The news yesterday that human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has been sent back to prison for somehow violating the terms of his parole while being held incommunicado for the past 20 months – “We though he was dead,” said his wife He Geng – once again brings us back to the question of whether foreign pressure is beneficial to those held in such extreme circumstances.
The issue has proven to be highly divisive among Chinese activists and public intellectuals in past months, something addressed in this post about Hollywood actor Christian Bale's failed attempt to visit equally incommunicado rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng.
Tom at the Seeing Red in China blog also raised the issue in a post yesterday, ‘Christian Bale visited Linyi – Does foreign pressure mean anything to the Chinese gov’t?':
Many observers worry that foreign coverage will allow the Party to label these incidents the result of foreign involvement, but there is a growing gap between what the gov’t says and what the people believe (as evidenced by the air monitoring debate in Beijing). Claims of “foreign involvement” have already been made in both places, and have been soundly rejected by Chinese activists. In one case, a prominent commentator claimed that Chen had been funded by foreign forces and was met with a lengthy confrontation by a young woman wearing sunglasses, a symbol of Chen’s supporters, demanding proof that he couldn’t provide. The video spread quickly across Chinese forums.
The crux of Chen Min's argument, shared by many, seems to be that domestic Chinese voices have more potential to help improve the situation of political prisoners like Chen and Gao than those of foreigners who don't have all the details.
But in that vein: move along, pepper spraying cop: