Chinese human rights lawyers who challenge the authorities continue to place themselves at risk from being threatened, beaten and imprisoned.

Despite the success of the country’s corporate legal market, its human rights lawyers face an entirely different scenario, with the most recent victim being Beijing-based human rights lawyer Li Heping.

Heping, a lawyer with Gaobo Longhua, was abducted and assaulted by a group of unidentified men last month. The men warned Heping to leave Beijing or face similar treatment after beating him and dumping him in a woodland in Beijing, according to Amnesty International.

The assailants stole Heping’s personal possessions and reformatted his computer, erasing all files and rendering the computer useless. Amnesty International is seriously concerned for his safety.

Abuses against human rights activists have escalated as the Chinese authorities tighten controls in the run-up to two key events: the 17th Communist Party Congress in October and the Beijing Olympics of August 2008.

A number of human rights lawyers and legal advisors have been detained and tortured, according to Amnesty International. The crackdown flies in the face of official promises to improve human rights in the run-up to the Olympics.