Posts tagged ‘petitions’

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Weeks before June 4: Struggling for the Ideological Switch Stands

[Cont. April 23, 1911

Main Link: 1989 年 4 月 24 日 星期日

Li Tieying and Li Ximing both agree with Li Peng that strict measures should be taken against the students’ movement. At 8.30 in the evening, Li Peng goes to see Yang Shangkun to analyse the situation. Yang also sees a changing trend and encourages Li Peng to see Deng Xiaoping. Li Peng asks Yang to join him in a visit to Deng, and Yang agrees. During the evening, as Li Peng reads many papers and adds  comments to them, and a flow of public-security bureau, security, education commission staff etc, concerning trends among the students in all places keeps coming in, by phone and cable.

Science and Technology Daily‘s entering into the forbidden area of coverage receives a great echo, and from the morning on, people call this paper to tell the staff that they had written in fair words. However, vice chief editor Sun Changjiang says that they haven’t done something special, and just acted in accordance with professional ethics, in their effort to carry out their duty as the media. Their [Science and Technology Daily] coverage hadn’t been particularly good; rather, he believes, that of some other papers has been particularly bad. The event is authentic, and their attitude is sincere.


Monday, April 24, 1989

Main Link: 1989 年 4 月 24 日 星期一 (same document)

In the morning, sixty-thousand students from some 38 colleges and universities such as Beijing University, Tsinghua University, People’s University (Renmin University) begin a strike. Some students gather within the universities, conduct sit-ins, demonstrations, put up posters, and others shout slogans like “join the strike quickly”, “no end to the strike without reaching our goals”, and “walk out on lessons and exams, not on learning”.

Some students give lectures on societal issues, put up propaganda sheets, propagate “April 20 massacre”, “crying-and-begging to the non-understanding government” information, and still others take to the streets and lanes, for fund-raising and to call on “all the city’s citizens to become active in strikes”. Students from Beijing University, Tsinghua University and People’s University maintain order, and dissuade students from taking part in lessons. Some university party secretaries point out in reports to the next-upper party level that the current situation, if it lasts, will be absolutely harmful, and that one has to fear that this could take still larger dimensions as May 4 is approaching. They express their hopes that the central committee and the municipal committee issue clear guidelines, policies and instructions to end the strikes as soon as possible.

At 14:40, student committees at Beijing University and other universities hold meetings at the May-4 squares on their campuses, with some eighty percent of students attending. They prepare activities to boycott official May-4 activities and to establish autonomous students unions in Beijing and students unions of national unity all over the country. Some papers report that student delegates from Nankai University,  Nanjing University, Fudan University, Guangzhou University and other universities are also attending. Nearly two-hundred students with red armbands are maintaining order. As several members of students committees publicly push and pull each other on stage in a quarrel twice, more than six-thousand students at the meeting are abuzz. The meeting ends at 16:00 in discord, without having made any decisions. Dozens of foreign reporters have been present and recorded the event. A press conference by the preparatory committee, scheduled for 7 p.m., is subsequently cancelled.

Beijing University posts the “Recommendations to the Preparatory Committee, signed by people from Beijing University” poster, suggesting to redraw the slogans and action principles in order to get public support. The slogans should oppose corruption and bureaucracy, actions should be carried out downtown, at broad daylight, so as to broaden their influence, unified action would be needed between the universities and colleges, preparations be made for a long-term struggle, and extensive contacts be built with people from intellectual and democratic circles.

There is also another poster, under the headline “five points”, about “guaranteeing basic human rights, releasing political criminals, opposing party supremacy, checks and balances by separation of the three powers, defining a democratic constitution” and other political positions.

More than twohundred Beijing University teachers jointly call for maintaining the principles of the thirteen universities to consult the students and to have a dialog with them. A similar call comes from the China University of Political Science and Law [Wu Renhua's university]. The Beijing Students Autonomous Federation (aka Capital Autonomous Federation of University Students) calls on every student to send ten letters to compatriots all over the country. Between two- and threehundred students are to be dispatched to fifteen large cities all over the nation, such as Tianjin, Jinan, Shenyang, Changsha, Chengdu, Xi’an, Lanzhou, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Guangzhou, Taiyuan, Shanghai, Nanjing and Wuhan  to deliver speeches and to make contacts.

A peaceful petition meeting at Tsinghua University started a peaceful demonstration within the campus, at eight in the morning, with about ten thousand students participating. It’s an orderly demonstration with a length reaching two kilometers.

