(Reuters) China tries dissident from U.S. after Obama leaves By Chris Buckley. November 19, 2009.
A student leader of China's 1989 pro-democracy movement who has long lived in the United States went on trial in China on Thursday, a day after U.S. President Barack Obama finished a visit that raised human rights. Zhou Yongjun faces fraud charges at the trial in Shehong County in southwest Sichuan province, his lawyer and a long-time girlfriend told Reuters.
Zhou was a leader of the Beijing Students' Autonomous Union in the 1989 protests that ended in a bloody army-led crackdown in the streets around Beijing's Tiananmen Square. He later obtained a green card from the United States, giving him residential rights, but not full citizenship.
"I know from the lawyers that he's on trial today, but the whole process has been kept secret," Zhang Yuewei, Zhou's girlfriend, said from Los Angeles where she lives. She said Zhou's immediate family had also told her of the trial.
Zhou, 42, faces charges of financial fraud involving a bank in Hong Kong, but Zhang and other supporters say the charges were a pretext to punish him for his years of rights activism. He was handed to Chinese police by authorities in Hong Kong, leading to his detention for nearly a year, Zhang and Hong Kong rights activists said last month.
Lacking a valid Chinese passport, Zhou traveled to Hong Kong with the intention of visiting relatives in China on a Malaysian national's passport in September last year.
"Holding the trial at this time was to show the U.S. President," Zhang said in a separate email. "The Chinese government maybe believes that it has the power and cash to go up against the United States and international society."
Zhou vigorously denied the charges, said his lawyer, Chen Zerui. "Of course, he pleaded innocent and spoke out to the court in his own defense," Chen said of Zhou, speaking by phone. "He believes the whole case is without any foundation."
In his public comments throughout his four-day visit to China, Obama raised general hopes for broader human rights in Communist Party-ruled China, but avoided raising specific cases. It was unclear, however, whether he raised such cases in his closed-door meetings with China's leaders.
But China's ruling Communist Party appears in no mood to make concessions to dissidents and human rights critics, even with pressure from the West. Because Zhou is not a U.S. citizen, Washington has scant formal power to intervene, and Chinese authorities have no obligations to tell the United States of any developments.
The court did not give a verdict on Thursday. If found guilty, Zhou could face a sentence of up to 10 years or longer in jail, said Chen. China's courts come under Communist Party control and rarely find defendants innocent.
(InMediaHK) Lightning-fast Trial of Zhou Yongjun on the morning of November 19, 2009.
Judge: Zhou Yongjun was detained past the legally permissible period. However, that was because Zhou Yongjun's true identity had not been established before March 26, 2009.
Lawyer: In early November 2008, the police had figured out Zhou Yongjun's true identity. Zhou Yongjun had acknowledged himself that he is Zhou Yongjun. I ask for the the public security officers from Suining county (Sichuan province) who went to Shenzhen to extradite him to testify in court.
Judge: You have not informed me who these police officers were, including their names, addresses, telephone numbers, etc.
Lawyer: How would I know who police officers they were? The public security bureau ought to have a record.
Judge: I am not going to discuss this any further with you!
Lawyer: The mainland public security bureau does not have jurisdiction in this case. They have also detained Zhou Yongjun well past the permissible period.
Judge: That was because the public security bureau had not completed their investigation.
Lawyer: According to the law, persons cannot be arbitrarily arrested and detained when it is unclear whether they have committed any crimes. They should be arrested and detained only after an investigation is completed.
Judge: I am not going to discuss this any further with you!
Judge: The evidence is that the signature on the letter in the fraud case is identical to the the name in the passport of Zhou Yongjun.
Lawyer: The Hong Kong police had compared the handwriting and concluded that Zhou Yongjun did not write that letter.
Judge: The public security bureau has determined after examination that Zhou Yongjun wrote that letter.
Lawyer: I demand that the Hong Kong police officer who took the statement from Zhou Yongjun be allowed to testify in court.
Judge: Hong Kong has a different legal system than we do. There is no need to make them appear her.
Lawyer: I insist that the Hong Kong police officer testify.
Judge: You haven't told me which Hong Kong police officers ... their names, addresses, telephone numbers, etc.
Lawyer: I don't know. Zhou Yongjun does not know either. The Hong Kong Immigration Department should know.
Judge: I am not going to discuss this any further with you!
Outcome: The court will announce a verdict at a later day to be determined.
I have previously collected information at The Case Of Zhou Yongjun.
Here are some key bullet points:
- Zhang Hongbao was the founder of the Zhonggong qigong practice group in China.
- Zhang Hongbao has an alias of Wang Xingxiang.
- Zhonggong claimed to have more than 3,000 enterprises in China and more than 38 million followers. In 1999, Zhonggong was accused of being "a political group with counter-revolutionary tendencies."
- Zhang Hongbao fled to the United States and gained political asylum.
- Zhang Hongbao became the President of the Chinese Shadow Government. "Our goal is to supervise the government as a party out of office, to promote political reform, push the society to progress, to set up a democracy. We call it CSG, just to show our relationship with CCP government is like the shadow and the figure. Whatever they do, however they do, we will follow them like a shadow to supervise, disclose, call, promote and oppose whatever is relevant. Our goal is just to supervise the party in power to manage the country according to the law, to promote political reform, push China to progress. CSG’s English name is China Shadow Government. It locates in Washington D.C., and its headquarters are in L.A." "Our CSG is an enterprise that deals in political and cultural products and services. This definition helps us to do what we want to do and at the same time helps us protect ourselves well and it will not cause any diplomatic trouble for US government and President Bush. I am majored in law and administration; I know how to operate our government. Our major economic source is not from other people’s financial aid; it is mainly from our own operation. We specialize in health-enhancing industry, including education, medicine, health-enhancing retreats, tourism retreats and research bases, we also do financial investment. We make money by selling our own products and services and financial investment, legally and reasonably, to support our expenditures in every functional department. At present, we don’t accept any outside financial help and we don’t have economic difficulties."
- Zhou Yongjun worked for Zhang Hongbao for a while.
- Zhang Hongbao died in a mysterious car accident in Arizona on July 31, 2006. His enormous estate is being contested by various parties, including the Zhonggong organization, his ex-wife, his self-proclaimed mistress, his former housekeeper, Zhou Yongjun, etc.
- How much is that estate worth? According to the disclosure by the Zhonggong organization:
The frozen assets of the Zhong Gong organization in Hong Kong alone are:
Savings under Zhang Hongbao (Wang Xingxiang)’s accounts:
SCB 570-2-146652-9 HK$8,398
HSBC 622002368888 HK$109,502,629
HSB 239-082258-888 HK$13,248,225
Savings under Yan Qingxin (Tian Jing)’s accounts (with restrictions):
SCB 570-6-914762-8 HK$35,703,337
570-2-146014-8 USD 296
570-1-019662-2 NZD 573
HSBC 508038296888 HK$16,705,329
BOC 7092610084225 HK$30,135
BA 146783 HK$27,593
DBS 210217725 HK$24,501
CITIBANK 13619039 HK$3,282
Savings under Zhang Hongbao (Wang Xingxiang) and Yan Qingxin (Tian Jing)’s joint account (with restrictions):
SCB 001-69196-01-01 HK$96,310,304
- Somebody had apparently attempted via written instructions to transfer some of the money out of the Hong Kong accounts of Wang Xingxiang out elsewhere. The attempts were foiled because the signature was incorrect.
- Zhou Yongjun showed up in Hong Kong with a Malaysian passport in the name of Wang Xingxiang.
These facts lead to this central question: Why would Zhou Yongjun show up in Hong Kong with a forged Malaysian passport in the name of Wang Xingxiang, who was his former employer and the president of the 'subversive' Chinese Shadow Government? If he really wanted to see his ailing parents, wouldn't he use a different name (or any other name) than a known wanted national-security-risk person? Why did he go from Macau to Hong Kong in order to reach Sichuan, instead of directly proceeding from Macau to Zhuhai to Sichuan?
Those are very obvious questions to me when I compiled the information on the case of Zhou Yongjun. None of this extremely important information is evident in the two cited reports above.
However, some western media have noticed part of the connection, though not the whole picture (namely, the relationship between Zhou Yongjun and the "deceased leader of a meditation group banned by China"):
(Associated Press) China's courts come under Communist Party control and rarely find defendants innocent. By Christopher Bodeen. November 19, 2009.
Chen said the charges against Zhou stem from a complaint by Hong Kong's Hang Seng bank about a suspicious request for the transfer of funds out of an account registered to Wang Xingxiang. The signature on the transfer form did not match that of the original account holder and the name Wang Xingxiang was placed on a money laundering watch list, Chen said.
Zhou was detained while attempting to enter Hong Kong on an apparently fake passport bearing the name Wang Xingxiang. The name is a pseudonym used by the deceased leader of a meditation group banned by China, according to the Hong Kong-based group the Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy. The group said authorities suspected Zhou of attempting to access funds in the bank account that were frozen after the leader's death.
