There is something innately affirmative about a Chinese court today pulling an ordinary woman out of a prison labor camp, compensating her for damages, and requiring a Chinese state security official to apologize to her in court.
The woman is named Tang Hui. Her 11-year-old daughter was raped, abducted, and sold into prostitution several years ago. When local Hunan courts did not give the criminals a punishment harsh enough to suit Ms. Tang, she began to shout and scream. That got her plunked into a prison camp under a practice known as "reeducation through labor" – used for decades to quickly silence troublemakers or dissidents without bothering with due process or legal rights.
Yet today a court in Yongzhou, a city in Hunan, ruled that Tang's "personal freedoms" had been violated.
That seems to many analysts a small breath of fresh air in East Asia, evidence of at least a whiff of change in China's structure of party authority, analysts say.