Posts tagged ‘conscience’

Friday, November 20, 2015

CCP commemorates 100th Anniversary of Hu Yaobang’s Birthday

The complete standing committee of the CCP’s politburo attended a symposium in commemoration of former CCP secretary general Hu Yaobang (胡耀邦). The BBC‘s Mandarin service wrote today (around 11:00 UTC) that Chinese news agency Xinhua published a curt report and a photo of the symposium in the Great Hall of the People. According to the BBC, the symposium was a smaller event than what the outside world had expected. A publication of selected works by Hu Yaobang is reportedly under preparation, including 77 written pieces by Hu Yaobang from 1952 to October 1986: articles, speeches, reports, instructions, letters und Vorwörter prefaces – some of them published for the first time. Hu Yaobang was forced to “resign” as the party’s secretary general early in 1987. However, different from his successor Zhao Ziyang (赵紫阳) who was deposed in the wake of the 1989 students Tian An Men Square protests, Hu retained his politburo standing committee membership until his death in April 1989 – a death that actually sparked the 1989 students movement.

Hu Yaobang is frequently described as a just political leaderwith ideals, and as careful political reformer, or as a liberal of sorts, at least by the standards of a dictatorship.

According to a (more detailed) Xinhua article published at 11:49 UTC today, party secretary general Xi Jinping (习近平) praised Hu Yaobang in the glowing terms that are usual on occasions like today’s. He described practical-mindedness and pragmatism in seeking the people’s benefit as an outstanding characteristic of the former leader, and tried to harness the remembrance for his recently launched “four comprehensives” (四个全面) project.

While liberalism was certainly no issue, Xi praised Hu’s honest, self-disciplined, sublime demeanour (廉洁自律的崇高风范), or in other words, Xi made Hu an icon for “style”, rather than for content. Hu Yaobang’s image seems to be something the current leadership does not want to do without.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

This Week (1): If you are Chinese today, can you win a Nobel Peace Prize?

… and one part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.

Alfred Nobel, 1895, defining the scope of the Nobel Peace Prize


A book  – What Nobel really wanted – was

the elephant in the room that official Norway – politicians, most media, academics – are adamant not to see,

Fredrik S. Heffermehl, a humanist and lawyer, wrote in 2010. His campaign probably gained traction in 2010, given that the 2010 winner of the Prize was Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who reportedly, to this day, this day remains in custody, either in prison, or in a labor camp, and given that China’s authorities have taken a great interest in anything that helps to question the legitimacy of the prize. The book became available in Chinese in 2011, published by the Foreign Languages Press in Beijing.

Publicity helps – even if it comes from a totalitarian regime. When European institutions become unable to perform their acutal duties, any help should be welcome, CCP support included. But it’s a fine line, and a reasonable citizen should try to weigh and understand the factors in power games as carefully and comprehensively as he can.

Kristian Harpviken, director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) (and not directly associated with the committee itself) made a pretty candid statement in an al-Jazeera discussion published on youtube last Wednesday, highlighting Beijing’s influence in Norwegian politics and on the Nobel Committee’s decisions.

Moderator: Do you think if you are Chinese today, you have a chance of winning a Nobel Peace Prize?

Harpviken: Yes, but I think there is one thing that [not readable] against any non-Chinese candidacy at the moment, and that is that the 2010 prize to Liu Xiaobo was so deeply contested by the Chinese government that for the Nobel committee, it is virtually unthinkable to give a prize that would be consistent with the government’s plans and politics, but it is equally inconceivable to give a prize to another dissident in this particular situation …

[Remaining answer unreadable, as it was cut short by moderator]

That, and what follows in a European context, makes it clear that the image of an independent committee, carrying out Alfred Nobel‘s will, is a pretty shaky and highly theoretical concept.

But a list of alternative Nobel Peace laureates, as published by the Nobel Peace Prize Watch, looks no less shaky. For one, it mainly lauds activists who target Western militarism or Western secrecy. The real world isn’t quite that uni-polar.

And there’s another problem. The list explained by its authors, at the bottom of the page, and along with several entries:

Above is the list – based on extensive research – of those who are nominated AND qualified, 
either 1) by direct work for the global disarmament plan Nobel had in mind, or (under a wide understanding of the purpose of Nobel)
 2) by peace work with high utility and relevance to realizing the “fraternity of (disarmed) nations,” or
 3) by new ideas and research, developing new methods for civilized, non-violent interrelation between peoples that enables a demilitarization of international relations.

