October 1st, the National Day, and Hong Kong

Today is October 1st, 2014, it is the 65th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. In Beijing, tens of thousands people went to Tiananmen Square in the early morning to watch the flag-raising ceremony. It is a national holiday and a day of celebration. In China this day is called 国庆日 (national day), literally, it is “nation(al) celebrate (celebration) day”. On this special day, people like to get together with families and eat delicious food, visit parks, go for tourist travels, or stay at home and watch TV. In many cities, national day firework shows are organized in the evening for residents to enjoy. But today, in Hong Kong, instead of beautiful fireworks and more tourists pouring in for shopping and visiting, tens of thousands of Hong Kong people are “Occupy(ing) Central” and launching an “Umbrella Revolution”, protesting against the new election policy decided by Beijing.

What is “OCCUPY Central”? Continue reading

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Ilham Tohti, “Forced Separatism”?

AFTER a two-day trial last week, Ilham Tohti, a scholar who has spoken critically of China’s policies toward people of his Uighur ethnicity, was sentenced on September 23rd to life in prison for separatism. Many Western powers ‘outraged’ after China convicts him. Why does the Chinese authority punish him with such a heavy sentence? 长平, Chang Ping, a commentator and critic wrote an article that explains this well. The following is my translation of Chang Ping’s article (in Chinese).

When the Independence Referendum in Scotland is just finished, while democratic states respect civil rights, and solve area conflicts in a peaceful and rational way and gain praise from the people, Uyghur Scholar, the former Minsu University of China professor Ilham Tohti, is sentenced to life sentence for separatism and with confiscation of his total personal assets. At this moment, the world politics is divided clearly into two parts: the light and the dark. Continue reading

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The Attorney Pu Zhiqiang (part 1)

As the 25th anniversary of Tian’anmen Democracy Movement approaches, a small group of people, consisted of Tiananmen mothers, scholars, dissidents, writers, held a seminar in Beijing on May 3rd to remember the event, discuss its impact and consequences, and call for truth finding and resolution of remaining issues. Less than two days after the seminar, multiple disappearances have been reported.
Among them, lawyer Pu Zhiqiang 浦志强 was detained under the crime of “disrupting social order”. puzhiqiangnanfangrenwu
The following is my translation of a 2012 article published by South Metropolis Weekly (in Chinese) about Lawyer Pu Zhiqiang.

Haer Lawyer Pu Zhiqiang written by Jia Lingjiang, Tang Ailin

Pu Zhiqiang is 188cm tall and weighs 110kg. He speaks in loud voice and looks tough and strong. He makes many feel a bit under pressured standing together with him.

His weibo account profile is a portrait taken by the ESQUIRE magazine: square head, black suits, white shirt, handsome, healthy and strong, but with deep dimples making him a bit sweet.

Appearing on the ESQUIRE, Pu is so proud that he boasts that he will work hard towards the showbiz, and to start by “taking some small roles”.

He did appear in a 2009 documentary (Laoma tihua by Ai Weiwei, Pu appears at 17 minutes onward) and got quite many fans. However, he insists that he was already popular before the documentary. He got famous for defending for the media and individuals and their freedom of expression in defamation cases.
He calls himself “Haer”, “Hamou”, which means straightforward, pumpkin head, and says that he “knows politics, has techniques, but very bad in law”. This is for sure self-mockery. Born in 1965, Pu Zhiqiang graduated from Nankai University and the Chinese University of Political Science and Law, and he started to practice law in 1997. Continue reading

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The Attorneys

Ding Jiaxi 丁家喜 is a Chinese lawyer, he is a member of the New Citizens Movement in China. He called for the disclosure of government officials assets by giving public speech and spreading banners Beijing and he was then charged with the crime of “disrupting public order”.

Photo of lawyer Ding Jiaxi

Photo of lawyer
Ding Jiaxi

On April 6, the trial day of Ding Jiaxi in Beijing, Wang Quanping 王全平, a Guangdong lawyer drove to Beijijng to support the Lawyer Ding Jiaxi. Wang painted some sarcastic words on his car: Ridiculous if guilty to ask government officials to disclose assets? We welcome people to disclose their assets, no need for public servants. Please, public servants, do not disclose your assets.

