China dissidents eye unertain post-Olympics landscapec

79-year-old mother, Wu Dianyuan, center, and her neighbor Wang Xiuying, 77, wait to apply for a protest permit outside a public security bureau as a Chinese police officer ask them to move on in Beijing, China, Monday, Aug. 18, 2008. AP Photo by Ng Han Guan

From AFP:

Despite hopes the Olympics would improve human rights, China's crackdown on dissidents before and during the Games has likely set the stage for a lasting period of even tighter controls, government critics say.

Beijing-based AIDS campaigner Wan Yanhai is back at work following a government-imposed shutdown of his activities during the recent Summer Olympics, but he's treading carefully.

He said police have tailed him recently and the government last month applied new pressure with a surprise tax probe of his Aizhixing Institute, which advocates for the rights of AIDS victims, a touchy subject in China.

"With the Olympics over, it looks like they have even more time to give us trouble," Wan told AFP.

"If the Nobel Peace Prize had been given to (a Chinese), this would have been very encouraging. That is something that China needs," said Dai Qing, 68, a journalist who has campaigned against the harsh environment and social costs of China's Three Gorges Dam Project.

Dissident writer Liu Xiabo scoffed at those who believed the Olympics would further human rights in China.

"Those people don't understand the Communist Party," he said, estimating that it could take 20 years before the party altered its approach of stamping out any voices that challenge its supremacy.

That could mean trouble ahead, he added, noting rising discontent and frequent outbursts of violence throughout China by marginalised segments of society.

"After that experience, I've become more careful because you know, you have a responsibility to your family and, actually, the government has put a lot of pressure on me recently," he said.