Li Ao's Speech At Beijing University
In the following, you will find the full translation of Li Ao's speech at Beijing University. I was working off an imperfect transcription (see Xinzhoubao; in Chinese) that contained some things that were obvious errors. Therefore, this translation contains some guesses by me as to what was really said. There are other versions (see China Times; in Chinese), but blogger Michael Anti (in Chinese) advises not to trust any of the transcriptions, whether they are from Hong Kong, Taiwan, or mainland China. If you understand Chinese, the best bet is to find the actual video on the Internet (such as QQ; in Chinese). But if you don't read or speak Chinese, you would normally have to depend on the western-media summary thereof, such as:
But why should you read anything filtered and summarized through ideological lenses? You can read the whole thing right here at ESWN. And I won't even bother to tell you what you ought to think. You are a grown-up and you can decide for yourself.
It is an illuminating exercise to read the whole speech first, and then read the English-language reports. I do not necessarily blame the English-language media for ideological misrepresentations. After all, how do you summarize a rambling ten-thousand-word speech into two paragraphs because your editor tells you that is all the space that you will get for the speech of some minor politician? And you have some idea about what the expectations of your readers are. When all said and done, your work is necessarily filtered through some kind of ideological lenses. But here at ESWN, we suggest to our reader: Read the original text and make up your own mind.
Related link: Li Ao's Speech At Tsinghua University; Li Ao's Speech At Fudan University; The Mystery of Li Ao's Tsinghua University Speech; Li Ao's YZZK Interview
You have finally met me. Director, President, Chairman, guests, teachers and young friends!
Is it nerve-wracking to give a speech? It is! In front of a large live audience, there are some people who can lead ten thousand soldiers into battle but if you want him to say something, he can't. Why? He is scared. During the American Civil War, General Grant led his army to victory. When President Lincoln brought him up to award him a medal and then asked him to say a few words, Grant could not say anything. Why? Because he was no good at this. As soon he spoke, he got nervous.
The night before yesterday, I made up a story. A Beijing University girl entered a small room and saw a man mumbling to himself while pacing back and forth. The girl asked him, "What are you doing?" He said, "I am reciting my speech." She asked, "Where will you be speaking?" He said, "Beijing University." She asked, "Are you nervous?" He said, "I am not nervous." The girl then asked, "If you are nervous, then what are you doing in the ladies' rest room?" That man was Lian Chan.
There is a very famous singer in Taiwan named Cui Taiqing (崔苔菁=吹台青). "Cui" means bullshit, "Tai" stands for the people of Taiwan and "Qing" is youth. In Taiwan, you have to bullshit the youth people to get anywhere, and Lian Chan is that sort of character. He can fool people. If he can't fool us, he can fool you. A short while ago, he was fooling you.
On this day, an important standard of comparison for you might be if I can speak better than Lian Chan. I am warning you -- you will be disappointed. Why? Because there is no way that I reverse the concept in one hour. Once Lian Chan has fooled you, it is very hard for me to reverse the concept.
Here, I am blaming one person. I am blaming my boss, Mr. Liu of Phoenix TV. Why am I blaming him? He 'arranged' me to come to Beijing (sorry, as soon as I saw you, I began to use many local Beijing slang). Of course, I have already been in mainland China. Through Phoenix TV, I have done more than 400 shows and so you must be quite familiar with me. Today, it will be very difficult for me to succeed in this speech. You don't really know Lian Chan and you only saw him once. Your familiarity with me therefore poses a difficulty for me. Mr. Liu created that difficulty for me, and therefore I am complaining now.
So let us get to the main subject today. The Pope once said, "When you speak, you cannot use a script. Why can't you use a script? Because it means that you can't remember what to say. If you can't remember what to say, how do you expect the audience to remember? Your speech will therefore fail." Therefore, I ask you to look (note: he opens up his coat) -- there is no script and there are no notes. I have brought some evidence, which I will show later.
