slap suddenly rang out. But what would be grounds for an assault charge in Britain was brushed off as just another unavoidable knock."



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ryan homes

Most Chinese real estate sites do not have an English site. I think it goes something like where companies do not feel the need to go global due to the sheer weight of their local market.

Duncan Matthew

Greg, if you are looking for a positive spin on things, even in the midst of railway catastrophes, as an example, I suggest Xinhua.com for your reading pleasure.

If you really do wish to read about houses being built, find a nice real-estate website to browse (though, I'd caution you about looking at the prices - prices falling or prices soaring might be too much bad news for you).

Greg, by intent or not, you are putting yourself in a position of support for officers like 076970, who look with scorn on those who have "imaginary difficulties."

In this particular case, Wang and Chen's story will not, can not, be told by the local media. So who will be their voice?

Last spring, I was with a friend going to a small town outside of the city I live in. On the way, we saw 3-4 masked men with clubs breaking the legs of a peddler. My friend stopped the car to watch for a moment. The scene made me nauseated. The masked men left the scene in a white car that lacked license plates. When we got to our destination, my friend asked the boss about what we saw. After talking about it for a bit, the boss figured the masked men were the local police.


western media, seems to portray china as on the verge of collapse, lawless, grim.

hard to find any positive news about china.

truth or propaganda?

or is it just the built-in bias of news and news organizations? a house gets built, not news, one burns down, news.

one thing is for sure, reading western news media is no way to learn about china.

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"China Rises" is written by Tom Lasseter, the Beijing bureau chief for McClatchy Newspapers.

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