A letter from GAO Zhisheng (1)

A few days ago, I saw many people retweeting a message about helping brother of human rights lawyer GAO Zhisheng selling his dates. Briefly:

After his release as a from prison,高智晟 Zhisheng, the once hailed as best lawyer of the year  but later enemy of the state all by the Chinese government, now lives with his brother in China while his family on exile in America. Gao’s brother grows dates but this year business did not go well due to no dealer went to the village to purchase the harvest. So people suggested him to sell the dates on line and many helped him disseminate the information.

Then a few days later, I saw two letter from Gao Zhisheng about the dates selling issue, and I am very touched by his writing, so I translated both of the letters.

This is the first letter GAO Zhisheng wrote about people’s helping his elder brother’s selling dates online.

Dear Brother YANG Hai and (please cc) Mr. HU Jia, First I want to express my greetings to you and also my appreciation—for your great help to my elder brother, regarding his selling dates.

Last evening at supper, I felt a bit uneasy after knowing that many people wanted to buy dates from my elder brother.  Many people are selling dates online, but not as popular as his. I put down my bowl and read some information on my nephew’s WeChat, some content made me troubled. First, to say the “dates of elder brother of GAO Zhisheng” implies some other meaning. And to mark them “Category Premium” and “Category A” is even more inappropriate. This is the result of the young relatives simply adopting advertisement words. There is in fact no categorisation of dates produced in northern Shanxi province. The commercial words might make purchasers hold higher expectation for the outlook of the dates to be perfect, and would lead to big misunderstandings.

Traditional northern Shanxi red dates are small, though in recent years, some egg sized ones also appear on market, they are the result of grafting for more commercial gains, local people only eat small dates.

The dates are naturally grown and authentic green products. The dates trees grow on slopes, no irrigation and never fertilised, this is why they do not look beautiful. There are many advantages of eating northern Shanxi dates. After I come back, every morning, I use boiled water to make soybean milk, and I add seven dates in it, cover for half an hour, and then enjoy it, as a routine.

This August, I found that in one box with both big and small dates, small ones were all eaten by insects and bigger ones intact. Regarding “honesty” and “shrewdness”, the small worms are right on the contrary to those big worms surrounding us that always choose the fattest part. Compared to the big worms, the small ones have their advantage here of being thoughtless.

I shall not write anything, it is said that my writings are not good for “state security”, though being completely isolated from the outside world, I can not know whether this is true. However I feel uneasy with regard to my elder brother’s children’ description of the dates among friends circles, thus, I use their WeChat to make this explaination, and hope that all friends bought or prepare to buy the dates will see my letter. Again, I thank you all, my friends.

With love,

GAO Zhisheng

Morning, December 16, 2015


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A Letter from GAO Zhisheng (2)

This is the second letter GAO wrote regarding people’s helping his brother’s  selling dates.

Dear Brother YANG Hai, and (cc) HU Jia,

First I would like to express my gratitude to you, and also please help me to pass my greetings and appreciation to friends in this world who show their concern and love to me and my family.

I never use my time other than Sunday to deal with matters that do not fall into work or study, but this week, this is already the second time.

I rarely consider my own gains and loss, this does not mean
that I am totally out of this material world. It is just that I have always thought that one’s wealth shall be the result of his own hard effort. How can the fortune of each of us be decided by some small incidental calculation? I always think that to follow one’s heart,  and then all we gain is natural and a relief to our heart.

Last night, I was sleepless again for three hours, this is rather rare for me, it is still because of my elder brother’s selling dates.

I am often not concerning things out of my window, though living in one yard, I stay with relatives for less than ten minutes during each of my two meals everyday. Mostly I tell jokes to make everyone laugh, and sometimes listen to their chats. But in recent days, every time dates sale was mentioned when meeting each other, and yesterday a request by my nephew GAO Huan made me sleepless.

In the past few days, many friends started to donate to me via buying dates, this is not surprising. And fortunately, my relatives did not hesitate but returned all the money, and they also tried not to let me know, worrying that it might make me troubled. But while there are more situations like this, they have to spend more time returning the money. One friend Mr. Shi sent 1600 yuan for a box of dates (five kilos), and specially mentioned that the extra money was for me. Already being busy, my young relatives started to deal with more returning transactions, thus they requested me to write a letter and ask friends to stop any donation—we do not accept donations.

First, I feel deeply appreciative for all who have shown their great love to me and my family, this giving is the most touching one—because it is sincere—it is love to a humble life in his most difficult, troubled, and humiliated time. To Gao Zhisheng, the most touching is the expression of this true love, instead of the way it was expressed. I have to seriously clarify: this way of expression is not we wanted, please do understand and respect my concern.

The common experience of human beings has shown, that everyone, has an inner tendency and even hearted longing for gains with no effort, I and my relatives are no exceptions either. However to be enthusiastic about gains without effort and take it for granted shall never be respected. Gains with no work for us, for my young relatives, for our life morals and capacities, is not good. To put it more seriously, it will obstruct our personal and family merits of pursuing kindness and good reputation. No matter how bad the current situation of the society is, our family care about our actions and reputation, this is what my mother had worked for in her whole life, and we also make our endeavuor to make ourselves live with a positive self-acknolwdgement. I pay attention to everyone’s thoughts and deeds at home that fall into my views, though difficult to avoid everything from happening.

I thank my Lord, for his mercy and kindness, the products of our land make me warm and feed me well. To materials, I have always longed for little, I can stay in the village for a year and spend not a single penny. The money needed for my dental treatment was already prepared. I hope that my loving friends use their money in places that it is most needed.

I feel thankful for my relatives, and also relieved for them—without hesitation they returned donations from friends, the morals of this family still stand—at least with regard to this dates sale.

