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Chen Guangcheng

Who will speak for China's dissidents?

Who will speak for China's dissidents?

The Chinese government is tightening its stranglehold on dissent as it tries to steady its swooning currency and economy. Since July, Beijing has rounded up at least 270 human rights lawyers and activists, some of whom have now been missing for months. In recent weeks the Ministry of Public Security has targeted nearly 200 people for "spreading rumors" about China's plunging stock market and paraded a noted journalist on state-run television with a supposed "confession" that his unsubstantiated reporting led to market dips.

Yet as the pressure on dissenters has mounted, criticism from around the world has been muted. And when Chinese President Xi Jinping...