Why is China so terrified of dissent?

The last year has seen an escalation in the harassment of dissidents by the Chinese authorities, leading some to claim that there is less freedom than before the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989There is an expression in China: “Kill the chicken before the monkey.” Target the weak and vulnerable, it means, to frighten the strong and many.Last week, it was the turn of writer Zhao Shiying, secretary-general of the Independent Chinese Pen Centre, which campaigns on behalf of imprisoned writers and in favour of free expression.Zhao was a signatory – along with Liu Xiaobo, a leading dissident jailed for 11 years on Christmas Day – of Charter 08, a document that called for political reform of China’s state institutions. Police went to his home in the southern city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, on Monday to take him away, along with his computers, books and other documents.

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