Reuters reports from Beijing: “Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng said on Saturday that Chinese police had sent the case of his nephew, charged with intentional infliction of injury, to the state prosecutor, paving the way for what he expects will be an unfair trial.
“The case of Chen Guangcheng’s nephew, Chen Kegui, has renewed international focus on China’s human rights and legal system.
“Chen has been held incommunicado by police for over five months and has been denied access to his choice of lawyers. His case is widely seen as illegitimate by Chen’s family and human rights advocates.”
“Chen Guangcheng said the central government has failed to live up to its promise in May to investigate officials in Shandong whom he accused of engineering the ‘years of illegal persecution’ against him and his family.
“‘It’s been five months, I haven’t heard any news about the investigation against Shandong,’ he said. ‘Instead I hear that Chen Kegui’s case has been sent to the prosecutor, this piece of news in itself is problematic. So how can I not feel that my confidence has been lowered?’”
“The proceedings against Chen Kegui will be a good test case of whether Chinese leaders are intent on enforcing the rule of law and enacting reforms, said Chen Guangcheng.”
For details of Reuters report, please visit its website at:
A well-known Chinese saying describes official despotism very well by saying, “Only the official is allowed to set fire, but the common people are not allowed to light lanterns.”
The saying originated from the true story of a prefectural governor named Deng in the Song Dynasty when it was a crime to use the characters in an emperor’s name in writing while those similar in sound were not allowed to use in speaking.
Like lots of officials in feudal China, the governor regarded himself as a local emperor with similar authority in his jurisdiction. As soon as he took office, he posted an announcement banning the use of “deng”.
The officials under him were in trouble at Lantern Festival when fire-prevention ban on lighting lanterns all night long should be lifted for three days. They had to post an announcement to allow people to light lanterns for three days, but they could not use the word lantern that contained the sound “deng” in Chinese. Finally a clever official found a way out, he used “set fire” to replace “light lantern”. The announcement then read, “It is Lantern Festival (yuanxiao in Chinese that does not contain the sound of deng) now. People are allowed to set fire for three days.”
A traveling scholar passing by found the announcement absurd and asked and learnt the reason why people were allowed to “set fire” instead of lighting lanterns. With indignation, he wrote on the lower part of the announcement: “Only the official is allowed to set fire, but the common people are not allowed to light lanterns.”
What he wrote soon became a very popular saying in describing an official’s irrational words or deed.
Official despotism has been so common in China that it can even be regarded as an established Chinese tradition. Chinese people shed blood to carry out a democratic and then a communist revolution with elimination of official despotism as one of their major goals, but Chiang Kai-shek and Mao soon turned the regimes set up after the revolutions into lots of central and local despotisms.
Before the Anti-Rightist Campaign, the Party secretary of my secondary school Mr. Lu Zhu was a very kind person. He respected the teachers and loved the students. In 1956, Shanghai City’s Education Bureau decided to learn from the Soviet Union that the school year examination should cover all those taught in the whole school year, but there was the established practice that such examination only covered the recent half-year term.
Seeing that the City’s decision brought too much pressure on the students, Mr. Lu decided that there should be a transitional period of one year for students to be prepared for such kind of examination. He announced that the coming examination should cover only half a year and the examination covering the whole year should be conducted in the next school year.
However, the Bureau did not approve Lu’s decision and Lu was forced to revoke his decision. The students in my class protested against Lu’s revocation strongly as we failed to review those taught in the first term due to Lu’s decision though we had enough time to review it then. However, when the decision was revoked later, we did not have time for the review.
To silence our protests, Mr. Lu invited us the students who took an active part in the protest to his home. He was very kind and tried hard to persuade us. He said he could not disobey the Bureau’s order, but would still reduce the pressure on his students. He said that he would give an order that the part of the first term in our examinations should account for less than 15% and would tell teachers to help students review the part that will be examined. We were all persuaded by his sincerity.
However, after the Anti-Rightist Campaign, Mr. Lu became another person, a despot in the school used to denounce teachers and students whenever something irregular had been found in them.
I sometimes wonder whether there is despotism in the blood of a Chinese including me. I am scared at the very thought of it.
When I learnt the stories of tiger mother and wolf father, I realized that the problem lied in China’s tradition of parents acting like tyrants and children acting like blindly obedient subjects. That was why I placed my post “Tiger Mom and Wolf Dad Teaches Blind Obedience to Tyranny” on February 1.
The most serious problem in China now is that too many officials are despots. They grab people’s land and deprive people of their rights at will.
You find the persecution of Chen Guangcheng unbelievable in a country that claims to have the rule of law and respect human rights, but officials in China from top to bottom seem to regard it as not a big problem and the despots remain arrogant and continue to persecute Chen’s relatives while the higher authority has no desire to punish them. They all seem to get used to despotism!
In another post on May 25, I told the story of toxic soy sauce made of industrial salt, but according to Ming Pao’s report today, the official in charge of testing the soy sauce said that all such sauce was up to the standards though he knew well that the sauce had been made of industrial salt banned by the State for use in food industry. Poor Chinese people, you have to take toxic food as your despotic officials have the power to regard toxic food as food up to the standards.
