On China

I follow a good blog on China called China Change. It’s a good source of information on Chinese government, particularly stories that don’t make the news. Here’s what I read this week. You can read the entire article by clicking here.

On June 6, Ms. Huang Wan (黄婉) received her “certificate of release from community correction” (解除社区矫正证明书) from the Justice Bureau of Chaoyang District in Beijing. From that day on, she was a free woman, and she had made plans to travel to the United States for a long-waited reunion with her aging parents.

“From December 1, 2013,” she wrote on her Twitter the same day. “I have been subject to two days of detention without due process, 319 days of residential surveillance at a designated place (指定地点监视居住), 590 days in a detention center, 10 days of release pending investigation (取保候审), and 1095 days of community correction, making a total of 2016 days that I have been without freedom.”

But on June 4, just two days before the release was to take effect, Huang received notice of a civil lawsuit — supposedly over a rental disagreement — in which she was one of the defendants. The court used this as grounds to file a request with the “relevant departments” to deny Huang permission to exit China. The request was approved immediately. Moreover, the court refused to give her a written notice of this restriction.

Interviews with North Koreans

A must see. Just incredible to go through these experiences.

Being a woman in North Korea is worse than I thought.

Thank you, Asian Boss, for these outstanding videos.

Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry

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Be prepared to be blown away. Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry packs quite a punch. This documentary shows Chinese artist cum activist Ai Wei Wei as he stands up for victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and seeks justice after police break into his hotel room in Chengdu and beat him.

The film fascinated me. It follows Ai as he tries to get the government to publish the real numbers of students who died in the flimsy school buildings in Sichuan. With newsreel footage and interviews, it shows the torture and abuse his father endured in the 1950s. I’ve read several books, fiction and non-fiction, about the Anti-Rightist Campaign. The stark newsreels of neighbor denouncing neighbor deepened my understanding of this horrible period.

The documentary shows Ai in New York where he started his art career and in Europe installing current works. Filmmakers follow him as he pursues justice after being beaten by police and detained so that he was unable to testify on behalf of another Chinese activist, who was found guilty.

Ai is mesmerizing. He’s bold, audacious, brave, down-to-earth and shrewd. He’s figured out the power of social media and despite the government’s censorship has attracted a following of Chinese who share his desire for transparency and democracy. These folks aren’t just spectators as we see when Ai protests the government mandated demolition of the studio the government told him to build, hordes show up for his protest. They know they’re being watched and recorded and are willing to take that risk.

Ai knows what the government’s up to and finds clever ways to show it for what it is. Though he doubts he can win, he works within the system seeking justice from the police whom illegally knocked in his hotel room door, beat and detained him. By recording every step of his bureaucratic quest for justice, he shows the world how the government works and that all is not well in the new China.

I found the interviews with fellow artists and Evan Osnos of the New Yorker insightful and trenchant. They show how people who care about China will stick their necks out to make it better, even though they doubt they’ll see improvement.

Living in China myself, I see the good parts and know that experiences like Ai’s and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo‘s are true, but it’s so easy to forget. I’m grateful for this movie that reminds me and fleshes out Ai WeiWei’s life and work.

Never Sorry is available on Netflix.

Ai Wei Wei’s Gangnam Style Parody

Recommendation: The Diane Rehm Show

Diane Rehm at WMU

Diane Rehm at WMU (Photo credit: Jay P.)

Diane Rehm hosted a fascinating panel on China-US Relations. Her panelists clarified the recent events that could be hard to really understand when so many news sources oversimplify.

Never Sorry

24x36poster1.indd

Be prepared to be blown away. Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry packs quite a punch. This documentary shows Chinese artist cum activist Ai Wei Wei as he stands up for victims of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and seeks justice after police break into his hotel room in Chengdu and beat him.

The film fascinated me. It follows Ai as he tries to get the government to publish the real numbers of students who died in the flimsy school buildings in Sichuan. With newsreel footage and interviews, it shows the torture and abuse his father endured in the 1950s. The documentary shows Ai in New York where he started his art career and in Europe installing current works. Filmmakers follow him as he pursues justice after being beaten by police and detained so that he was unable to testify on behalf of another Chinese activist, who was found guilty.

Ai is mesmerizing. He’s bold, audacious, brave, down-to-earth and shrewd. He’s figured out the power of social media and despite the government’s censorship has attracted a following of Chinese who share his desire for transparency and democracy. These folks aren’t just spectators as we see when Ai protests the government mandated demolition of the studio the government told him to build, hordes show up for his protest. They know they’re being watched and recorded and are willing to take that risk.

Ai knows what the government’s up to and finds clever ways to show it for what it is. Though he doubts he can win, he works within the system seeking justice from the police whom illegally knocked in his hotel room door, beat and detained him. By recording every step of his bureaucratic quest for justice, he shows the world how the government works and that all is not well in the new China.

I found the interviews with fellow artists and Evan Osnos of the New Yorker insightful and trenchant. They show how people who care about China will stick their necks out to make it better, even though they doubt they’ll see improvement.

Living in China myself, I see the good parts and know that experiences like Ai’s and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo‘s are true, but it’s so easy to forget. I’m grateful for this movie that reminds me and fleshes out Ai WeiWei’s life and work.

Ai Wei Wei’s Gangnam Style Parody

The Xinjiang Procedure | The Weekly Standard

I teach at Xinjiang High School near Guangzhou. This article, The Xinjiang Procedure | The Weekly Standard, on organ harvesting was recommended by David Brooks in his Sidney Awards for 2011.

While one can’t escape the poor treatment and living conditions of the factory and construction workers as I live in the midst of that, this is an example of a more hidden injustice.

*N.B. The article gets the place wrong. It begins placing Xinjiang near Guangzhou and then talks about Northeast China. We’re in the Southeast. They must mean another Xinjiang. I asked them to check their facts.