In Beijing, the authorities have placed Cha Jianguo and Gao Hongming under house arrest on 27 and 29 January respectively. They are guarded by police stationed at their apartment building but are allowed to leave their homes on condition they travel in police vehicles.
When asked why, police say that the two dissidents are under surveillance in accordance with orders from higher authorities. Obviously, the two men cannot meet any other dissident.
Both were co-founders of the China Democracy Party in 1998 and for that reason were arrested on subversion charges.
On 27 January, security staff employed by Guangxi Jiahe Development Group, a real estate developer, attacked with clubs and shields Huang Jianxian, a 76-year-old man who enquired about their activity as they stripped away electric cables at his farm.
Locals who came to his defence were driven away. Others called police who came only an hour later.
Later, about 200 Jiuquwan residents demonstrated outside of the Jiahe Group building. They were dispersed by about a hundred police agents.
Huang’s family said that their relative is uneducated and he was tricked into signing a contract to sell his land to the Jiahe Group without being told the full extent of the deal.
Land disputes remain a thorn in the side of the central government. Last Friday, central authorities released new draft regulations to protect homeowners against buyers; as part of the process, they are asking the public for input.
On paper, this represents an improvement but laws, in China, have a way of being ignored by those who are supposed to enforce it.