Let me tell you. It was Mr. Liu who told me that I was invited to give this speech. My question to him probably stunned him. I asked, "Do I get the red carpet treatment when I walk in?" He said, "You don't. Clinton did. Lian Chan did. But not you." I said, "Why not me?" He said, "Beijing University respects you and treats your speech as an academic talk. Therefore, there is no red carpet. That is why the President of Beijing University wants." I said that I will give an academic talk. If I do well, it will be an academic talk. If I fail, then it is not too late to lay out the red carpet midway into the speech.
Why do I say that? Because people will say Beijing University has poor vision. They won't give Li Ao the red carpet treatment, but they did that for officials and politicians. There are many people who are looking at me now. They say that Li Ao has scolded the Kuomintang, the Democratic Progressive Party, the United States and little Japan. "But today you are in Beijing. See if you dare to scold the Communist Party!" A lot of people are relishing this situation with glee and waiting to see what I'll do.
Let me tell you. I have not going to scold the Communist Party. I will begin by praising the power that the Communist Party and the Kuomintang had once overthrown together. That would be the northern warlords. Why would I praise the northern warlords? Do you know how Beijing University came about? The northern warlords were the people who asked Cai Yuanpei to assume the post of President at Beijing University. At the time, he was a member of the Kuomintang. But it was the northern warlords who had the tolerance and magnanimity to hand over the best university in the nation to a political opponent. We want to sit and scold the northern warlords. What qualifies us to scold the northern warlords? We don't want to scold the northern warlords. We want to reflect on history.
Earlier, Hu Xi said something at Beijing University. He said, "You must sacrifice your freedom for the nation." Hu Xi said that. To fight for your personal freedom is to fight for your nation's freedom. When Clinton quoted this phrase, he did not quote the rest of it. That is, Hu Xi went on to say, "In a truly open and progressive country, you don't need a bunch of lackeys. It is created by people who have independent spirits and free thinking." Therefore, Clinton was not right with his quotation.
Later on, another person came and that would be Lian Chan. In his speech here, he used a term that was taboo. But he used it -- liberalism. Let me tell you -- there is no such thing and nobody does that. Not even Lian Chan dares to do it. Lian Chan's interpretation of liberalism was completely wrong. He claimed that Hu Xi brought liberalism to Taiwan, and that was why Taiwan has a liberal academic spirit that was perpetrated through the schools.
Let me tell you. There is no such thing. Nobody dares to do that, including Lian Chan. They won't dare do that. So although the term liberalism appeared in Lian Chan's speech here on the speaker's podium of Beijing University, let me tell you that there is no such thing. Many people say that Li Ao is a liberal. You wonder what such a liberal will have to say in a place ruled by the Communists. Will I promote liberalism? Let me tell you, I will promote liberalism but its content is different from what you understand. What is liberalism? From the scholastic point of view, you publish a book and someone else publishes something else, and the academic theories seemed very profound. For me, there is nothing complex about it. There are only two parts to liberalism. One is to week within oneself, and the other is within the constitutional.
Let me tell you a story. Before Taiwan was ruled by the Qing dynasty, it was ruled by Zeng Chenggong. He was a distinguished national hero. Zeng's father surrendered to the Manchurians, but he did not. Zeng's mother was gang-raped by Qing soldiers in Fujian. What did Zeng do when he found out that his mother was gang-raped? Let me tell you. He cut his mother's body open and then used water to cleanse the body. He believed that his mother was soiled after being raped. His mother was soiled. The rape was an action and the soiling was process which can be washed away in order to reduce the pressure and pain inside him.
In the May Fourth era, there was a problem that Hu Xi solved but nobody else could. A Beijing University student said that the sister of a friend was kidnapped and then the unfortunate thing (which I just described) occurred. The question was posed to the philosophers, "How do you explain this?" They could not explain it. Mr. Hu Xi explained, "If a man want to marry this female victim, we ought to respect that man. Actually, there is little difference physiologically for the woman, but there is mental anguish. If the man can break through such emotions, then the man is remarkable and we should respect him."
Among the world's three great tenors, the fat one Pavarotti uses this gesture to encourage people to clap for him. I ask you to clap. Why clap? Because I speak so well that you all forgot to clap. You are not used to my style of speaking. But this is the way that I will speak.
