By Li Huaping, published: January 1, 2013
Dear Mr. Xi Jinping,
You have become the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party during the CCP’s 18th Congress, and your succession to be the president of the People’s Republic of China in 2013 is only a matter of formality. You don’t have competitors, nor do you need my vote. I have lived for 46 years as a lawful citizen of the People’s Republic of China, but have never had an opportunity to vote for anything. So next year when the “people’s representatives,” who are supposed to represent me, vote for you, they will do so without my authorization. On the other hand, I must state that I have hitherto never been stripped of any political rights by the law of the People’s Republic of China.
It is a matter of fact that you are the wielder of the highest power in mainland China, and it doesn’t matter whether I disagree with how the supreme leader of 1.3 billion mainland Chinese is determined.
Sir, you are a busy man who has ten thousand things to take care of every day, and I won’t splash too much ink here. In this letter I only want to talk about one issue: When dealing with dissidents, you and the government of the People’s Republic of China should, and must, observe procedural justice according to the law.
As a Doctor of Law, Mr. Xi Jinping of course understands that “Justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done.” While “to be done” addresses the outcome of justice, “seen to be done” stresses the necessity for such justice being done in a visible manner. And both are equally important, and neither should be denied. Without appropriate procedure, there would be no procedural justice to speak of. “Justice” achieved through inappropriate, unlawful procedure is like the flower of a pernicious plant, and must be cast away no matter how pretty it looks.
My friend, Shanghai-based entrepreneur Xie Dan (谢丹), is in a mess just because he dined with us several times. In the span of one day, Shanghai’s government went so far as to pressure his company’s landlord into closing his office space, forcing his company out, and pressuring the Shanghai tax bureau to audit Dan Xie. All of this took place on December 3, 2012.
My other friend, lawyer Li Tiantian (李天天), was put under house arrest last year for several months. In a little over a year, she was illegally detained and transported to Xinjiang (where she originally came from) seven times. During that period, the police sought out Li Tiantian’s boyfriend twenty odd times and also sought out the family members of her boyfriend numerous times.
On November 24, Shanghai police confined me in Wujiaochang station for 12 hours just to prevent me from attending a dinner party. Last year, an officer intimidated me with details of my private life that he learned from illegal surveillance.
To what decree, made by the People’s Republic of China, does this adhere? Uglier than the triads, the PRC’s law enforcement and those who are supposed to protect the law carried out these shameless, despicable acts.
This country’s law enforcers and related authorities have been out there to make life impossible for anyone who speaks the truth and common sense. They force employers to fire these citizens; they pressure landlords into squeezing out tenants by suspending legitimate leases and forcing these aforementioned citizens to move. They even transport these citizens away from the cities where they make a living, or threaten their spouses, family and close friends. They illegally monitor these citizens’ communications and privacy. They go as far as forcing them to “travel”, placing them under house arrest, or beating them up outright. They employ countless thuggish means of oppression, but all of them can be summed up in three characters: “despicable” (下三烂).
If these behaviors are limited to individual officials, I could maybe understand them; I could attribute them to the official’s weak understanding of the law, weak character, or moral failing. But the reality is, they are commonplace everywhere.
Mr. Xi Jinping, what power does the PRC’s law enforcement and those who are supposed to protect the law have to choose such despicable methods to intimidate, suppress and persecute citizens who speak the truth and common sense? In mainland China, do we have too many such citizens or too few? Isn’t lying prevalent in mainland China’s officialdom, media, and among its citizens? Why so?
To be honest, over the years, the Shanghai officers with whom I have come in contact have tried their best to avoid using unlawful methods against me. It is my belief that these officers have preserved their good conscience and that they do not want to behave unscrupulously. But the problems is, even the officers who display good qualities are unable to completely observe procedural justice, because there is a force of evil at work that leaves these officers no choice but to use unlawful methods to fulfill their stability-maintenance duties.
Professor Sun Liping of Tsinghua University (it’s said that he was your doctoral mentor) said, “Mainland China now is a country at complete odds with the rule of law, and is marching further and further away from it. Stability maintenance is detrimental to the rule of law, causing it to regress significantly. The government is willing to do anything to get what it wants. ‘Authorized to do evil’ is when the government allows, or even encourages, the use of illegal means to do its job.” Mr. Xi Jinping, my friend and I can attest to Professor Sun’s assessment with our own experience.
I admit that I am a “dissident”, but I didn’t set out to be one. Even if I devote all my time to this cause one day, it will not be a career, but an attitude of existence: To live my life honestly and truthfully.
A few years ago, when this government once again imprisoned Liu Xiaobo, I vowed to commit the rest of my life to restoring the truth and spreading common sense. To that, I will now add: to openly advocate the growth of civic awareness and the development of a civil society.
I hereby state: If I violate the law of the People’s Republic of China, please summon me, indict me and try me according to legal procedures. If the law enforcement and those who are supposed to defend the law use any unlawful methods against me, my family, my relatives or my friend, my answer will be that a reasonable, modest liberal can also be blood-roiled, and I will not hesitate to defend my dignity and the law with my own life.
Li Huaping (李化平)
Citizen of the People’s Republic of China, ID no. 510102196609066591
December 10, 2012, World Human Rights Day
Li Huaping (李化平), also known online as “Norwegian Wood” (挪威森林), is a dissident and activist based in Shanghai.
(Translated by Churchill and Yaxue)
On paragraph 4, “in a visible matter” should be “in a visible manner”.
On paragraph 3, “Mister” shouldn’t be “Sir”?
My best wishes for your good work during this new year!
Thank you very much. I need proofreading assistance badly. I do!
Happy New Year!
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A brave, honest and candid essay. Living in China, it is sad to see so much energy spent on stifling on so much human resource. Young people yearn to think, to dream, to question not out of rebellion, but because the pursuit of truth is a natural human imperative.
I was in the PRC for a time similar to Tom’s. This esssay tears at my heart strings because it echos the thoughts and wishes of many people i met when i was there. Mr. Li is braver than most. I found ultimately that i could no longer tolerate the government’s obsession with keeping the Party in power and its willful disregard for the wellfare of its people. It’s like drinking polluted water. Your system can take some of it for a while. But after some time, the toxicity of the lies, the coverups and the denial of reality builds up and you have to get out.
I am sure many would say “don’t let the screen door hit you in the fanny”. But to live in the fantasy world created by the Party where nothing is as it seems and cover up is a regular occurrence, where no one dares speak the truth or blow the whistle is just too caustic. That such a system causes the pain and suffering of the few brave enough to say the emperor has no clothes is tragic.
China problem is a world problem. People have yet to see that. Just look at the SEC case against the five accounting firms — I’ll be posting a piece Monday morning China time. And in my pipeline there is a piece called “The Illness of the World”, warning China’s illness is becoming the world’s illness. Alarmist? Hardly, if you continue to treat China not as it is, but as if it is a mature and open society, and willfully deceive yourselves.
Without thinking, many westerners who are supposed to know something about China, perceive, and dismiss, people like Mr. Li as fringe elements and militant radicals, not recognizing they are harbingers of a time to come. What a pity.
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[…] December 10, 2012, World Human Rights Day, Li Huaping wrote an open letter (English) to Xi Jinping. “It is a matter of fact that you are the wielder of the highest power in […]