Heffermehl’s point – as I understand it – has so far been that the committee deviates from Alfred Nobel’s will. But then, someone who wants to provide an alternative to the current committee’s practice, should interpret Nobel closely, not with a wide understanding of the purpose of Nobel. Edward Snowden would be a particular case in point. The desire to support and encourage him is a good thing. But Snowden is hardly a pacifist, or a peace activist, if you go by this Guardian account of February 2014. Even if we take into account that Snowden, under huge US prosecution (or persecution, for that matter), can’t speak his mind openly enough to convey a full picture of his views and intentions, he should rather be in the alternative list’s waiting list for now.

You can’t have your cake and eat it. It’s either a choice in accordance with Nobel’s will, or it’s an interpretation. If it’s an interpretation, the acting Nobel committee can’t be as wrong as first reported.

Once again: trying to turn public attention to an elephant – even if already in the room – is a difficult undertaking, when deemed undesirable by the establishment. It is also a fine line in terms of ethical standards, and I’m beginning to believe that it is an impossible mission, if undertaken without compromising.

Besides, there’s a predicament any institution – and opposing movement – will face: a too narrow choice of candidates, (nearly) unknown to the public, may not achieve much publicity. But without publicity, even the most sincere political plans and objectives are doomed.

Even if biased, a public list of Nobel Peace Prize candidates as published by Heffermehl and Magnusson, that provides a platform for public debate about possible Nobel Peace Prize candidates, is a good step. One can only hope that – better sooner than later – the acting committee in Oslo will understand this, and follow the example.



» National Dialogue Quartet, BBC, Oct 9, 2015
» Appeasing China, May 1, 2014
» A Panda is no Polar Bear, June 6, 2012
» Liu Xiaobo, Dec 28, 2010


Monday, May 11, 2015

China’s Press commemorates WW2: Criticizing the Impenitent by Lauding the Remorseful

This was the commemoration of VE day, but the military parade in Moscow on Saturday rather looked like VJ Day. Chinese party and state leader Xi Jinping took the seat that had been US president George W.Bush’s ten years earlier, and proably would have been Barack Obama’s, hadn’t he stayed away, as most Western leaders did, as a reaction to Russia’s Ukraine policies.

Xi Jinping's Moscow Mercedes: Germany's leaders boycotted the parade, but the German-made car pool didn't

Xi Jinping’s Moscow Mercedes: Germany’s leaders boycotted the parade, but the German-made car pool didn’t (CCTV/Xinwen Lianbo coverage, click picture for Youtube video)

Also, for the first time ever, according to Chinese media, a Chinese guard of honor took part in the parade. Xinhua celebrated the great moment:

Greeting the air of spring in Moscow and marching to the “Katyusha” theme, the 102-strong People’s Liberation Army guard of honor, full of high spirits, passed Moscow’s Red Square, showing military prestige, and manifesting national power. On the reviewing stand, Chairman Xi Jinping stood and waved to them.


But they didn’t only attract the world’s attention for their gallant formation and morale, and not only for their distinctive arrangement rhythmic marching pace, and also not only this was the first time that this was the first time China dispatched a guard of honor to take part in a Red-Square military review.


The Chinese troops on Moscow’s Red Square attracted millions of peoples‘ attention. This guard of honor, representing the Chinese troops‘ image, vigour and strength made people remember the sacrifices made by the Chinese and Russian armies in the world’s just war against and victory over fascism, manifested the strategic and coordinated relationship between the Chinese and the Russian armies, taking the common mission of their two countries to maintain the peaceful development of the world.


As China’s military passed across Moscows Red Square, the sound of their footsteps expressed the solemn promise of forever remembering history.

当中国军人走过莫斯科红场,铿锵的足音里,表达出铭记历史的庄严承诺。 […]

Forgetting history spells betrayal (忘记历史就意味着背叛), writes Xinhua. Probably, this does not refer to the way the article itself celebrates what was the CCP’s Red Army at the time of World War 2, and ignores the role of the KMT’s – then regular – Chinese troops.

