Beijing Observation: Regressing Further from “Five Nos,” by Gao Yu


Walk through the recent ideology bugle call that accumulated in CCP General Office’s Document No. 9 in late April, and observe the mindset of Chinese leaders and their frantic effort to take control of public expression, with Beijing-based independent journalist and commentator Gao Yu (高瑜).

The “Five Nos” (五不搞) refer to what Wu Bangguo, then the chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, avowed in the 2011 NPC session.They are “no multi-party election, no diversification of guiding principles, no separation of powers, no federal system, and no privatization.”

This is a translation of a revised copy made available to SRIC. The original can be read here.  Translated by Jack and Yaxue.

Gao Yu (高瑜)

Gao Yu (高瑜)

The day after the Southern Weekend incident broke on January 3rd of this year, which stirred waves in China and beyond, a national conference of propaganda chiefs was held. Liu Yunshan (刘云山), the member of the Politburo Standing Committee in charge of propaganda and secretary of the Secretariat of the CCP Central Committee, attended the meeting and gave a speech. The Chinese media didn’t elaborate on it probably because Xi Jinping and none of the other standing committee members attended it. The Xinhua news agency had a short release, mentioning Liu Yuanshan’s speech and not much else.

Liu Yunshan’s Speech, “The Piercing Tip of a Wrapped Awl”

This propaganda tsar from Inner Mongolia was the head of the CCP’s propaganda department for the entire tenure of Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao’s ten-year reign. He is known for his talks of party platitude, and has not produced anything that could be called a signature speech.

Inside the system, the first denunciation of universal values came from Chen Kuiyuan (陈奎元), the president and party chief of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in a speech he delivered during the academy’s reform seminar held on July 26, 2008. Five months later, the first issue in 2009 of the party’s Qiushi magazine (《求是》, or Seeking Truth) published Liu Yunshan’s speech “Looking Back and Looking Forward,” delivered on December 25, 2008 during a forum of the heads of the CCP’s national-level propaganda and cultural units. It was a “study and discuss” session for Hu Jintao’s speech during a conference commemorating the 30th anniversary of the third session of the 11th Central Committee of the CCP. In this speech, Liu Yunshan required the propaganda chiefs to “steadily push forward the construction of the socialist core value system, to better pull together spirit and qi, and to strengthen the foundations and roots.” “The socialist core value system,” he said, “is the essential embodiment of the socialist ideology and is the pillar of the contemporary Chinese people.” Liu’s highlighting the so-called “socialist core value system” was seen by many as a refrain of Chen Kuiyuan’s speech against universal values.

Now, six months into Xi Jinping’s “new reign,” what Liu Yunshan said before, by comparison, was nothing nearly as alarming as what he  has been up to currently.

This year’s national conference of propaganda chiefs marks an ideological turning point from Hu’s time to Xi’s. Liu’s speech during that conference has not been published, but from the increasingly harsh media grip and internet censorship, we can feel Liu’s speech the way we can see “the piercing tip of an awl hidden in a bag.”

“Erecting Political Awareness” and “Three Loves”

According to Xinhua News’s report on the January conference, Liu Yunshan emphasized that, “to engage in propaganda of thoughts and culture in an environment of diverse social ideas and profoundly changed media landscape, [we] must erect political awareness, we must have the right stand, clear views, and firm attitude with regard to the party’s basic political path, issues of principles, and important guidelines and policies.”

What does “erecting political awareness” entail? Is it the same as “keeping in lock step with the Central Leadership” that we used to hear a lot during the Jiang Zemin era and the Hu Jintao era?

