Ge Xun’s Interrogation

I’m not in a position to verify the following story and its details, but I have had several online exchanges with C. A. Yeung from Under the Jacaranda, by comment and interview. As far as I can see, she isn’t inclined to draw exaggerated or rash conclusions.

Beijing state security reportedly arrested and assaulted U.S. citizen Ge Xun (葛洵), one of C. A. Yeung’s friends on Twitter. According to Mrs. Yeung’s post, her name was mentioned twice during his interrogation, and his interrogators stated that Under the Jacaranda is under surveillance.

Ge Xun was illegally detained when he attempted to visit his friend, Professor Ding Zilin, one of the Tiananmen Mothers. He was taken to an unknown location, where he was interrogated for more than 20 hours. During such time, Ge was not allowed to contact the US Consulate in spite of his repeated requests. No warrant or relevant document had been presented to him to explain why he was under detention. Ge was beaten up twice: once in order to force him to surrender his Twitter and Gmail passwords; the second time in order to snatch his laptop computer. While he was interrogated, Ge was asked detailed questions about the identities of human rights activists, including each individual volunteer whose name appears at the Free Chen Guangcheng editorial list. […]

Both Under the Jacaranda and Seeing Red in China have posted details from Ge’s account of his detention (apparently on January 31), and his forced departure from China.

Ge was forced to reveal personal data during the interrogation. The state security’s scope of interests seems to be much wider than you might expect – and if state expenditure for “internal security” exceeds the Chinese defense budget, the apparat probably needs to care about a lot of things to keep itself busy.

Another topic during the interrogation was Ge’s website about Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), a dissident who has lived under house arrest since he was released from prison in 2010.

The state security knows how to spread fear – but apparently, it is also a tool of very fearful rulers.

In a talk about Chen Guangcheng in 2010, Jerome Cohen asked:

What is power? The Chinese government would like to have soft power, as well as hard power. The world recognizes China’s growing military might, its tremendous economic development and influence, but China wants to be known for the quality of its civilization. That’s why they resurrected Confucius and engaged in a lot of cultural exchange and things, and that’s all good. But real soft power comes from people recognizing that you run a civilized government, and that you treat your own people better than he’s being treated.

Ge’s account is no fun to read – but Seeing Red‘s  translation, part two, of Ge’s story ends with a surreal circumstance which may make you laugh when reading it. But  it’s no parody.



» Obama, Xi to meet on Valentine’s Day, BBC, January 24, 2012
» Shaun Rein: “Shame on CNN”, FOARP, December 21, 2011


6 Comments to “Ge Xun’s Interrogation”

  1. JR: Thanks for the link. Ge Xun is a very kind person. He is not a part of the dissident community and is genuinely interested only in promoting human rights, in an apolitical and peaceful way. That’s why he is well respected in the Chinese-language blogosphere. The Pandas in Beijing couldn’t have picked a worst target for harassment.


  2. Just to let you know that a member of the 50-cent brigade has just left a message on Twitter for you and me. According to this creature, I own both your and mine blogs, and that I use your blog in order to spread rumours and fake news. The 50-center called us “despicable”.

    Here is the link to the Tweet:!/wudan911/status/168858700835061761

    I’ve just reported this spammer to Twitter and this account may disappear soon. So I’ve taken the liberty to make a screenshot of this Tweet as well, just so that I can capture this precious moment:

    The funny thing is, I think this 50-center does believe in what he says. It’s because this is exactly the kind of tactics that CCP’s propaganda department often uses to fabricate public opinion. So if it’d be difficult for them to believe that other people are not doing the same. Very sad…..


  3. There are 50-centers, and there are believers, C.A.. For me, it’s hard to see what that tweeter really is – a 50-center or a believer. If belief, I’m thinking of it as a kind of corruption – not in the sense of the criminal code, but as a corruption of logical and practical thinking. As you said last year: “If human rights abuses are acceptable in China, there is no categorical reason why they are not acceptable in other parts of the world, including Australia”.

    I’m sure there are people who breathlessly defend human rights violations and try to be good. Their mantra is that China’s calamity would be much greater if there was freedom of speech. They do frequently become bad people in the process of defending human rights violations, of course.

    It’s a complicated thing. Helmut Schmidt, a former German chancellor, and a very respectable man, has been lecturing the German public about China and the importance of non-interference for at least three years (since 2008) now, and he is frequently referred to as a China adept (China-Kenner) in our press. With all due and truly felt respect for him, I have to say that his knowledge mainly seems to come from talks he had with Mao, with Deng, with Jiang Zemin, and other Chinese leaders, plus many fellow German China adepts. He has his own views – he disagrees with the CCP about the role Confucianism played in the past, for examples (at least he thinks he disagrees with them), but like many other foreigners, he tip-toes around Chinese mortifications as if you needed to change your character before talking with or about them. From my own experience, I know that there is no need for that – it’s a myth among foreigners (including many sinologists who, I believe, tend to overestimate the difference between Chinese and other people), but obviously, it’s a myth Beijing wouldn’t object to. There are many Helmut Schmidts in the world of politics. I’m sure Chinese leaders can be very convincing interlocutors.

    I’ve had my share of angry or CCP-apologetic comments on my blog, too. Some look more like 50-centers, some less so. But in the end, I don’t care much about if they are paid for their comments, or if they don’t care about money. In my view, they either have a point worth thinking about, or they haven’t. I’m sure they can do their share to harm any try to have an open discussion in a totalitarian environment like China (including the Chinese internet), but not so in a free and open debate. Besides, there are a lot of people who have a much bigger stake in Chinese growth, than 50-centers. Some of these stakeholders may be decent people,others not. Should I think of the latter 50-billion centers? 😉

    I believe that the best thing we can have against all kinds of corruption is transparency – something that can hardly work without free and open debate.

    If you meet Mr. Shenmeshenme Nalinali on Twitter again, please say hello from me, and give him my regards.


  4. @JR – The thing is, as much as it is obvious that the “anti-China conspiracy” is complete fabrication, an industry has grown up in the past four years or so predicated on its existence.

    As much as the DDR has come to be remembered for it’s omni-present police state, the Stasi in fact only really came into their own in the last decade of its existence. It was only in the dying years of the “Democratic Republic” that the taps were opened and the vast funds that made universal surveillance possible were unleashed.


  5. There’s at least one big difference, FOARP: the DDR couldn’t really afford that apparat, and depended on loans from the West, particularly from West Germany, during its last decade. Besides, there was a lot of political dissatisfaction all over Eastern Europe – as far as I can see, that’s not the case among Chinese.


  6. JR, you’re right in saying that not all CCP-apologists are 50 centers or paid Internet commentators. In fact the Chinese netizens have a name for “non-professionals” who excel in espousing pro-CCP rhetoric. They are called 自费五毛 (self-funded 50 centers).

    As for the tweet I sent you earlier, after I took a careful look at it, surely, I realised that you’re right, it didn’t come from a 50 center. In fact it is automatically generated by a twitter bot. Nowadays, on Twitter many pro-CCP tweets are mass-produced and send out via zombie accounts in order to contaminate the twittersphere. Twitter’s advice in situation like this is not to reply or retweet but to block and report SPAM.


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