Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Li Lu No Longer Candidate to Succeed Buffett

Wall Street Journal today reported that Warren Buffett has "tapped a little-known hedge fund manager as the leading candidate to succeed him as the chief investment officer of Berkshire Hathway Inc." The action means that the former 1989 student leader Li Lu, whose candidacy for the same position was much hyped only a couple of months ago, is no longer in the running:
Mr. Buffett says Mr. Li "decided he would prefer to be where he was. In effect he didn't want the job. I think he made a lot of money doing what he is doing and he has a very good position in life." Mr. Li has developed a close relationship with Charles Munger, Berkshire's 86-year old vice chairman, and manages a large portion of Mr. Munger's family's money that isn't in Berkshire.

Mr. Li said, "I've decided to stay where I am." He declined to elaborate further.
Li Lu was widely credited for bringing Buffet into a profitable investment in China's BYD. However, his fortune may also have suffered along with a series of setbacks by that company.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Document of 1989: Catch Liu Xiaobo's Black Hand

On June 24, 1989, 20 days after the Tiananmen Massacre, Beijing Daily published this article slandering Liu Xiaobo's involvement and motivation in participating in the 1989 student movement. It is a summary of the government's effort in pinpointing Liu Xiaobo as the black hand behind the movement. At the time, Liu Xiaobo was already in jail, waiting for his sentencing.

The "facts" presented in this article are not at all accurate.

The following is a translation. The original in Chinese can be read here.

Catch Liu Xiaobo's Black Hand

Wang Zhao

People still remember that, 12 days after the announcement of martial law in Beijing, at a time when martial law was gaining more and more understanding and support from the people through enormous amount of propaganda and explaining work and the students at the sit-in at Tiananmen Square saw their numbers dwindling daily and were hard to continue, on June 2, a farce was put on at Tiananmen Square: a four person hunger strike for 48 to 72 hours. The initiator of that hunger strike was Liu Xiaobo, a lecturer in the Department of Chinese of Beijing Normal University who had returned in a hurry from America at the start of this turmoil.

In the evening of June 1, Liu Xiaobo delivered a speech using loudspeakers at the gate of Beijing Normal University. He candidly said, "After I came back to this country, I had wholeheartedly plunged into this all-people democratic movement led by the students. I spent a dozen memorable days and nights with students at Tiananmen Square. Now the government again and again emphasizes the very few, very few people, the so-called a small clique. They meant for people like me who were not students. But I want to say, ..., I am not afraid of being a black hand. Rather, I am proud of and glorified for being a black hand!"

His words cannot be made any clearer. Now, let's take a look at how this black hand, in conjunction of the reactionary forces at home and abroad, reached the student movement at the capital and worked hard to fan the turmoil by examine Liu Xiaobo's actions in this student movement and the subsequent turmoil and rebellion.

Liu Xiaobo had been known as "Crazy Man", "Crazy Dog", and "Black Horse". Since 1986, he gained publicity by disapproving everything in China. After he obtained his doctor's degree in literature from Beijing Normal University on June 25, 1988, he went to visit Norway on August 24. After his three-month term was up, he went to America. Even before he went abroad, he was already thinking of publishing a series of anti-Communist Party, anti-People "heavy artillery bombs". But he hid them for fearing of jeopardizing his trip. Once abroad, he had no more concerns and published them one after another. His true face was exposed nakedly in the shock wave of the explosions of these "bombs".

In October, 1988, he published an article on Liberation Monthly in Hong Kong which stated, "the Marxism and Leninism in China is not a belief but rather a component of the tyrannical power. Marxism and Leninism is not a belief, but a tool for the rulers to enforce monopoly in thoughts." Therefore, he consistently aimed his attack at Marxism and Leninism. In the April, 1989, issue of Liberation Monthly, he wrote, "The criticism of Marxism and Leninism would turn directly into the criticism of the Oriental dictatorship." In November, 1988, on his way from Norway to America, he stopped by at Hong Kong. When he was interviewed by a reporter from Liberation Monthly, he even more presumptuously praised colonialism. Asked by the reporter under what condition China could have a true historical change, Liu Xiaobo shamelessly answered: "300 years of colonialism. Hong Kong becomes what she is today after being a colony for 100 years. China is so big, of course she will need 300 years of colonialism to become what Hong Kong is today. Is 300 years enough? I still have my doubts." To this, even the reporter couldn't help but saying, "that's absolutely traitorous." Liu Xiaobo answered: "I don't care about patriotism or traitorous. If you want to say I am a traitor, then I am a traitor. I can admit as being a horrible descendant who dug up the graves of my ancestors, and be proud of it." His leading opinions, however, were the four "replacements" in an article on the November, 1988, issue of Liberation Monthly. He wrote: "The only way is to have a democratic system with the coexistence of multiple parties replace the one-party dictatorship, have private ownership and market economy replace the public ownership and planned economy, have diversified ideas and freedom of thoughts replace unified thoughts, and have world [western] modern culture replace Chinese traditional culture." Here, Liu Xiaobo brought forward a systematic and wholesome opinion in overthrowing the socialist republic with a bourgeois republic.