To commemorate war means avoiding war. Seventy years ago, Chinese and Russian did immortal deeds in the world’s war against and victory over fascism. In this 21rst century, the two countries are permanent members of the United Nations‘ Security Council, and bear a great responsibility for the protection of the fruits of victory in World War 2 and international fairness and justice, for the promotion of the international order taking a more just and reasonable direction, for regional and global peace, security, and stability.


Kind of naturally, the mainstream Western press is taking a less cordial look at the parade and its supposed implications.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has used the anniversary to whip up patriotism and anti-Western sentiment; at a parade in Kiev, President Petro Poroshenko said Moscow was trying to hog the credit for the World War Two victory at Ukraine’s expense,

says an article published by the Daily Telegraph on Sunday, and concerning Russian-Chinese cooperation, the Guardian’s foreign affairs commentator Natalie Nougayrède wrote on March 26 that

China has a 2,500-year history of strategic thinking driven by a deep distrust of external players. Don’t expect a People’s Daily front page proclaiming a new era of Chinese openness towards the west. Nor should Vladimir Putin’s Russia think that it will find an amenable partner in Xi’s China if it continues to turn its back on Europe. China sees Russia as a declining power that can eventually be transformed into an economic colony – reduced to the role of oil and gas provider. China believes it can make strategic gains if Europe and Russia continue to clash.

While German chancellor Angela Merkel, just as the majority of Western leaders, boycotted the military parade on Saturday, she did meet with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday, to hold talks after they had laid down a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier together. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) refers to Merkel as having acted as the West’s chief interlocutor with the Kremlin throughout the Ukraine crisis, which might serve as one explanation why Merkel didn’t avoid meeting Putin altogether. But in its English broadcast on Monday, Radio Japan added another interpretation:

Merkel and other Group-of-Seven leaders cited the Ukrainian crisis for their absence from Saturday’s parade in Moscow, marking seventy years since the victory over Nazi Germany. But Merkel attended a wreath-laying ceremony in an apparent attempt to show that Germany has faced up to the responsibility for the Nazi atrocities.

That, however, didn’t keep Merkel from unusually plain talk at a joint press conference with the Russian leader. While Putin referred to Germany as a partner and friend, and, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung, even suggested that Germany had been the first victim of the Nazis, Merkel said that German-Russian cooperation has suffered a grave setback by Russia’s criminal annexation of Crimea, in violation of international law, and the military conflict in Ukraine (hat durch die verbrecherische und völkerrechtswidrige Annexion der Krim und die militärische Auseinandersetzung in der Ostukraine einen schweren Rückschlag erlitten).

On May 6, in a speech at Schloss Stukenbrock, a prisoner-of-war camp in western Germany’s state of Northrhine-Westphalia, German president Joachim Gauck, known as a fiery anti-communist, made a speech which took many political observers, at least in Germany itself, by surprise. He addressed a fact that is frequently unknown or hardly known among Germans, and particularly West Germans (thanks not least to what China’s media might have criticized as cooked history textbooks, if West Germany had been Japan):

We have gathered here today in Schloß Holte-Stukenbrock to recall one of the worst crimes of the war – the deaths of millions of Red Army soldiers in German prisoner-of-war camps. They died in agony without medical care, starved to death or were murdered. Millions of prisoners of war for whose care the German Wehrmacht was responsible under the law of war and international agreements.

These prisoners were forced on long marches, transported in open goods wagons and sent to so-called reception or assembly camps that provided almost nothing at the start – no shelter, not enough food, no sanitary facilities, no medical care. Nothing. They had to dig holes in the ground and build makeshift huts for shelter – they tried desperately to survive somehow. Huge numbers of these prisoners were then forced to do hard labour which, in their weakened and starving condition, they often did not manage to survive.

The Beijing Evening News (北京晚报) combined a rendition of Gauck’s speech with another laudably self-critical one by Germany’s permanent representative at the United Nations, and a much less laudable one (at least according to the paper itself) by Japan’s permanent representative:

In contrast [to the German permanent representative’s speech], Japan’s permanent representative at the UN, Motohide Yoshikawa, only said: “Our behavior created misery for the peoples of the Asian countries. We must not close our eyes to this.” After that, he made big words about Japan’s “contributions to international peace, and Japan’s support for the United Nations”.