The Tsinghua University Students Council puts forward four principles concerning the students’ strike:

  1. to maintain the reasonable struggle and the peaceful petition
  2. to maintain unity and the power of all that can be united
  3. to adhere to the strike on lessons, not on learning
  4. to make sure that cool heads prevail among the younger students.

Educational departments from all over the country give their reactions to the State Education Commission, expressing their hope that the situation at Beijing’s universities and colleges can be stabilized soon, as it would otherwise be difficult to control the situation at universities outside the capital.

In the evening, Ren Wanding, who was responsible for the “Human Rights Alliance” time of the Xidan Democracy Wall, speaks on Tian An Men Square. He says: “the people are destitute, robbers arise from everywhere, prices are soaring, and the national economy is in crisis. If the four cardinal principles don’t vanish from the constitution, they will keep hanging over the people’s interests.”

Ren Wanding has also been to the universities of Beijing to speak there, but without much response, as the students didn’t understand him, and because they felt that his views were radical. When Chen Xiaoping and I watched him speaking in front of the dormitory of the University of Political Science and Law, there was only a sparse audience. Both Chen and I felt saddened.

In the afternoon, Li Ximing and Chen Xitong report to National People’s Congress chairman Wan Li. Wan Li was Beijing’s vice mayor prior to the cultural revolution. He suggests that the politburo’s standing committee should analyse the situation in the evening, chaired by Li Peng.

[According to this account by Wu Renhua, this meeting was held on the evening of April 24. This source seems to suggest that this happened on April 23.]

The standing committee, chaired by Li Peng, believes that a variety of events are indicating that under the control and instigation of very few people,  a planned, organized anti-party, anti-socialist political struggle is arranged before their eyes. The decision is made to form a group tasked with stopping the unrest, and requires Beijing’s party and government to stabilize the situation quickly, by winning over the majority of the masses and by isolating the minority, and by calming down the unrest. Standing committe member Li Peng, Qiao Shi, Hu Qili, Yao Yilin, as well as  – with no voting rights – Yang Shangkun, Wan Li, central party secretary Rui Xingwen, Yan Mingfu, Wen Jiabao, (not standing) politburo members Tian Jiyun, Li Ximing, Song Ping, Ding Guangen as well as people in charge at the relevant departments are attending the meeting.

In the evening, Li Peng receives a phonecall from Deng Xiaoping‘s secretary Wang Ruilin, inviting Li Peng and Yang Shangkun to his home at ten a.m. next day for discussions.

The World Economic Herald, a weekly from Shanghai, normally scheduled to appear today, has six blocks of content from a memorial forum held in cooperation with the New Observer magazine (新观察) on April 19. The 25 participants spoke highly of Hu Yaobang’s humanness, as a person of democratic open-mindedness [or liberalism - 民主开明], and of deep humanity. Science and Technology Daily vice chief editor Sun Changjiang [see above, entering into the forbidden area of coverage], Guangming Daily‘s reporter Dai Qing, and Yan Jiaqi of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences political science institute state more clearly that Hu Yaobang was forced to resign, and that he died while being treated unfairly. 300,000 copies of the World Economic Herald were printed by Saturday, some of it already at the post offices, while the remainder is stored at the printing house. But when Shanghai’s municipal party committee is informed about some of the content, it orders the postal offices to stop the dispatch of the papers, and seals the remaining copies in the printing house off. In the afternoon, the CCP municipal committee has a meeting with World Economic Herald chief editor Qin Benli in the afternoon, telling him that what is said in the account of the forum is correct, but that, as May 4 comes nearer, they fear that this could stirr the students’ emotions, add to the pressure on the government, and express their hope that the more sensitive content will be removed. The World Economic Herald does not agree with the cuts and revisions.

At the time, the World Economic Review’s Beijing office is the meeting point for democratic and liberal personalities. The office director Zhang Weiguo has strong campaigning skills and is broadly connected. Because of having led the [memorial] forum and for other reasons, he will be arrested after the June-4 crackdown.

To be continued
Continued here »

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Whose “China Dream”? Open Letter Reacts to Censorship of SCMP’s New Year’s Editorial

At least 35 former Southern Weekly (南方周末) employees demanded the resignation of Guangdong’s propaganda chief  Tuo Zhen (庹震), reports the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The open letter was distributed on the internet on Friday.

The letter accuses Mr. Tuo of ordering last-minute changes to the editorial, unbeknownst to the newspaper’s staff. The accusations, if proved true, would suggest aggressive efforts to silence reform advocates and a tightening grip over traditionally outspoken newspapers in Guangdong, media observers say.

The South China Morning Post (SCMP) has a short bio of Tuo Zhen – it’s not exactly the background one would expect from a leading censor and propagandist.