Chen said Zhou denied the fraud charge, arguing that he had obtained the passport through an immigration agency, a common practice among Chinese exiles, and was merely the victim of bad luck and mistaken identity.
(The Guardian) Tiananmen Square protest leader goes on trial in China. By Tania Branigan. November 19, 2009.
Chen told the Associated Press that the passport Zhou was using was in a name on a money laundering watchlist, but that the defendant said he had obtained the passport through an immigration agency and had simply been the victim of bad luck.
Zhou's lawyer, Chen Zerui, told Reuters: "Of course, he pleaded innocent and spoke out to the court in his own defence. "He believes the whole case is without any foundation."
According to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy, the name is a pseudonym used by the deceased leader of a meditation group banned by China and authorities suspected Zhou of attempting to access funds frozen after the leader's death. Bank officials say they spotted a suspicious request for a transfer of funds.
Of all the names that an immigration agency would have such "bad luck" as assigning to Zhou Yongjun, how likely by random chance is it the name of his former employer and a famous wanted criminal/counter-revolutionary/national security risk in China? Wang Xinxiang is not a common name in China. Zhou Yongjun is known to have worked for Zhong Hongbao and he is contesting the estate which included financial assets registered under the original name of Wang Xingxiang. He cannot be unaware that Wang Xingxiang is Zhang Hongbao, the late president of the Chinese Shadow Government and his former boss.
If given a forged passport under the name of Wang Xingxiang by the immigration agency by random chance, how could Zhou Yongjun not see this risk? He has to know that Wang Xingxiang is the real name of his former boss, the late president of the Chinese Shadow government and a wanted fugitive in China. Why not use a name such as Wang Jun or Li Hong of which there must be tens of thousands of others in China if his sole purpose was to slip into China to see his parents without being noticed? There is no way out of this other than supposing that he intentionally asked the "immigration agency" to prepare a passport under that specific name and entered Macau and then Hong Kong while being fully aware of the risks!
Addendum: There is a digression effort that attempts to turn this case into one about whether Hong Kong can transfer a person to mainland China for trial when the alleged crime took place in Hong Kong. This is an apparent violation of Hong Kong law. Now I agree that this is true -- but only if the correct facts are being presented. But as I showed above, there already is evidence of hiding the relationship to Wang Xingxiang/Zhang Hongbao. Do you trust the assertion about the transfer? I cite here a report from China Human Rights Defenders on May 26, 2009.
Zhou Yongjun had previously applied many times to visit his family in China but was always turned down. On September 30, 2009, he attempted to return via Shenzhen but was arrested by the Chinese customs police. The reason was that he had used a Malaysian passport that he obtained under the name of Wang Xingxiang through an intermediary agent. This time, he entered Macau first and then proceeded to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, the police interrogated Zhou Yongjun about the case of a man named Wang Xingxiang who had requested the Hang Sang Bank to transfer 200 million Hong Kong dollars to a Citibank account. Zhou was released by the Hong Kong police after he professed ignorance about the letter. However, he kept the document that the Hong Kong police gave him after the interrogation. When Zhou Yongjun entered Shenzhen, the customs officials found the document and detained him.
Would that change your assessment? Of course, I don't know whether this or Zhou Yongjun's version or some other version is true. But I am offering this information for you to think about. And you should begin with the question, Can you trust what Zhou Yongjun's supporters are saying about the case?]
Q1. The Chinese National People's Congress has already rendered its decision with respect to not having universal suffrage for the 2012 Chief Executive and Legislative Council elections. Do you accept that decision?
31%: Do not accept
8%: Don't care
7%: No opinion
Q2. Concerning the improved version of the District Council proposal from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, do you believe that it helps to push Hong Kong towards universal suffrage?
21%: No opinion/no idea what this is about
Q3. If the Legislative Council is to be expanded in 2012, do you agree that it should be increased from the current 60 seats to 70 seats?
6%: Don't care
4%: No opinion
Q4. The Chinese National People's Congress has decided: In 2012, the directly elected members and the functional constituency members of the Legislative Council shall remain 50%/50%. Do you agree with the newly added 5 functional constituency seats shall come from the District Council?
36%: Disagree that the seats will be given to the District Council constituency
6% Disagree with adding any functional constituency seats
4%: Don't care
9%: No opinion
Q5. Certain pan-democratic Legislative Councilors are saying that "they will veto the political reform proposal if there is no roadmap towards universal suffrage." Do you agree?
5%: Don't care
6%: No opinion
Q6. Do you want to see the Legislative Councilors reconcile differences and move forward with political reform for 2012?
2%: Don't care
3%: No opinion
Shanghai is supposed to be a lively cosmopolitan city. Unfortunately, I cannot sense any of that liveliness in the Xinhua live broadcast of the conversation between Obama and the young people of Shanghai.
First of all, the students waited for a long time. Who says our post-80s and post-90s generations are undisciplined? The students sat erect and silent. No whispering took place. The atmosphere was very solemn and restrained. Where have our normally aggressive "angry young people" and our normally loud "jokers" gone? Even if they did not throw any shoes, they could have at least come up with some trick questions to give him some problems. Of course, the people who asked the questions and the people in the audience are probably all elite cadres who have been carefully selected from the Student Leagues at the universities.
As for the questions, they are either unimportant or else right up Obama's alley. No wonder Obama was able to pace around the stage and expound. But as good as his speech-making is, he makes the occasional slip. For example, when it came to the Taiwan problem, Obama began by saying: "Taiwan and the rest of ..." He was about to say "China" when he realized that this was inconsistent with the official position of the United States. Therefore, he quickly switched to " ... and the People's Republic of China." This change of phrasing is revealing.
The audience did not bring up the truly incisive questions which Obama would have liked to say something about. So it was up to the American ambassador to China to ask "on behalf of the netizens" about Internet censorship. Obama spoke at length about the issue of open information and remembered to add: He did not like to be criticized on the Internet either. He added that terrorists also use the Internet. Above all, he is in politics and he knows to present both sides of the argument.
The English ability of the Shanghai university students may have been politely praised by Obama, but it is less than commendable. One of them spoke like as if she was cutting turkey meat with a dull knife. I felt really sorry for her. They were also very inhibited: they first sent their regards, then they introduced themselves and finally they asked the questions. Weren't we supposed to promote "everybody learn English"? Couldn't they find some students with better accents, more fluent delivery and better intelligence in Greater Shanghai?
Some people say that these young people have no experience in this kind of setting. I think that they lack self-confidence. In Shanghainese dialect, they are "timid" (吓势势). Even the university president who chaired the event was in disarray at the end by referring to Obama by name instead of "Mister President." I believe this conversation only showed that the young people of Shanghai (more accurately, a certain set of young people of Shanghai) cannot represent the young people of China.
Recently a short video about a Chinese dish known as "crying fish" (呼叫魚) was posed on the Internet. When the plate with the fish is brought up, the body is cooked but the fish head is quite lively. Someone used a chopstick to poke at the head which reacted with movement. More than 10,000 people have seen this video. The comments tended to be critical than appreciative. "Whoever invented this way of cooking will get his/her just desserts." "I don't understand how the diners could be laughing and joking, even using a chopstick to poke at the mouth and gill."
Food critic said that he encountered this dish in mainland China many years ago. "The chef wraps the head of the fish with a wet towel and dips the body into boiling oil. Thus, the body becomes cooked while the head can still move." He said that the inventor of this dish is cruel: "People think that this is very refreshing, but you must be psychologically imbalanced to eat something like this. You don't even appreciate good cuisine!"
Here is the YouTube link.
(in partial translation)
... I would like to quote President Barack Obama's conversation with the Shanghai youth today: "Now, I should tell you, I should be honest, as President of the United States, there are times where I wish information didn't flow so freely because then I wouldn't have to listen to people criticizing me all the time."
Obama's comment has unintentionally provided the answer to my question: "Why blog?" I am somewhat rueful that I did not go to Shanghai and hear him say that in person. Four days ago, the American government called me and asked me whether I could attend this meeting, with the chance of posing a question after the speech. I turned the offer down on the grounds that I had already purchased an airplane ticket to go and see my son.
Of course, that is a fact. But it is also a fact that my past praises of President Obama and American values have drawn their attention. It was an honor to be invited by the Americans, as opposed to an arrangement by China. Yet, I declined to be so rewarded -- all those essays in praise of America had been for the sake of China and not for America. I don't want any misunderstanding on this. Besides, if I were present at the meeting, my question to Obama would definitely make him uneasy. Anyway, I am a blogger and not an activist. I met with my son and not President Obama.
In retrospect, I really should have gone there. Why? Because Obama's question came from the American ambassador Jon Huntsman Jr whom he had personally appointed. Huntsman acted as if the question came from a Chinese netizen, but it may have been pre-arranged. 1.3 billion Chinese people? Are you saying that there are no heroes among the Chinese people? What kind of questions are the students of my alma mater Fudan University asking? Why can't this question that pertains to whether China can truly rise be left to the American ambassador to ask?