People, please disclose your assets. Public servants, please not disclose.

People, please disclose your assets.
Public servants, please not disclose.

Around 4pm on 8 April, Lawyer Wang arrived the Beijing Haidian District Court and planned to listen to the trial, but he was taken away by some unidentified people, and then was cut off contact with his family and friends. Until the afternoon of 10 April, the outside world was informed that lawyer Wang Quanping was detained under the crime of “causing disturbance”. So in China, no matter to ask government officials to disclose assets or not to disclose assets, both can constitute “crimes”.

The detention of lawyer Wang Quanping caused anger and support among Chinese laywers. Many lawerys started their campains “Do you want to defend for the dignity of Constitution and law? Do you want to defend for lawyer Wang Quanping?” There have been already over one hundred lawyers who participated in defending for Wang Quanping. (In Chinese) Continue reading

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An interview with Zhang Qingfang about the trial of Xu Zhiyong (4)

(回答有关沉默的问题):
(About why kept silent during the trial)

中国人大都能够理解我们为什么沉默。西方人理解不了,他们认为法庭是一个说理的地方;刑事法庭应该控辩双方激烈交锋,大家都把自己的意见充分说出来,最终法院才能做出一个正确的结论。但是中国的法庭显然不是一个说理的地方,特别是他这个案子。我们为什么沉默,因为这个案件,要把真相讲出来,必须要让那些了解真相的人到现场。但了解真相的人或者现在关押着,不允许他们出庭;或者说被警方实际控制在家中。既然真相被阻挡在法庭之外,我们在法庭上又能用什么样的方式把真相揭示出来呢?既然法庭没有给这个机会,那我们是用沉默的方式来抗议。这是我们的一种意见表达,有一个谚语:辩解就等于承认了一半。面对他们这样一个不公不义的审判,说话反而降低了这个悲剧的力量。我们只能用沉默的方式,才能把我们的抗议和不满表达出来。
Most Chinese people will understand why we kept silent, but not western people, since they believe that the court is a place to argue and reason; criminal court is the place that argument and counter-argument shall be the most violent, and everyone speaks out his opinion, then the court can make a just decision. However it is clear that Chinese court is not a place to reason, especially a case like his. The reason why we kept silent is because to speak the truth needs those who know the truth to be present. Those who know the truth are either detained in detention house or controlled at home by police and not allowed to be present in court. When the truth is blocked out of the court, how can we prove it in the court? Since the court did not give us the chance to prove the truth, so we protested with our silence. This is an expression of our attitude. There is a saying: trying to explain is to give a 50% acknowledgement. Facing such an unjust trial, speaking could lessen the influence of the tragedy. Only by being silent, we can show our protest and anger.

审判过程中,法官们关心的不是案件的真相是什么,不是有罪还是无罪;他们想的是匆匆地赶快把这场戏演完,完成领导交代的任务,赶快过去。就是这么一回事。
During the trial, the judges did not care what is the truth, or guilty or not guilty; they only want to hurry to the end of the performance, to complete the task assigned by their leaders, to make it end as soon as possible. That is it.

艾:代理这个案子也有压力吧?
Ai: Do you have pressure to be the defense lawyer in this case?

张:体制内朋友都说,你要做,只谈法律问题,不要谈政治问题。但即便是这样,我也打算,我这一年,就以休息为主,少和他们体制内的人往来。因为你往来,人家也有压力,自己也不愿意。休息一段时间再说。等到他判完以后,我就先沉默一段时间,不再谈这个事情了。现在一定要谈。因为现在就是让大家了解许志永嘛。等到做完以后,我们能做的事情,就是帮着崔筝,把这段时间过去。就做这个工作,就是私人之间的一个帮助。
Zhang, My friends within the system told me, “if you want to take the case, only talk about law, but not politics.” However even if it is as such, I also plan, this year, I will take more rest, and make less contact with people within the system. If I get in touch with them, I will give them pressure, this is not good. I will take some rest and let this case pass for a while. When the case is decided, I will be quiet for a while, will not talk about it anymore. But now I must talk about it, because it is the time for the public to know Xu Zhiyong. When this is done, what is left for us to do is to help Cui Zheng, after this period. I will do it, to help as a friend.

