The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Enemy

When Beijing University journalism professor Jiao Guobiao (焦國標) was dismissed by the university for "leaving his post on his own" (see previous post Jiao Guobiao's Final Struggle), he published a few articles about his situation.  This was enough to lead an individual by the name of Guo Feixiong (郭飛熊) to attack him (see previous post The Counterattack Against Jiao Guobiao; Reading the Text); in turn, this led to Jiao himself and others to attack Guo.

In New Century Net, Chen Yongmiao (陈永苗) has written an article to discuss the struggle between the two sides.

In the Jiao Guobiao incident, I am acquainted with both Jiao Guobiao and Guo Feixiong.  Although they are far apart in their thinking, they are both warriors in the trenches of the fight against totalitarianism.  Over some time, I have spoken to many people, and it seemed that their opinions of Guo's critique of Jiao are mixed.  There are two reasons why people criticized Guo.  One reason was that this was making the enemies happy and the friends sad.  The other reason was that this was not politically wise for Guo was saying the wrong things at the wrong time.

There are two ways in which Guo was thought to have said the wrong things at the wrong time.  In one condition, it was thought that Guo's principal viewpoint about distinguishing between national interests versus the dictators' interests was correct, but Guo employed extremely inflammatory languages such as calling Jiao a "beast."  In the other condition, it was thought that Jiao should not be criticized at a time when he had just been dismissed from Beijing University.

But it does not matter whether Guo was yelling or speaking calmly, there was still a mindset that Jiao was being victimized at the time.  The victimology acted like an accelerant that boosted Jiao's personal moral capital, to the point where one cannot criticize him (at least, not in public space) without being drowned in the spit of contempt from many.

Who in the world is Guo Feixiong anyway?  Was he a Communist Party hack?  Or one of those famous undercover Internet commentators on the Chinese Internet?  It turns out that there is a long and interesting story about Guo Feixiong just this month.

In late April, Beijing resident Guo Feixiong submitted an application to the public security bureau for permission to hold a public demonstration on May 4.  The details of the application include the following (Boxun):

Applicant: Yang Maodong (penname Guo Feixiong)
ID number: 420102196608026318
Beijing Municipal Temporary Residence Permit Number: 2106200504538354

Application Date: April 25, 2005.

Purpose of demonstration: Commemorate the 60th annivesary of the victory of the anti-fascist war; promote the May 4 patriotic and democratic traditions; demonstrate the power of the Chinese people; oppose Japan's entry into the UN Security Council; encourage the people of Japan to genuinely reflect and repent for their war crimes; promote world peace.

Time: May 4, 2005, 1030am-730pm
Assembly point: Hailung Plaza
Route: Hailung Plaza along North Third Ring Road to the Japanese embassy
Estimated number of marchers: 1,000 persons
Type of marchers: From various sectors, including teachers, students, workers, peasants, office workers, business people, public servants, poets, scholars, social activitists, etc.
Equipment: Twenty electric loudspeakers
Safety rules: At least 100 marshals who will be both sides of the march to ensure that people do not get on the wrong lane
Songs: The national anthem; "The Big Knives Fall On The Heads of the Ghouls"

This is a long story presented in two parts (Part 1 and Part 2).  When Guo submitted the application, he had a long argument with the police officer on duty who rejected the application on the technical grounds that his temporary residence permit was less than 6 months old.  For support, the police officer pointed to Article 15 of the Detailed Practices for Demonstrations/Marches.  Guo told the officer that even though he has some misgivings about whether this requirement was important, he was grateful that the police officer acted according to the law and left.  As far as Guo was concerned, all he had to do was to get a Beijing resident to submit the application on the next day.

On the next day, Guo was visited by a number of people from the national security bureau who wanted to talk to him about his application.  Guo objected that they had no right to ask him about this subject, but neverthess he chatted with them on an informal basis.  Shortly afterwards, the men came back with a summons and asked him to sign.  Guo said that it was illegal and refused to sign.  Nevertheless, the men took him to a house without a sign in the suburbs of Beijing and interrogated him.  This was more of a debate instead of interrogation for information, since there was really nothing much to the case.  Here is what Guo said:

You people have banned many movies; people protest but it is useless and they give up.  You people have banned many books; people protest but it is useless and they give up.  You people have banned so many web sites; people protest but it is useless and they give up.  But I am different.  If you dare to ban my books or close down the forum of the web site that I use, I will sue you.  I know that the courts will not accept the case.  I will then go and sit in front of Zhongnanhai to protest in silence!  You can send me off for a few years of labor reform.  Or you can send me to prison for a few years for disrupting social order.  I am willing to go to jail!  I will let all the people in China know about your evil!

That evening, the interrogators told him that they will take him back home and wanted to sign a statement.  Guo refused on the grounds that the entire procedure was illegal.  Instead of taking him home, he was sent to the Beijing Municipal Detention Center.  Before entering, they wanted him to sign a detention notice, which he again refused to sign.  Inside the detention center, the guard brought him a Notice of Prisoner's Rights, which he also refused to sign.

On the next day, Guo was interrogated for the first of many times.  The officer began by asking for his name, which he gave.  Then the officer asked him for his hukou information, but Guo said, "It is on the identification card in  your possession."  The officer got angry and told Guo that since he is here, he ought to cooperate with the public security bureau to clear up his problem.