Today, I stand here. Everyone says, "Will you scold the Communist Party?" Earlier, I had just said some good words about the northern warlords. Let me say something good about the Communist Party. You say, "How dare you say good things about the Communist Party?" Why not? When the Communist Party is not doing anything bad, why can't we just bring the truth out. Who says that the Communist Party won't let others speak up. I show you a book. Selected Essays by Mao Zedong. Of course, you must be thinking that I am using the red flag against the red flag. Actually I am not. I will read an interesting paragraph to you.
"If you are afraid of responsibility, then you shouldn't touch the tiger's arse. This is quite wrong. There must be a mistake. Anyone who has this attitude must criticize themselves." People will always speak out.
Since I've touched the tiger's arse, I will make a important declaration to you. I will tell you that from the 18th and 19th century, the liberalism that was imagined by everyone falls into this or that liberalism. But the most important level of liberalism is that if you can't open up your heart, then you are stuck. Therefore, I think the liberation of the heart is important. This is all about your own problems. If you have not opened yourself up, then you will always be stuck. Therefore, I say that nobody wants to be a true liberal, because it is too difficult and painful. It requires a high level of culture to become a liberal. That is why one part of liberalism requires one to seek within oneself and I would know if I succeeded or not.
I am not truly successful. I am just someone who wishes to sell something. I am a virgin. That is one part of the liberalism. The other part is connected with the government. We the people have several different types of relationships with the government.
Everybody says that I still have the local Beijing accent. I did not change, but you have. Beijing is bigger. Your accent is not as pure as mine.
Let me tell you, the first relationship between the people and the government is this -- the government is so bad that I want to die. Prior to the 1911 revolution, Yang Fucheng committed suicide by jumping into the ocean in England. That is what it is.
The second relationship is embodied in "I run away." You are better than me, so I'll run away. That is what it is.
The third relationship is when is embodied in "I hide myself." So if you hear that someone came as a guest at Beijing University, but he hid himself. This is what it is.
The fourth relationship is when we used to play with crickets in Beijing as children. I was afraid of losing, so I won't play with you. So I am afraid of you and I won't play with you. This is what it is.
The fifth relationship is anger. I will fight you because I am angry. When will that happen? When the people can't stand it anymore, and the next infuriating episode will lead to a revolt. In 1932, there was an incident in the Untied States. During the First World War, many soldiers died. After the war ended in 1918, many soldiers returned home and want the government to compensate them for their services. The government told them that they were young and strong and asked them to wait until after 1945 when they are older and needed money. Everybody agreed. In 1932, the Great Depression hit the United States. Some veterans could not wait and went to Washington DC. They were hungry and they stayed there. The commons were occupied and the people would not disperse. A general named MacArthur, with officers named Patton and Eisenhower underneath him, ordered the army to shoot and killed many people. Is this the image of the United States to have the people squatting in the central plaza of the government's seat?
Let me show you some more data. This is how the headline news in the New York Times described the shooting. You may not be able to see it clearly, but it does not matter. The evidence is here. The director and the president can prove it.
Look at this table. In 1932, the people stayed in the central government's grounds and the government started shooting. In 1956, the people of Hungary held their grounds and were shot at. In 1970, the Americans did it again by shooting. For the people, they should think, "We made them start shooting. Should we reflect upon ourselves? Why were we so stupid? It is there some other smarter and more timely way to sway the government? You are fighting to be victimized while saying that was for freedom of speech."
Let me tell you. There is nobody in history who has done more fighting for freedom of speech than Li Ao. I have written more than 100 books, of which 96 had been banned. Nobody in the world has written that many banned books while being watched relentlessly by the government. Let me show you a table of my book titles and the list of banned ones. You can see how long it is.
When I stack my books up, it is as tall as me. This list of banned books is taller than me. What does that prove? If I go to jail, I go to jail. You people say that you have complaints. When you complain, at worse you go to jail. You don't want to do that, you are smart, and you think Li Ao is stupid to want to go to jail. Why go to jail?