After the Two Sessions, the CCP Propaganda Department circulated, only orally, the main points of the national conference of the propaganda chiefs to national and regional media organizations across China. In an article appearing on a website called “Chinese Mainstream Culture Website”(中华主流文化网), an attendee leaked the five main points of the conference:

1.  Uphold the mouthpiece theory [i. e. the media must be the mouthpiece of the Party];

2.  Uphold Marxism, Leninism, Mao Zedong thought, and the theory of socialism with Chinese characteristics as guiding principles;

3.  From now on, no anti-Marxism, anti-Leninism or anti-Mao Zedong thought are allowed to appear in media. The propaganda system will cleanse itself of “new three antis” personnel¹, or those who are anti-party, anti-state and anti-nationality[ 1] . These people will be removed if they don’t change their stand;

4.  Strengthen the management of the media. Media practitioners must have clear-cut political stands, must have clear political brain, must uphold the principle of objectivity and truthfulness, and must be responsible to the society. Media cannot report negative news everyday all over their pages while ignoring the positive things; and

5.  Strengthen the party’s leadership over the media. This has to start from the education of media practitioners, and those with “new three anti” tendencies are not allowed to teach journalism in universities.

Once leaked, these five points shocked many and invited heated argument online. Overjoyed Maoist websites re-posted the article, while liberals roundly condemned them.

On April 10th, the CCP’s two Hong Kong-based newspapers, Ta Kun Pao and Wen Wei Po, came out together to deny “rumors”: there had never been a “CCP propaganda work meeting,” and the so-called “new three antis” was a baseless rumor.

The next day though, on April 11th, the Red Flag Journal (《红旗文稿》), a subordinate publication of Seeking Truth magazine, published an article entitled Comprehensively Manage the Two Media Fields to Unite Positive Social Energy (read a complete translation here) by Ren Xianliang (任贤良), a deputy director of the Shaanxi Provincial CCP Propaganda Department and also a vice-chairman of the All-China Journalists Association (中国记协).The article belligerently called for tightened management of new media and occupying new fronts of public opinions, and was widely re-posted by Xinhua, People’s Daily and major gateway sites.

Ren Xianliang defined the internet-based new media and traditional state-owned media in terms of enemy vs. us. He believes that the emergence of blogs, microblogs and other forms of self-media has in effect demolished the Chinese government’s prohibition of private media and its ban on media exposé of events out of regional boundaries, and opened up a “micro-era” where everyone is a journalist. Personal media are “unfettered” and “uninhibited,” he argued, and they can exert influence as powerfully as a newspaper or a news agency. They not only challenge the fundamental principle that the party alone runs the media, he opined, they also lead to class divide and confrontation and damage the credibility of the government. Some forces “manipulate” online opinions, fabricate political “rumors,” viciously denigrate the image of the party and the state, and dismantle the foundation on which the party governs. He describes the Southern Weekend incident as “flagrantly challenging the party’s news media management system.” He called for internet censors to rein in more stringently those well-known online leakers, “Big V” Weibo accounts (verified accounts with a large number of followers), “warning them when warning is due, shutting them up when they should be shut up, and closing them down when it is called for.” Meanwhile, he proposed to “transform, sponsor and cultivate” a large number of opinion leaders who understand, recognize and support the guidelines and policies of the party and the state, and to influence and lead public opinions through them.

Ren Xianliang’s article in a way confirmed the existence of the “new three antis,” and it brought about another torrent of online backlash. Beginning from April 12, in an effort to silence the discussion, accounts were frozen or deleted, not just those of the critics, but also those of Ren Xianliang and Zhang Hongliang (张宏良, a Maoist intellectual). Phrases like “new three antis” and “traitor to the Han people” were censored.

The year of 2012 [with the saga of Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun] was a year when “rumors forced the truth out.” This time, the CCP’s Propaganda Department came out to “clarify” that there had been no such thing as the “new three antis.” Instead, it said that it had only talked about “three loves”: love the party, love the country, and love the nationality, and by “erecting political awareness,” Liu Yunshan meant the “three loves.” But the question is, how about those who are not adhering to the “three loves?” Do the three loves not in effect evidence the existence of the “new three antis?”

A big name from the People’s Daily revealed that the leadership of the paper had been informed of the key points of the national conference of propaganda chiefs which indeed included the phrase “new three antis,” an invention of China’s propaganda tsar.