At the end of 1988, Liu Xiaobo reached America and immediately connected with the reactionary organization "Chinese Democracy Alliance" which is headquartered at New York City and whose mission is to "abolish the 'four cardinal principles' in the Constitution of the People's Republic of China," and "fundamentally change the current tyrannical system in China." They joined forces to look for opportunities in making their moves. Throughout this year, from the time when Fang Lizhi et al issued open letter on behalf of Wei Jingsheng to the student movement in the name of memorizing Comrade Hu Yaobang, they had always paid close attention, studied diligently, and acted with coordination. As soon as the student movement in the capital broke out, Liu Xiaobo thought his time had arrived and could no longer wait and rushed to the front line.

This Fascist follower who had always proclaimed "I admire Hitler most" now suddenly appeared with a face of "Democracy Fighter". In March 1989, he participated in a signature drive for "defending human rights" and supporting Fang Lizhi's open letter demanding for the release of Wei Jingsheng. In April, after the student movement broke out in the capital, the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Daily announced a piece of news on April 20, revealing that Liu Xiaobo, along with the head of the reactionary organization "Chinese Democracy Alliance" Hu Ping and activist Chen Jun, published a so-called "Suggestions for Reform", "expressing their concerns to the current student movement in the mainland". They suggested to "reevaluate" the "anti-Spiritual Pollution movement in 1983" and the "anti-Bourgeois Liberalization movement in 1987", to "amend the Constitution" and remove the Four Cardinal Principles "from the Constitution". On April 22, Liu Xiaobo published an article "Reflections on Phenomena after Hu Yaobang's Death" in World Journal, concentrating his attacks on China's socialist system as "autocratic system", advocating for the student movement to "abandon the reforming mode of looking for enlightened rulers and try to open a path that can change China at the system level." How should this path be? Liu Xiaobo openly cried out for joining forces with reactionaries abroad. He said, "if the students and those intellectuals who pursue democracy could, at the same time they openly support the enlightened faction within the Party, openly support Wei Jingsheng and so on and the China Spring abroad, it would definitely speed up the democratization of China." Here, China Spring is a reactionary magazine published by the "Chinese Democracy Alliance" supported by the Nationalist Party in Taiwan. He incited, "Tyranny is not scary. What is scary is to yield to, silence at, and praise for tyranny. (see Liberation Monthly, April, 1984.) We observed that, the student movement in the capital quickly adopted slogans demanding reevaluation for the victims of anti-spiritual pollution and anti-Bourgeois Liberalization movements and the "Down With Tyranny" banners showed up in the student marches. This of course was not a coincidence.

People still remember that, on April 26, as the student movement in Beijing was facing a crossroad, a poster titled "An Open Letter to Chinese Students" showed up on the Triangle at Peking University. The letter encouraged the movement, saying that the students' activities "had already influenced China's present and without question it will also influence China's future." It also provided 7 suggestions, advising organizers of the movement to "solidify the contacts between organizations already established", "publish their own newsletters and other materials", "enhance contacts with other facets of the society (including workers, peasants, city residents, and intellectuals)", "appeal for their support and participation", "fulfill the freedom inside campuses" including "establishing various independent social clubs" and "solidifying freedom of expression (democracy wall, big posters, scholastic lectures and debates, etc.)", and "be prepared to act from publishing big posters to march and strikes." The vast majority of these suggestions had been adopted in the student movements and turmoil later. This open letter was drafted by Liu Xiaobo on April 22 in New York City and co-signed by 10 members of the "Chinese Democracy Alliance" including Hu Ping and Chen Jun. It was published in American newspapers and then faxed immediately back to Beijing.

Perhaps Liu Xiaobo realized that it would not be real effective to manipulate the student movement from overseas. So he accepted an order from "Chinese Democracy Alliance" and hurried back to Beijing from New York City on April 27. Earlier, Liu Xiaobo had written to his employer, the Department of Chinese at Beijing Normal University, stating that he had been invited to visit Columbia University and would not be back until 1990. Yet when that letter arrived at Beijing Normal University in early May, he himself was already at Tiananmen Square. Kind-hearted people may ask if he had hurried back to join the activities to commemorate Comrade Hu Yaobang. The answer is absolutely not. He had made this clear in one of his articles in World Journal: "When I heard the news of Hu Yaobang's death, I felt nothing but indifference." His sudden return was absolutely for the purpose of directly manipulating the student movement. It was known that, before his trip back, Liu Xiaobo had talked with Hu Ping for many times on the Beijing student movement. As Liu Xiaobo was leaving, Chen Jun made a specific phone call to Beijing's Stone Corp. to inform them of Liu Xiaobo's flight number and ask Stone to meet him at the airport. He instructed that, if Liu Xiaobo was arrested at the airport, they must immediately pass the news to the "Chinese Democracy Alliance". From this one can clearly see how much stake the "Chinese Democracy Alliance" had put on Liu Xiaobo.