China Media Project (CMP, Hong Kong) translated and published excerpts from the SCMP staff’s open letter on Friday, and announced a full translation.



» Advocating Democracy, January 1, 2013
» Public-Vehicle Petitions, Dec 27, 2012
» On the Ground, The Hindu, Nov 9, 2012


» 我们,曾在南方周末工作过的媒体从业者, 南洋视界, January 5, 2013


Friday, April 1, 2011

JR’s Reception Reports: Deutsche Welle Reshuffles

Reception Report: Deutsche Welle, March 2011

Reception Report: Deutsche Welle, March 2011

A Chinese journalist who had worked freelance for the Voice of Germany (Deutsche Welle) for more than twenty years reportedly lost her contract with the foreign broadcasting station at the end of last year. She believes that her contract hadn’t been renewed for political reasons or motivations, and therefore sued the Voice for about 150,000 Euros. The Voice cited an organizational reshuffle as the reason for the end of their contract, reports the Generalanzeiger.

The case was heard by the Labor Court (Arbeitsgericht) in Bonn, and turned down on March 19 this year. On the sidelines of the hearing, the journalist’s attorney reportedly drew a link with older disputes of 2008, when complaints by Chinese dissidents  had led to an examination and acquittal of the station’s Chinese-language department.

In 2008, all staff issues were apparently settled without the involvement of a court.

A commenting thread contains what is said to be an open letter by – apparently laid off – editorial Chinese-service journalists to the German federal parliament (the Bundestag), dated March this year. The letter has apparently not yet been published online as a newsarticle or as a post.

If you don’t speak/read German, but want to know more about the – alleged – 2008 background to the more recent complaint or complaints, JR’s Deutsche-Welle-Chinese-related posts are an absolute must. Help yourselves.


Just another German Review of the Chinese Press, January 25, 2011
Deutsche Welle Mission Statement (undated)


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Köhler takes stock after China Visit

On his departure, German president Horst Köhler left a list with the names of human rights activists who are persecuted in China. Köhler had been on a state visit to the country, with talks in Beijing and a visit to the Shanghai Expo 2010. Liu Xia and Zeng Jinyan, the wives of Liu Xiaobo and Hu Jia, had asked Köhler to advocate their husbands’ release from prison.

“We will follow up what will be done about it,” dpa quoted Köhler on Thursday. On a previous visit to China, he had delivered a name list, too. There had been no reaction, “but we will keep doing it”. His talks had verified the good, but also difficult relationship between Germany and China.

“Everyone knows that we differ on certain issues, such as democracy or human rights, but we articulate it in a way the Chinese can handle and which are still effective.”

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Will Köhler speak for Hu and Liu?

President Horst Köhler is a soft-spoken man, even when he tries to appear combative, in domestic debates. In May 2009, Germany’s president got re-elected for a second five-year term by the Federal Convention – a combination of members of the federal parliament (Bundestag) and another number of representatives elected by the regional parliaments of the single federal states. When travelling abroad, he usually spreads a fairly good Qi.

Just the man to travel to Beijing where he is scheduled to arrive later today. But he will have to put some strains on the good good vibes next week if he wants to be true to his own standards.

Liu Xia, Liu Xiaobo‘s wife, and Zeng Jinyan, Hu Jia‘s wife, have reportedly asked Köhler to advocate their husbands’ release from prison. Köhler is due to meet China’s party and state chairman Hu Jintao on Monday, and chief state councillor Wen Jiabao on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he will take part in the Shanghai Expo’s German National Pavillon Day. Closer cooperation in the fields of climate change and the global financial crisis will also play a role.

“Human rights must always be respected and be considered the most important matter worldwide,” German newsagency dpa quotes Zeng Jinyan. “China is much more open than in the past. We are making progress in a number of fields. But the persecution of those who advocate human rights never subsides.”

“It could be helpful if Köhler would bring Hu Jia’s case up,” Zeng reportedly said. Her husband was suffering from chronical hepatitis, and possibly liver cancer. After her petitions for a release and medical treatment outside prison had been turned down, she rated chances for such a solution as poor, writes dpa.


Zeng Jinyan’s Blog »

Friday, October 9, 2009

Civil Liberties: Is America being Harmonized?