On April 19, the world media was flabbergasted to learn that the Ta Kun Pao, the CCP’s paper in Hong Kong known for “quashing rumors” about mainland politics, had fabricated the false story of Xi Jinping riding Beijing taxi.

The Duowei website appealed in what sounds like an invocation: “Under the circumstances, it’s time for Xi Jinping to take action to transcend the boundaries of the left and right!”

In late April, the General Office of the Communist Party issued Document No. 9 to the county/military division level across the country. The document is called the Minutes of the 2013 National Conference of Propaganda Chiefs — Briefing on the Current Situation in the Field of Ideology with Liu Yunshan’s speech, in its entirety, attached to it. Documents of the CCP General Office are only second to those of the Central Committee, and they must be signed by the entire Standing Committee. So this is not just about Liu Yunshan anymore.

Document No. 9 is divided into three parts: 1) Situation, 2) Problems, and 3) Countermeasures.

The “situation” section summarized new achievements in the fields of propaganda,  ideology and culture, such as “successfully promoting the spirit of the 18th Party Congress;” “promoting and reporting the new central leaders, with comrade Xi Jinping as the general secretary, who are collectively showing a high level of responsibility-bearing spirit to the nationality, the country, and the people; while working hard to rejuvenate the nation, empty talk will only lead the nation astray; showing the good work style and image of being vigorous and resolute, realistic and pragmatic, and making every effort to govern the nation well;” “receiving waves of praise from inside and outside of the party, making the masses and the cadres inspired with enthusiasm;” and “promoting the ‘Chinese Dream’ with great force.”

According to the Xinhua News Agency, Liu Yunshan proposed in his speech that “we must establish an awareness of problems, and ‘problems are the sound of the times.’ We must be good at discovering problems, bringing forth problems, facing problems directly, studying problems, and answering problems, positively setting into motion resolutions for the problems, and gathering the positive energy to propel development.”

So, what problems did the national conference of propaganda chiefs actually raise and directly face? It turns out they are even more startling than what was leaked online:

  • The Concepts of Democracy and Constitutional Government: The goal of this is to overthrow the leadership of the Communist Party and subvert the political power of the state. The Southern Weekend incident was a brazen provocation. 
  • Universal Values: The core of this is to dispel the leadership of the party and force the party to make concessions.
  • Civil Society: The main purpose of this is to establish new political forces outside of the party’s grass roots units.
  • Neoliberalism: This is against the state exerting macroeconomic controls.
  • Western Ideas of the Press: These ideas are against the “mouthpiece theory” that the party has consistently held fast to. They want (the press) to break free from the party’s leadership over the media and open things up, creating havoc for the party and society by stirring up public opinions.
  • Historical Nihilism: This takes issue with the historical problems under the party leadership and disputes facts that have already been widely accepted. The most noted example is that it makes a great effort to disparage and attack Mao Zedong and Mao Zedong thought, negating the historical role that the CCP played during the period of Mao Zedong’s leadership. The goal is to whittle down, even overthrow, the legitimacy of the party’s leadership.
  • Distortion of Opening and Reform: This criticizes the emergence of a bureaucratic bourgeoisie and state capitalism. It believes that that China’s reform is not thorough, and that only by carrying out political reform can economic reform be implemented.

The third section of Document No. 9 presents countermeasures:

1. Consolidate and strengthen positive, healthy, and progressive mainstream thinking and public opinions, spread the voice of the party and government, display the mainstream of the current society and reflect the aspirations of the people and the masses.

2. Educate everyone. Launch publicity education on socialism with Chinese characteristics, guide the whole party and whole society to further strengthen confidence in our path, confidence in our theory, and confidence in our system, and strive to realize the “Chinese dream” on this path of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

3. Strengthen the party’s leadership over the media, improve the compartmentalized accountability system, and be able to track down the individuals who are responsible for problems when they arise.