According to sources, as soon as Liu Xiaobo came back to Beijing, he contacted his good friend, the head of the "Beijing Students Autonomous Federation" Wuer Kaixi as well as Wang Dan and others. He handed them and the "Beijing Normal University Students Autonomous Federation" thousands of American dollars and more than ten thousands of Renminbi, so-called donated by him and Wang Bingzhang (former head of "Chinese Democracy Alliance" and the head of newly formed "Chinese Democratic Party"), as funds for the student movement. Afterwards, Liu Xiaobo eagerly participated in the propaganda, writing, lecturing, and fund raising activities of the Beijing Students Autonomous Federation headquarters at Tiananmen Square.

Besides being in charge of the "Sound of Square" broadcasting station's solicitation, editing and speech-delivering, he was also responsible for the preparation of the illegal organization "Joint Capital Conference". When some people among the hunger strike students at the Square expressed wish to withdraw from the strike, Liu Xiaobo threatened, "You will be a traitor if you walk away now. We have no way to back down!"

During this time period, Liu Xiaobo was very busy. He drafted and circulated "Open Letter to Beijing Normal University Party Committee", "Open Letter to Oversea Chinese and all Foreigners who Care about China" and so on, continue to confuse people as all he could. After martial law was implemented in Beijing, Liu Xiaobo even sped up his criminal activities. On May 23, a reactionary pamphlet titled "Our Suggestions" showed up all over Beijing and at Tiananmen Square, the center of the turmoil. The pamphlet gained much publicity and was regarded by some as "the guiding principle for the student movement". This pamphlet slandered our legal government elected by the National People's Congress as "puppet government", cried that "puppet government must resign, Li Peng must step down", distorted the martial law in Beijing as "military rule", called for a "whole-society mobilization" to "crumble the military rule", encouraged "workers in the state-owned enterprises" to form "independent unions that truly represent workers' interests", incited "private enterprises" to public demand "the complete privatization" so that "property rights can be clearly belong to private persons". He also deliberately provoked the cooperative relationship between the "eight democratic parties" and the Communist Party, attempting to force them abandoning the leadership of Communist Party and "plan to publicly demand the government for the rights to participate in policy making and become true, independent democratic parties". We have now ascertained that this counter-revolutionary declaration, published in the name of the illegal organization "Beijing Normal University Students Autonomous Federation" and aimed to overthrow the leadership of Chinese Communist Party and China's socialist system, was absolutely not written by Beijing Normal University students. It was Liu Xiaobo's writing. From this we can clearly see how close between the black hand Liu Xiaobo and the student movement and turmoil in Beijing.

As the situation developed, more and more people saw the true nature of the turmoil. Many students withdrew from Tiananmen Square. A large amount of students from outside Beijing returned to their own schools. The relationship between Beijing residents and the martial law troops of the People's Liberation Army was increasingly friendly. The situation was turning for the better. But the small clique of behind-the-scene conspirators and manipulators were not satisfied for such an end. Hooligans in society and all the reactionary forces did not want a return to peace either. Their dream of against the Party, against the socialist system and against the people died hard. They wanted to fight to death. With this situation, a frustrated Liu Xiaobo jumped onto the center stage from behind the curtain. After he failed to motivate students to continue hunger strike and organize 1000 to 5000 famous people for hunger strike, he got two employees of the Stone Corp., plus a song writer, and came to Tiananmen Square with great fanfare himself to start a so-called 48 to 72 hour limited hunger strike. Not only did they encourage some students and residents to stay at Tiananmen Square, worsen the situation and put new life in the turmoil with their action, they also called for rebellion. In a speech on June 1, Liu Xiaobo pointed stated: "With our action, I hope to end the thousand year history of Chinese intellectuals' all-words-but-no-action tradition of osteomalacia." He wanted his followers to drop the "osteomalacia" and abandon the "all-words-but-no-action" habit. What did they want to do? Liu Xiaobo made it clear with his words. At the end of the speech, he cried out, "Under today's white terror, we stood out so that we could once again awaken the confidence of all Beijing residents. We are able and we are confident to decide for China!" How do they use "action" to "decide for China" then? According to a newspaper in Hong Kong, he had said in a dialogue with "a mainland leader of democracy movement" that we "must organize armed forces within the people". If kind people still has doubts on their conspiracy in organizing counter-revolutionary rebellion, please listen to that dialogue by Liu Xiaobo.