While the Nobel Peace Prize Committee lauds U.S. president Barack Obama, particularly for his foreign policies, Rebecca MacKinnon, one of his self-confessed voters, is less happy with his record, concerning issues of privacy and freedom of expression anyway:

(…) Then there’s the matter of the media shield bill currently before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The idea is to pass a law that would protect journalists who refuse to divulge their confidential sources in federal court. It was bad enough that the definition of “journalist” has now excluded citizen media, bloggers, and student journalists completely. Even worse, the White House has now proposed changes to the bill that would substantially weaken professional reporters’ protections. (…)

Meantime, fifteen Chinese intellectuals jointly issued an Internet Human Rights Declaration. The Chinese version of it is here, and C.A. Yeung has posted an English translation of it.

Great Firewall poised for a Wonderful Future, September 29, 2009
Real-Name Registration may become Mandatory, August 1, 2009

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Academic sparks Anger and Protests

More than one hundred petitioner demonstrated at Bei Da on April 9 (Sing Tao Daily, European Ed., April 10)

Petitioners protesting at Bei Da on April 9 (Sing Tao Daily, European Ed., April 10)

To be a petitioner in China is still risky. But even scientific dignitaries have to choose their words when commenting on them. Professor Sun Dongdong (孙东东), of Beijing University (北京大学), who apparently plays a role in drafting a mental health law,  has recently found out. The professor and head of the university’s judicial expertise center has apologized publicly for – allegedly – saying that 99% of people who take petitions to Beijing were suffering from mental disorders, and that forced hospitalization of mentally ill petitioners was appropriate.

Reportedly, students viewed or view him as one of Bei Da’s ten great humorous professors, but according to a Phoenix News online poll, not too many people found his theories on petitioners agreeable. On the other hand, Sun says that he had been misquoted by China Newsweek.

China Daily quotes Xu Zhiyong, a Beijing-based human rights lawyer, as saying that “to some extent, Sun is just a target. [...] arguing with a scholar is much easier than with an official.”

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Vitaly A. Rubin (1976): Thoughts do not Die

In February 1972, Dr Vitaly A. Rubin, a Senior Research Fellow in Chinese Studies at Moscow’s Institute of Oriental Studies, applied for an exit visa to emigrate to Israel. Rubin was Jewish, educated in the orthodox tradition of his people. Following his visa application, he was pressured into resigning his position at the Institute, his works were withdrawn from circulation, citations of his writings disappeared, and many of his professional colleagues shunned him. *)

After several months of waiting, Rubin was denied his visa, ostensibly on the grounds that he was “an important specialist” whose services were needed in the USSR.

Wm. Theodore de Bary wrote in his preface to the English translation that

One cannot claim for Rubin’s work that it is the fruit of highly original research or the product of newly discovered materials. He has no access to previously unknown texts. If anything, working in isolation and handicapped by restrictions on his movements, he has experienced extraordinary difficulty in keeping up even with other work in the field. Hence these essays make no claim to being exhaustive or definitive; instead their singular merit and appeal are to be found in the interpretive insights and unusual perspectives afforded by Rubin’s personal experience in the twentieth century of problems already agitating classical Chinese thinkers in the sixth and fifth centuries B.C.

According to Steven I Levine, who translated Ideologiia i kul’tura drevnego Kitaia (the Russian title of the book) into English, Rubin’s family went through hard times after Russia’s October Revolution.

Vitaly Rubin’s uncle, Isaac Rubin, a prominent economist, was charged with possessing docuuments sent to him by Social-Democrats abroad (a serious offense in Stalin’s Russia), and he was sentenced to prison and subsequent exile. Because of his brother’s crime, [Vitaly Rubin's father] Aaron Rubin lost his job and was compelled to eke out a living by doing miscellaneous translations from more than a dozen languages.

The Rubin family were outsiders within the Soviet Union, but in the 1940s, there was an obvious need to take sides:

When war broke out in 1941, Vitaly Rubin, then a student at Moscow State University, volunteered for the army. He later wrote that, “As a Jew I felt my place was at the front”. In October 1941, while Soviet armies were retreating from the German onslaught, Rubin’s division was encircled and he was among the many taken captive. After three days, however, he escaped, rejoined the army, and fought in the bitterly contested battle of Kaluga.

In Stalin’s Russia, escape from a POW camp was viewed not as a mark of heroism and loyalty, but as grounds for suspicion. With the war still raging and the entire population mobilized for national survival, special labor camps were established for former prisoners of war.

Rubin contracted spinal tuberculosis after labor prison work for eighteen months. He was then informed that he had been politifcally rehabilitated and sent home on a stretcher. He resumed his studies aged 25, his interests included

Chinese archaeology, social institutions, and the political philosophy of pre-Han China. His work increasingly focused upon the theme of the relationship between the individual in society and the demands of the state.

