Sunday, April 29, 2012

China Cracks Down After Chen Escape

BEIJING—The Chinese government clamped down on activists and online media in the wake of the dramatic escape of a blind human-rights advocate from home imprisonment, an embarrassing development for Beijing that could complicate U.S.-China relations if he is found to be in U.S. protective custody.

At least three activists were detained following the escape last week of Chen Guangcheng, a legal advocate who has fought forced abortions under China's one-child policy.

Meanwhile, popular Twitter-like microblogging service Sina Weibo blocked use of the words "blind man" and "UA898," a United Airlines flight from Beijing to Washington that Mr. Chen was rumored to have taken out of China. News of his escape hasn't appeared in major state-run media.

Chinese officials appeared to be digging for details of Mr. Chen's escape from his home in the village of Dongshigu in Shandong province on April 22, which friends said was a carefully planned effort in which Mr. Chen scaled a wall at night, confined himself to his bedroom for weeks to fool his guards into thinking his health was poor and moved among safe houses once in Beijing. Mr. Chen escaped alone, and his wife and daughter are believed to still be under home confinement, his friends say. Read More