Wednesday, May 27, 2009

China's Great Wall of Silence: Publication in "Open" Magazine

My heartfelt thanks to Open Magazine in Hong Kong for serializing the articles on my November 2008 trip to Beijing in their June and July issues.

My inestimable thanks to my long-time friends Youqin Wang and Rongfen Wang, and a new friend Bei Su Ni, for voluntarily translating the articles.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


There are over seven hundred posts on this website now covering a variety of topics. Occasionally we publish an abridged index to some of the other topics that don't appear on the first page.


-The Importance of Being Earnest, October 6, 2002.
-Body and Soul, October 18, 2002.
-Spirits, August 18, 2002.
-Lost in Translation, September 16, 2003
-Evening Walk, December 2, 2004.
-A Man and His Dog, December 5, 2004.
-A Fish Story, December 3, 2004.
-Richard Wagner, December 7, 2004.

Foreign Policy

-To the Future, June 23, 2002.
-International Federalism, June 30, 2002
-Our Friends in Pakistan, May 29, 2002.
-While America Sleeps, May 25, 2002.
-The New War, May 17, 2002.

Things That You'll Like and

That Are Good For You Too

-August 18, 2003.
-June 10, 2003

Crime Photographs

- October 24, 25, 26.
- September 30, 18, 13, 12, 10, 6.
- August 31, 26, 22, 24, 16, 14, 13, 11, 4.
- July 30, 28, 27, 2006.

True Crime Stories

-September 19, 14, 2006.
-January 3, 2005.
-December 25, 2007.
-November 19, 2004.

Islam in Its Own Words

-September 19, 14, 2006.
-June 23, 2002.

What a Wonderful World

-April 19, 2002
-October 29, 2002.

Friday, May 15, 2009

What a Wonderful World: Susan Boyle

Publick Occurrences, the inspiration for this little blog, was the first newspaper published in North America. Its three purposes were to, "encourage knowledge of affairs here and abroad, to combat the spirit of lying that prevails amongst us, and to document memorable providences," that is, miracles.

The belief in miracles has had a tough go of it since 1690. Perhaps only a minority believe literally in them today. Faith has always given believers hope, and hope helps sustain us in doing the work here on earth that we must do.

But hope is not just a tool with which we work. It is a good in itself. Human beings are capable of unimagineable cruelty but as Jonathan Spence has written, "...[I]n every country, too, humans have shown a love of beauty...a gentleness, an exuberant sensuality...that have cut across the darkness and filled their world with light." * There is still joy in life, and sometimes that joy is so unexpected as to seem miraculous.

I could not post this link to Susan Boyle's recital without trying to describe, with these insufficient words, what it meant to me to view it and to hear Ms. Boyle sing. I am not alone. Over 12,000,000 people have watched this miracle on YouTube, and note the looks on the judges faces as they come to realize that they are face to face with something providential.

* The Search for Modern China. Spence. xix

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Million Drops of Blood: "Looking for Lin Zhao's Soul" by Hu Jie. English translation by Ye Weiyou. Parts I-III

Hu Jie's magnificent film, Looking for Lin Zhao's Soul, gives name and face to one of the million drops of blood shed during the Maoist period in China, 1949-1976. This is the first English translation of the commentary in the film. It is the work of Ye Weiyou, to whom Hu Jie and all of us express our gratitude.


(Part One)

Lin Zhao was born in December 1932 and killed in April 1968. She lived on her miserable land--Mainland China-- for just over 35 years. But her life was really great and her death was indeed glorious. This pretty girl's surname is Peng, but after joining the Red Revolution in 1950, she changed it to Lin for a determination--making a cleanbreak with her so-called counter-revolutionary family. Lin Zhao's father, Mr.Peng, having studied politics and economics in Britain,was chosen Provincial Head as a result of number one in a nation-wide examination. But after 1949, he was soon held in control for his service to Guomindang (The National Party organized by Sun Zhongshan and then by Jiang Jieshi) who was defeated by Mao and escaped to Taiwan )In the Movement to Suppress Counter-Revolu-tionaries from 1950-1952,Peng was shut in prison.Her mother Ms.Xu first joined the CPC but then withdrew from itand joined guomindang.In the Anti-Japanese War,patriotic Xu stayed in prison with her little daughter Lin Zhao for a period.For this, she had much better fortune and was selected as a local committee member of CPPCC of Suzhou (China People's Political Consultation Conference)Lin Zhao was a sharp-mouthed girl,when having truth in herpart,she would not give up,persisting in arguing with the wrongside till they admitted their mistakes.In 1950,a student of two year-News College,Lin Zhao joined the revolutionary work:land reform movement.In the work team,when finding some cadre's(mostly communists) bad behavior,she would point out and give criticism,i.e.quite a few of them deserted their virtual country wives for a new one,Lin openly compared them to the heartless Chen Shimei in the play .This of course offended the immoral men and they tried every way to find fault with her.Lin Zhao's father Mr.Peng committed suicide in jail in 1960when learning about his daughter Lin Zhao's being arrested.During the C.R.(Cultural Revolution)her mother Xu was held in control by the localpolice as a reactionary.After Lin Zhao was killed on April 29of 1968,a policeman came to demand five fen for the bullet.Poor Xu did not understand the man?s words with northern accent,but her 2nd daughter understood and gave the man the money.After the policeman's leave,when learning about the sad thing,Xu fainted.(in the film there is the recording of Zhao sister'saccount)In mid-1970s,Xu was seen dead at waitan,on a street nearthe dock in Shanghai.Nobody knows how she died,murdered or of asudden death.)

