Analysts: Chen Guangcheng's Escape Could Be Trouble for Zhou Yongkang
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Published on Apr 27, 2012
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We learned today that one of China's most prominent dissidents, blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng, has escaped from house arrest.
This is big news. Authorities in Shandong province had kept Chen under illegal surveillance for the past year and a half. Chen's case has been closely followed by rights advocates from around the world, with continued calls for his release.
The escape also comes amidst the Chinese regime's current political turmoil.
Analysts say this latest development will almost certainly add further scrutiny on Zhou Yongkang, the Politburo Standing Committee Member who also heads China's security machine. Zhou is already reportedly under investigation for planning a power takeover with disgraced official Bo Xilai.
NTD Senior China Analyst Zhang Tianliang tells us that the local police department in Lingyi wouldn't have been able to hold Chen under house arrest without the support of Zhou Yongkang's security apparatus.
[Zhang Tianliang, NTD Senior China Analyst]:
"Because Chen Guangcheng is persecuted by the Shandong police. But you know they have received a lot of pressure from the international communities, celebrities [and] the media. However, as a local government they cannot continue this kind of persecution under such pressure. So if they don't have backup from the Central Political and Legislative Affairs Committee, headed by Zhou Yongkang, then the persecution cannot continue."
The Central Political and Legislative Affairs Committee, or PLAC is a very powerful security organ that oversees all of China's law enforcement authorities as well as the courts system.
NTD Senior China Analyst Wen Zhao also says Zhou Yongkang will be implicated in Chen's house arrest. He believes it will be difficult for Zhou to push the blame to local authorities in Shandong, given the international nature of Chen's case.
[Wen Zhao, NTD Senior China Analyst]:
"First the Chen Guangcheng incident has wide-reaching implications. It's impossible that central authorities do not know about it. You cannot just reprimand a few county or prefecture level officials to satisfy the public's call for justice. Also, even if Zhou Yongkang wants base-level officials to take the blame, these people are not fools -- and given the example of Wang Lijun, won't these people gather material on Zhou and expose it at foreign consulates? So given the current situation, Zhou Yongkang and his PLAC really have no hope of recovering from here."
Chen Guangcheng is said to be in a "safe place" in Beijing. There are also unconfirmed reports that he has sought refuge at the U.S. Embassy, or may have actually already left China.
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