An Open Letter to Michelle Obama

By Rose Tang, published: March 24, 2014

The letter was originally posted by the author on her Facebook page. We thank her for her permission to allow China Change to repost it. –The Editor


Dear Michelle:

I wasn’t the only Chinese who was totally disappointed by your speech at Peking University on Saturday. You did not mention a word about the university being a birthplace of China’s major pro-democracy movements since the early 20th century and a base for some of the country’s most prominent human rights activists, including Cao Shunli and Xu Zhiyong. You didn’t say a word about them. Legal scholar Cao died six days before you landed in Beijing. Cao, aged 53 (only three years older than you), had been detained for six months after she was kidnapped by the police at the Beijing Airport last September when she was about to board a flight to Geneva for a U.N. workshop; Forty-one-year-old university lecturer Xu is serving a four-year jail term for leading the peaceful New Citizens’ Movement calling on the officials to disclose their personal assets. His two-month-old daughter Niu Niu has not met her daddy — having been born after Xu was thrown into jail. History has been repeating itself in China: my artist father had already been in detention before I was born in the Cultural Revolution, for criticizing Mao Zedong in his personal diaries.

In the speech, you said: “It is so important for information and ideas to flow freely over the Internet and through the media. Because that’s how we discover the truth, that’s how we learn what’s really happening in our communities, in our country and our world.”

I hope you know the truth about China, Tibet, East Turkestan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Southern Mongolia. I voted for your hubby and used to admire you guys for your tenacity and courage. It was my first time to vote in America and I knew it was a precious moment — many Chinese died just for shouting a few slogans in marches for this basic simple right. I was lucky to have survived that massacre in Beijing nearly 25 years ago. 

And now, while you and your daughters are strolling on a completely empty Great Wall that’s usually packed with tourists, you should know many Chinese dissidents have been detained or put under house arrest because of your visit. No wonder Beijing-based activist Hu Jia Tweeted: “(The tour of the Great Wall) was tailor made by the Party for Ms. Michelle. As long as she’s in China, I have to accompany her by being under house arrest (“党为米歇尔女士私人定制的。她只要在中国,我就得陪着软禁”).” 

Rose Tang (唐路) in Tiananmen Square in 1989,  among the last students leaving the Square in the morning of June 4th. She is a journalist living in New York City now.

Rose Tang (唐路) in Tiananmen Square in 1989, among the last students leaving the Square in the morning of June 4th. She is a journalist living in New York City now.

Michelle, you are in China to talk about education and women. You should know how horrible it is for Chinese women to live as women and even as human beings. You’re the wife of a Nobel Peace Prize winner,  you should know Liu Xia, wife of jailed Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, has been under house arrest without access to telephone, the Internet, letters or family visits for more than three years. The poet’s only crime is to be married to Liu Xiaobo. Her apartment, her prison, is about two mile away from that swanky courtyard-style restaurant where you dined with Chinese First Lady Peng Liyuan and posed with her and her doughy-faced President hubby Xi Jinping for photo opps, in your gorgeous dress of red roses. 

Michelle, you’ve been surrounded by beautiful Chinese women with stiff smiles. But you should know how many unlucky ones have been dragged off for forced abortions and sterilizations, and how many died, committing suicide or being tortured to death. Your two daughters are very beautiful, and lucky. You should know how many female Chinese babies have been killed or aborted just because they’re girls, including babies of my friends. You should know many many poor kids, children of migrant workers and peasants do not get to study in a school at all. And you should know how horrible eduction (brainwashing) has been in China — millions of students have been fed poisons and lies, to serve the Party and to hate America. Somehow, they’re flocking to America to study, as you mentioned in your speech. You know why? Sure, American schools and colleges are better, but the main reason is that their parents are sending them to a safer place with a better future, off a sinking ship where air, water and soil are full of toxins. Even the daughter of Chinese president Xi Jinping you just met lives in America and has refused to return.

Michelle, soon you’ll be in my hometown Chengdu swooning over pandas and eating at a Tibetan restaurant. Since when did you become so Chinese, having to send some subtle messages (Tibet?) through eating? Where are your teeth? You should know thousands of Sichuanese kids perished in the horrible earthquakes around Chengdu and near the panda areas in 2008 when their shoddily built classrooms collapsed.  To this day, their parents are still banned to visit the sites to mourn their deaths.

You should know pandas are from Tibet and the Tibetans are “endangered people”, who are not even treated as well as the pandas. And the Tibetan culture and environment have been raped by the Chinese Communist regime. So many Tibetans have burnt themselves to death and so many more are in jail — some are in prisons in Chengdu.

I hope your motorcade will pass through Tianfu (Hall of Heaven) Square where that gigantic ugly Mao statue stands. I hope you aren’t blind or brain-damaged and will see how odd the scenery is.