This is my own regret for not having attended Obama's Shanghai Town Hall meeting. If I did, I could have gained some honor for the Chinese people so that the Americans and the free world wouldn't think that the questions from the Chinese university students were all pre-arranged ...
Obama's response was too honest. I have written in many essays before that if given the choice, any western leader/government would choose to suppress freedom of speech and press and even willing to serve as president of North Korea. But only Obama was willing to honestly articulate the principles that I have repeated so many times before.
Let us think about this: Who is going to exercise/defend freedom of speech? Did the notorious Richard Nixon like freedom of speech? Did the "zipper-gate"-plagued Bill Clinton like watchdog journalism? Bush Jr. may have a higher public opinion support than Obama at first, but he was then pilloried later. Can he be the defender of freedom of speech in America?
But none of them have the honesty of Barack Obama. Only Obama can get to the point: As American president, he would rather prefer information not to be so free flowing; but Obama has no choice because information flows freely in America. This shows that freedom of speech in America is not something given to the people by their president; it is something that the people exercise to protect themselves against the government and the president. In other words, America has freedom of speech and information because of the Constitution and not because of Obama. Because they have free and independent media, they are citizens who know how to exercise their freedom of speech.
So now you know why I said that Obama unintentionally answered my question. In a place where the media belong to the government, any free flow of information is discounted, never mind true freedom of speech. Only when your leaders are many times better than Obama or even deified will they give you the "right" to have freedom of information. Or else they set up their own media and let their media supervise them.
In this wonderful place that we are talking about, only a few spots in this virtual space has not yet been fully "nationalized." There is still some relative freedom. If you don't worry about money, if you don't chase after the hits and if you don't regard this as a stepping stone to greater achievements, it is still a relatively independent domain. I am talking about blogs!
This is why I blog.
Zhu Dake began with remarks about how he first encountered the Internet. However, the excitement and anticipation of that first generation of users were displaced in later generations by verbal violence. He listed three possible reasons:
(1) In China, there does not exist any consensus about the bottom lines of human values that must not be transgressed. Instead, we have the appearance of all-out war all the time.
(2) Any dialogue requires mutual trust. Instead, we now have a credibility crisis. Anything that anyone says/does is suspected of having ulterior motives.
(3) The social and education systems also make dialogue impossible. From a very young age, the Chinese person (from a one-child family) learns to manipulate the relationships among the six persons in his/her life: the parents, the paternal grandparents and the maternal grandparents. If you can't get a toy from your father, you try to get it from your paternal grandmother by throwing a fit, etc. In elementary/middle school, you manipulate your teachers to give you privileges and good grades. By the time you reach university, you actually find yourself totally unskilled in holding dialogues with your peers. You don't know what to say to them, and you don't how to hold a dialogue with them. You begin to use your childhood techniques to manipulate and/or bully them, and you find that they don't work at all. So you throw a fit ...
Thus, the Habermas model of a public platform for rational discourse does not exist in China today.
Zhu Dake also pointed out that the Chinese have a major mental problem of split personality in their private and public lives. He admitted that he suffers from the problem himself. By day, a person has one set of behavioral norms in the presence of the superiors, peers and underlings. By night, that person may become a totally different personality through the anonymity of the Internet. It is as if the Internet is the outlet of stress relief, where all the worst possible behaviors take place. By day, one is the pleasant, pleasing customer service representative. By night, one becomes the "human flesh search" hunter/vigilante bent on ruining others, rightly or wrongly.
Zhu Dake does not believe that the solution lies in a real-name registration system. He believes that Internet anonymity at least allows these opinions and emotions to be expressed instead of being channeled to more destructive ways. Overall, he is pessimistic about the possibility of dialogue on the Internet.
I was asked to respond those remarks. Here is a summary of my response:
I said that I agree with the professor's assessment. Of course, the Chinese Internet does have the appearance of all-out war at times, requiring the intervention of the omnipotent 'referee' to call a stop in play. Of course, people don't trust each other and I find plenty to distrust about. Of course, all these problems are deeply rooted in the social and education systems.
So what can I do about these problems? Nothing much. Did you expect that I was going to tell you how to change the social and education system? Of course not.
Instead, I said that I only want to use my own blog as an example.
I cannot define the bottom lines of human values for anyone, in China or elsewhere. I can only show you what mine are. I quoted the (oft-misused ironically) phase "打不還手,罵不還口" -- When attacked, I will not counter-attack; when scolded, I will not scold back. Thus, when someone launches personal attacks against me (such as me being a "50 cent gang member" or "paid Chinese Communist Party commentator), I will not respond in kind (such as accusing them of being CIA-paid traitors). I bear in my mind the saying, "Do not wrestle with pigs -- you get muddied and they enjoy it." To my mind, the shame is on them and not on me.
I cannot demand trust from anyone on my say-so. Instead, I can only be faithful to myself. I cannot write in a way that I believe will please some unseen person in the shadows. I believe that if my writings can continue to be interesting, useful and reliable, that trust will come in time. I cannot worry about anything else.
I cannot change the social and education systems in China, being a simple individual living in Hong Kong.
Instead, I can show you how I approach certain issues in China. I look up the latest news reports from all sides, and I research the background materials. Generally, I only present the information and let you form your opinion. On the rare occasions when I tell you my own opinion, I make it clear what information I found and how I sieved through it to reach that conclusion. I accept that other people can reach different conclusions, but I will have at least communicated how this one person did it.
Beyond that, I don't know how much more I can do as a lone individual.
P.S. I don't think that a real-name registration system solves anything either. Personally, I blog in my real name. I provide plenty of personal information on my website on myself. There is no point in running a "human flesh search" on me through the search engines, because my website probably carries much more personal information already. However, I am privileged in that I don't have to worry about my job or family. Other people may not be as lucky as I am.
(Note: My own prepared remarks are at Is Dialogue Possible?)
On the evening of November 15, American president Barack Obama arrived in Air Force One at Shanghai Pudong International Airport to begin a state visit.
This visit has been announced a long time ago, so his actual arrival should not be big news. When Air Force One touched down, it was raining in Shanghai. In the news photo, Obama holds his own umbrella and walks down the stairs. This caused the Chinese people to be very touched. "The Chinese government officials should note that Obama holds an umbrella himself!" "Some of our town officials need a crowd of people to hold umbrellas for them!" "It is admirable to hold your own umbrella!" "Apart from praising Obama for holding his own umbrella, I must also praise the reporter who wrote this report and the photographer who took this photograph!"
In my memory, Premier Wen Jiabao was also praised by the public for holding his own umbrella. The problem is in that real life, many low-level officials need people to pamper to their needs when they go out. Simply put, when a person becomes a government official, he suddenly loses the ability to take care of himself. President Obama and Premier Wen are the state leaders of the United States of America and China, and they are capable and willing to hold their own umbrellas. Why can't the smaller officials around us do the same? This is probably the reason why this particular photo is creating these types of reflections among the Chinese people right now.
Holding an umbrella is the indicator for equality. Apart from handicapped people, old people, sick people and pregnant women, everybody else should hold their own umbrellas in an equal society. A netizen just said, "Equality means holding your own umbrella." The equality of government official and ordinary citizen should be the most basic concept of modern democracy. Even if the umbrella holder is not consciously aware, the people have already treated this as a symbol of democracy and equality. "Why do I feel that Obama is so bold, friendly and handsome when he holds his own umbrella as a president? Why do I feel no respect for our government official when they allow others to hold umbrellas for them?
Obama's umbrella sets an example for our officials. The truly responsible and patriotic government official is one who won't "let others hold his umbrella and deal with problems."
While President Barack Obama gave a speech and answered a number of questions, the question/answer that is drawing the most attention in the western media is that one about Internet censorship.
Here are the western media report headings on that issue:
Obama to China: Uncensored society is healthy Charles Hutzler, Associated Press
Obama skips Tibet, pushes for more freedom Times of India
Obama in China criticises internet censorship Jane Macartney, Times Online
Unrestricted Internet Access Makes the U.S. Stronger, Free Speech Makes Him a Better Leader Jake Tapper/ Yunji de Nies/ Stephanie Smith/ Sunlen Miller/ Karen Travers/ Jon Garcia/ Ann Compton, ABC News.
Obama gently chides China on cyber censorship Aileen McCabe, Vancouver Sun
Obama chides China on human rights Peter Nicholas, Los Angeles Times
Barack Obama criticises internet censorship at meeting in China Tania Branigan, The Guardian
Obama Tells Chinese Students Information Should Be Free Sumner Lemon, PC World
In China, Obama says sites like Twitter should be open New Strait Times
Obama Pushes for Freedoms in China Jonathan Weisman, James T. Areddy. Wall Street Journal.
