Chen Daojun (陈道军), a relatively obscure activist (or provocateur depending on one’s point of view) in China, was sentenced to three years in prison for “inciting subversion of state authority” (煽动颠覆国家政权罪) yesterday. Thus the Chinese government, quite rightfully described as clumsy and self-defeating in presenting itself, just launched someone into a career of fame and awards. Who wants to bet on the recipient of next year’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought?
While Chen was arrested in May after attending a environmentalist protest against a petroleum-chemical project near Chengdu, his trouble seems centered on writings he published online. Chen was initially charged with a more serious “inciting secession” clause due to his writing in April supporting the March riots in Tibet. That charge was apparently dropped in the court proceedings. This essay, “官逼民反 — 向英勇抗争的藏民致敬” (Government Drives People to Revolt – Salute to the Heroic Fighting Tibetans) doesn’t really need translation beyond the title. It should be noted that, the defining moment of the March event is the murderous race riot that happened on March 14 in Lhasa, which targeted innocent non-Tibetan civilians and business.
[EDIT] The paragraph above is edited to clarify descriptions of Chen’s writing. Please see comment 17 and 18 below for reasons.
The second essay brought up in court follows up on the strong backlash from Chinese people inside China and around the world against the disgraceful coverage of the March incident across much of the western media. The title is “反西方华人的背景” (Backgrounds of the Anti-West Chinese) and it includes sweeping charges against all Chinese who do not think like him.
[On anti-west Chinese in China]: Years of brain washing by the CCP seriously destroyed the spirit and soul of the Chinese. It produced generations of ignorant and stupid populace that knows nothing about right and wrong, self esteem, human rights, and value of life. These ignorant and stupid people are the most mind-numb, selfish, cowardly, principle-less and calculating kind. … They desperately need something to show their poor value and whatever little that is left of their courage. They do not dare to take on the dictatorship because their cowardliness and selfishness, but found a chance when the west is boycotting Olympics and protesting crackdowns in Tibet. …
[On anti-west Chinese living overseas]: They are a group to be suspected. If they love China and CCP, why do they go through all the trouble to move overseas? Besides those who immigrated before CCP took over the power, all overseas Chinese fall under the following types: 1) a very rare few who were seeking freedom. 2) organized political immigrants by CCP that are tasked to spy and stir up trouble. 3) relatives of the Chinese officials who took all the blood money stolen from the people to safe guard their fortune in a free west. … Another fraction of them consists all those Chinese students attending school overseas. In today’s China, where are they from? They are either children of corrupt officials or cheating businessmen. …
There is supposedly a third essay as well. But reports are inconsistent regarding which one it is. In any case, many of Chen’s essays can be found here. I wonder if someone could figure out how Chen became this angry and bitter person. There are perhaps many clues in those writings. His trashing of his own father, for example, tells plenty.
[UPDATE] Civil Rights and Livelihood Watch (CRLW) posted the 2-page indictment document against Chen on its site. According to that document, the third essay cited is “十七大后怎么办?” (What Happens After the 17th People’s Congress?” which calls for nation wide coordinated effort within the oppressed population to fight the blood sucking, brutal and corrupt government and all of its officials.
[UPDATE 2] I might as well just spell out clearly my perspectives on Chen and his ordeal.
- China really should stop this practice of arresting and imprisoning critics, of which many did nothing wrong in speaking out. But even for those with truly “ulterior motives”, is this the best way to handle them? Couldn’t the official China learn a lesson from the Wei Jingsheng (魏京生) saga already? When Wei was sitting in prison, he was revered as “Father of Chinese Democracy” and “Nelson Mandela of China”, and was such a convenient stick to hit China with all the time. After Wei was finally deported to U.S. in 1997, he promptly showed everyone what kind person he was. And after that, well, let’s just say Wei is no longer a problem for China any more.
- In Chen Daojun’s case, his writings are clearly intended to incite opposition and revolt against the CCP and government. In reality, I suspect, most readers probably would find merely amusement from some of his heated language. I mean, how am I supposed to react after reading his “Backgrounds of the Anti-West Chinese”? I am a Chinese living overseas; I didn’t come to U.S. seeking freedom; and I am not a relative of corrupt Chinese officials living off a stolen fortune. So that means I must be a political immigrant tasked to spy or stir up trouble. Of course Chen is right. The very fact that I am writing this means I am fulfilling my mission.
- Again, what’s the point of putting Chen in prison? Does he really have a following among the “ignorant and stupid populace that knows nothing about right and wrong, self esteem, human rights, and value of life”? Why not just send him out to his dreamland and let he fight with his peers?
[UPDATE 3] I probably should also explain a bit about my (dismissive) reference of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought at the beginning, as well as part of my motivation for writing this post.
I don’t know anything about Chen until reading about his prison sentence today in the news, which was reported in the all too familiar manner whenever matters of this kind arise concerning China. My first reaction was to search for his writings to find out what was so offending to the authority because, you know, those details were never of importance in the news reports. And my next reaction, after reading some of Chen’s essays, was “I hope he doesn’t morph into another Hu Jia, but he most likely will.” I should avoid discussing much about Hu Jia on my own (because I didn’t make the necessary effort to know enough about him to comment) except recommending readers to check out what Richard at Peking Duck had to say here and here as well as Xujun’s take at inside-outside China. By the way, I am referencing Richard’s posts on Hu Jia partly because of his only-Nixon-could-approach-China credential. You might have figured out that I also have a problem with Chen’s pathological loathing of his own people. But that is not necessarily that big a deal per se.
Of course you all know now that Hu Jia just won Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought this year. Do you know that wei Jingsheng was that only other Chinese winner (in 1996)?