June 1, 2012
The Friday (6/1/12) Washington Times carries an important article by Charles Hutzler (AP) giving an overview of how intensively dissidents are watched/harassed in China. (See Targeted Dissidents Closely Watched: Activist Teacher Not Allowed in Classroom; Survillance Posted Outside Home.) The story describes the intensive surveillance of a school teacher, Mr. Yao Lifa, whose misdeed is decades of campaigning for democratic elections.
State surveillance is increasing not decreasing:
While China has long been a police state, controls on these nonoffenders mark a new expansion of police resources at a time the authoritarian leadership is consumed with keeping its hold over a fast-changing society.
Co-workers, neighbors, government office workers, unemployed young toughs and gang members are being used to monitor perceived troublemakers, according to rights groups and people under surveillance.
Social activists that no one has ever heard of have 10 people watching them, said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher with Human Rights Watch The task is to identify and nip in the bud any destabilizing factors for the regime.
According to the article on any given day from 14 to 50 people are on the local payroll for Yaos surveillance. Furthermore, in a far southern county, Yunan, more than a quarter of its 6,700 officials are on the stability payroll, the magazine Caijing reported last year.
This story helps put the oppressive security around Chen Guangcheng in perspective: it is not an accident or isolated incident.