» China invites Russian Troops, Kyiv Post / Reuters, May 11, 2015
» Even closer, The Atlantic, May 10, 2015
» Wo sind die Nachtwölfe, Telepolis, May 10, 2015
» India’s Grenadiers join Parade, Telegraph India, May 9, 2015


Friday, March 6, 2015

NPC and CPPCC sessions: The Phrasemongering Season has begun

People's Daily online resources for learning cadres

On the Road of Learning
from the Great Helmsman –
click picture for source

China’s ongoing two annual political sessions have once again hit major headlines, as the world is anticipating the country’s new measures to cope with its growth slowdown to a state of “new normal”,

according to a Xinhua report republished by Beijing Review, an English-language propaganda paper for exactly that waiting world. And also according to Beijing Review, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and other leaders on Wednesday vowed to fully implement the “Four Comprehensives” strategic layout in order to realize economic and social development targets.

The Four Comprehensives can make clearer what the road to the Chinese dream is about, believes Central Party School professor and doctoral supervisor Xin Ming.

And that’s badly needed stuff, if we go by what the BBC said in February:

Mr Xi denounced political jargon as “empty words” during a speech five years ago.
However, he launched his leadership in 2013 with the idea of the “Chinese dream”, a concept many say is still ill-defined.

So, just how does the “dream” concept become clearer, according to Xin?

The professor believes that the “Chinese dream” is “a strategic layout in the historical process of the realization of the greatest dream of the Chinese nation.”

He considers the “four comprehensives” – the goal of comprehensively building a moderately prosperous society, coprehensive deepening of reform, comprehensive promotion of government by law, and strictly governing the party – constitute three strategic measures (apparently, Xin combines the rule by law and the demand of strictly governing the party).

He believes that, iguratively speaking, one goal and three measures may also count as „three legs of a tripod“ on which the goal is set up. “One body, three feet” are structuring the blueprint of China’s happy future.



“To really comprehensively understand the ‚four comprehensives‘, I’m afraid we need to move one step further, i. e. to understand that besides the one-body-three-feet structure, we must understand which kind of consciousness it highlights.” Xin Ming believes that „behind the four comprehensives, there are contemporary communists,or three strong kinds of consciousness in current Chinese society.


Xin states “a sense of mission”, “problem awareness”, and a “sense of responsibility” as these “strong kinds of consciousness”. As for the latter,

Chinese Communists‘ have such a noble mission, but at the same time, we clearly encounter problems in the process of completing the mission. How can we deal with the problems? We shy away from them, turn a blind eye to them, or we confront them head-on, crack them, smooth them out, solve them. What does it take to do this job? It takes acceptance of responsibility. Without acceptance of responsibility, there won’t be this kind of strategic vision, there won’t be this sense of responsibility. Maybe we could still pick up what can be done well, what can be done easily, and with immediate effect, but we can’t make a big fanfare over „comprehensiveness“.

中国共产党人有这样一种崇高的使命,同时,我们也很清楚在完成这个使命的过程中会遇到什么样的问题。遇到这些问题怎么办?我们是绕着走、视而不见,还是迎 头而上,去破解问题、化解问题、解决问题。做这些工作要什么?需要一种担当。没有这种担当意识,我们做不出这样一种战略构想,没有这样一种担当意识,也许 我们就会捡好的做,捡容易的做,捡能马上见效的做,而不会在“全面”上大做文章。

All this, written in the run-up to the sessions of the NPC and the CPPCC, may come across as empty words, as observed by the BBC or by unnamed critics quoted by the BBC: Critics say the Communist elite’s obsession with jargon alienates them from plain-speaking Chinese citizens.

That may be so – among an unknown share of the Chinese population. But it would be particularly true for Chinese people who are in constant contact with foreigners, and who may actually feel somewhat embarrassed when their foreign colleagues or friends pick up some of the more colorful blossoms of CCP phrasemongering. But despite all the embarrassment (or fun) it may create, this custom – which isn’t merely “communist” – has been criticized for a century or longer, and it hasn’t gone away. To another unknown share of the Chinese population, the slogans are realities.