History does not change its course by the will of reactionaries. The "decide for China" cry of Liu xiaobo et al is nothing but an empty dream. People, only people, are the master of this land of China.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Liu Xiaobo's Wife Invites Friends to Nobel Ceremony

In an open letter published on the Internet, Liu Xiaobo's wife Liu Xia expressed her gratitude to many friends who had supported Liu Xiaobo. She said she has been in virtual house arrest since 10/8 and has difficulty in communicating with the outside world.

The Nobel Committee has invited her to attend the ceremony on his husband's behalf. But Liu Xia thought there was little to no chance for her to be able to make the trip. However, she believed that Liu Xiaobo would have wished his friends to attend this historical moment, so she made a list of 143 people she would like to invite. Almost all people in the list are currently in China.

Among the list, many were significant participants of the 1989 student movement, including Yu Haocheng (于浩成), Bao Tong (鲍彤), Li Datong (李大同), Liu Suli (刘苏里), Qi Zhiyong (齐志勇), Zhou Duo (周舵), Gao Yu (高瑜), Dai Qing (戴晴), Zheng Xuguang (郑旭光), Wang Debang (王德邦), Chen Ziming (陈子明), Jiang Qisheng (江棋生), Ma Shaofang (马少方), Liang Xiaoyan (梁晓燕), and Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强).

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Document of 1989: Four Gentleman's Hunger Strike Manifesto

At the end of May, 1989, the student movement has reached a low point. Students' hunger strike has long ended. Martial law was declared many days ago, but the troops were blocked outside of the city by residents. Students continued to occupy the Tiananmen Square and several attempts of organized withdraw had failed. It was at this time Liu Xiaobo, then a lecturer at Beijing Normal University, suggested to launch a hunger strike relay by famous intellectuals, a symbolic action of plunging into the movement themselves. He was only able to recruit Hou Dejian, Zhou Dou, and Gao Xin. Together, they started a hunger strike on June 2 and were collectively referred as the "Four Gentlemen."

The manifesto of this hunger strike was drafted by Liu Xiaobo himself. In this document, he declared for the first time his famous slogan, "We have no enemies," which he insisted to this day.

The following is a translation. The original in Chinese can be viewed here.

Four Gentlemen Hunger Strike Manifesto

We start our hunger strike! We protest! We call upon people! We repent!

We are not looking for death. We are searching for true life.

Under the tremendous pressure of irrational militant violence by the Li Peng regime, Chinese intellectuals must end their all-words-but-no-action tradition of osteomalacia. We must protest the military rule with our actions. We must call for the birth of a brand new political culture with our actions. We must repent the mistakes we made from our long-time weakness. Each of us bears a part of the responsibility for the backwardness of our Chinese nation.

1. The Purpose of Hunger Strike

The current democratic movement, unprecedented in China's history, has always used legal, non-violent, and rational means to appeal for liberty, democracy, and human rights. However, the Li Peng regime went so far as to mobilize a military force of hundreds of thousands to suppress the unarmed students and people of all walks. Therefore, we start our hunger strike, not for petition, but for protesting the martial law and military rule! We advocate the pushing for progress in China's democratization with peaceful means and we are against any form of violence. However, we are not afraid of violence. We want to use peaceful means to demonstrate the toughness of our civil and demoractic force, to demolish the undemocratic order supported by bayonets and lies! This ultra-foolish act of using martial law and military rule against students and masses in peaceful petition establishes a precedence of the very worst kind, put the Communist Party, the government, and the military in shame, and destroys the fruit of a decade of reform and openness in a single day!

The thousdands of years history of China is filled with hatred and violent clashes. Even in the modern era, the sense of enermy is a heritage for Chinese people. After 1949, the slogan of "Class Struggle as the Guideline" pushed the tranditional senses of hatred, enemy, and violence even more to the extreme. This military rule is also a result of the "class struggle"-style political culture. Because of this, we start our hunger strike, to call on Chinese people to gradually abandon and eliminate the senses of enemy and hatred, absolutely abolish the "class struggle"-style political culture -- because hatred could only produce violence and tyrancy. We must begin China's democratic reconstruction with a democractic sense of tolerance and cooperation. The democratic politics is a politics without enemy and hatred, but only consultation, discussion, and voting based on mutual respect, mutual tolerance, and multure compromises. As the Premier, Li Peng has made serious mistakes and should resign according to democratic procedures. But Li Peng is not our enemy. Even after he steps down, he should continue to enjoy his rights as a citizen, including the rights to uphold his incorrect opinions. We call upon the government and every ordinary citizen to abandon the old political culture and start a new political culture. We demand the government to end the military rule immediately. And we call upon students and the government to once again negotiate peacefully and to resolve their conflicts with consulation and dialogue.