- Obama on Freedoms,Twitter in China CBS News
- Obama Talks Human Rights in China Fox News
Obama Pushes Rights With Chinese Students David Barboza and Mark McDonald, New York Times
- Obama talks Twitter; urges openness at Shanghai town hall Chuck Todd, MSNBC.com
- Obama discusses censorship during Shanghai town hall Margaret Talev and Athena Zhao, Miami Herald
- Barack Obama criticises censorship in meeting with Chinese students Malcolm Moore, Shanghai
- Obama Pushes Rights With Chinese Students Huw Borland, Sky News
- Obama, In China, Promises An Open Internet J. Nicholas Hoover, InformationWeek
- Obama Pushes China To Stop Censoring Internet NPR
- Obama hits out at China's censorship Clifford Coonan, The Independent
- Obama backs non-censorship; Beijing, apparently, does not Keith B. Richburg, Washington Post
(Transcript @ Los Angeles Times) (ESWN Comment: Read the whole thing and think about what kind of headline you would come up with overall)
AMBASSADOR HUNTSMAN: That's right. And not surprisingly, "in a country with 350 million Internet users and 60 million bloggers, do you know of the firewall?" And second, "should we be able to use Twitter freely" -- is the question.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, let me say that I have never used Twitter. I noticed that young people -- they're very busy with all these electronics. My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone.
But I am a big believer in technology and I'm a big believer in openness when it comes to the flow of information. I think that the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes, because then citizens of countries around the world can hold their own governments accountable. They can begin to think for themselves.That generates new ideas. It encourages creativity.
And so I've always been a strong supporter of open Internet use. I'm a big supporter of non-censorship. This is part of the tradition of the United States that I discussed before, and I recognize that different countries have different traditions. I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free Internet -- or unrestricted Internet access is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged.
Now, I should tell you, I should be honest, as President of the United States, there are times where I wish information didn't flow so freely because then I wouldn't have to listen to people criticizing me all the time. I think people naturally are -- when they're in positions of power sometimes thinks, oh, how could that person say that about me, or that's irresponsible, or -- but the truth is that because in the United States information is free, and I have a lot of critics in the United States who can say all kinds of things about me, I actually think that that makes our democracy stronger and it makes me a better leader because it forces me to hear opinions that I don't want to hear. It forces me to examine what I'm doing on a day-to-day basis to see, am I really doing the very best that I could be doing for the people of the United States.
And I think the Internet has become an even more powerful tool for that kind of citizen participation. In fact, one of the reasons that I won the presidency was because we were able to mobilize young people like yourself to get involved through the Internet. Initially, nobody thought we could win because we didn't have necessarily the most wealthy supporters; we didn't have the most powerful political brokers. But through the Internet, people became excited about our campaign and they started to organize and meet and set up campaign activities and events and rallies. And it really ended up creating the kind of bottom-up movement that allowed us to do very well.
Now, that's not just true in -- for government and politics. It's also true for business. You think about a company like Google that only 20 years ago was -- less than 20 years ago was the idea of a couple of people not much older than you. It was a science project. And suddenly because of the Internet, they were able to create an industry that has revolutionized commerce all around the world. So if it had not been for the freedom and the openness that the Internet allows, Google wouldn't exist.
So I'm a big supporter of not restricting Internet use, Internet access, other information technologies like Twitter. The more open we are, the more we can communicate. And it also helps to draw the world together.
Think about -- when I think about my daughters, Malia and Sasha -- one is 11, one is 8 -- from their room, they can get on the Internet and they can travel to Shanghai. They can go any place in the world and they can learn about anything they want to learn about. And that's just an enormous power that they have. And that helps, I think, promote the kind of understanding that we talked about.
Now, as I said before, there's always a downside to technology. It also means that terrorists are able to organize on the Internet in ways that they might not have been able to do before. Extremists can mobilize. And so there's some price that you pay for openness, there's no denying that. But I think that the good outweighs the bad so much that it's better to maintain that openness. And that's part of why I'm so glad that the Internet was part of this forum. OK?
To be fair, some western media carried headlines on other subjects (such as trade, prosperity, etc). (Example: BBC)
Here is the Reuters report by Melanie Lee about Chinese reactions. Please note the heading.
Obama visit arouses mistrust in China's Internet populace
U.S. President Barack Obama's call on Monday for Internet freedom in China met with wariness and cynicism from many Chinese Internet users, suggesting his effort to win over the country's youth has some way to go. Some were intensely patriotic in their comments, citing China's status as the largest holder of U.S. government debt as a reason for Obama's polite overtures at a town hall-style meeting with students in Shanghai. "The purpose of Obama's visit to China is to get China to help the U.S. economy's health. It's like a fox in a chicken coop," said one netizen XinDeGuiHui.
China has cut access to popular social networking sites Facebook since March and Twitter since July, citing the need for social harmony. The frontier region of Xinjiang has been unable to access any outside websites since deadly ethnic riots in July. Chinese portals such as NetEase.com and Sina help fill the gap, with Facebook and Twitter clones and forums teeming with activity by some of China's 350 million Internet users, who outnumber the U.S. population. "Everyone has to work to earn a living. Who has time for Obama? China is so big with many people, will all of them be able to indulge in his visit?" read a posting on NetEase news forums by Lan Shi Zi. Some Western governments and censorship experts say China's ban of Facebook and Twitter is a ploy to strengthen censorship and control the flow of information.
"I've always been a strong supporter of open Internet use. I'm a big supporter of non-censorship," Obama said at the town hall event in Shanghai, where he answered questions from university students as well as some submitted over the Internet. "I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have freedom of -- or unrestricted Internet access is a source of strength and I think should be encouraged."
Obama's answer was carried on the front page of NetEase for 27 minutes, before being deleted by censors, according to the China Digital Times, which monitors the Chinese Internet.
The town hall event was carefully orchestrated by the local government and was not carried live by national broadcasters. It could only be viewed on some Shanghai news channels, select international media and certain websites. During President Bill Clinton's visit in 1998, a question-and-answer session with Chinese students was carried live by national broadcaster CCTV.
Despite the limited distribution of Obama's comments within China, one contributor to Twitter was surprised the issue of freedom was even raised. "I will not forget this noon: I intermittently heard the leader of another country talk about our own problems regarding freedom," wrote netizen Philfenghan, according to China Digital Times. Some netizens slammed the questions, which ranged from Obama's Nobel Peace Prize to arms sales to Taiwan, as "stupid" and wondered why trade and currency issues were not raised. "Welcome to China. I like you. You're so handsome. When will you come again?" was one comment, submitted in English, to the Xinhua webfeed.
Ironically, with Facebook and Twitter cut off inside China, the majority of reactions to the event were from users from the United States, Canada, Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Ireland.
Here is the Xinhua text feed at news.163.com (a.k.a. NetEase) According to Boston.com, "One prolific blogger who goes by the name of Hecaitou said that a transcript of the exchange posted on the portal Netease was taken down by censors after just 27 minutes." You can click on it to see if these remarks are still available now. In case not, here is the screen capture.
Related Link: Ah, that tricky Chinese propaganda machine, how devious it is to deceive the foreign media! Fool's Mountain
(KDnet) On November 12, <New Express News> published a photo of people clearing snow off the roof of a building in Shijiazhuang. The accumulated snow appears to be taller than the heads of the workers.
Here is the photo which was published at QQ.com. The caption reads: "On November 11, Shijiazhuang citizens removed snow from the roof. The accumulated snow on the roof are taller than their heads. Source of photo: New Express News. Author: Zhong Guang.
The netizen wrote: "I want to talk about this matter not to persecute anyone. Rather, I would like to remind the various conscienceless journalist just after Journalists Day -- the eyes of several hundred million Chinese netizens are on you. So please do not think that you can fool the people by thinking that you are smart; do not deceive the people for some petty benefit; do not make your contribution to the corrupt morality in China ...
Your photo has been discovered. It appeared first in July 2009 at the website TheChive: http://thechive.com/2009/07/that-doesnt-go-there-25-photos/ . You took their photo, cut out the logo at the bottom and used it as if it was taken in Shijiazhuang.
(London Review of Books) Presence of Mind. By Michael Wood. November 19, 2009.
The Carnets du voyage en Chine record what is essentially a three-week-long disappointment or exclusion. Barthes had loved Japan and in Empire of Signs (1970) had written a wonderful book about his sense of the place. But China – or Mao’s China, which was the only one on view to Westerners in 1974 – was entirely opaque to him, a string of stereotypes, or bricks, as he called them, borrowing a term from cybernetics. The one thing he loved was what he had already seen in Japan: calligraphy, ‘their only work of art’, he said of the Chinese, ‘absolute counter-vulgarity’. ‘The rest: Soviet realism.’