Or, as Jacques Ellul wrote in 1962, about a much more obvious and obtrusive kind of CCP propaganda than of our days:

When one reads this once, one smiles. If one reads it a thousand times, and no longer reads anything else, one must undergo a change. And we must reflect on the transformation of perspective already suffered by a whole society in which texts like this (published by the thousands) can be dsitributed and taken seriously not only by the authorities but by the intellectuals.*)



*) Jacques Ellul, “Propaganda”, New York 1965 (a more recent reprint of it), p. 14



» Reference Book, Beijing Review, Mar 6, 2015
» Unobtrusive and imperceptible, Jan 7, 2012


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Taiwan Newsarticle: European and American Universities refusing Cooperation with Confucius Institutes

The following is a translation of an article published online by Radio Taiwan International (RTI), on January 13 this year. RTI based their article on coverage by United Daily News (聯合報), the Liberty Times (自由時報, sister to the English-language Taipei Times), and Associated Press (AP).

I haven’t checked upon mainland coverage of these issues yet (RTI mentions Huanqiu Shibao, for example), but might do so next week.

As for Astrid Soderbergh Widding, the Stockholm University vice-chancellor quoted by RTI, the South China Morning Post quoted her in January as saying that “establishing institutes that are funded by another nation, within the framework of a university, is rather a questionable practice”.

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Main Link:
Academic Freedom Threatened, European and American Universities refuse Cooperation with Confucius Institutes

Related Tag:
Confucius Institute

Mainland China’s Huanqiu Shibao reported on January 12 that Stockholm University has announced the termination, by the end of June, of its cooperation with the Confucius Institute in Stockholm – the first Confucius Institute founded in Europe, in 2005. The reason was that given the expansion of bilateral cooperation, this form of co0peration was no longer in step with the times. Before that, two American universities also said that they would not renew their contracts with the Confucius Institutes. These decisions reflect the concerns that the role of Confucius Institutes in the respective countries have caused.


To alleviate doubts, Beijing promotes soft power

◎消除疑慮 北京推軟實力

Supported by its economic power, mainland China’s international political status has risen, Beijing’s rise received high global attention, and it also led to some doubts: to highlight China’s rise as a peaceful one, and to strengthen mainland China’s international influence, Beijing set out from the cultural level to actively promote soft power, and the establishment of Confucius Institutes abroad was what caught most attention among the promotional measures.


In November 2004, the first Confucius Institute put up its name plate in Seoul, and since, Confucius Institutes have also been established in countries in Asia, America, Europe, and Africa.


By September 2014, 123 countries worldwide cooperated with mainland China, having set up 465 Confucius Institutes and 173 Confucius Classrooms. In America alone, 100 universities took part in such programs.


Confucius Institutes lead in funding

◎主導經費教材 孔子學院惹爭議

The Confucius Institutes are usually set up right within the foreign universities that sign contracts with Beijing, but the [central] government in Beijing provides funding, chooses the staff that teaches abroad, and specifies the teaching material. This has caused quite some controversy.


It is [sometimes] said that Confucius Institutes operating within universities have some influence on the curricula of those schools and could endanger the schools’ integrity. These commentators believe that Confucius Institutes pose a threat to academic freedom.


Stockholm University vice-chancellor Astrid Söderbergh Widding says that when institutions within universities are funded by governments of other countries, the approach does indeed pose problems.

斯德哥爾摩大學副校長維丁(Astrid Soderbergh Widding)就表示,大學內設立的機構是由另一個國家政府提供經費,這種作法的確有問題。

The ways Confucius Institutes operate have also attracted the attention of foreign governments. Indian and Japanese officials have questioned that Confucius Institutes only teach the Chinese language – [suggesting that] they also spread ideological attitued, and deliberately influence countries’ assessments of mainland China.


A report published in October 2013 by American think tank “Project 2049 Research Institute” pointed out that while teaching Chinese, Confucius Institutes also inculcate ideological attitudes, thus influencing foreign circles’ judgment of Beijing.


To promote academic independence, American scholars demand end to cooperation

◎維護學術獨立 美學者促停止合作

Nevertheless, Beijing’s strategy of promoting soft power by the establishment of Confucius Institues in numerous countries worldwide has seen growing resistance in recent years. Besides Stockholm University, universities and schools in America and Canada have terminated or suspended cooperation with Confucius Institutes.