This student movement has received unprecedented sympathy, understanding, and support from all walks of the society. The implementation of the military rule has turned the student movement into a democratic movement participated by all people. But there is no denying that many people support students only out of humanitarian compassion and resentment to the government and lack a true sense of citizenship out of political responsibilities. Therefore, we call upon the whole society to gradually abandon the spectator and mere sympathy attitudes and build up a true sense of citizenship. First and foremost, citizenship is a sense of political equality. Every citizen must have the self-confidence that his own political rights is equal to that of the Premier. Secondly, citizenship is not only justice and sympathy, but also a rational urge of participation. This is also the sense of political responsibility. Every person does not just sympathize and support but participate directly in the democratic reconstruction. Finally, citizenship is the consciousness of taking responsibilities and obligations. The existence of rational and legal social politics is to everyone's credit. The existence of irrational and illegal social politics is to everyone's fault. Consciously participating in social politics and consciously taking on responsibilities is every citizen's loyal obligation. Chinese people must understand: in democraticized politics, everybody must be a citizen first, and then be a student, professor, worker, cadre, soldier, etc..

For thousands years, the Chinese society went through vicious cycles of overthrowing an old emperor and establishing a new one. History has shown that the stepping down by one leader who had lost people's heart and the rise of another leader beloved by the poeple cannot solve the true problems in Chinese politics. What we need is not a perfect savior but a complete democratic system. Therefore, I call for the following: First, the society should form legal, independent organizations by various means, gradually establish a grass-root political force to balance the government power. Because the essence of democracy is balance, we would rather have ten devils balancing each other than a single angle with absolute power. Second, gradually establish a thorough procedure for impeachment by impeaching leaders who made serious mistakes. It is not important as of who to step up or down, it is important in how they step up or down. An undemocractic appointing and firing procedure can only lead to dictatorship.

In this movement, the government and students have all made mistakes. The mistakes by the government are mainly for standing on the opposite side of the vast student and resident mass and escalating the conflicts, guided by the old "class struggle" political mindset. Students' mistakes are mainly in the shortcomings of their own organizations. They showed many non-democratic elements during their efforts in petitioning for democracy. Therefore, we call upon both government and students sides to reflect calmly. It is our opinion that, as a whole, the main mistakes in this movement are on the government's side. The actions of demonstrations and hunger strike are ways for people to express their opinions. They are absolutely rational and legal, and not turmoil. But the government ignored the fundamental rights guaranteed to every citizen by the Constitution and adopted a tyranical political mindset to characterize this movement as turmiol. This led to a series of incorrect policies and again and again pushed the movement to new heights, made the conflict more and more dramatic. Therefore, the real culprit of creating turmoil is government's errenous policies, whose seriousness is not any less than that during the Culture Revolution. It is only due to the restraints of students and residents, including the many strong voices by enlightened individuals in the Party, government, and military, that we are spared of any large-scale bloodshed. Because of this, the government must admit and reflect on these mistakes. We believe that it is still not too late for corrections. The government should learn a hearty lesson from this large-scale democratic movement, acquire a new habit of listening to people's voices, get used to people expressing their opinions with the rights guanranteed by the Constitution, and learn to govern the nation democratically. This wide-range democratic movement is teaching the government how to manage society with democracy and rule of law. The mistakes on the students' side are mainly in the chaos in their internal organizations, the lack of effenciency and democratic procedure. For instance, their goals are democracy but their means and procedures are undemocratic; their theory is democratic but their handling of real issues are undemocratic; they lack the spirit of cooperation, their powers cancel each other and led to confusion in decision-making; their finance is a mess and waste is rampant; they have abundance of emotion but not enough of reasoning; they possess too much sense of priviledge but lacks equality, etc. etc.. In the most recent hundred years, the struggle to achieve democracy by the Chinese people has mostly limited at the level of ideology and slogans. It only concerns with the idea of enlightening but not the actual implementations, only the goal but not the means, processes and procedures. We believe that the true realization of a democratic politics is the democratization of the actual process, means, and procedures. Therefore, we call upon Chinese people to abandon the traditional empty democray of ideology and slogans and to begin the actual implementation, to transfer the democratic movement centered in enlightenment to a democractic movement of actual implementations, acting from every detailed piece of issues. We call upon the students to start their own reflections by focusing on establishing the order within Tiananmen Square.