I now have a certain understanding. Let me tell you. I couldn't sell any of these banned books. After I write them, they are confiscated. Then what? It turned out that were being sold through the underground channels, where they appeared on street stalls mixed with the erotic books and magazines. Therefore, all my books were sexy and breezy. My readers may not be my real readers. They were buying erotic books and they made the mistake of buying my books and became my readers. Therefore, there were certain sex fiends among my readers. I don't know if there are any such among you. But let me tell everyone: this is what happens when you fight for freedom of speech. A revolutionary like Xiang Yu can yell like that, Li Zhicheng can yell like that but you cannot yell like that. Xiang Yu had lots of weapons, Li Zhicheng had lots of weapons -- as much as the rulers had. If you have a knife and I have a knife too, then maybe that will work.
Any government in the world has machine guns and tanks. So I tell everyone: the people have to be smart and use their wisdom to fight for their freedom. Let me show this book of mine titled Beijing Court Temple. I intend to take a look at that place this afternoon. I have never been there, so how could I make this novel come to life? This is how literature is done.
Let me tell you some words from my heart. When I look turn around, apart from my boss, the director and the President are not smiling too much. When I turn around to look at them, they seemed to be tense. On the mainland, the person that I admire most is Ding Guangen. When you discuss something with him, he never smiles. He will hold a straight face all the way. I really admire that.
In Chinese history, there is one person who is just as remarkable as Ding Guangen. That is Lord Bao. He never smiled. During the Song Dynasty, there was a saying, "If Lord Bao smiles, the waters of the Yellow River will become clear." That is an impossibility.
When I speak about freedom of speech, they are afraid. Actually, what is there to be afraid about? Let me give you an example. Whenever someone opens up, freedom of speech is even more secure. This is the one thing that I want to say most of all today.
Northern Europe. Sweden and Denmark are the most sexually opened areas of the world. After Denmark began to have adult movies, the number of rapes in the country fell by 16%. There was no need to rape because they were watching adult movies. In the first year, the number of peeping tom cases went down by 80%. It is quite incredible.
But according to our standards, that would be immoral and bad for public morale. I admire a general named Xu Shiyou who was the Nanjing Military District commander and who banned the reading of Dream of Red Chamber.
Let me tell you. The Swedish statistics told us that rape went down by 16% and peeping tom cases went down by 80%. When you start showing adult movies, people see them everyday and it becomes normal. By then, it means nothing. This is how freedom of speech works.
I have worked on freedom of speech for so many years in Taiwan. What was the result? They kept banning my books, they said that I was making trouble, they said that I was bringing down public morale, but then nothing happened in the end. Let me show you a photo. I am pointing to an old man. The old man recently came to Beijing. He is a Kuomintang general named Xu Lirong, he was the director of the political division and his job was to ban my books. Later, we became friends. He apologized to me -- he apologized to me in public. He said, "We found out that even if we did not ban all your books, our nation and party would not be finished."
So smart people know that after certain speeches are allowed to be freed like the ejections from volcanoes, then it is just like watching adult movies -- you let them speak, you let them yell, you let them say their thing, you let them touch the tiger's arse but it is no big deal. I believe that this what the national leaders needed to know the most.
But do they know or not know (if not, why not?) why Clinton's speech was broadcast nationally and even Lian Chan's speech was broadcast in full, where Li Ao's speech will be broadcast only upon further consideration?
In the Chairman's speech, it was mentioned that it did not matter whether the flowers were pretty or the spring breeze was blowing, you just hug Spring and after the flowers bloom, you laugh among them. Let me tell you the truth about Chairman Mao was that his original draft was not like that. He did not care about the flowers or spring breeze, he just grabbed Spring until the flowers bloomed and then he smiled. In his initial draft, he was just an observer who entered in the scene.
Today, girls wear body stockings. Previously, girls wear nylon stockings with suspenders. If you give the stockings to an American woman, she will say that she has the world's best nylon stockings . If you give the stocks to a French woman, she'll say that she has the world's prettiest legs. But Chairman Mao is just laughing on the side about the stockings and the legs.
Today, I am coming here. There is a common saying: If you are not a tough dragon, you would not cross the river. I dare to come here. I am a liberal. I have scolded the Kuomintang, little Japan and the Americans. Today, even if I did not come here to scold people, I'll touch upon people. I'll touch upon the northern warlords.