He dutifully toured the factories and schools and museums with his friends; he listened to the same sermons again and again; he had migraines; enjoyed the food; made an effort every now and again to get a bit of semiotic mileage out of the repeating signs. One result of this was an essay he published in Le Monde: ‘Alors, la Chine?’ Alors, nothing much, was the answer. Barthes had seen Antonioni’s 1972 film about China – he told the director that it was the reason he took the trip – and kept returning to the sense that he had nothing to add to that portrait. On one of his last days there he drew up a kind of balance sheet. He couldn’t write favourably of the place or coherently criticise it. ‘Impossible,’ he said of both options. He didn’t want merely to describe his experiences: that would be ‘phenomenology’, meaning, I take it, just phenomenology. All that was left was ‘Antonioni’, an approach that had been excoriated in China and in the West as a betrayal of the Revolution.
What is most interesting, and touching, about the Carnets is the strong sense they give of a failing radical romance, the growing disillusionment of a group of friends who, however sceptical and intelligent they may be, have become so tired of the French Communist Party and all kinds of left-leaning liberal sell-outs that they are ready to believe the true left has risen in the East. Well, some were ready and others were almost ready. Alain Badiou speaks of the Maoism of the gauche prolétarienne as ‘a superficial crust’, an infatuation with an ‘aura of activism’, and suggests these short-term Maoists didn’t understand the requirements of the long haul. But the Carnets describe something like an over-exposure to an anti-aura. What the visitors keep meeting in China (and presumably had met in France on the road to Mao) is not a story of the true revolution but a recurring tale of imposture, of the monstrous allure of a flagrant and dangerous false left composed of liberals and conservatives in disguise. Lin Pao, who died in 1971, is resurrected constantly, along with Confucius, who died a little earlier, as the most vivid of villains, the man who wanted to revert to hierarchy and slavery, and whose misdeeds can be buried only by the continuing Cultural Revolution. He was the enemy who pretended to be a friend, the most insidious and dastardly of political fictions. ‘Lin Pao’, Barthes writes after only two days in China, ‘scapegoat for all tastes’, literally with all kinds of sauces, ‘every two minutes’.
But Barthes’s chief disappointment with China was in its way phenomenological after all. The country offered itself – it made no other offer – as a world without nuance. There was ‘nothing of the incident, the fold’, he said, ‘nothing of the haiku’. We recognise the writer who was always on the look-out for something else. ‘I don’t know how to look at – I resist looking at – what presents itself as watchable (regardable), what I cannot surprise.’ Not what cannot surprise him, but what he cannot come upon for himself, like a clue or a joke. It’s as if China put him out of work. ‘You have to take them literally,’ he says of his hosts. ‘They are not interpretable.’
A doctor in east China's Jiangsu Province was fired after a new investigation into a five-month-old baby's death found he was playing computer games at work and his dereliction of duty had resulted in the girl's death.
Mao Xiaojun, of Nanjing Children's Hospital, also had his doctor's license cancelled, yesterday's Yangtse Evening Post reported.
The hospital's principal, Fang Ruping, has been given an administrative demerit, and its Party secretary, Jin Funian, was given a serious warning, according to Ding Haiyang, disciplinary committee secretary with Nanjing Public Health Bureau.
The new inquiry team members reviewed hospital videos and checked computer records. They discovered that the doctor had been playing computer games on November 3 when the baby was hospitalized with a severe eye infection. The baby's parents repeatedly asked the doctor to help, but he made only three visits to the sick infant instead of checking her condition every 30 minutes as required, the inquiry found.
The baby died next day.
Here is the TV news report which contains the surveillance video.
An online version of "Go"?
On the evening of November 5, the child continued to cry and complain. The mother said that the father went to see Doctor Mao and found her playing the online game known as "stealing vegetable" and unwilling to see the baby. She said: "At around 6pm or 7pm, I and my husband felt that the baby was not feeling well. I went to see the doctor on duty. I called out to her many times before she came over from the computer. I sad that the baby is not doing well. She said, 'It is none of my business. I am the doctor on duty. We already gave you the drip this afternoon. I don't know what is going. You better wait for the attending doctor to come tomorrow.' Then she wanted to go back to the computer. At the press conference yesterday, the joint investigation team determined that Mao Xiaoyun was not playing any games on Kaixin001. "The Internet rumor about 'stealing vegetables' is false. Mao Xiaoyun has never visited or registered at Kaixin001." But the father of the baby said, "Just because she has never visited Kaixin001 does not mean that she was not 'stealing vegetables.' There are many farms over at QQ as well."
What is "stealing vegetables"?
(Xinmin Chenbao) March 16, 2009.
Over at Kaixin001, when you install a virtual house, you also get a virtual garden. You can get seeds for potatoes, carrots, peppers, corn, sunflowers, roses, etc and grow them in your garden. Then you wait for the harvest. That is the basic process of the game. You have to ask why is such a simple game so much fun? The secret of the attraction of this game is embodied in one word: "Theft." When your plants mature and you don't harvest them, someone can steal them. Conversely, you can also steal someone else's plants.
To steal or be stolen -- this is the latest craze among white-collar workers. The white-collar worker Ms. Xu told us that the entire office is crazy about this game. In order to be better at thievery, she has recorded the maturation date of her friends A, B and C to make sure that she does not miss the opportunities. Ms. Xu told our reporter: "If I steal a few vegetables a day, I will feel as if I haven't done anything that day." The colleagues of Ms. Xu said that they don't dare steal in real life, so this game allows them to taste the excitement of committing a crime.
At many Internet forums, it can be seen that many netizens are compulsive "vegetable thieves." Someone people wake up in the middle of the night so that they can be the first to steal; others send instant messages the first thing in the morning to invite friends to go and steal together. Some people have even invented special hacking methods to steal vegetables. While many netizens admit that they are perverted, they enjoyed the game all the same.
Following a policeman and a policewoman posting a set of photos of themselves posing for the camera while on duty, there is now an Internet video of a uniformed Hong Kong police officer proposing marriage and holding an engagement kiss. Once again, this raised question about police discipline. The police spokesperson does not believe that there is any violation of police discipline.
In this video, a number of Police Tactical Unit (PTU) officers wearing blue berets spread around with rifles in hand in what appears to be a graduation ceremony. A policeman gave flowers to his girlfriend, took out a ring, knelt down and proposed marriage. The proposal was accepted and everybody celebrated.
Netizens believed that "when police officers are in uniform, they are on duty" and therefore they have to pay attention to their public image. But the police spokesperson pointed out that the police men in the video had just completed their graduation from police training and used this special occasion to progress towards and celebrate another personal milestone. There are no guidelines against such actions and therefore no action is necessary. Furthermore, those rifles do not carry any live ammunition so that there is no risk to the public.
The movie <2012> directed by Roland Emmerich is based upon a Mayan prophecy that the end of the world will arrive on December 21, 2012. During the movie, the family of the male lead tried escape; Los Angeles city sank into the ground from an earthquake; high waves carried the USS John F Kennedy to crush the White House; a 1,500 meter high tsunami hit Mount Everest; etc. The governments of various nations began a Noah's Ark project to ensure that the elite and leaders will survive to rebuild civilization.
Western reviews of this movie were dreadful. Rotten Tomatoes found only 37% of the reviews were positive. A critic said that this 2hour 40 minute movie was a mixed bag of disasters: "The movie has no theme, it has no philosophical view; it has nothing about religious views about disasters; it only has a bunch of panicky people."
But when the movie was pre-screened in mainland, it was widely popular. Less than 15 minutes into the movie, a People's Liberation Army soldier yelled into a megaphone: "The Party and the government will help everybody rebuild your homes."
Later, a group of Americans were forced to land in a desolate snowy mountain valley in China. The PLA dropped out from the sky to offer help. The movie also talked about why the various nations supported China to build the arks: "Because the task would be impossible if given to any other nation ..." Towards the end of the movie, the American decision-maker in charge refused to open the ark's gates to admit more refugees, but China was among the first nations to open the gates.
The movie kept describing the greatness of the Chinese governments and the Chinese people. This caused the Chinese audience to laugh and cheer. They were very excited.
"This shows the failure of the long-term failure of Chinese Communist education. The Chinese people will only listen praising and pleasing sounds. This type of mentality is become increasingly serious in recent years!" Beijing scholar Sima Han said that as China becomes stronger, the self-aggrandizement of the Chinese people becomes increasingly worse. "The movie lavishes praise on the Chinese government. This shows that the American moviemakers have figured out how to survive in China. Box office sales will be fantastic."
According to the estimate of the <2012> distributor, this movie will make 350 million yuan in China. According to information, no cuts were made in this movie during the censor's review, which makes it rare among imports. Some mainland netizens think that even though the Chinese people are becoming more prosperous, social problems are also rising. "China may be able to save the world, but who is going to save China first?" Some audience believe that after the Chinese people see this movie, they should reflect on the inadequacies of their country and not be intoxicated by a movie with several China scenes.
(ESWN Comment: In case you don't realize it, the title of this comment is ironic. In the past, the Chinese government and/or the Chinese people have reacted strongly against the portrayal of the Chinese in American movies.