The big mistakes the government made are also represented in their use of the term "a small clique". With our hunger strike, we want to tell all the media home and abroad that the socalled "a small clique" means such a group of people: they are not students but they are willingly participating in this students-led democratic movement as citizens with strong senses of political responsibility. Everything we do is legal and rational. They want to use their intelligence and action to help the government repent in the areas of political culture, personal character, and ethical power, openly acknowledge and correct its mistakes; to help the students refine their independent organizations with democratic and legal procedures. We must admit that it is an unfamiliar concept to every Chinese citizen to govern the nation democratically. All Chinese citizens must learn from the scratch, that includes the top leaders in the Party and the government. In this process, mistakes by the government and the people are unavoidable. The key is to acknowledge the mistakes, correct the mistakes, and turn these mistakes into positive treature so we can learn how to govern our nation democratically through the process of correcting mistakes.

2. Our Slogans

We have no enemies! Don't let hatred and violence poison our intellegence and China's democratization process!

We need to reflect! It's everyone's responsility for China's falling behind!

We are citizens first!

We are not looking for death! We are seeking the true life!

3. Hunger Strike Location, Time, and Rules

Location: Under the Monument of People's Heros at Tiananmen Square
Time: 72 hours, 6/2 4pm to 6/5 4pm
Special Note: Since Hou Dejian has to travel to Hong Kong for recording in 6 days, his hunger strike will be 48 hours, 6/2 4pm to 6/4 4pm
Rules: Only consume plain water, any beverage containing nutritious ingredients (super, starch, fat, protein) is not allowed

4. Hunger Strikers
Liu Xiaobo: Doctor in Literature, Lecturer at Beijing Normal University
Zhou Dou: formerly lecturer at Peking University, Stone Corp.
Hou Dejian: Known song writer
Gao Xin: editor-in-chief of Beijing Normal University Weekly, member of Chinese Communist Party

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Fang Lizhi: Liu Xiaobo and Illusions About China

The following is an op-ed piece by Fang Lizhi, published in New York Times today:

Liu Xiaobo and Illusions About China
Published: October 11, 2010

PHOENIX, ARIZONA — I heartily applaud the Nobel Committee for awarding its Peace Prize to the imprisoned Liu Xiaobo for his long and nonviolent struggle for human rights in China. In doing so, the committee has challenged the West to re-examine a dangerous notion that has become prevalent since the 1989 Tiananmen massacre: that economic development will inevitably lead to democracy in China.

Increasingly, throughout the late 1990s and into the new century, this argument gained sway. Some no doubt believed it; others perhaps found it convenient for their business interests. Many trusted the top Chinese policymakers who sought to persuade foreign investors that if they continued their investments without an embarrassing “linkage” to human rights principles, all would get better at China’s own pace.

More than 20 years have passed since Tiananmen. China has officially become the world’s second largest economy. Yet the hardly radical Liu Xiaobo and thousands of other dissidents rot in jail for merely demanding basic rights enshrined by the United Nations and taken for granted by Western investors in their own countries. Human rights have not improved despite a soaring economy.

Liu Xiaobo’s own experience over the last 20 years ought to be enough evidence on its own to demolish any idea that democracy will automatically emerge as a result of growing prosperity.

I knew Mr. Liu in the 1980s when he was an outspoken young man. He took part in 1989 in the peaceful protests at Tiananmen Square and was sentenced to two years in prison for his efforts. From then until 1999 he was in and out of labor camps, prisons, detention centers and house arrest. In 2008, he initiated the “Charter 08” petition calling for China to comply with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Consequently, he was again arrested, this time sentenced to a particularly harsh 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power” — even though China is a signatory of the U.N. declaration.

According to human rights organizations, there are about 1,400 people political, religious and “conscience” prisoners in prison or labor camps across China. Their “crimes” have included membership in underground political or religious groups, independent trade unions and nongovernmental organizations, or they have been arrested for participating in strikes or demonstrations and have publicly expressed dissenting political opinions.

This undeniable reality ought to be a wake up call to anyone who still believes the autocratic rulers of China will alter their disregard of human rights just because the country is richer. Regardless of how widely China’s leaders have opened its markets to the outside world, they have not retreated even half a step from their repressive political creed.

On the contrary, China’s dictators have become even more contemptuous of the value of universal human rights. In the decade after Tiananmen, the Communist government released 100 political prisoners in order to improve its image. Since 2000, as the Chinese economy grew stronger and stronger and the pressure from the international community diminished, the government has returned to hard-line repression.

The international community should be especially concerned over China’s breach of international agreements. Besides the U.N. Declaration on Human Rights, China also signed the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1988. Yet, torture, maltreatment and psychiatric manipulation are extensively used in detention and prison camps in China. This includes beatings, extended solitary confinement, severely inadequate food, extreme exposure to cold and heat and denial of medical treatment.