到现在我还是想着,发生重大变革的时机还没有到。我劝过许志永和丁家喜,他们进去之前,我请他们吃饭我都劝过,我说你们要给新人时间,让国人观察他们是否真心改革。他们俩特别是丁家喜,很乐观,似乎民主社会马上就要到来。我认为还得有个七八年的时间,我比他们跟体制内的人接触更多一些。
Until now, I still think, it is not time for a big change to happen yet. I persuaded Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi, before they were arrested. I told them that they should give some time to the new leaders and let the people see if they would launch real reforms. They, esp. Ding Jiaxi, were very optimistic, believing that a democratic society was coming immediately. I think it needs another seven or eight years’ time. I have more contact with people within the system.

我跟志永说我想过给你辩护,但我没想到现在就要站出来给你辩护。可是人生不是设计出来的。有时该你担当该你出头露面,还是要担当。这个事情出来了,我们该做的要做,尽管有压力还是要做。但我还没有勇气做志永第二。
I told Zhiyong that I wanted to defend for you, however I had never thought it came so soon. But life is not designed. Sometimes it is time for us to stand out, then we must. When this happens, we must do what we shall do, even if there is pressure. But I do not have the courage to be Zhiyong the second.

包括崔筝,她自己的想法也是。她理解志永也支持志永,但是孩子要和政治隔离开。所以我们也没有发布孩子的照片,不要让她成为一个政治小孩。她生活该怎么过怎么过。对志永我们也是,该怎么帮怎么帮。
To Cui Zheng, she thinks the same. She understands Zhiyong and supports him, however their child must be separated from politics. This is why we did not release any photo of the baby, we do not want her to be a child of politics. She will have her own life. To Zhiyong, we will still provide our help.

但是我们不牺牲并不等于说没有其他人牺牲,我知道,现在的中国,愿意为政治牺牲的人多的是。所以他们想太平是很难太平的,因为你们做了那么多摆不到台面的事情,具体体制上那么多非常极端的不公正存在。你自己又不主动去改,你怎么能让人不抗争呢?
However that fact that we do not dare to do does not mean that no other person is willing to sacrifice. I know, today in China, there have been too many people who are willing to sacrifice for political change. So it is difficult for the government to control everything since they have been done too many things that cannot be put on table. There has been too much extreme injustice existing in this system. If the government does not want to change it, how can it make others not to fight for change?

包括体制内部也会变,我跟志永都讲了:不要着急,君子居安以俟命。他上来以后大家都在观察是吧,你要给人家一段时间。过一段时间他不改,或者说他做的和说的不一样,马上他的威信就降下来了。我说你想一想胡和温,当时威信多高?持续了几年时间,甚至可以说2006、2007年民望都是可以的吧?那时候经济也发展,碰上世界经济上升周期了。好多人真的认为中国就按现在方式发展也有希望,不像西方乱糟糟的民主政治,我们现在不一样发展吗?胡温当时也很自信。但是一旦经济降下来,积累的社会问题浮现出来以后,对他们的历史评价就不一样了。
Even with regard to the system, there will be change within it. I told Zhiyong, no rush, gentleman waits in peace till his mission comes. He came to power, everyone watches. He shall be given some time. When the time passes, he still does not change, or what he does differs from what he says, then his reputation will decrease quickly. Thinking about Hu & Wen, what a high prestige they got at the beginning. It lasted for a few years, until about 2007, public opinion was positive. The economy was growing, together with the growing world economy. Many people really thought that China could develop as it did, it was hopeful, it differed from the messy western democratic political system, we were developing well. The leaders were also very optimistic at that time. However once the economy slowed down, the accumulated social problems emerged, the historical evaluation of them was different.

