tirsdag 17. oktober 2017

China's 'stability maintenance' agents move to silence critics before party congress

They came for Yu Wensheng last Tuesday. Their message: stay silent and obey. “They told me not to give any interviews ... and asked me to sign a letter of commitment to ensure I wouldn’t get them into any trouble,” the Beijing-based human rights lawyer recalled of the visit he received from members of China’s vast “stability maintenance” apparatus.

Yu, an outspoken attorney, is one of hundreds, possibly thousands of Chinese activists and petitioners coming under pressure in the run-up to a key political summit – the 19th Communist party congress – which kicks off in the capital on Wednesday. Beijing wants no surprises during the twice-a-decade gathering, which marks the end of Xi Jinping’s first five-year term as China’s top leader, and in recent weeks security agents have been fanning out across the country to quell even the slightest hint of dissent.