As the regime’s power grows with prosperity, the Communist Party feels confident in its immunity as it violates its own Constitution. Article 35, for example, says that “citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.” Yet who can doubt that the government regularly violates these rights.

As the unfortunate history of Japan during the first half of the 20th century illustrates, a rising economic power that violates human rights is a threat to peace.

Thankfully, the courageous Nobel Committee has exposed this link once again in the case of a prospering China. The committee is absolutely right to make a connection between respect for human rights and world peace. As Alfred Nobel so well understood, human rights are the prerequisite for the “fraternity between nations.”

Fang Lizhi, a professor of physics at the University of Arizona, was a leader of the pro-democracy movement in China before fleeing the country in 1989.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Book Excerpt: Liu Xiaobo in 1989

Amid much anticipation, jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today for his "long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China."

Liu Xiaobo, then a professor at the Beijing Normal University, was an active participant in the 1989 student movement, especially at the latter stage. He made his first appearance in the book Standoff at Tiananmen in the critical meeting of May 27, 1989, in which he unsuccessfully tried to promote student leader Wuer Kaixi as a spokesperson of the movement, which infuriated other leaders such as Chai ling and Feng Congde.

On June 2, 1989, Liu Xiaobo took an initiative of his own and led the so-called Four Gentlemen hunger strike:

Few people noticed that the roar of the "Flying Tigers" had disappeared for several days. It was not until May 30 when the government announced that a dozen leaders of that motorcycle gang had been arrested for "inciting violence and public disturbance." There was hardly any reaction. Most people still regarded the gang as punks.

The Workers Autonomous Federation sprang to action when they learned that some of their leaders were seen being dragged into vehicles and hauled away. They asked students for help. Students and workers marched together to the office building of the Ministry of Public Security. After a day of sit-in, they successfully forced the release of the abducted workers. Still, nobody bothered to inquire about the "Flying Tigers."

Just like Liu Gang before him, Wang Juntao was now seeing his influence dissipating. His grand vision of a George Washington style leadership crashed and burned with the failure of withdrawing from Tiananmen Square. The Capital Joint Conference had moved to the university campus area and had rapidly become a mere shell of its previous self. Most prominent intellectuals had disappeared. They left the capital for the provinces or went into hiding. Wang Juntao shared the pessimistic sentiment. He told Chen Ziming that it should be time for them to plan for the aftermath as bloodshed was now inevitable.

Wang Juntao instructed personnel at their Institute to produce fake identification papers for leaders of the movement. He arranged safe houses in the outskirts of the city and concocted a rough plan of evacuation in stages. He even went so far as to pull out Liu Gang and Zhang Lun, two of the non-students from his Institute who were involved the deepest, and send them out into the suburbs. Chen Ziming was not as convinced of the imminent danger. He believed that the movement had reached such a scale that the possibility of an outright crackdown had diminished.

International Children's Day arrived on June 1. Students occupying Tiananmen Square tried their hands at being good big brothers and sisters. They cleaned up the place and prepared small gifts for young visitors who came with their parents for the newest tourist attraction in town: the Goddess of Democracy. But the day did not start well. Li Lu was awoken by the disturbing news that Feng Congde and Chai Ling had been kidnapped. He rushed over and found the couple tied up and gagged in a tent. Li Lu assessed the situation and realized that it was not a government operation but the action of a renegade group within their own ranks. It was yet another coup attempt to overthrow their leadership. Calmly, Li Lu summoned student marshals and resolved the conflict. However, the escalation of their infighting had clearly reached an alarming level.

Professor Liu Xiaobo was very upset. After the brief excitement at the Capital Joint Conference, he was seeing his fellow intellectuals reverting back to their usual ways. They were running away in droves at the first sign of danger. Some went into hiding. Others were helplessly resigned to the fact that they had no control of the situation dominated by radical students at Tiananmen Square. Nobody, in his mind, was taking any responsibility. It was a deep-rooted tradition of Chinese intellectuals, a community that had been rightfully regarded as pathetic and hopeless by numerous generations.

As someone who had returned to Beijing in the face of the April 26 People's Daily editorial, Liu Xiaobo believed that it was time to take a stand. He realized that he had to commit himself to the movement personally before he could hope to have any real influence. To achieve that, he had to make a grand gesture of his own: a hunger strike.

Wang Juntao did not agree with the idea at first but was convinced by Liu Xiaobo's reasoning. To avoid escalating hoopla this time, they decided to launch it as a relay of symbolic strikes only, conducted by teams of prominent intellectuals. When one team finished their strike, another continued on. In this manner, they could parade famous names and faces in Tiananmen Square to sustain the occupation to that precious date of June 20.