When the University of Chicago established a Confucius Institute in 2009, 174 professors of the university jointly opposed. Last year in April, 108 University of Chicago professors jointly demanded that after the cooperation term expire, cooperation with Beijing should be terminated, and the Confucius Institute no longer be allowed on the campus. They believed that the lecturers employed by Beijing had received special training to avoid or neglect politically sensitive topics such as “June 4” or Taiwan. They believed that with Beijing’s control of the lecturers employment and training would earn the University of Chicago’s academic program political  mainland official management and control of political speech and influence on freedom of religion.


On September 25 last year, the University of Chicago announced that the five years of cooperation with the Confucius Institute would not be renewed after September 29.


Shortly afterwards, on October 1 2014, the Pennsylvania State University announced that they would terminate their five years of cooperation with the Confucius Institute.


Beijing’s method of transmitting ideology needs to be corrected

◎傳輸意識形態 北京作法待修正

American paper Wall Street Journal wrote that the professors’ dissatisfaction with the Confucius Institutes came from lacking teaching skills and a refusal to accept some negative chapters in Chinese history*).


In June last year, the American Association of University Professors called for 100 U.S. universities cancel or renegotiate their contracts with the Confucius Institutes, because the Confucius Institutes were propaganda branches of mainland Chinese, particularly dissimenating the mainland authorities ideological attitudes, in violation of academic freedom.


Even earlier, in June 2013, the Canadian Association of University Teachers called on Canada’s universities and schools to terminate relations with the Confucius Institute, because allowing governments of totalitarian states to guide curricula content, teaching material and the topics in classroom dialogue would harm the integrity of all universities.


The University of Manitoba, and the Toronto District School Board refused or suspended the establishment of Confucius Institutes last year, their main concern being that Confucius Institutes could interfere with academic freedom at the schools.

加拿大曼尼托巴大學(University of Manitoba)和多倫多教育局已於去年先後拒絕或暫停設立孔子學院,主要的顧慮就是孔子學院會干涉學校的學術自由。

But is the gradual termination of cooperation with Confucius Institutes by European and American countries purely based on concern about academic freedom, or does it represent an outbreak of fear of mainland China? Future developments will be worth continued observation.




*) If RTI referred to this WSJ blogpost, hiring practice rather than lacking skills were the source of dissatisfaction: the institutes’ hiring practices and refusal to acknowledge unflattering chapters of Chinese history.



» Unobtrusive and Imperceptible Moral Influence, Jan 7, 2012


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Message from Ilham Tohti: China can do better

Tsering Woeser writes that Li Fangping, a lawyer, has recorded a statement by Ilham Tohti, the Uyghur economist who was sentenced to life inprisonment by the Intermediate People’s Court in Urumqi on Tuesday. Tohti made his statement after he was sentenced, and said that he shouts out loudly for his Uyghur nationality, and even more for the future of China. He feels that he can endure his fate, that he will not betray his conscience. If I emerge from jail self-injured or after suicide, this will definitely be false [information].

I firmly believe that China can do better, and that the constitutional rights will be respected. God gave peace to Uyghurs and Han Chinese, and only when there is peace, good intentions will work in the interests of both.


During the eight months in prison so far, he had only been allowed outside his cell for three hours. He could still count himself lucky, compared to other people accused of separatism, as he could choose his lawyer – a Han nationality lawyer -, in that his family could listen on during the trial, and in that he had been able to say what he wanted to say. He hoped that his case could help to further the rule of law in Xinjiang, even if only a bit.

He slept well last night, for over eight hours, better than anytime during the eight months in prison. He felt strong, but unable to report his situation to his mother. “Just tell her that I’ve been sentenced to five years in prison. That should do.”



» Dolkar Tso thanks Sandrup’s lawyers, June 26, 2010


Updates / Related

» Reason and Peace underfoot, Teng Biao / Guardian, Sept 24, 2014


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Ilham Tohti sentenced to Life in Prison: “The Price our People have to Pay”

Ilham Tohti (伊力哈木·土赫提), an associate economics professor at Beijing’s Minzu University, has been sentenced to life in prison, reports CNN. The Intermediate People’s Court in Urumqi found Tohti “guilty of separatism”, according to CNN. According to the report, the court also ordered the confiscation of all of Tohti’s assets. Liu Xiaoyuan (刘晓原), one of Tohti’s lawyers, reportedly said that he and Tohti had been prepared for a guilty verdict and that they would appeal.

