A few weeks ago we covered the story of Chen Guangcheng, the blind human rights activist who became embroiled in a cat-and-mouse game with Chinese authorities and created a minor diplomatic incident when he sought refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. The good news from that story is Chen was eventually granted permission to leave China along with family, where they will settle in the United States. The bad news is, the friends and family that Chen does leave behind could be subject to continued harassment by local authorities.
Chen’s story is just one of thousands in China. Though it is an emerging power that cautiously courts the Western world; when it comes to human rights, China resembles a brutal dictatorship– with systematic crackdowns on dissidents in Tibet and forcible assimilations of other cultures such the Uyghur people in the country’s western Xinjiang province.
Aryeh Neier, president of the Open Society Foundation described China’s human rights record as “taking one step forward, three steps backward.” When ask what the “one step forward” is, Neier alluded to the role journalists play in the country.