The Xi Era is Regressing Further than “Five Nos”

During the Hu Jintao administration, what received the most criticism was the “Five Nos” that Wu Bangguo avowed in 2011. There is little hope for political reform to occur in China, and there will be no economic reform either because political reform is a bottleneck for all reforms. Reforms by Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang in the 1980’s started from letting go of power and yielding on interests in all domains, but Xi Jinping not only wants to maintain stability, he also wants to strengthen the party’s leadership in all domains. The result of this can only be running in the opposite direction of reform. Single-mindedly seeking GDP increase and doubling growth will not reduce social frictions and environmental degradation; instead it will continue to worsen toward a tipping point. Domestic population dividends and the dividends of peace since the end of the cold war are rapidly disappearing, the price of raw materials is rapidly rising, and as the sociologist Sun Liping said, “the age of development with low costs has already passed, and we must welcome an age of development with high costs.”

The most serious issue with Document No. 9 is its outdated concepts. It is not a small, but a long regression from the Hu and Wen era. Hu and Wen at least kept in line with the third plenary session of the 11th CCP Central Committee that marked China’s opening-up more than thirty years ago. A leader without modern ideas cannot possibly have the vision required to lead. How is he going to cope in an age of development with high cost?

Alas, what a pity for China!

¹The “three antis campaign”: The anti-corruption, anti-waste and anti-bureaucracy campaign in early 1950s was one of a long string of political campaigns in China that targeted communist cadres who had become too close to capitalists from the previous era.

Related reading:

The Anxiety of a Propaganda Chief in the Face of Media Changes, by Song Zhibiao

Assessing the State of Nerves of the CCP

Beijing Observation: Xi Jinping the Man, by Gao Yu

Posted in Current Events, Political Transition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Eleven Rights Lawyers Seized and Beaten While Visiting a Black Jail in Sichuan


On the morning of May 13, while visiting a black jail in Ziyang, Sichuan province (四川资阳), seven rights lawyers from Beijing and Chengdu were intercepted, beaten and kidnapped by unidentified men. After that their cellphones ceased to answer.

Upon learning the news of their colleagues’ encounter, four more lawyers went to Ziyang to help. They were first followed by men in plain clothes, and then they too were snatched.

Jiang Tianyong

Jiang Tianyong

Li Heping

Li Heping

Tang Jitian

Tang Jitian

Liang Xiaojun

Liang Xiaojun

The eleven lawyers are: Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), Tang Jitian (唐吉田), Liang Xiaojun (梁小军), Tang Tianhao (唐天昊), Lin Qilei (蔺其磊), Li Heping (李和平), Zhang Keke (张科科), Guo Haiyue (郭海跃), Wang Cheng (王成), Yang Huiwen (杨慧文) and Wen Haibo (温海波).

Rights lawyer, legal scholar Teng Biao tweeted Monday evening, Beijing time, that several lawyers were hurt. Jiang Tianyong’s legs were hurt by rocks, and Tang Tianhao was bleeding from his head.

By Beijing time Tuesday morning, three lawyers were released and have since returned to Chengdu, the provincial capital, while the whereabouts of the other eight are still unknown. They were taken away around 2 am Tuesday from the police station where they had been held.

According to several other rights lawyers following and reporting the incident online, the black jail has the improbable name of the “Rule of Law Education Center of Ziyang Municipality” (资阳市法制教育中心). From outside, it looks like a resort, but it houses what the authorities called the “rule of law classes” (法制学习班). Some have been jailed there for five or six years, and some were tortured to death. During the last Chinese New Year season, there were as many as 260 people illegally jailed there. (See below for address and telephone numbers of the facility.)

Teng Biao (@滕_彪_) posted on Weibo that “the so-call Rule of Law Education Centers can be found all over China, and they are also known as brainwashing camps, or study class, but they are really concentration camps where torture is used routinely. There are a shocking number of Falungong practitioners, petitioners and others who have been detained in these facilities across China. Lawyers said that more prisoners had been tortured to death in these illegal detention centers than in jails or re-education-through-labor camps. In this particular Center in Ziyang, at least three are known to have died of torture.”

