Wang Jinxiang, the mother of Chinese human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng, recently had her social security benefit payments and telephone line cut off. Wang still resides in Dongshigu Village, Yinan County, Shandong Province, China; the news of her treatment was relayed to Sound of Hope Radio by Chen’s brother, Chen Guangfu.
Chen Guangcheng is a civil rights advocate who exposed the Chinese authorities’ abuses in enforcing the one-child policy, which subsequently led to his imprisonment and house arrest. In 2012, he escaped and fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. After negotiations with Chinese officials, he, along with his wife and children, were eventually granted U.S. visas, and he now serves as a visiting scholar at New York University.
One of the conditions of Chen’s coming to the United States was that the Chinese authorities would stop harassing his family.
However, Chen’s family in China has been regularly surveilled and retaliated against by local authorities in Shandong Province. Chen’s nephew, Chen Kegui, for example, was sentenced to three years in prison on November 2012, for attacking men associated with the local government that broke into his house — most recently, he was being denied medical care for acute appendicitis while in custody.
Chen Guangfu told SOH Radio that he was unsure what stood behind the recent treatment of their mother, though he noted that the village Party secretary’s wife hinted at cancelling the benefit payments when associates of dissident artist Ai Weiwei visited the family in April.
The restrictions on Chen’s mother stand in contrast to a recent about-face by the authorities on May 27, when, after three months of deadlock, they processed the passport applications for Chen Guangfu and Wang Jinxiang. Analysts at the time thought that the gesture was made to ease tensions before Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States; now that Wang will be missing her monthly payments, and has no working phone line, that theory may have to be revised.