At the time, how did the Beijing University deal with the government? When the Department of Education sends over official documents, they were returned unopened. Beijing University was tough, even though they receive money from the northern warlord governments. Today, Beijing University is far too weak. Why do I think the reasons are? Or how they not be so weak? Our secretary must stand up, our President must stand up, like our former President did.
At Beijing University, Ma Yinchu was President for nine years. He was placed under house arrest during the Kuomintang era. Later, when he went on to become President of Beijing University, things went pretty well and he got along with Mao Zedong. Later on, they parted ways because Ma Yinchu said that the Chinese people could not keep growing at that rate because their resources would be totally consumed.
Chairman Mao said that it does not matter if there are more people, because things are easier to deal with when there are more people. Chairman Mao won and Ma Yinchu was criticized. Even the walls in front of his bed was plastered with big-character posters. But Ma said that he did not care, "I will struggle until the end. I will struggle on my own." He did not die. He lived until 100. Everybody else was dead, but he lived on.
That is the Beijing University spirit. That is Beijing University education. Therefore, I say that from this day onwards at Beijing University in according with what Chairman Mao said, there are many shallow-water turtles at Beijing University, but it is not necessarily a bad thing to have a few more turtles.
Actually, what I said was incomplete, but those are the main points of what I want to say today. You are probably too lazy to read these books. Let me tell you. I am very familiar with them. Let me quote something from Premier Zhou for you: "The masses have adequate freedom of thought, as long as other thoughts can co-exist."
Therefore, today, I'll say some nice things about the Communist Party. People say that the Communist Party won't let people speak up. That is wrong. A certain section of the Communist Party has pulled back from the basic spirit of Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou, and that is what has happened today.
I am telling everyone that the Communist Party has its own liberal components. The previous oppression was a mistake, and therefore we seem to think that the one-party dictatorship of the Communist Party was wrong. It must be said that the whole cause can be traced to Marx, because today we know that there is a Chinese style of socialism.
I ask people to ponder if socialism is enough. Why do you say a Chinese style of socialism? That is because socialism was not working and it was too embarrassing to admit that. Thus, it was necessary to add the qualifier "Chinese style." Right or not?
Let me tell you. You don't read the Selected Essays of Chairman Mao. Let me read you a section which are the final words of Chairman Mao and you will be absolutely stunned when you hear it. He said, "Those people who scold us like Long Wen, like Liang Shuming. We must let them scold us. If they criticize us unreasonably, we will counter them. If they criticize us reasonably, we will accept it. This is more advantageous to the Party, the people and socialism." There are sections of the thoughts of Mao Zedong that really make sense, but we have excised that section of Mao Zedong. Do you know who that Mao Zedong is?
"The Communist Party occurred in history. Everything that happened in history will disappear in history. Therefore, the Communist Party will vanish some day (Do not applaud!). When it vanishes, it does not feel good? I think it is quite nice. I think it is quite good for the Communist Party to be forsaken. It is our mission to make sure that it is destroyed sooner."
When will it vanish? A senior Kuomintang official Dai Zhuanxian said that the Zhou dynasty ruled for 800 years and therefore the Kuomintang will rule at least 1,000 years.
But the Kuomintang ran away, and the Communist Party continues to exist today. I wish that it would exist for another one thousand years. What is its relationship to us? The Chinese have two strategies. One hand is soft and the other hand is hard. Keep it. We will keep it. The Communist Party wants to serve the people? We are the people and we will let it serve us.
When Sinbad was crossing the river, an old man got on his back and won't let go. He could never get him off again. He had to take care of him.
We wish the Communist Party can live for a thousand years. We want to stay on its back, steer it, endure it and let it serve us. What is wrong with that? If we don't like it and want to fight or play freedom of speech, you can't beat them. If you want a revolution, you cannot defeat the tanks. If they say don't do this, you go out and do it deliberately; if they say something, you do the opposite. You are only going to get upset with these unhealthy emotions while nothing gets done.