Rule of Law Education Center of Ziyang Municipality 资阳市法制教育中心

Address: 资阳市雁江区迎接镇二娥湖山庄法制教育中心

Tel: 28-26741799, 28-26332128, 28-2674103

Director Xu Hongyan 徐红艳  Tel: 28-26741031  Cell: 13547291868

 

Sources:

http://wqw2010.blogspot.com/2013/05/blog-post_5533.html

Twitter accounts: @tengbiao, @lvshi798; Weibo accounts: @滕_彪_, @李方平律师

Posted in Current Events, Rule of Law | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Mother’s Tale, on the 5th Anniversary of Wenchuan Earthquake


On May 12, 2008, an 8.0 magnitude earthquake stuck Wenchuan area in Sichuan province. 80,000 died, including more than 5,000 students age from four to eighteen. The quake exposed what has since been known as tofu-dreg construction projects. In Beichuan High School, two recently-built classroom buildings collapsed while older buildings stood erect, burying 496 of its 2,000+ students. The following is a translation of a video interview, conducted by the Ai Weiwei Workshop in 2010, of a bereft mother and her ordeal. Losing her son is sad enough; but there has been much more. Learn about China from one mother’s story on this Mother’s Day.    

My name is Liu Yuting (刘玉婷), and I am the mother of Yuan Yong (袁勇) who was, before the earthquake, a freshman of the no. 4 class at Beichuan High School (北川中学). On May 12 when the earthquake stuck, I was in Mianyang, not in Beichuan, the epicenter. In Mianyang, few houses collapsed, and I thought: since Beichuan is only a little over an hour of driving away, not that far really, I thought it shouldn’t be too bad. My son is a strong, healthy boy and he should be fine.

An old man with a radio said that Beichuan had been devastated and many had probably died. I was stuck with fear. When I reached the school, I saw that houses around the classroom building were all standing, including houses built in the 1960s that had been designated before the quake as “condemned houses.”  These brick-and-wood houses didn’t collapse, didn’t even crack, but the school’s classroom building did. In the rubble, you didn’t even see frames, or anything like that. It crumbled into dust and powder. My son’s classroom was on the fifth floor, the top floor. I looked at the rubble, and I thought he might have been rescued.

The teachers were all sheltered in the gym. I found my son’s class counselor. The counselor pulled a piece of crumpled paper out of his pocket with a dozen or so names on it. He told me my son left there alive, he was injured, and the teachers arranged for another student by the last name Bai to take care of my son. I looked for him in each hospital. I found that student. He said he parted ways with my son at a temporary dressing station in An Xian county (安县).

I went to Mianyang, Jiangyou, Deyang, even Chengdu, and I searched for my son in every single hospital. I didn’t want to eat, nor did I feel hungry. I searched for my son day and night. Finally when I couldn’t find him anywhere, I knew my son had perished. So I went back and began to search for him in funeral homes. Then in a police station, probably a temporary one, in An Xian county, I saw my son’s picture, taken before he was cremated. So I didn’t even get to see my son at his death. All I saw was just a picture.

I was thinking, “as long as my son lives, I don’t mind if he loses an arm or a leg. I want to have my son.” He’s such a considerate boy. I had lived a busy life up to that point. My child was everything for me, I was happy in my heart no matter how busy, how tired I was. But having lost my son, I lost the drive to do anything. Making money doesn’t mean anything to me anymore. So I quit my business, no more of it.

Because the building crumbled into powder, most of the kids didn’t have a chance to run to safety. Kids on lower floors suffered the most casualties. The entire sophomore class had only a few survivors. My son’s class had the most survivors, but still, only 30 or so made it. If a landslide buried my son, I would have held no grudges. Or, even if the building didn’t collapse the way it did, I could still accept it, because it was a severe quake and buildings could collapse. But I believe this was a man-made disaster caused by cutting corners during construction.

