“I was visited twice by local police, once on December 14 and then again two days later,” teacher Chang Xiongfa told the Telegraph. “They searched my house and asked me who was behind the Charter. Our lives are not safe here.”
Chang claimed he had filed close to 100 official complaints with the Shanghai government petition office, without success.
“The police told me that if I took a case to Beijing, I would get five days in prison the first time, ten days the next time, and then I would be sent to a re-education through labor camp,” he said.
One Charter 08 signer, businessman Liu Changliang, told the Telegraph’s Malcolm Moore that citizens visit the Shanghai petition office each week to “complain about their situation. In front of them all, the police beat up one or two every morning, despite their age or sex, as an example.”
Meanwhile, one Chinese dissident expressed gratitude for President Bush’s ongoing support of his cause. Xiao Qiang, who runs the Chinese blog Rock-n-Go, was invited to the White House last week for a meeting between dissident bloggers from China, Burma, Cuba and other nations, and outgoing President George W. Bush.
Xiao reported, “For an hour, the president listened as the bloggers described how they attempt to circumvent state censorship to disseminate news and organize pressure for change on the Internet. His purpose, he said, was ‘to honor, herald and highlight the brave souls who are on the front lines – and that’s you.’ More than anything else, the meeting itself showed that the voices of activists inside China are being heard and supported by the White House.”
Xiao Qiang pointed out the hopeful news that despite official controls on the Internet, there are now more Chinese bloggers than American bloggers. He said this “signifies the nascent convergence of different social forces – from voices within the system to human rights activists and bloggers – to promote political reform in China, facilitated by the Internet, under the common banner of a ‘Citizens’ Movement.’”