It is wrong to just pound on the desk and throw the chairs around. We must cooperate with the Communist Party. Actually, there are quite a number of them. There are 69 million Communist Party members right now, or about three times the size of the total population of Taiwan. But it does not matter if you want to give up your freedom and save the Communist Party, because we still have the people.
The ratio of 1.3 billion people to 69 million Communist Party member is 19:1. Within every nineteen persons, there is one Communist Party member. What will the broad masses of the Chinese people do? We can give up the notion that we want to win the nation by fighting the Party. This is retrogressive as well as infeasible. The people will lose, the Communists say. The next generation of Communists is very intelligent, as I can see that Hu Jin Tao is very intelligent. We are intelligent too, and this era is very advantageous to us.
Wang Xizhi's son Wang Pang memorized books by reading in the bookstore. Why does he have to memorize the books? Because he had no money to buy the books. In the Song dynasty, Wang Anshi told this friends that his son was a prodigy because he can learn a book by reading it once. The friends said no child need to read in twice because they all understood it by reading once. After all, only highly intelligent people read books. Today, we are those types of people. The people at Beijing University are those type of people. You think about it.
In a while, I shall present my father's diploma from Beijing University to you. I will offer it to the President of Beijing University. When my father graduated in 1926, there were 365 graduates. Today, there are so many of you here at Beijing University. Think about it -- when I was small, there were 4,000 illiterates for every middle-school student.
My father was a Beijing University student. Let us think about what your responsibilities are, and how many people are behind you. The elite of the elite cannot match you. You were born the victor. When your parents conceived you, there were 230 million sperms rushing in, but one of those sperms led to your birth. You beat the other 230 million, and therefore you are here at Beijing University.
You should not think that everything will be completed when you get your doctorate in the United States. Everyone can see that Lee Wenho is an example. He got his doctorate in the United States and he has lost quite a bit. Therefore, I am telling you to embrace the Communist Party. The Communist Party does not like to laugh. It is far too serious. The Communist Party will try very hard to make narrow interpretations. We will try to make it relax a bit. This is the main purpose of my talk today.
When I talk about this point, many people are nervous, including myself. People ask me if I want to see the Great Wall when I come to the mainland, but I say that I might enter the Qincheng prison before I ever get to the Great Wall.
Why do I say that when I am not nostalgic? I am not nostalgic, because I see what Beijing is. Once upon a time, when I walked into a shop and the shop tender knew that I could not afford to buy anything, he would still pour a cup of tea for me. That refined and courteous Beijing is no more. Instead, this is a Beijing which is wary about everyone and everything, and it is a different place.
Today, I will show you. I am donating 350,000 RMB in order to erect a bronze statue of Hu Xi in Beijing. This is to tell you that the thoughts of Hu Xi are most gentle and good for us. We can learn about it now with the statue for him. When I was impoverished, Hu Xi gave me 1,000 Taiwan dollars. Today, I am repaying him with 1,500 times that amount. Are you that time of people? Or you won't let go of your money?
Ten days before I left, I read that Kao Chin Su-Mei was going to denounce the evils of the Japanese at the United Nations. So I donated NT$1 million to her. You should not think that Li Ao is rich. You should know that I took a taxicab to get here ... if you are righteous, you do not bend; if you are rich, you do not abuse others; if you are poor, you do not debase yourself -- also, if you are modern, you don't change. Thank you!
Q: I'm from the government administration school. My question is related to culture. I read in your biography that you had written a 10,000 word essay in your younger days to advocate the complete westernization of Chinese culture. This is several decades later. Do you hold the same viewpoint? My guestion is, Which direction should Chinese culture move? Shall we continue with complete westernization? Should we keep our original culture? Or is there some other path?
Li: You are talking about Mr. Qian Mu. When I was in middle school, I wrote him to correct his mistake. He was a professor at the former Yenching University. You have all been influenced by him. Why is that?
In Yenching, there is a Lake With No Name. He was the one who came up the No Name idea. The so-called complete westernization that I spoke of can be considered a crime in politics because it was forbidden to have complete westernizatoin. But I was say, and we must admit, that we are the most typical examples of complete westernization.