All the parents demanded an evaluation of the building. But later, there was a directive to stop the evaluation of collapsed classroom buildings. Experts came and explained to us what seismic waves were. As an ordinary person, I don’t understand seismic waves, but it’s puzzling how that seismic wave hit precisely that school, precisely that classroom building. If the earth cracked open, this whole area would have tumbled down. Why nothing else but this classroom building? I don’t understand.

[Showing photos of the school site] These two are dorm buildings. This one is the canteen. The classroom in the middle collapsed but not the buildings right next to it. This is the school’s office building, including restrooms. In the front is residential housing, a row of it, and nothing collapsed.

Construction of this building started in ’93, and went on for several years. It was completed around ’98. [Continue to show photos of the rubble] Look, such small pieces, such size. There were a few parents who knew something about architecture. Take a look at this, the lap length. Look at this. You can see the gap here. The blueprints required welding, and the lap length should be much longer, but it was only 3 centimeters. These are some of the blueprints. There are a lot more, and I merely photocopied a few pages. We made a comparison chart. [For example,] where there should be 8 steel bars of 20cm diameter, only 4 steel bars of 16cm diameter were used. If you compare the blueprints and what you find from the collapsed building, there is a big difference.

The principle of Beichuan High School, Zhao Changwen, who oversaw the construction of the building, is now an academic director [in a school] in Chengdu, a much higher position. Why? I heard that when he left Beichuan, he took with him the school’s own coffer—a lot of work units in China have their own coffers. Lu Wanchun, the man who sold the steel bars used in the building, is still in the construction business in Beichuan. So I can’t get over it. These children shouldn’t have died; I must bring a complaint against these people.

As far as insurance goes, we had also negotiated with the insurance company and the government. For minors, the provision has a RMB 50,000 cap, and for disease, the cap is 60,000. The dead children each got RMB 4,000. Of the injured and disabled, some got RMB 1,000, some got RMB 2,000, others got RMB 4,000, but none received RMB 60,000. Because the insurance is unreasonable, we have made many visits to the insurance company. Because of it, one of the parents was convicted of “gathering a crowd to disrupt social order” and sentenced to five years in jail. He was accused of organizing parents to fight the insurance company, but as far as I know, he was not the organizer, and the real reason  he was targeted was because he was doing it for his sister’s child, not his own. Of course we all felt it was not fair, but we were helpless. Some parents eventually lost heart, for all these trips, all the expenditures, the time, and the energy, were in vain. Not to consider that, if they could sentence He Hongchun, they could also sentence any of us.

In the early days after the earthquake, the central government and everyone else were all talking about holding accountable those who were responsible for the tofu-dreg projects. We, the parents, waited; we felt that even if we didn’t do anything, those responsible would be punished. Besides it was the year of the Olympics, a big thing. But when the Olympics were over, we still didn’t hear anything. So we talked among ourselves and decided: Let’s petition higher authorities.

In 2009, a few parents and I sent these documents to the provincial Construction Department (建设厅), also to the provincial Office of Letters and Calls. We went with Yang Anquan and his wife who used to live in Beijing where they had a business. We went together. At the Office of Letters and Calls, only two of four of us were allowed to go in. When we got to the second door, they said only one of you two could go in, so Yang Anquan went in, and I was kept out. Yang Anquan, a man from the mountains, probably didn’t know what to say. They took him to a room and asked him questions. He left a copy of our documents there and was given a receipt. We were told to go home to wait.

As I began to petition, the government already knew that I had been interviewed by overseas media, Chinese and foreign, and they knew I had contact with them. They said to me, “they videotaped you, but they probably will change what you had said when they show it overseas, and that would hurt the image of the country. Don’t be used by those media outlets, and don’t be used by hostile forces.”

Everyone knew that Tan Zuoren (谭作人) had been interviewing people about the sub-standard building projects in Sichuan. The government thought I must have had contact with Tan Zuoren. Needless to say, when Tan Zuoren’s trial took place, many parents would go. In the days leading up to his trial, I knew that many parents were summoned, questioned and warned. That day they took me to a guesthouse where I was forced to stay a night with them there. The next day when the trial was held, they took me to a park to drink tea. Anyway they made sure that I didn’t go to Chengdu for the trial.

