They have no evidence for this, beyond the odd story of how nobody seemed that afraid to talk to them when they were in Beijing as tourists. Hardly sufficient evidence in my opinion and shows how contemptuous these people really are of the Chinese, if they think that is a good enough development.
(A little like people who argue that abolishing the burqua in Western countries would be a terrible idea as it gives Muslim women the freedom to go out on the streets. As the rest of the female population is free to go out without covering themselves from top to toe, one wonders exactly who deprives Muslim women of their freedom. Answers on the back of the postage stamp, please.)
In China matters are moving in the wrong direction, as the New York Times reports under a rather unhappy title: "Arrres in China Rattles Backers of Legal Rights".
China's nascent legal rights movement, already reeling from a crackdown on crusading lawyers, the kidnapping of defense witnesses and the shuttering of a prominent legal clinic, has been shaken by the detention of a widely respected rights defender who has been incommunicado since the police led him away from his apartment 12 days ago.One China's legal rights movement well; we must all offer whatever support we can. Somehow I do not think that proclaiming the wondrous democratic developments in China is quite what these courageous people are looking for.