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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

As West woos China, no word about missing rights activist Gao Zhisheng


The Independent: When the Chancellor, George Osborne, and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, hosted visiting Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang at a cosy dinner at Mansion House on Monday, it is a fair bet that the extra-judicial torture of the man formerly on China's official list of its 10 best lawyers was not among the topics discussed.

The details of what the Chinese police did to Gao Zhisheng during his mysterious 10-month disappearance would have ruined anyone's appetite.

The brilliant human rights lawyer, who had risen from an orphaned childhood in a cave dwelling to a starring role in Beijing's courts, defending citizens against land theft, censorship and religious intolerance, was beaten day and night, temporarily blinded and threatened with death.

Next week Hu Jintao, China's supreme leader, goes to Washington, and despite China's flat refusal to take more than token measures to revalue the renminbi, its crucial role in continuing to invest in the US is likely to keep all political lips tightly zipped. It was a strangely muted President Obama who toured China in November 2009, a shadow of his usual eloquent self, and Mr Hu is likely to bring that infectious air of Confucian calm along with him.

And while the Chinese are courted, flattered and indulged, what of Gao Zhisheng?

That degree of cruelty, there's no way to recount it...'

Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer who has defended many enemies of the Chinese state including members of the Falun Gong sect, was first jailed for "subversion" in 2006.

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