At the time I was assigned to the Beichuan Public Security Bureau as a “person to be helped.” There they introduced me to a lieutenant of their Domestic Security Team, a woman. They said, “You women folks can chat and have an easy time to communicate.” That day she called me, she said she was going to find housing for me. So I went, but she said she had a meeting to attend, leaving me to talk to another of their officers. After a while I said I had to go, and I had to go back to Mianyang. He said, “We have cars here, why don’t I give a ride to Mianyang?” When we got to Mianyang, he insisted that we dine together, then they took me to a guesthouse. It was….my memory is getting poor….a guesthouse of the Chaoyang Factory.

They said, “Tell us what you the parents really want.” Since they asked me to tell, I told them all, including the sub-standard buildings, insurance, the collective burial ground of my child, all the things we the parents have grievance about. He said, wherever you go to petition, your petition eventually will still come back to us, to where it started. Give us your documents, like documents showing the safety problems with the school building. I gave them a copy, including photocopies of the blueprints. The blueprints say clearly that Beichuan High School [inaudible] and is a framework structure by design. This is something I remember very clearly. They said, “If we report the problem to higher authorities, it would be much more effective.” That was how he said it to me.

During the four days when I was held in the guesthouse, a friend from my hometown was visiting Chengdu. I wanted to go to meet my friend, but they wouldn’t let me, saying “Ask them to come over here if they want to meet.” In any case, they were just keeping me in sight. During the night, several people stayed in the same room with me.

In the end they asked me to write a letter guaranteeing that I would stop petitioning. I said I would not write any guarantee for you, instead, I can write down my thoughts. Petitioning is my right, I wrote, I might have incurred expenditures and headaches for the state, for some offices, that’s possible. But I will not be able to guarantee that I will stop petitioning against the sub-standard buildings. They read what I wrote, they said it wasn’t good enough, adding a few things and asking me to copy it. So I did, or they wouldn’t let me go. If I didn’t write that thing, they would have confined me there indefinitely.

It was during the Two Sessions in early March. At the time I was back to my hometown, and my cellphone service was suspended because of late payment. Since my cellphone was being tapped, when they couldn’t locate me, they thought I had gone to Beijing to petition. The state security police in Sichuan contacted their colleagues in my hometown to see if I had gone to Beijing. They called me repeatedly, asking to meet me. I said, well, it’s ok to meet with them, and I’m not afraid. At the meeting with the public security in my hometown, I showed them some of my petition documents. They looked at them and they fell silent: how could there be such buildings? The pictures I showed them were pictures of the rubble.

They said to me, if you want to petition, you can go, but let us know when you go. I said, if I let you know, I will never get to Beijing. They said, their colleagues in Sichuan contacted them, and they are on their way, and will arrive very soon.

It seems that provinces were compared with each other to see which province had more petitioners. Even though I was petitioning against Sichuan, my ID was issued in Henan. So I imagine that the state security in the two provinces were coordinated and of the same organization. I figured that they shared the responsibility and coordinate with each other to stop me. I told them that I still had to petition.

Many people felt that it had been taking so much time, money and effort. They felt helpless, and they gave up. Some cautioned me that many petitioners were punished when they came back home, and they told me to put my safety first. Everyone told me “whatever you do, be safe.”

I know that, as long as there is any possibility at all, I will persist. But at the same time, I understand that one’s persistence doesn’t necessarily result in a quick solution. But if I don’t persist, if no one persists, if even the victims themselves give up, who will bother to handle it? You can talk about a dog who died, a cat who died, but our children died under the building, why can’t we speak out?Why can’t we let everyone know the truth? When I speak out, I don’t feel I am denigrating the country; I am merely being truthful.

I don’t know where I can find the solution for my problem. I feel the most difficult thing is that I can’t find anyone, anywhere, to lodge my complaint. But as the mother of my child, I will do everything I can.

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