A post by Tibetan poet and blogger Tsering Woeser says that the verdict and sentence were announced at ten in the morning local time. According from a Tweet by Liu Xiaoyuan quoted by Woeser, Tohti said that he would not give in, and that he protested against the verdict. Tohti’s daughter Jewher Ilham who is currently in the U.S. is quoted as tweeting that she, too, protested against the verdict. His wife Guzaili Nu’er (古再努尔) who had followed the trial was in tears.

Wang Lixiong, Woeser’s husband and a tibetologist, wrote that “on September 23, the authorities have created an Uighur Mandela.” However, he did not believe that Tohti would remain behind bars forever, “because the delay of justice won’t last forever.”

Woeser also posted what Tohti had told her in an interview conducted in 2009 – lines that she feels seem to be his answer to the court’s sentence of today:

Where you can go to jail for what you say, for running a website, for just speaking the truth
Which for me would be an honor
As I’ve said before
To trade my humble life to call for freedom
Gladly, I’d be proud to
So this probably won’t hurt much
The thought makes me nervous, but not for long
A few minutes, or at most a few hours
My only concern is for mother and the children
I’m even prepared for the possibility of a death sentence
That just might be the price our people have to pay
When I, Ilham Tohti, pay that price; then though I may have to  go in
Perhaps that will draw more attention to the plight of our people
People will think more about it
And perhaps more people will know about me
Uyghur, Han, foreign friends, people from other ethnic groups
Will learn about me and my ideas
Learn that I was not violent, hadn’t broken any law
And that I only tried  hard to make our voice heard
And to speak about our culture and our situation…
Although we’ve not been perfect
And, I think Uyghur Online could be even better run if I weren’t around
I believe in the conscience of my friends, friends like you
Some say I’m the Uyghur people’s conscience, I think that overstates it / I can’t live up to that
I hope to see the Uyghur people’s conscience in  many others
Not just in me.
I’ve done my best to be a person of conscience, conscience toward the Uyghur people
That’s something to be proud of
And indeed I am lucky
And proud, if I can truly be that person
And I think, if with the time I have left, I can come up with ideas, with a model
A way for Uyghurs to struggle peacefully for their right to autonomy, a mode of resistance
And win acceptance from mainstream society, my death will have been worth that
I don’t like violence and I won’t advocate it
And I definitely don’t think the Han are our enemy
Not even if racial hatred or killings should happen again
Even if genocide were to happen
I would still say: the Han should be our friends!
I would say: We should be friends, not enemies
But in this country anything is possible
Which is why I’m already prepared
That the unthinkable could happen, to your family or yourself
I have doubts, like when they smear my name
Say I peddled coke or sold weapons, or organized violence
Or that I’m an East Turkestan terrorist, or even that I’ve trained with Bin Laden
That I’m agent of his, or America’s
Or that I work for Rebiya Kadeer, or I’m the World Uyghur Congress’ man in China, etc…
I don’t know, all sorts of stuff…
So whatever happens, we should face it with courage
Of course, first, I want to see things done according to law
And second, I don’t want to see any conflicts/tension? with the Han just because of me
And I hope when the time comes, we will hear Uyghur
And Han people speak up, we will hear the voice of reason?
This is my hope for the Han people and for the Uyghurs
My hope for both peoples
Third, I hope that if I do end up dead, I’m buried in Xinjiang
Which is home for Uyghurs
It could be on an iceberg, in the desert, even by the side of the road
I just don’t want my body to be buried outside of Xinjiang
Lastly, I worry most about my children
I’m afraid they’ll face persecution, more than they already have
Forced to merely audit classes at schools that won’t take them as regular students
I’m afraid later they won’t even be able to audit classes
My kids will be lost, and there won’t be anything I can do
I believe in my daughter, there’s something special about her.
I have influenced her a lot/Much of what she knows she learned from me, I trust her conscience
I trust that she will grow into a moral person who loves her people, loves all people
But I worry people will go after her
My other worry stems from my wife, who is now again pregnant
She’s unemployed now, and when she returns to Xinjiang she will not be able to find work
My future child, and my mother who is getting on…
I’m worried about my two children…
It could all end tragically, in spite of my worries, you know what I mean?
But there’s nothing I can do. This is the price to be paid, whether you want it or not
So I think, in spite of different things I hear, and all that I anticipate
I refuse to believe it
That this country might actually do such things to me
Me who poses no threat. Sometimes I wonder
But what I hear confirms what I suspect
And I think about how I’ll survive
And by surviving, what I can do for my people
So I bite my tongue, right?
So that’s what it’s like know:  anything could happen
But sometimes I think, there’s no way
Surely, nothing that abhorrent could happen
Or, people say it’s just my wishful thinking
That the government could ever change…