That would be Marx. Marx is complete westernization, because his ideas are western ideas. We cannot avoid that in total. If you go and ask Cao Kangchuan at the Department of Defense, he is not interested in knifes and spears. He wants modern weapons.
In the past, even Lord Guan and Yue Fei cannot beat the English. Why is that? When the English attack us, they use artillery. When we attack them, we cannot reach them because we cannot even see them. That was why we had to westernize completely. In the past, it was for political reasons that people emphasize as well as scorn at and attack complete westernization. I hope to say that we can say that now.
Q: I am a student at Beijing University. I want to ask you. You are an intellectual with an independent spirit and critical attitude. Did the collaboration with the mass media affect the independence of your thinking?
Li: Who influenced who? Yes, when I collaborate with people, they will give me some considerations, and both sides may consider the position of the others. But I must that Mr. Liu is a very strange person because he has a particular skill. Just like when I play pool, there are many things we cannot say and he can skillfully let them be said without getting into trouble. That is awesome.
Let me tell everybody. This is the method to fight for freedom of speech. You must be able to say it and others must be able to listen and follow it. There is an old Chinese saying about the when you speak of emotions and facts, you must based it on reality.
Q: Earlier this year, Secretary Min Ruifang offered a viewpoint which says that those teachers who talk reactionary ideas should get out of the classrooms. I want to know what is your assessment of such a viewpoint.
Li: I think that the university has the special feature of permitting any kind of speech. What is reactionary speech? What is classroom speech? At the medical school, this is called cancer. We want this thing called cancer. Therefore we look at it as cancer and it is important to think about how to solve it. Therefore, I think that within a university, people should not regard any academic speech as frightening and insupportable. That is not right.
Q: I believe that you have seen the warmth of the Beijing University staff and student body. I am very concerned about a question. When will you be at Beijing University next? Under what circumstances will you interact with Beijing University students?
Li: What do you want me to come here for? If Hu Jintao invites me to become the president of Beijing University, I will come.
Q: I am a student at the Beijing University School of International Relations. Recently, the Kuomintang held direct elections for party chairman. On the eve of the election, you openly declared at Wang Jinping's meeting that you did not support Ma Ying-jeou as the chairman of the Kuomintang. I ask you, now that Ma Ying-jeou has been elected the chairman of the Kuomintang, if you think that his policies will have an impact on cross-strait relationship? Do you have confidence in the stable and peaceful development of cross-strait relationship?
Li: When I came to Beijing, I was afraid to talk about the Taiwan problem. Indeed, this has just come up. Let me tell you, this is the different between a politician and a thinker. Ma Ying-jeou has a nice face, he is a nice guy but he is someone who never does anything. We call him a pot non-sticker. He does not do anything good and he does not do anything bad. He knows how to smile and campaign for votes. He gets many votes this way. But we think that it is important to have people who actually do things. It is not enough to go around with a pretty face. I think Ma Ying-jeou is in the wrong business. He should have been a movie actor or a singing star. At a minimum, he would be better as a big lecher.
Q: Mr. Li Ao, I respect you a great deal. But what you just said about Ma Ying-jeou seems to be quite unfair. I want to ask you a cultural question. What do think of the Chinese culture of Qu Yuan?
Li: Let me give you a final example. We all know about Wang Anshi. Wang Anshi served as an official in Ningbo. His small daughter died there. Later he was transferred away. Before he left, he rowed a small boat and bid farewell to his daughter: "Tonight, I row a small boat to say goodbye. For the rest of our lives, we will be far apart."
It is a very difficult to return to your hometown. When we read the Tang poets, about half of the poems are about homesickness because they are far away from home. Why do I say that Li Ao has still not come home yet? When I came back this time, I cannot remember my hometown. I have no nostalgia. I was not shy because I came here. It was not because I don't have a sleeve to cry on or that I have no tears. Why is that? Because in this age, there should not be any homesickness. It is a wrong emotion. Qu Yuan had the wrong emotion and he took the wrong attitude to the government. I hope that we have a healthy and happy attitude towards creating our future. Thank you!