Example 1: (CBC) Mission Impossible III.
The latest instalment of Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible movie franchise finally has debuted in China, after being tied up by the country's film censors for weeks. Chinese censors conducted a protracted review process for Mission: Impossible III, which was partially filmed in Shanghai. The result, screened in Chinese theatres Thursday, was a cut of six minutes of footage, including two scenes from the action thriller's ending.
A scene in which Cruise's character Ethan Hunt distracts two Chinese henchmen, and then kills them, was one of those eliminated. "It was truly insulting," a senior executive at the state-run distributor, China Film Group, told Reuters. The group holds partial responsibility for vetting foreign films for Chinese theatres (only a set number of foreign films is permitted to screen in China).
The censors also cut a scene in which Cruise's character stumbles into a room where elderly Chinese men are placidly playing mahjong while his kidnapped wife is being held next door. The China Film Group official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the scene made it appear that "common Chinese people were … insensitive to a hostage situation."
Example 2: (New York Times) Batman: The Dark Knight.
Moviegoers in China will not get to experience Heath Ledger’s bone-chilling performance as the Joker in “The Dark Knight” — or any other aspect of the film for that matter. While “The Dark Knight” is already showing in Hong Kong, Warner Brothers has opted not to open it in China, or even offer it to government censors for their consideration, because of what the studio described as “prerelease conditions” and “cultural sensitivities,” The Associated Press reported. The studio may have been concerned that censors would be offended by scenes shot in Hong Kong, including those in which Batman nabs a gangster.
Back then, people laughed at these seemingly over-sensitive responses and asked the Chinese government and/or the Chinese people to lighten up because "it is just a movie." Now comes <2012> which happens to give a positive spin on the Chinese government and/or the Chinese people. The former critics now go after the Hollywood moviemaker and over-react in what must be regarded as a mirror copy. Hey, lighten up! It's just a movie!)
Beijing TV news report
(China Real Time Report - WSJ) By Sky Caneves.
China’s bloggers are a focus of organizers of the Obama visit, echoing similar efforts by the administration to use social media tools to communicate with Americans. On Thursday, U.S. state department officials held simultaneous press briefings for a select group of predominantly Chinese bloggers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, giving a run-down of the U.S. president’s China schedule and took questions from the bloggers.
The attendee list included many influential bloggers, such as journalist Michael Anti, who blogs about freedom of the press, and Rao Jin, whose Anti-CNN Web site scrutinizes China coverage by CNN and other foreign media. Jeremy Goldkorn, of Danwei.org, represented the English-language China blogosphere. The group also included a couple of big names from China’s Internet world beyond blogs, such as Gary Wang, CEO and co-founder of online video sharing site tudou.com, and Peking University journalism professor and author Hu Yong.
In true social media fashion, several of the bloggers twittered the briefing, which was on the record. They also spoke openly about issues of concern to them: China’s Internet restrictions. One blogger asked if Obama would be able to use Twitter and Facebook while in China. (Both are accessible only by proxy in China). Another suggested that Obama visit a local Internet café so that he could understand the difficulties faced by ordinary people in accessing information.
To be sure, the bloggers’ concerns reflect a small corner of Chinese life and one participant said that most people in China are more concerned with their freedom to do business and their freedom to travel to America than with their freedom of speech. An embassy official replied that the composition of the group was intentional, a chance to hear Chinese voices from outside the mainstream.
Transcript from mranti's twitter in translation:
@mranti The Beijing/Shanghai/Guangzhou American embassy/consulates will be holding a special meeting between its diplomatic staff and Chinese bloggers about the visit by President Obama Barack to China. About a dozen or so bloggers and Twitter users will be participating, with live video feed. I will be permitted to provide a direct feed. We are discussing just what people will be invited to Obama's meeting with Chinese youth in Shanghai.
@mranti In Beijing, the participants are American envoy Goldberg and eight other diplomatic staff members. The bloggers include Hu Yong, Jeremy Goldkorn (Danwi), Rao Jin (anti-CNN), He Xuefeng, Anti, Chen Liang, Wang Zheng (China Media University), Hecaitou, etc.
@mranti In Beijing, the participants include Beifeng, Wang Ershan, etc. In Shanghai, the participants include Qi Ge, etc.
@mranti Cultural attaché Skipper said that Obama very much wants to speak to young students directly. There will be a Town Hall meeting at 12:45pm-14:00pm in Shanghai with about 500-700 students and young people president. The two sides are still discussing which universities and young people will be invited.
@mranti Chen Liang asked whether Obama will communicated directly with Chinese netizens. The embassay said that the Shanghai town hall meeting will collect netizen questions through certain news websites. The Embassy will also began a blog today, as well as distribute news via new media tools such as Kaixin001, etc.
@mranti Hecaitou asked whether Obama will update his Facebook and Twitter while in Beijing. The embassy said that the Obama team will send out information using Web 2.0 tools during the visit in the hope that millions of netizens will come and visit the Obama accounts at these websites.
@mranti Beifeng asked whether Obama will deal with the issue of freedom in INternet information and whether he is willing to stand alongside the Chinese netizens to tear down the Great Firewall. The embassy said that they are not sure what the two state leaders will talk about, but freedom of information is something that the United States has always been concerned about.
@mranti Wang Zheng (Chinese Media University) said that the preceding question from the last blogger does not represent the mainstream opinion in China. The majority of the Chinese people do not care about freedom of speech. They are more concerned about the freedom to do business and to travel freely to the United States. The embassy said that the purpose of this meeting with the bloggers is to listen to the voices of the bloggers which are outside of the mainstream media.
@mranti Rao Jin asked whether China-USA trade will improve as a result of Obama's visit to China. The embassy replied that although there have been a lot of media reports on the trade problems, Sino-American relations cover a broad scope of which trade is just one part which is a normal relationship and controversy. Both sides have held many good discussions already, so that there is no reason to worry.
@mranti Qi Ge said that he cannot access his own Facebook and he has to use anti-GFW tools. So will Obama's visit help to make Facebook accessible? The embassy said that freedom of information is important and the United States hopes to see progress with Facebook and other websites being accessible in China.
@mranti Beifeng can explain his second question by himself.
@mranti Hu Yong said that since Obama likes to talk about values, so what are the common values between China and the USA? The embassy said that both China and the USA are big nations, so they must have common issues (such as peace, prosperity, regional security, etc).
@mranti Rao Jin's last questions began with a statement that he has seen from <Prison Break> and <The Transformers> that the FBI and the American military violate human rights readily. He said that he uses gmail, and therefore he is concerned that his own privacy will be violated. The embassy said that one cannot try to learn about the USA only through television serial drama, and that the USA has laws to protect human rights.
@mranti The live broadcast ends here. Thanks everybody.
@mranti I should add that in order to hold this Chinese blogger live broadcast, the American embassy has let us enter the embassy with our telephones, computers and 3G cards. From the scene, I and Jeremy Goldkorn broadcast live. There were video links by phone between Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, but the diplomatic staff made their replies from Beijing.
(Hecaitou's blog) The Briefing Session.
This afternoon, I attended the blogger briefing session in anticipation for Obama's visit to China. The American embassy in Beijing and the consulates in Shanghai and Guangzhou invited bloggers from the three cities to pose questions to the American embassy staff. The Americans acknowledged frankly that regard new media as important. Therefore, the envoy Goldberg and a dozen officials spent one hour to answer various questions.
Hu Yong (Peking University scholar), Jeremy Goldkorn (Danwei), Rao Jin (Anto-CNN), He Xuefeng (Southern Metropolis Daily), Anti (freelance writer), Chen Liang (freelance worker), Wang Zheng (Chinese Media University), Beifeng (freelance workers, Guangzhou), Wang Ershan (writer, Guangzhou), Qi Ge (Shanghai) were the bloggers.
My question was relatively simple. First I asked whether Obama will update his Twitter and Facebook as usual while in China? If so, will his updates be translated into Chinese? Finally, will the president show at the Shanghai meeting how he uses Internet tools such as Facebook and Twitter to stay in contact and interact with the people?
The response was that President Obama will update his Twitter and Facebook, as well as his China trip blog. At the same time, his media support team will provide Chinese translations so that Chinese netizens will understand. I admit that this question was disingenuous because the word "how" was spinning round and round my mouth but I never uttered it. But that should not be a problem that I should get a headache over.
Other bloggers asked more serious questions. My personal favorite was the question from Hu Yong: Since President Obama likes to talk about values, what are the common values between China and the USA? After a brief silence and some smiles, an American official gave an officialese-like response about the two sides sharing many common values from family values to world peace.