Updates / Related

» 充分保障被告人诉讼权利, CPBS, Sept 23, 2014
» Spokesperson’s Remarks, FMPRC, July 30/31, 2014
» 外交部回应, Sina, Aug 1, 2014
» “与…海外媒体关系甚密”, Huanqiu, Jan 18, 2014


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Military Training in the Garden of Growing Imams

Main link: Xinjiang Islamic Institute conducts its First Military Training

China News Service (中国新闻社), China’s second-largest newsagency, published nine photos on Monday, of a military drill at Xinjiang Islamic Institute in Urumqi (Ürümqi), East Turkestan (aka Xinjiang).

Each of the nine photos comes with the same note which reads:

According to PLA Daily‘s microblog on September 15, Xinjiang Islamic Institute invited the political department of Xinjiang Military Region to carry out military training of 80 students who enrolled at the Institute this year. The military region [department] specifically chose eight military-political officers and soldiers of excellent quality [toughness] who speak both Uighur and Chinese. During the ten days of military training, the students learn basic military subjects, take part in defense lectures, and watch ethnic-unity propaganda movies.

据军报记者微博9月15日报道,新疆伊斯兰教经学院邀请新疆军区政治部为 该院今年招收的80名新学员进行军训。军区专门从某红军师抽选了8名维语、汉语兼通、军政素质过硬的官兵担任教官。为期10天的军训中,学员们学习基本军 事课目,参加国防知识讲座、观看民族团结宣传片。

Click the following links for the photos.

Picture 1

Picture 2

Picture 3

Picture 4

Picture 5

Picture 6

Picture 7

Picture 8

Picture 9

Beijing review, an English-language propaganda paper, referred to the Islamic Institute as a garden of young imams in a 2009 online article.

And in 2008, China Radio International‘s (CRI) German service quoted the Institute’s deputy director as follows:

“My home was very far from the Uighur school. Up to high school, I visited a school of the Han nationality. When I didn’t pass the entrance exam for university, I was very sad. My parents comforted me and said that university wasn’t the only way of further education. We are Muslims, they said. Therefore, you should be in the know about Islam. You should look into your religion and study Islam.”

“Mein Zuhause lag sehr weit von der uigurischen Schule entfernt. Ich besuchte bis zur Oberschule die Schule der Han-Nationalität. Als ich dann später die Aufnahmeprüfung für die Universität nicht bestanden hatte, war ich sehr traurig. Meine Eltern trösteten mich und erklärten mir, dass die Universität nicht die einzige mögliche weitere Ausbildung war. Wir sind Muslime, sagten sie. Daher sollst Du gut über den Islam Bescheid wissen. Du solltest dich also intensiver mit Deiner Religion auseinandersetzen und den Islam studieren.”

The PLA photo story is carried by a number of Chinese websites, including Xinhua newsagency online, CCTV, and, – no surprise – Huanqiu Shibao.

And nothing satisfies a true Chinese patriot, at least not according to the latest comment (from Shenzhen):

Our country puts too much emphasis on the culture of different nationalities and neglects unified cultural education, particularly the education in Chinese culture for national minorities. It seems that there are many races among Americans, but it is the same English language and the same writing form for everyone. Put Chinese ideological and cultural education first, and [put regional ethnic culture [second] as a supplement.


But the previous commenter, from Zhejiang Province, dislikes the military component of “education”:

These Muslim students should rather study Chinese language [hanyu] and Confucian thought. To teach military subjects among institute students who aren’t yet mature isn’t quite appropriate. Not even ten percent of Uighur students in Xinjiang speak Chinese, and among the Islamic students from southern Xinjiang, even fewer speak Chinese. The state must vigorously expand Chinese-language and Chinese cultural education among national minorities, to make them recognize that their identity and ideology is Chinese.




» Religion and Peace, People’s Daily, Sep 17, 2014
» Come sigh with us, Aug 17, 2014
» Kunming Attack, March 3, 2014
» Golden vase of unity, Dec 26, 2010



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