Individual and State in Ancient China was an unusual publication, given censorship and the fact that Rubin had apparently neglected some or many of the confines of censorship when writing the Essays. His explanation later was that his topics were probably that exotic and marginal within Soviet science that his writings probably didn’t have to meet the same standards as more popular or mainstream issues – probably, there were no subsumable standards, and the number of readers who might take an interest in the essays was considered to be small and rather irrelevant. From conversations with persons who had no relationship whatsoever with sinology – doctors, engineers, scholars, and so forth – I know the degree of interest with which my book was read (Rubin).

The publishing house later got a dressing-down from the Central Committee of the CPSU, for “relaxation of ideological vigilance”, according to Mr Rubin’s own preface to the English edition of his essays. But his own troubles began with his visa application.

As de Bary (see first para) observed, it was Rubin’s own life and the constraints on his work inside the Soviet Union which made his essays special. When he wrote the essay about Confucius, there hadn’t been a translation of it into Russian ever since the Soviet Union had been established – Confucius was (rather unfavorably) interpreted by Russian sinologists, but the sage wouldn’t get a chance to speak for himself in Russian. Taoism was much more liked by the party orthodoxy then, because the Taoist philosophers were viewed in the USSR as materialists and dialecticians – in contrast to Confucian classics, all the classical works of ancient Taoism were available in Russian translation in the 1970s, according to Rubin’s English edition preface.

Rubin had to wait for his exit visa from 1972 to 1976 – and without international support, especially from individuals in the field of Asian studies, the visa might have been unattainable altogether. In the meantime, Rubin was subject to the kinds of harassment every totalitarian system seems to have in store for its “traitors”: a house search in 1973 by the KGB, confiscation of manuscript and archival materials, cutting off his phone line in 1974 during a two-week hungerstrike (it was never connected afterwards), or two weeks in jail without any charges during a visit to Moscow by US president Nixon also in 1974. Rubin suffered a heart attack in August 1974.

In a message to foreign supporters in the spring of 1975, Rubin wrote,

Each morning I wake up with the thought – three years have passed since I have been locked up here. It is impossible to wait. I have to do something, but I turn over in my mind every possible course of action and for the thousandth time, I come to the conclusion that every way ends up against a wall.

I cannnot help myself; there is nothing for me but to help others, as far as possible, to escape from this kingdom of violence and lies, to tell the truth and work in my own field.

Rubin’s exit visa came in 1976, just as the English translation of his Four Essays was about to go to press, according to the publisher. Rubin about his book:

In creating the book I perceived my task as seeking to understand the subject matter, as well as the central idea, of each of the philosophers. This thought, which probably seems banal to the Western reader, will become clear only somewhat later, once the appraisals of the ancient Chinese thinkers in the Soviet literature are set forth **) – appraisals to which I implicitly objected.

The second premise of my research was the conviction that thoughts do not die. In other words, I proceeded from the assumption that living in the second half of the twentieth century in the USSR, I could derive for myself something of essential value in Chinese writing of five centuries B.C. I felt, moreover, that these ideas could be most relevant for me because, despite the differing circumstances in which we live, what unites us is more important. We face the same questions about the meaning and goals of human action, of good and evil, of the relationship to authority, and of the value of culture. Such an approach seems to me imcomparably more fruitful and productive than attempting to deprive philosophical ideas of their transcendent meaning by emphasizing the dependence of a philosopher on the socio-political conditions of his time in a kind of historical reductionalism. [.....]

Confident that it is possible for humans to make contact across the broad expanses of world culture, I believe it is also possible to solve questions of interpretation in the field of intellectual history by addressing one’s own interior experience. An awareness of my own place in history helps me orient myself in many theoretical controversies, and the study of ancient Chinese culture convinces me that man at that time confronted the same problems as he does now. If this is so, I have the right to resort to an experiment in thought through an analysis of my own path.


*) All quotes and all information (if not otherwise stated) from the forewords and prefaces of Individual and State in Ancient China, Essays on Four Chinese Philosophers, by Vitaly A. Rubin, translated by Steven I Levine, Columbia University Press, New York, 1976. The book may no longer be for sale at regulary book shops, but should be available through online sources like or You may also find it in larger public libraries (that’s where I found it).

**) Rubin’s preface gives a short account of the appraisals of the ancient Chinese thinkers in the Soviet literature – this blog post may give you a small idea of it already, but it’s only meant to be a reading recommendation. I read Rubin’s essays as a student more than ten years ago, and will probably read them again over xmas…


Rubin was born in 1923 and apparently died in a car accident near Beersheba in October 1981. In his late years, he was apparently a professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


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