Source: NYT (2/29/24)
China Has Thousands of Navalnys, Hidden From the Public
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China has no dissident with the kind of public profile that Aleksei A. Navalny had. The government has many critics, but they all disappear from view.
By Li Yuan
After watching “Navalny,” the documentary about the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, a Chinese businesswoman messaged me, “Ren Zhiqiang is China’s Navalny.” She was talking about the retired real estate tycoon who was sentenced to 18 years in prison for criticizing China’s leader, Xi Jinping.
After Mr. Navalny’s tragic death this month, a young dissident living in Berlin posted on X, “Teacher Li is closest to the Chinese version of Navalny.” He was referring to the rebel influencer known as Teacher Li, who used social media to share information about protests in China and who now fears for his life.
The sad fact is that there’s no Chinese equivalent of Mr. Navalny because there’s no opposition party in China, and therefore no opposition leader.
It’s not for lack of trying. Many courageous Chinese stood up to the most powerful authoritarian government in the world. Since 2000, the nonprofit humanitarian organization Duihua has recorded the cases of 48,699 political prisoners in China, with 7,371 now in custody. None of them has the type of name recognition among the Chinese public that Mr. Navalny did in Russia. Continue reading