More interesting are the Chinese bloggers Wang Zheng (from the Chinese Media University) and Rao Jin (Anti-CNN). Mr. Wang Zheng said that he was not happy with the preceding question from Beifeng. He said: "The question from the preceding bloggers does not represent the mainstream in China. Most of us Chinese people do not care about freedom of speech. We only care about the freedom to do business and the freedom to travel in and out of the United States." Then he gave everybody present a lecture about not exporting a set of values by force and that various nations ought to have their own value systems. After he finished his speech, I seemed to hear the music from the CCTV weather report.
Mr. Rao Jin asked a theoretically sophisticated question. He said: He learned from <Prison Break> and <The Transformers> that the FBI and the American military often violate human rights in the name of anti-terrorism and break into the email system of citizens. He also uses American Internet products such as Gmail, and therefore he is concerned that his privacy will be invaded by the FBI. The American officials solemnly responded to him: "One cannot understand USA solely through television drama." At this reply, all the Americans broke out into happy smiles.
The briefing session ended on a happy vote, leaving more problems for the soon-to-arrive President Obama. If you have questions to ask Obama, what might they be?
Rao Jin asked: "We just talked a lot about freedom and human rights on the Internet. I have seen many American television series and movies, such as <Prison Break>. The CIA has many special powers to do anything it wants. For example, in <The Transformers>, American cruise missiles can hit the Egyptian pyramids at will. I am concerned. I am a user of Gmail, Facebook and Twitter, which many people around the world use. The CIA can use special means to enter those services and obtain personal information. How can users like us be guaranteed that our personal data are secure? Also, I know that the USA has enacted certain laws to monitor the personal email information. Will the Internet control and filtering in the name of anti-terrorism violate the human rights and personal privacy of all users?"
The embassy replied: "This is a very good question. It is very significant. I don't know. Who has the answer? Ben."
Ben: "First of all, I recommend not using <Prison Break> or <The Transformers> as the sole references to understand the American government. Please remember that '24' is virtual. Really. The American media as well as politicians have discussed many issues over the past two years, including personal freedom of information and the right of the Federal government to inspect this information. This is a priority issue for the Obama administration to ensure that the freedom of the people are respected. According to the Constitution, nobody can access these types of information without proper authorization. How to implement these regulations is still being subjected to vigorous debate. I can say that the protection accorded to you far exceeds the examples hinted by <Prison Break> and <The Transformers>."
At 7:00am on November 11, I and lawyers Li Fangping and Jin Guangyong went by car to Mawei District. In Mawei District, we ate breakfast. We arrived at the courthouse at 8:10am.
Outside the Mawei courthouse, seventy to eighty people were waiting. Outside the entrance, people lined up to enter. I observed that one person held more than a dozen passes to distribute to others, so he seemed to be a team leader.
At 8:15am, we entered the courthouse using our court summons and lawyer identification. As we went up to the security gate, the court police officer demanded to inspect our bags. I objected. According to Supreme Court regulations, lawyers do not have to undergo security inspection as long as they have lawyer licenses. This is a special privilege that the Supreme Court accords to lawyers.
The court police officer said that he needed to consulted his superiors. So we had to wait outside the security gate.
While waiting, I saw that other spectators were being registered at a window next to the security gate. I noticed that someone produced a police pass. So many of the passes were issued to police officers, which was why many reporters could not get passes.
When I saw that the prosecutor was already seated, I asked the court police officer to get us admitted as well. The officer asked us to wait. Then a tall court police officer came and said that we did not have to be inspected, but we would have to open out bags for a glance. I said that even a glance is an inspection. This court police officer emphasized repeatedly that this was not an inspection.
At my insistence, the court police officer said that we can skip security inspection if we can prove that lawyers don't have to do so. I said, You need to show the regulations that lawyers have to be inspected. A dispute ensued. A female court police officer asked us not to be upset. It was near opening time. The female court police officer told us to enter. She reminded us not to make any recordings and to respect the court rules. I said that I will definitely respect the court rules but the court must also respect the legal rules too.
We entered the court room. We arranged our case materials and then the sessions began. It was 8:40am. It was 10 minutes later than scheduled.
After the court was declared in session, the three defendants were brought into the court room. Fan Yanqiong was wheeled in on a wheelchair by court police officers. When she saw her daughter in the gallery, she got excited and yelled that she wanted to hug her daughter. She began to cry aloud.
When Wu Huaying saw her daughter and her mother in the gallery, she was also very emotionally excited. Wu Huaying asked the judge again and again, "Can you judge independently?"
You Jingyou saw his wife and daughter in the gallery. He managed to control his emotions.
Since Fan Yanqiong and Wu Huaying got emotionally upset, the chief judge had to call for a 5 minute rest. The three defendants were taken into the rest room. The defendants' lawyers worked to calm them down.
At around 9am, the chief judge announced that court will resume.
The chief judge inquired about the basic situation with the defendants Fan Yanqiong, You Jingyou and Wu Huaying about whether they had received the charge sheet, etc.
After the chief judge informed the defendants about their rights, Wu Huaying got emotionally excited and asked the judges repeatedly, "Can you judge independently?"
The defense lawyers saw that Wu Huaying and You Jingyou were handcuffed, and they asked the court to have the devices removed. The chief judge agreed and asked the court police officers to remove the handcuffs.
At 9:14am, the prosecutor began to read the indictment document.
At 9:22am, the prosecutor read to the point where the defendant Fan Yanqiong fabricated facts. Fan Yanqiong lost control of her emotions and accused the prosecutor of ignoring the facts and making false accusations.
At 9:25am, Fan Yanqiong became calmer and said that she has not taken medicine today. So the court police officer brought her mineral water to take with her medicine. Fan Yanqiong was in poor health when she was arrested. After being taken into the detention center, she went on a hunger strike for several days. When the lawyer met her the first time, she was already unable to walk. She was wheeled into the meeting room. The lawyer brought up her health condition with the detention center, which sent her to the hospital for treatment.
At 9:31am, the prosecutor read to the point about the lowly methods of the three defendants. Fan Yanqiong lost control of her emotions and threw a fit. She said that she wrote the essay in sympathy for Lin Xiuying and in the hope of gaining government attention. She had no other intention, and she never received a cent from Lin Xiuying. Wu Huaying was also very excited as she accused the prosecutor of smearing her character. You Jingyou was also resentful of this accusation which he thought had no factual basis.
Fan Yanqiong became increasingly excited. She started cursing and the scene went out of control. At 9:34am, the chief judge asked Fan Yanqiong to be removed by the court police officers to restore public order. When Wu Huaying continued to condemn the prosecutor, the chief judge asked the court police officers to remove her as well. Seeing his two co-defendants removed, You Jinghyou asked to withdraw as well. The chief judge said, "If you leave as well, you will be held under detention."
I objected to what the chief judge said. When a case has not yet been judged, how can continued detention be held? The judge could not know unless the outcome of the case has already been decided.
After all three defendants exited, we said that the hearing could not continue without them. The chief judge said, "They lost control of their emotions and violated court rules. It is impossible to continue unless they are removed." I said, "They lost control of their emotions temporarily. They will calm down after they are taken away. They should be brought back so that the session can continue." The chief judge accepted this opinion and told the court police officers to bring the defendants back.
Fan Yanqiong said in court that her essay was based upon what Lin Xiuying told her and she did not fabricate any facts. She did so out of sympathy.
You Jingyou and Wu Huaying said that their video was based upon what Lin Xiuying and her brother said, and they did not fabricate any facts. They also did so out of sympathy. They posted the video on the Internet in order to draw government attention so that the case of the death of Yan Xiaoling can be dealt with.
In presenting the evidence, the prosecutor divided the sixteen volumes into four sections. In presenting the first section, the prosecutor did not read out any content that was positive for the defendants. The defendants' lawyers objected. The defendants also objected to this method of presentation. Since there was a great deal of disagreement, the chief judge announced an adjournment so that the prosecutors and defense lawyers can exchange opinions.
After the court session resumed, the prosecutor continued with this style of presentation and the objections were denied.
With respect to the evidence presented by the prosecutors, my viewpoint was that it proved that Fan Yanqiong, You Jingyou and Wu Huaying did not fabricate anything. If these are was a case of making false charges, the perpetrator should be Lin Xiuying. In the statement to the police, Lin Xiuying admitted that she provided the contents of the essay of Fan Yanxiong.
To the prosecutor, the people must believe what the public security bureau said at the press conference and harbor no more doubts. This position is risible. I used the examples of the death of Guangxi judge Li Yang and the "elude the cat" incident in Yunnan to rebut that viewpoint.
The prosecutor had another subconscious viewpoints that our public security officers obey the law and cannot possibly participate in prostitution and drug-dealing, or run a KTV with gangsters. I rebutted this view with the example of the anti-crime campaign in Chongqing.
On November 5, the lawyers asked the court to have Lin Xiuying and Lin Adide attend the trial. They also notified the 57 witnesses in the case to attend. Fan Yanqiong and Wu Huaying also asked the court several times to have Lin Xiuying appear as a witness. The court did not grant the request.
