Archive for January 3rd, 2009

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Fenqings Exercising their Freedom of Speech?

Related Justrecently Story: Dear Fenqings

My good friend Taide brought an article to my attention: “Can Fenqing or Angry Youths Think for Themselves?”

The Can Fenqing or Angry Youths Think for Themselves article (in the following: angry article or angry author) refers to an earlier article by Jamil Anderlini in the Financial Times.

I have no doubt that many fenqings can. But I also get the impression that they refuse to think when it comes to certain topics.

For one, because they feel threatened, as the angry author says. Let me quote:

We support our government’s Tibet policies and its efforts to hold a successful Olympics event. If any of you criticize and try to sabotage these, we of course will execute our freedom of speech and counteract the efforts of any troublemakers.

Nothing wrong with that. But think of a Chinese citizen who wants to exercise his or her freedom of speech and criticize Beijing’s policies on Tibet, or even just on the Olympics 2008 – good luck with that.

I remember how a Chinese national reminded me in the early 1990s that Berlin doesn’t want the Olympic Games. He referred to demonstrations in Berlin against hosting the Games 2004 back then – official Berlin had applied for hosting them, just as Beijing had (they went to Sydney in the end).

I explained that there were people in Berlin who thought that applying for the Games was a wrong priority, and that other opportunities had to be used instead, but that didn’t mean that most Berliners were against hosting the Olympics. My interlocutor nodded politely, but I don’t think he bought that.

The angry article makes another point. The previous article by Anderlini quotes a Chinese professor who is critical of the fenqings, and who didn’t want to be named. The angry author’s reaction:

“Another Western-media’s “not to be named” source!”

It’s true: an identified source would be more trustworthy. But I can understand Chinese people who don’t wish to be cited by name with their opinion. Had Anderlini quoted someone who sticks his neck out, the angry article would probably have labelled him one of those well-known troublemakers” – like Hu Jia for example (who isn’t available for interviews at the moment). Would such a known source look more convincing to a fenqing? I don’t think so.

Freedom of speech – or rather the lack of it – is a central issue indeed.

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