People’s Square, in the middle of Shanghai, is not like Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Shanghai’s square is huge — but green. It feels in April a bit like Central Park.
A few months ago something extraordinary—for China—happened here. Thousands of people marched into People’s Square to protest the extension of a high-speed Maglev train line through their neighborhood — and the protest worked. The project was dropped. In China, that’s news. Almost amazing. Because most dissenters in China face a much grimmer outcome… Harassment. Beatings. Jail. Worse.
The Chinese government doesn’t like to talk about it. But we will, with people who know the problem well. This hour, from Shanghai: Dissent in China.
Our panel of guests for this important hour are people who know the often hidden world of dissent and punishment well.
Joining us in Shanghai is Jerome Cohen, one of the world’s top authorities on China’s legal system. He is a professor at New York University School of Law, a partner in the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and a senior fellow for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. He’s been following the law and dissent in China for more than 30 years.
Joining us from New York is Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China, a group that promotes democratic reform in China. She is a professor of law emerita at City University of New York School of Law and a board member of Human Rights Watch/Asia.
And with us from Boston is journalist Leu Siew Ying. She worked for the South China Morning Post from 2002 to 2007 in the southern province of Guangdong, and covered local protests there. She is currently a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, studying grassroots democracy in China.