The trouble was that there were no longer many prominent intellectuals left within their ranks. Liu Xiaobo was only able to recruit Zhou Dou, a middle-aged scholar who had been active behind the scenes, and Gao Xin, a young school newspaper editor in Liu Xiaobo's Beijing Normal University. Neither of them had any name recognition. But they eventually got the prominent name they needed in the form of a rock star Hou Dejian.

Hou Dejian made his fame with his folksy little songs in the college campuses of Taiwan during the 1970's. In 1978, when the United States abandoned Taiwan for a formal relationship with mainland China, the young Hou Dejian wrote Children of the Dragon to express the sorrow and determination of his people. Despite its origin, the song became an overnight sensation when it was introduced on the mainland two years later. The phrase "children of dragon" became a synonym for the Chinese identity.

But Hou Dejian did not see much future in Taiwan for himself. In an act considered traitorous on his home island, he permanently settled in Beijing and cultivated his fame with a much larger audience. Little did he know that his little personal adventure would lead him right into a standoff at Tiananmen Square. Hou Dejian had just come back from a concert in Hong Kong to rally support for students in Beijing. He had already committed to another concert. Therefore, he could only fast for forty eight hours while his comrades pledged a seventy-two hour hunger strike.

In the late afternoon of June 2, the four of them, referred to as the Four Gentlemen, walked into Tiananmen Square. They read a manifesto of their own, with a stab at the Chinese intellectual community:
We start our hunger strike. We protest. We call upon people. We repent. We are not looking for death, we are looking for the true life. Under the irrational militant violence by the Li Peng regime, Chinese intellectuals must end their all-words-but-no-action tradition of osteomalacia. We must protest the military rule with our actions. We must give birth to a brand new political culture with our own actions.
The lengthy manifesto went on to criticize the government and "radical students" for escalating the crisis with their irrationality. It proudly claimed that they, the new hunger strikers, would "not allow hatred to poison our wisdom, for we have no enemies."

Nobody paid any attention to the manifesto. Thousands and thousands of people rushed into Tiananmen Square with only one thing on their minds: Hou Dejian. People in Beijing found a new reason to come: "Go see the Goddess first and then the 'monkey [Hou]'!" Yet even the Goddess of Democracy could not compete with the power of a live rock star. Sitting on the pedestal of the Monument to People's Heroes, Hou Dejian, a shy and skinny figure, was forced to sing his songs repeatedly. Again and again, he led the entire Square in renditions of Children of Dragon. When he had to take a break, Liu Xiaobo tried to make his speeches. While hatred did not poison his wisdom, the "Square fever" did. Facing thousands of cheering fans, the rational thoughts contained in the well-written manifesto were blown away. He praised the students with extreme enthusiasm and vowed to carry on their struggle to the very end. He did not get to say much anyway, as the impatient audience broke out into loud chants. "Hou Dejian," "Hou Dejian!"

Just like that, the Four Gentlemen's hunger strike evolved into a freaky circus show.

Only a day later, in that fateful morning of June 3, 1989, Liu Xiaobo and his Four Gentlemen helped persuade protesting students into a peaceful withdraw as the tanks closed in on them during the massacre.

After the massacre, Liu Xiaobo was arrested. He was initially fingered by the government as the "black hand" behind the movement, a charge later dropped for lack of evidence. After being jailed for a year, he was eventually released without a formal sentence.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dissident Magazine "Beijing Spring" Ceases Print Edition

Beijing Spring, self-claimed to be the only Chinese dissident magazine that has a print edition, announced that it will end that edition immediately. It will continue with digital edition only.

Based in New York City, Beijing Spring boasts a history of almost 30 years. In 1982, a Chinese student by the name of Wang Bingzhang (王炳章) decided to launch the first oversea dissident publication. He named it China Spring, derived from "Beijing Spring," a term generally used to describe the "Democracy Wall" movement a few years earlier in Beijing.

In 1989, Wang Bingzhang was entangled in an internal struggle with Hu Ping, his hand-picked leader to the movement he founded. Wang Bingzhang was eventually expelled and took the rights to China Spring with him. But most of the editors and writers stayed with Hu Ping and launched Beijing Spring instead.

Later, after finally escaping from China, 1989 student leader Wang Dan joined the magazine and became its publisher. Wang Dan was instrumental in securing financial support from Taiwan's semi-official foundations to keep it afloat. However, that lifeline was severed in 2008 after Ma Yingjeou became the new President of Taiwan, according to comments posted by Wang Dan in his Facebook page.

The exact extent of readership of Beijing Spring is unknown. Hu Ping and Wang Dan expressed sorrow for the occasion and vowed to carry on with its digital edition.