This morning, I got the information on the Internet that other sellers from our village price their dates for 10 yuan per half kilo, and my nephew makes it 8 yuan, “to express his thanks to everyone’s friendliness and trust”. I rarely pay attention to what is happening out of my window, but I feel something has changed recently, the dates collectors suddenly disappeared out of our village. Today I started to know the reason that due to continuous autumn rain, many dates got cracked, and my elder brother only picked out 65kilo good dates out of almost 4000kilos, the whole family felt grateful for the buyers’ love, and went to other villages that are far from our own to collect good dates. They say “to sell the best dates to people”. I heard that they profit only one to two yuan out of half kilo dates, but they feel very happy, though the temperature is lower than minus 10 now.

There is one other issue that I want to explain, my elder brother tried to put an additional half kilo in each box of dates to friends, but this kindness was stopped due to the delivery cost. The courier delivery has a rule that each box shall be 5 kilo, and any extra weight will make double delivery charge (not only the cost for the overweight). The lowest delivery cost is 2 yuan/half kilo, the longer distance it is, the more it will cost. My nephew says that there are also friends from Heilongjiang, Fujian and Hainan provinces, and he says even if he does not make profit, he will post the dates to them. My proposal is, how about friends from distant provinces add 10 yuan to the delivery charge. I raise this issue here for consultation, and understanding from friends.

Again I thank you, my friends. Only in the most difficult situation, we see the changes of people in this world, it makes those who surrounded you with their fake smiles in the past become real—all the fake things become real, even the liver and lungs totally changed their colour. This is my incidental and remarkable gains in these years.

“By the sunken barge a thousand sails go pass, before the withered tree all is green in spring”. In these years, countless friends who want China to be a better place and who also endeavour to be true people have shown their love to me and become people I love. In your love, I often feel touched, and become powerful—often feel enlightened—this country will not be hopeless for long.

May my Lord bless all my friends! May my Lord bless Chinese people troubled in pain.

With love,
Gao Zhisheng
December 18, 2015

The original letter in Chinese



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Remembering June 4th, 1989

六月某時 秀場寡頭樂隊 Sometimes in June by Show Oligarch

六月的一天           One day in June
全是年輕的臉        all young faces
他們在春風裏        in the spring breeze
忘記了時間            forgetting time
六月的一天            One day in June
全是年輕的臉        all young faces
他們在陽光下         under the sunshine
想像著世界             imagining a world
一場大風                 A strong wind
把你吹散                 blew you away
一場大雨                 a heavy rain
把雲沖淡                 washed the cloud light
六月的一天             One day in June
全是年輕的臉         all young faces
他們在春風裏         in the spring breeze
忘記了世界             forgetting the world
六月的一天             One day in June
全是年輕的臉         all young faces
他們在陽光下         under the sunshine
想像著時間             imagining time
一場大風                 A strong wind
把我吹遠                 blew me afar
一場大雨                 a heavy rain
把足跡沖淡             carried the footprints away

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Searching for Elder Sister Kou Yanding

Kou Yanding was taken away by police in Beijing on October 10th for “picking quarrels and provoking disturbances.” Kou Yanding is a bestselling author on such incendiary subjects as trying on parliamentary procedures in Chinese villages and endurance walking. Until today, nobody knows her whereabouts, and her family only knows that she was detained and her home was searched by the police and shut again with a police lock.

Kou_Yan_DingHer sister wrote (in Chinese) on 10 December 2014, the International Human Rights Day.

Our 85 years old father longs for your returning home. Second elder sister was running between Haidian Police, Detention House, and the City Letter and Visits Office. Although we knew the confirmation that you got detained by the police, but nobody knew why and where you were detained. Everytime, we went to search for you based on what was told by the police, but failed in vain.

The following is my translation of an article written by Zhai Minglei (sina weibo翟明磊在雾里) on 14 October 2014.

At this moment, in Shanghai, I am writing a memoir. In this country, very often some people got disappeared without trace for being the voice of conscience. This is more dreadful than death. In two days, two of my good friends, Guo Yushan 郭玉闪and Kou Yanding寇延丁, were detained. When this happens with my own friends, it is an unbearable anger and helplessness. Perhaps there will be a new style of writing in China, a style of memoir about the disappearance of good friends of conscience. I think we can name it “Style of Sorrowful Memoir”. In such a dark age, words do not have power; however they can still warm our freezing hearts. There are not many people who know Kou Yanding, so I will write about her first.

我所认识的寇延丁What I Know about Kou Yanding

Our getting to know each other for the first time was interesting. One day, I received a letter, because I worked a bit for public interest, the sender wanted to meet me and discuss my experience. The signature of the letter showed “Tarzan Kou Yanding”. The writing was brief and straight, I thought the writer must be a foreigner and a man, and got this name after the movie, until I picked up the phone. I could not help laughing in my heart.

As agreed, I went to Jinyan’s Office. I went downstairs of the office building a bit earlier. When I passed a bench nearby a meadow, a lady attracted my attention, not because of her looking, but the peacefulness surrounding her. She was sitting there quietly and the whole world seemed quiet because of her. From my intuiting, I knew that must be her, and I smiled and went upstairs. Continue reading

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Oxford Alumnus Appeal for Liu Jianshu

Oxford Alumnus Appeal Liu Jianshu

Like many Chinese young people, Liu Jianshu 柳建树 studied abroad and chose to come back to China. Unlike most young Chinese graduates from abroad, he did not choose a place to make a lot of money with his background of overseas study in Oxford; instead, he made himself an NGO worker and dedicated to the development of civil society in China. Continue reading

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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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