By Hilary White

DONGSHIGU, January 6, 2006 ( – Chen Guangcheng, the lawyer who has been under house arrest since September for exposing forced abortion and infanticide in his home province, was beaten by club-weilding thugs outside his home.

“China is lawless,” the blind 34-year-old activist told Reuters by telephone. “They’re worried I will expose more of their crimes.”

Chen has been confined to his home in Dongshigu, a farming village in Shandong province, with up to 30 club-wielding men – believed to have been hired by local authorities – stationed outside the door, since September 6. Reuters news agency reports that only Chen’s older brother is allowed to visit him and he and his wife have been denied medical treatment.

Chen has been confined to his house and his communications with the outside world have been curtailed. His phone line has been cut and Reuters said that only a power failure made it possible for Chen to communicate with them by cell phone on Friday. Government authorities normally have his mobile phone jammed.