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Authorities labeled it China's "Most Civilized City." And that's sparked an angry reaction from citizens, because that city, Linyi, is where popular rights activist Chen Guangcheng is being locked up under house arrest. Citizens are calling the label a farce.
At the beginning of December, the Chinese regime's Central Guidance Committee named Linyi City in Shandong Province the "Most Civilized" prefecture-level city in China. This is the same city where blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng has been put under house arrest for exposing how authorities were carrying out forced abortions under the one-child policy.
The award has provoked a strong reaction from Chinese netizens. One posted the phone number of the committee online—suggesting people phone in to complain.
Yunnan-based Netizen Zhu Chengzhi said he was going out in a Chen Guangcheng T-shirt to protest.
[Zhu Chengzhi, Yunnan Netizen]:
"It's a farce. I'm wearing a Chen Guangcheng T-shirt today, one with his face on it, and I'm going out to protest. I definitely don't want [this award] to tarnish the word 'civilized.'"
Former Shandong University professor Sun Wenguang says the award is simply a propaganda trick by the regime.
[Sun Wenguang, Former Shandong University Professor]:
"Linyi prefecture is so dark and so backward. Chen Guangcheng was just standing up for people's rights and he was locked up for a few years, and when his sentence ended, he wasn't allowed to meet anyone, including reporters. His rights have been totally snatched away. When you consider the events that happened to Chen Guangcheng in Linyi, you could say it is a most un-civilized city."
At the end of November, US Congressman Chris Smith tried to visit Chen Guangcheng in China. But Chinese authorities denied Smith a visa. Chen Guangcheng remains under house arrest.