That was a minor despot. The bigger one such as Bo Xilai may send a blogger to labor camp for mocking him as described in my post entitled “Blogger Sent to Labor Camp for Mocking Bo Xilai Seeks Redress” dated May 6.
Chen certainly proved his super wisdom in his miraculous escape, but Chinese dissidents in America such as Tiananmen heroine Chai Li was disappointed that Chen spoke positive in his meeting with the media when he arrived in America (see my May 20 post “Chen speaks positive of China, Chai Ling fears he is under control”).
Chai Ling said it was not the Chen Guangcheng she knew.
Super wisdom is difficult to understand.
Keep the door open for other dissidents and protect his relatives
First, in order to save face, China would not allow Chen to seek political asylum in America; therefore, Chen went to America to “study”. Seeing that, Chen cleverly reached an agreement with a central official to receive a promise that his rights as a citizen would be protected for a long time (see my May 21 post “Chen Guangcheng will go back to China”) and his relatives will not be persecuted.
Obviously, in exchange, Chen promised that he would save China’s face by refraining from criticizing Chinese government when he is in America. It took more than one year for the United States to get Fang Lizhi out to seek political asylum in the United States. Chen’s case set a precedent for dissidents to seek asylum on the excuse of going abroad to study when they cannot survive in China.
Having suffered such severe persecution in China, a person with ordinary wisdom and self-control will give vent to his indignation as soon as he leaves China. Chen, instead, praised Chinese government for its “restraint and soberness” so that the Chinese government may remain so when other dissidents have to “go abroad to study” as a last resort.
Second, perhaps, the official also threatened Chen that his relatives would be punished severely if Chen fails to honor his promise. Chen has to refrain from criticizing the Chinese government.
Ming Pao reports today that lawyers who volunteer to defend Chen’s nephew were not allowed by police to contact Chen’s nephew Chen Kegui, who has been prosecuted for murder in the government’s attempt to pressure Chen Guangchen.
Therefore, Chen had to publicly urge Chinese government to honor its promise. Chen certainly has to speak positive now and keep in reserve his weapon of criticizing Chinese government so that he can use it when things have gone out of control.
Chai Ling said that Chen was under control, but Chen is clever enough to keep the Chinese government under his control too. He has lots of first-hand information to reveal serious violation of human rights in China!
Last but not the least, Chen wants to continue his rights activities in China; therefore he has to make Chinese government keep the promise to enable his return.
Radio Television Hong Kong reports that at Chen’s words that he wants to return to China, Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry responded that Chinawas a country with the rule of law, where a citizen’s rights were protected by Chinese constitution and law. As Chen Guangcheng is a Chinese citizen, he shall observe Chinese laws and regulations as if Chen’s suffering had been caused by his violation of Chinese law.
Chinese constitution and law failed to protect not only Chen’s but also Chen’s wife’s and children’s rights in Shandong. Perhaps, Chen did have committed a “crime” and was imprisoned for 4 year but shall he be kept under house arrest forever after he had served his time? Is there any provision in Chinese law that a released criminal shall be kept under house arrest? What crime had his wife and children committed to have been placed under house arrest too? Obviously what the Ministry said was just bullshit in Chen’s case.
Splitting the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
Chen knows well there are lots of people in the CCP who really want human rights and democracy and lots others who want otherwise. He said “Through lots of twists and turns, I have finally come out from Shandong” in meeting the media and that he was very happy to see Chinese government’s “restraint and soberness”.
In fact there were lots twists and turns in leaving China, but he only mention those in leaving Shandong and refrain from saying that through lots of twists and turns he has left China. He has thus separate Shandong authority from the Central authority. The former is denounced but the latter is praised for its “restraint and soberness”.
He knows the strategy that in fighting for human rights, he has to treat different people in the CCP differently. He has to praise those who support human rights and denounce those who act otherwise .
If the CCP had really wanted the rule of law, it should have realized Chen’s super wisdom, devotion and integrity. It should have funded Chen’s study of Chinese and foreign laws, recruited him into the CCP and promoted him to the post in charge of the rule of law. Then I believe the implementation of the rule of law would have been greatly facilitated in China.
SCMP.com – Chen’s escape spawns conspiracy theories
Jerome A. Cohen, a well-known China law expert and fellow for Asia at the Council on Foreign Relations, says the various theories that seek to explain the puzzling facts surrounding Chen Guangcheng’s dramatic escape remain speculation that, while entertaining, can undermine Sino-US trust.
How could China’s protean internal security network, which costs the Chinese government more than its defense budget, has allowed this frail blind man to escape from years of illegal captivity in a remote village in Shandong and enter the American embassy in Beijing? And why, less than 48 hours after Chen left safety in the embassy, did Beijing officials open the way for the departure from China that they had just denied him?
Foreigners view Chen’s dramatic escape to the capital with admiration. Thoughtful Chinese, however, are beginning to voice suspicions on the internet and in social media.