"Many optimistic observers of China, often mollified by their close relations with the Communist regime, bet on a soft transition from despotism toward an open society, but recent events don’t support such a benign interpretation. Since the beginning of this year, repression of human rights activists, lawyers, and bloggers has been harsher than ever.For more on the reality check on China and the 2008 Olympics, read this.
...Chen, a blind peasant and self-taught lawyer, had protested in 2005 against the kidnapping of some 3000 women in his hometown of Linyi. The women were sterilized or forced into having abortions in order to stabilize the population increase in the region. As this extreme violence violates Chinese law, Chen petitioned the central government – the only legally recognized form of protest in China. When carrying his petition to Beijing, escorted by a tiny group of lawyers, Chen was accused of disrupting traffic on the city’s clogged roads and condemned to four years in jail."