( Part Two )

In 1949 Lin Zhao firmly rejected her mother's plan for her togo to U.S.for further studies,and soon she even separated withher family for revolutionary work.Lin's good classmate in thetwo-year college of journalism Ms Ni said that at that time Lin adored Mao so much,simply taking him as her father.In the film Ni read some words from two letters Lin sent to her:

"I know he(Mao)is now in Beijing or Moscow,I am so far from him and miss him...I find my feelings toward my family is not as deep as before..."
" I used to think my father was not reactionary,but with classmates' help,I now see that working for Guomindang itself is really reactionary.I must try to reform my thoughts to live up to the Party's request....."

In 1954 Lin Zhao entered Beijing University,Dept.of Chinese with an excellent grade in the exams.She is said to be very smart,warm,considerate and good at dressing,just looking like the pretty and delicate girl Lin Daiyu,a main character in thefamous classic novel .So many students called her Lin meimei,( Lin Daiyuss common petname, meimeimeans younger sister). In Beijing Univ.Lin Zhao had good relationship with an engineering girl-student Li who came from a poor peasantss family.Li introduced that Lin was warm-hearted and clever.Finding her love for a boy-student who was sent to a reform-through-labor farm,Lin got the boy's address of the farm for her.Coming from the countryside,Li said that she dressed bad and ugly.Out of sympathy and concern,Lin often gave her good clothes.The two girls had a picture taken.On the back of the picture Lin wrotea poem of dissatisfaction about the political situation at thattime.For safety's sake Li daubed the poem with ink immediatelybut the date is still there(we see this in the film)Li went on that Lin lived sort of bourgeoisie's life:having herclothes washed in a laundry,keeping a commemorative album forwriting poems and asking some poets to sign their names withwords,simply like a Russian rich woman's life style...So how could she enjoy the then proletariat life-style? Li continued: She(Lin)thought she understood Marxism and agreed to it but actually she represented the advanced capitalist class.When loving,she loved deeply,when hating,she hated greatly,anextreme girl.So depressed of the political atmosphere,she then was often found weeping at night by Weiming lake on the campus."You see," Li went on,"the proletariat revolution then was sohot-made,so terrible,but now it proved to be a failure so wehave stopped doing it.But at that time in the height of the redrevolution,Lin was so sharp and stubborn that I just expected she would have no good end...." In 1956,shocked by Khruschev's secret report at the 20th Soviet Communist Congress--exposure of Stalin's personal cult and his mass killing his comrades in the mid-1930s, Mao began to watch Chinese intellectuals with alertness.And the rebellion happenedin some Eastern European socialist countries also threatened MaoIn such a situation,in 1957 the dictator Mao made a plan to entice intellectuals,mainly professors,lecturers and minorityparty members to give the Party criticism and suggestion butactually,Mao said,to let them grieve,to pour out their poisonas much as they could so as to finally wipe them out totally.Kept in the dark of Mao's scheme,many patriotic and braveChinese in the intellectual circles were fooled and thus,in1958,55 hundred thousand people were labeled rightists and thusgreat disaster happened to them--so many rightists were tortureddead in the terrible thought-reform through-labor farms.(Note:I have an article on that campaign.There are a few books on theevent but recently hard to get in the state-run bookshops. Together with the DVD on Lin Zhao with English subtitles,the maker of this documentary Mr.Hu Jie mailed me another one on the same event--a group of survived rightists'blood and tear complaint about their horrible suffering from 1957-1962 till their labels of rightist were removed by their authority.)In Beijing University the two pieces of news--Kruchove's secret port and therebellion in Eastern European contries secretly came to Beida's campus and somepolitically sensitive students began to have hot but underground discussion. In 1947-48, Lin was a contributor to newspapers and magazines attacking the oldgovernment?s autocracy and corruption.)In early 1950s Lin had somedissatisfaction about thought-remold(brain-washing)movement among theintellectuals.To the action of pulling down a church nearby for construction,Lin said to the local gov.that the "General Principle" of CCP gave Chinese freedom of religious belief so churches should be preserved,but itwas useless!

