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Another businessman, Ren Zhiping, wrote a book titled “Loan Shark” after a local leadership reshuffle caused his coal briquette factory in Shanxi to be shuttered. He says it left him unable to repay high-interest loans from private investors.

Ren said he has been traveling around the country handing out his book to officials to lobby for better access to credit for private businesses.

Others, such as Wang Ying, have voiced their dismay at signs the party is tightening its controls on society.

Under President Xi Jinping, installed one year ago, Beijing has waged a crackdown on online speech and ideology it deems as undermining Communist Party legitimacy, rejecting calls for constitutionalism and greater freedom. Bloggers and activists around the country have been rounded up for so-called rumor mongering, including a well-known liberal commentator, Chinese-American investor Charles Xue. Most have been arrested.

Wang Ying, a grandmother, speaks in calm, soft tones but pulls no punches in her blog posts, media interviews and speeches.

“I feel that this is very obviously sowing fear, and we must always be on high alert for such things,” she said. “I must say no. And this ‘no,’ I will say very loudly.”

“As for any responsibility or pressure or losses that I might suffer because of saying this, I’m prepared to accept it.”