现在的领导人也是,我们当然不怀疑他们有改革的善意和决心。但是他们上台前,在现有体制下并没有机会培养他们掌舵的能力。最怕的是自己没有头脑,也不是公平竞争的结果,就靠着一个家族、或者说一种势力的荫庇上来,却有强烈的马上要就掌控一切的欲望,四面树敌,这么搞将来肯定是要碰壁的。一旦碰壁以后,会不会进退失措?那将来究竟怎么办,这不好说。
The current leadership is the same. We do not doubt their goodwill and determination of reforming. However before they came to power, the existing system could not have the opportunity to make them have the full capacity to steer the country. The worst thing is that they do not clear mind: knowing that they come to power without going through competitive and just election, instead depending on their family power or some other protection power, they still have a strong will to control everything, create enemies everywhere; this will lead them go into trouble sooner or later. When this happens, will they be in a dilemma of having difficulty to go either forward or backward? Then how shall China do, it is difficult to say.

后记:四天之后,判决结果出来,许志永博士被判处刑期四年。目前他已提出上诉。
Epilogue: Four days later, the court judgement was out. Dr Xu Zhiyong was sentenced to four years imprisonment. At present, he already requested for an appeal.

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An interview with Lawyer Zhang Qingfang about the trial of Xu Zhiyong (3)

(记者:我听说是他在讲新公民运动的基本理念时被打断了?)
(Journalist: I heard that he was interrupted when he talked about the basic principles of New Citizen Movement?)

不是,他在讲到财产公示的时候。他说世界上一百多个国家都有财产公示制度,中国为什么不能引进?你们这些高高在上的人究竟害怕什么?你们在担心什么?在讲到这个的时候就被打断了。
No, when he talked about disclosing officials’ assets. He said that in this world more than 100 countries have established the assets disclosure system, why cannot China do it? What are those higher up there afraid of? What are you worrying about? Then he was asked to stop.

我们是全程保持了沉默,我们会在庭审后陆续地把我们的意见表达出来。
We remained silent during the whole process of the trial, we will write out our opinion gradually after the trial.

艾:你对他个人如何评价,特别是这次通过代理他的案件?
Ai: How do you think about Xu Zhiyong, esp. through being his defense lawyer this time? Continue reading

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An interview with lawyer Zhang Qingfang about the trial of Xu Zhiyong (2)

艾:您自己怎么评价许志永倡导的新公民运动呢?
Ai: How do you think about the New Citizen Movement initiated by Xu Zhiyong?

张:这是中国将来必然要走的路。当然现在很多人还可能觉得比较敏感,也不是所有的人都同意他这么做。中国人受了多年专制的教育,大家骨子里就认为万一你这么搞搞乱了,影响稳定怎么办?我们正常的生活怎么办?那其实中国不能总是这么一种状态,你还是要逐步地吸引、鼓励公民社会参与国家的管理。因为这个社会现在太复杂了,靠一个人哪怕他再英明,也不可能英明到所有的决策都是正确的,什么问题他都能找到正确的答案。实际上问题的解决本身就是要在不断的碰撞之中,让不同的诉求都能够自由地表达出来,大家在沟通甚至是争论的过程中找答案,期间甚至不排除有一些社会动荡,都是有可能的。因为你强压着积累了太多矛盾。
Zhang: This is a path that China must go. Of course at present many people still think it is a sensitive issue, and not everyone agrees that he should do it. Chinese people have been under the authoritarian education for years, many people think if you promote it and it will cause chaos, which will affect stability, then what shall we do? How about our normal lives? In fact China cannot always be like this, the civil society must start to be encouraged to participate in state governance. This society is so complicated that no matter how wise one is, he cannot be wise enough to make all decisions right and find correct answer for every question. In fact the solution of our problems itself is a process of collisions, during which, different opinions shall be freely expressed, and answers are pursued in our communications and even arguments. There might be some social instability during this process, it is possible since there has been too much contradiction accumulated for years that is controlled but not solved. Continue reading

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