Guo said, "I won't cooperate with you.  I only took my identity card to apply for a demonstration at the police station and then I got arrested.  It is a major illegal act to infringe upon my civil rights.  I am totally innocent.  But you are an accomplice for the totalitarian authorities which arrested me wrongfully."

The police office was enraged and started screaming.  He insisted that Guo must answer his questions.  Guo looked at the camera eye on the ceiling and spoke to it: "Please listen.  Why do you commit illegal acts?  Why do you arrest people wrongfully?  Do you think that I am conspiring with others?  Do you think that there is some secret political organization behind me?  You are wrong!  You stupid and useless bureaucrats!  Why don't you just read what I have written?  I opposed politicization, I am for the rule of law, I am for positive interaction between the government and the people, I am for ordernly political reform, I am against chaos and ruptures.  It is not what you think at all.  Why do you arrest people wrongfully?"

Then there were other police officers who tried to speak to him, with different strategies.  Guo refused to cooperate and then he went on two separate hunger strikes during the seventeen days that he was held.

On May 8, Guo had gone on his second hunger strike, refusing both food and water.  However, he spoke to the guard on duty and found out that if he should die or suffer serious bodily harm, then the detention center director and the doctor would be held responsibly and most likely dismissed from their jobs.  Out of consideration for them, Guo decided that he would drink water (because dehydration is more immediately dangerous) but not eat food.  Guo told the police officers that he was on a hunger strike for three reasons:

(1) he was protesting his illegal arrest;
(2) he was protesting that the 'reason of arrest' box on his detention notice was left blank;
(3) he was protesting that he was denied access to lawyers.

On May 12, given the continuing deterioration of his physical condition, he was taken to the hospital and force-fed with a tube through the nose.  Afterwards, Guo wrote a will that included the following:

May 12 diary: My condition is worsening as a result of the continuous and increasing persecution by the Beijing public security bureau and those behind them.  I hereby declare: if I should lose consciousness and enter a vegetative state, I would like not to become a burden to my family and I ask that I be administered euthanasia under the supervision of my lawyer. 

To Guo's surprise, on May 12, the police told him that he was being released.  He was given a formal release document from the Beijing Municipal Detention Center, stating to the effect that this individual had been arrested on April 26, 2005 but since his behavior, although illegal, did not constitute a crime, he is therefore released in accordance with Article 15 of the "People's Republic of China Criminal Prosecution Law."  Guo asked the police officers to give him the copies of the detention notice and the continuance of detention notice (note: both of those documents left the 'reason of arrest' box blank), but they refused.  Guo went home and then wrote about his experience over those 17 days.

Guo Feixiong's problems are not restricted to this particular matter of applying for a demonstration permit.  On May 23, 2005, Guo received a visit from the Beijing public security bureau (see Boxun).  When Guo was arrested, his apartment was searched and the police found an invitation from the Zhao Ziyang memorial service committee (note: these invitations were uniquely numbered and Guo was number 2316).  The two policemen said that they wanted to "understand the situation" about the memorial.  Here is a portion of Guo's recollection of the conversation:

I told them that it was wrong for them to speak to me for the purpose of "understanding the situation."  They said that they wanted me to know that they meant well; after all, haven't I said that I encourage positive interaction between government and people?  I said that I welcome their good intentions.  Among the three adjectives that I could have used: "illegal" (which applied to everything that happened to me on April 26, 2005), "very wrong" and "wrong," I used the mildest term.

As for June 4 1989, I told them that the rights and wrongs were obvious.  Those who shot and killed people had committed a major atrocity.  If the government itself later called it an "incident" instead of "disturbance," it must have recognized that the killings were wrong.  Personally, I don't want a statement of vindication from the government, because it implies a certain affirmation of something that is directed by the government.  Since 1989, Chinese society has undergone a historical transformation, including the important parallel development of a civil society.  Civil society can make a judgment about these macro-scale rights and wrongs, and the historical record will be determined by the judgment of civil society.  Civil society does not require an official statement of vindication as a decisive factor.


Overall, I sensed that that both sides injected some good intentions in this conversation.

Given this background about Guo Feixiong, Chen Yongmiao went on to write:

I want to continue with a game:  Are those people who initially opposed Guo Feixiong when he wrote his critique of Jiao not the accomplices of the Chinese government?  Through attacking Guo, they demeaned him and his actions and therefore they must be the enemies of freedom and democracy.  Right or not?  Guo was detained for 17 days for exercising his constitutional right to organize a demonstration.  Should you not be embarrassed for demeaning how Guo went on hunger strike twice at the risk of losing his life?  I can even say that while Guo was stewing in prison, Jiao was doing nicely in the United States.  So if Jiao criticized Guo in rebuttal, should we not be spitting at Jiao instead?

You should not tell me that this is a different case.  If you say so, then I will isolate Guo's case as a separate matter.  You were attacking Guo in an irrational manner, and the authorities were delighted and they must be thinking: "I am glad I have fellow travelers.  I did not even have to do anything myself.  My enemies already do the job for me."

I am not here to muddle up the situation.  My aim is to pose this question to all of you: Have you liberals eliminated all your prejudices and biases yet?  When you write and criticize, are you being led by reason or by prejudice?

I believe that when we speak out, we need to consider carefully first.  Especially when people feel that they own the moral high ground, they automatically apply their pre-suppositions when they should be examining themselves for potential biases.  As far as I am concerned, whenever I feel especially good about something, most of the time it was really the despotic rule of majority morality and liberal ideas, which are not always correct.