To the average observer, they look like ordinary pigeons, caged into a balcony in a high-rise Beijing apartment. But make no mistake. These cooing birds, according to breeder Yang Shibo, are like top-of-the-line sports cars.
"These are the Ferraris of the bird world," he says. "They're the most expensive, and the fastest."
The price of racing pigeons is soaring sky-high, pushed up by wealthy Chinese buyers.
Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng says his family is being hounded by local authorities in his Shandong, his home province, with his brother and sister-in-law placed under house arrest and his nephew detained.
Chen's flight last month from house arrest and his request for refuge from U.S. diplomats has caused considerable embarrassment for Chinese authorities and threatened to damage U.S.-Sino relations. Since then, Beijing has agreed in a face-saving move to allow the blind, self-taught legal activist and his immediate family to study in the United States.