(Part Three)

In 1956, not knowing Mao's scheme---luring snakes out of holes, hot-blooded students and teachers began to put up big-character posters giving sincere butmild criticism and opinions to the school leaders or to the Party. More andmore posters appeared on the campus and according to the posters, spontaneousdebates started. One poster with the title "It Is Time",attacking the then dead political atmosphere in school and in society-whole nation was of onevoice---attracted many readers. At once, around that poster appeared quite alot, for and against. Zhang Yuanxun, one of the writers of that powerful posterbegan to get severe criticism from the left students who questioned the articles writers "What time is it?" "Is it the time for you right students to attack our great Party?! No Way!" But more articles supported that poster,more and more, hotter and hotter debates going on. One night, Zhang Yuanxun,the main writer of that poster was dragged to theplayground ,strongly criticized by a group of left students with slanders andpersonal attack. At this, Lin Zhao jumped onto a table used as a stage,started her criticism to the left students:

"For what are you doing this way? Is this a debate or a public accusation meeting? If it an accusation, no need, Zhang is not an enemy. We need reason, need peaceful talk and discussion...."

With her sweet mezzo-soprano voice, speaking common Chinese with southern accent her powerful beautiful speech immediately silenced the crowd. But suddenly, a rude voice sounded:

"Who are you?!?? Who are you ?! What right have you got todemand me that way?! But I can tell you, my name is Lin Zhao. Since I have come here, now I do not care whether the knife is on my mouth or on neck!..."

Look, the words showed Lin Zhao's spirit.As expected, Lin Zhao and quite many patriotic and brave students were labeled rightists. All of them were not allowed to speak each other openly and the non-rightist ones were also warned from talking with the rightist students. One morning after that, Shen Zeyi,also a right student, who was in love with Lin inheart,found Lin having simple breakfast at a small restaurant near the school.They both glanced at each other without any words. When asked how Lin lookedthen, Shen said that in a white blouse, pale-faced, she looked so holy, evenholier than before.In 1958, after graduation, Lin was given a special care by the schoolauthority: unlike many other rightist graduates, she was not sent to the remotethought-reform-through-labor farms, but assigned to People?s University,working in the reference room. In this school, Lin met with another rightistboy-student named Gan Cui assigned there from another college. They worked inthe same office. Almost every day a male and female walking together to and frothe dinning hall made people around suspect their relationship: in love.Soon,they were warned by the authority that rightists should not have thatrelationship. Gan said actually they were not at all in love then, but the twostrong-personality young people just had a spirit to fight back."Well, you donot allow us to be in love. We must show we are!?"

So they pretended to walk holding their hands to let people see! Nowadays it is so common and evenbravier that that, but in those days it was really a daring action! Not longthe false play became true: they wrote an application to the authority for acertificate to marry. Of course, it was rejected with the same reason:rightists are not permitted to get married! During the time they worked together Christian Lin led boy Gan to know God by taking him to a churchregularly on Sunday and telling him Bible stories. With their application formarriage turned down,Gan was soon sent to a thought-reform-through-labor farmin Xinjiang(northwest) and there he had endured hell-like days for 20 years! The year of 1981 was a relatively good time for putting right all thepolitically wrong cases in the past decades and over 90% of rightists regainedtheir reputation, though did not get back the cut salary in the past overtwenty years. The salary for college graduates from 1950s till 70s was all 54or 46 yuan, depending on the length of time in higher learning institution:5years 54,while 4 years 46. But all the rightist graduates?were given only 18yuan a month to keep soul and body together as a punishment till the label wasremoved by the above. Whether the label could be removed after a few years of?thought reform? depended on their behavior: doing labor well, making one afteranother sincere self-criticism, etc and of course, mostly depended on theirrelationship with the direct boss!Taking advantage of the good situation of rehabilitation in 1981, Chen Weisi,areporter in the magazine named Democracy & Law in Shanghai got the permissionand went to Tilanqiao Jail(in Shanghai) for reading files on Lin Zhao. He thenwrote an article The DVD maker Hu asked Chen if what heheard was right that all Lin Zhao's answer to the interrogators was wonderful,Chen said "Indeed very wonderful, so smart and powerful. It's a great pity that quite many materials were forbidden to take out and was not allowed totake down on paper." Chen tried his best to memorize as much as possible and hetook pictures of the poems Lin Zhao wrote with her blood on the paper given forher to write confection and exposure of others. Instead of writing what she wasordered Lin wrote articles, poems and declarations to constantly attacking Maoand his autocratic regime.Thanks to reporter Chen's effort,in the film we seethe blood written things,so many,earthshaking heroism!! Lin?s good classmate Li said: "The poems she wrote were as if blood pouring outfrom her heart,we simply had no such feelings,so we had no ability to write...,Lin was such a pure person..."