BY FA KEYU
BEIJING (China Daily Show) – “I used to share a dorm in a subterranean cave with fifteen others in Beijing’s Fengtai District,” said construction worker Ai Laowei, 45. “But that was before I wrote a letter of mild complaint to my local government. After that, I got whisked straight into a black jail cell of my own.”
Ai didn’t stop there. “Once I got out, I produced a sculpture depicting my state of mind, using reclaimed building materials. Now I have an 11-year lease on a six-foot by four-foot room in central Beijing.”
As urban property prices skyrocket, creating fears of an unsustainable housing bubble, more and more Chinese like Ai are turning to casual dissidence in a bid to win a place in the capital’s increasingly crowded prisons.
“It’s first come, first screwed,” explained prison guard Lu Qian. “Get arrested next month and you’re looking at sharing a cell with about four other human rights lawyers and a couple of scholars. No one wants that.”
Timing is everything in Beijing’s volatile prison property market. Rising inflation rates of up to 5% have seen housewives, bored farmers and frustrated students post inflammatory remarks on microblogs and throw dead-eyed glances at passing policemen, all in the hope of being detained.
“The early adopters, like Liu Xiaobo, secured themselves a good stretch in solitary confinement,” noted Lu. “But I expect the later ones might not even have the luxury of a rigged trial.”
In the last four weeks, 28 individuals have been rewarded with their own grace-and-favor rooms in central Beijing, and 30 have vanished, including lawyers Teng Biao, Li Tiantian, Tang Jingling and Jiang Tianyong and activists Gu Chuan and Ye Du, believed whisked away to rural estates.
More than 200 citizens have been meanwhile told they don’t need to bother going to work any more or even leave the house, with security details providing a 24-hour home delivery service.
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