Lin Xiuying was waiting outside the courthouse all day and hoped to enter the court and participate in the session. But she was still outside when we left around 8:00pm in the evening. Lin Xiuying has said many times that the defendants were arrested for helping her. Yan Xiaoling's body will stay unburied as long as the defendants are jailed. This unfortunate daughter of Lin Xiuying has the conscience to tell good from bad.
During the court hearing, the ailing Fan Yanqiong took medicine. The doctor gave her oxygen and measured her blood pressure. I sensed that Fan Yanqiong may be having some mental problems as a result of going through this case.
In the courtroom, there were one large camera and two smaller cameras. But I don't think that they belong to the media. According to information, the local media were not allowed to attend.
During the noon recess, the court provided free lunch to the lawyers and other specators.
At 7:40pm, the court session finally ended. No verdict was announced.
When we got out of the courthouse, we found that it was raining hard outside. After we left for a while, lawyer Lin Hongnan received a telephone call from the chief judge to say that the lawyers must be present when the defendants make their signatures on the court transcript. So we had to return to the courthouse. By the time we witnessed the defendants sign the court transcripts, it was 9:00 pm already. We could not find any taxis, so we took the bus back to Fuzhou city. By the time we finished dinner and returned to the hotel, it was past 10:00pm.
As I finish up this essay, I must mention the performances of the judges and the court police. My observation is that they are sympathetic with the three defendants. They treated Fan Yanqiong very well.
The prosecutor was also quite restrained in the face of the diatribes from Fan Yanqiong and Wu Huaying. Regrettably, when Lin Hongnan wanted to review the prosecution process, the prosecutor said that Wu Huaying expressed dissatisfaction with the government in QQ chat sessions. A female prosecutor got upset with what Lin Honghan said and she said that she never said anything like that and she found fault with the fact that Lin Hongnan is 70 years old. Astonishingly she said, "You are talking nonsense."
I asked the chief judge to stop the prosecutor from using uncivilized language. Even if Lin Hongnan was wrong, the prosecutor cannot abuse him verbally in court. The two prosecutors are carrying out their duties and they cannot decide whether the three defendants are guilty on their own. If they are criticized in court by the defendants, they cannot take it out on the lawyers. This prosecutor is young and so I will not name her. I hope that she will pay more attention to using civilized language in order to maintain the image of the procuratorate as being just, fair, civilized and law-abiding. Of course, I must examine myself. I have a small stature, but I talk very loud. However I do not use uncivilized language.
This court hearing is actually a good lesson about the legal system. I believe that the young court police officers who were in the gallery can feel how hard it is hard for the people.
The situation is in the court was too complicated, so many details will have to be described later.
This case contains many problems about how the police obtained the evidence. This is seriously violating the <People's Republic of China Criminal Prosecution Laws> and <The Procedural Regulations for the Public Security Organization in Handling Criminal Cases>. The prosecutor claimed that the case was handled by a special investigation unit. I asked the prosecutor where this special investigation unit came from? Mawei district? Fuzhou city? Fujian province? The prosecutor was silent. This was not a major violent crime. This was just a case of false charges made in two Internet essays and one video. Why was it necessary to form a special investigation unit? Isn't that overkill?
Finally I characterize this case in three phrases: too absurd (when someone writes an essay or makes a video while not fabricating any content and not having any intent to make false charges, they nevertheless become criminally liable); too ridiculous (there is not a single piece of evidence that the essay writer or the video producer fabricated any facts; and the accessories are prosecuted but not the principal); too scary (a directive from a government official was enough to mobilize the police to arrest you; if you dare defend the rights of petitioners and expose local scandal, you end up in jail; it would be a wonder if you are frightened).
(Global Times) November 5, 2009
A CCTV report accusing the renowned Peking University First Hospital of "illegal medical practice" by allowing interns to practice as doctors, and who allegedly caused the death of a medical professor at the hospital, has provoked heated public debate. The Ministry of Health had to step in last night, issuing a statement on its website, saying that medical students and interns can be involved in clinical practice as long as they are under the supervision of licensed doctors, according to the relevant laws and regulations. The ministry stressed that so-called "illegal medical practice" does not apply to the medical students and interns, as their practicing is part of medical education activities, "not formal clinical practice." The ministry also ordered the city's health authority to carry out a strict investigation into the alleged interns' unlicensed practice, and publicize the result.
Xiong Zhuowei, 49, a medical professor with the hospital in Beijing, died in 2006, just seven days after a surgery on her backbone that the hospital claimed was "successful," CCTV reported Tuesday. Li Chunde, director of the Department of Orthopedics at the hospital, performed the operation, it said. The hospital said Xiong died following a pulmonary embolism, a blockage of the main artery of the lungs, which can happen after bone surgery. Three unlicensed interns, Duan Hongzhou, Yu Zhengrong and Xiao Jiantao, were found to have participated in the emergency resuscitation of the professor, CCTV reported. Hu Shengshou, dean of the Fuwai Hospital for Cardiovascular Disease, who also participated in the resuscitation attempt, told CCTV that the three unlicensed doctors were not capable of resuscitating Xiong. Medical records show three of Xiong's ribs were fractured while her heart and liver were punctured during the emergency treatment, according to CCTV. Beijing Xicheng District People's Court, in a first ruling on July 1, said the hospital was responsible for Xiong's death. A second ruling is pending today, according to the hospital.
After CCTV's program was broadcast Tuesday, the story appeared in newspapers and websites across the country, bringing about heated discussion on the practice of the Beijing hospital. Strait News, a Fujian-based newspaper, even termed the medical students "killers." In response to the nationwide attention, the hospital issued a statement on its website Wednesday, accusing CCTV of being "shameless." "CCTV's report is inaccurate and has severely damaged the hospital's reputation, resulting in gross social impact," the statement said. "The hospital strongly condemns CCTV's shameless behavior." The CCTV report, broadcast two days before the second court ruling, could likely mislead the court decision and "interfere with justice," the statement said.
The hospital admitted that a medical student who gave a prescription without a doctor's supervision or authorization was not abiding by the rules. But it is not representative of the hospital's general practice, according to the statement. Liu Xigao, an emergency physician and a PhD student three years from graduation, wrote prescriptions at the emergency rescue department, CCTV reported Tuesday.
The law of medical practitioners stipulates that even licensed doctors need to serve at least five years in a medical institution before they are eligible to give emergency treatment. Liu is not the only unlicensed doctor at the hospital, and CCTV named Li Shaolei and Zhou Yijun, among others, as unqualified practitioners. Sun Wanjun, secretary-general of the Beijing Lawyers Association, told CCTV that he has worked on three lawsuits against the hospital where 54 "doctors" were allegedly found to be unlicensed.
A 19-year-old woman named Liu Li died four days after receiving emergency treatment for gum bleeding, diarrhea and vomiting in November 2006. The autopsy report said Liu's death was caused by incorrect diagnosis by 10 doctors, eight of whom were unlicensed, CCTV reported. There were different opinions from medical experts. The death is only an isolated case, a senior anesthetist at a well-known hospital in Beijing, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Global Times. "Instead of convincing facts, all the reports are only one side of the story, which was broadcast by so-called victims and the media," he said. "Formal records from the hospital is the only legitimate proof in a highly professional medical area."
"Don't liken unlicensed students to barefoot doctors," a post-graduate student at a medical school told the Global Times. Barefoot doctors were farmers who received minimal basic medical and paramedical training and worked in rural villages. "Post-graduates and PhD students are commonly seen at hospitals worldwide," he said. "They could serve as assistants, but they can't get certificates because they are still at school."
(ifeng) More than 1,000 Peking University First Hospital workers raise the national flag. November 11, 2009.
At 7:30pm on November 9, 2009, the courtyard of the second patient ward building of Peking University First Hospital was crowded. They stood in front of a long banner that said: "Safely and stably consider the overall situation; full attention and dedication for the patients." As many as 1,000 workers gathered to wait for this extraordinary flag raising ceremony to begin. All the hospital leaders were present.
Peiking University First Hospital Party Secretary professor Liu Xinmin began with a speech: "During this period, Peking University First Hospital has been undergoing deep pains that it has never experienced since its founding. We are facing a severe trial that we have never come across before." He encouraged the entire hospital staff to "keep their backs straight and upright" and "never to disappoint the Party and the people." "On one hand, we will express our reasonable views in accordance with the law. On the other hand, we will not let inaccurate media reporting affect our normal duties." He promised to China and its people on behalf of the Communist Party members and workers in the hospital: "We will realize the spirit of the directives of the central leaders; we will protect the overall situation of stability and harmony; we will remember to the values and ethics of our hospital; we will dedicate ourselves selflessly to care for our patients; and we will dedicate our efforts to medical and health practice in our motherland!"
On this cold and misty morning, the bright red five-star flag rose slowly to the tune of the national anthem. The entire white-dressed staff of Peking University First Hospital star at the flag waving in the wind as their hearts became filled with lofty sentiments for their nation and their hospital!
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