I hope you’ll remember what you’ve seen in China and will say something one day. President Xi and his propaganda humming bird wife Peng Liyuan wouldn’t give a damn about what you said to them or to anyone else, though she might be jealous of your red dress. You should know that dowdy looking pale awkward lady with a beehive hairdo sang songs of praise to the troops in Tiananmen Square (I believe you’ve been there) shortly after they mowed down unarmed innocent students in June, 1989. Twenty five years on, you can’t even see a single picture of that event on the Chinese Internet.

And I don’t give a damn about what you say or wear. We don’t need you. People in that strange piece of land called China are waking up and rising up…the murderers and their cronies whom you met, toured and dined with will be held accountable.

tang luHappy travels and stay safe — you never know what’s gonna happen in China, because mass violence is a daily ritual there…

Take care.

Sincerely yours,

Rose Tang, a U.S. citizen born and raised in China and a Tiananmen Massacre survivor.




18 responses to “An Open Letter to Michelle Obama”

  1. Wolfgang Trost says:

    wholehearted TKX for Your very appropriate & much needed letter Rose !

  2. Truly said…

  3. Brother Michael J Phillips says:

    Thank you for your honest open Letter
    peace bro michael

  4. jamso says:

    so good

  5. Free Tibet chokdup says:

    Dear Rose, i have never know that such a brave and sincere Chinese girl still exist in your so cruel governed country, i am a Tibetan boy who fled from Tibet when i was 7 and never had the chance to go back again and i am not appreciating your open letter because you mentioned about Tibet in your letter but what I do appreciate is that you have the courage to stand for your country people against those ruthless rulers starting from Mao. I really really appreciate your bravery and also the animals you wrote about, our Tibetan national animal panda is in near to extinction and i thank you for mentioning about Tibet in your letter, thank you and thank you so much and i hope that many more youngsters will stand up with you and against your government

  6. tenzin gyalpo says:

    truth will prevai…

  7. Jamga says:

    wow so direct, genuine and powerful. Thank you Ms. Tang.

  8. xxy52891 says:

    “Even the daughter of Chinese president Xi Jinping you just met lives in America and has refused to return.”

    I hadn’t heard this before – is there any more information available about this, or confirmation? (I mean about refusing to return, not about studying in the US.)

  9. Giangio says:

    TASHI DELEK , Rose !!! We all should stop visiting China for touristic purpose (I know many people happy to “keep in contact with the millenary culture and traditions” of that country … it’s all true, but where is THAT culture ?). But how strong is the economical power of the actual Chinese establishment, and how deeply it influences the Western countries? … Resist!” resist! resist! Rose, women and men like you are many people’s only hope … From Italy …

  10. .ngawang samdup says:

    Thanks for your open letter and courage to support justice.

  11. tenxin namgyal says:

    thanx for ur fact writing,i really feel touched by ur strong comment.many many thanx

  12. Tashi Nangsetsang - Toronto Canada says:

    Thank You so very much Rose Tang for your courage, strength and hope. Sometimes in life it is easier to do what’s expected of you than to do the right thing. Not only did you do the right thing and stood up for justice and democracy, I feel most importantly you did what felt right in your heart. That right to do what you feel in your heart should be a right of every human being on this great earth. I mean this in a sensible and realistic way. I am proud to call you my Chinese sister and can only imagine what you must of felt and have seen that fateful day in Tienanmen Square. I need to say “Thank You” for speaking up on behalf of the Tibetan people. The Tibetan struggle is nearing 60 years now. Every new breath of fresh air that is given to our struggle, is greatly appreciated and will never be forgotten. I have some “Lhung-Ta” or “Wind Horse” prayer flags blowing in the wind in my back yard. Hope they reach you and all your loved ones with good health and happiness.
    From my family to yours…

  13. kay says:

    your letter made me weep. you are so inspirational and wise with no appearance of bitterness. it makes my sufferings so small. i hope my daughters hear you. God bless you.

  14. […] didn’t hear much from US First Lady, Michelle Obama during her last trip to China, and her lack of calling out China for detaining political dissidents who spoke out their mind. Now, I’m not advocating for Michelle Obama to act like Hillary Clinton, when she was first […]

  15. Brian Smith says:

    Great letter….So difficult to think of which government will have the guts to stand up to the Chinese Communist Party instead of making false gestures of approval of their actions in order to obtain trade facilities. Comparisons with Nazi Germany are tempting but do not reveal the full extent of Chinese atrocities. One can only hope that right thinking peoples of the entire world, not just those directly affected in the region, will continue to oppose the oppression in all its forms.

  16. Brian Smith says:

    What does that mean – “Awaiting moderation?” If you are not going to print my reply exactly as written – don’t bother!!!!

    • China Change says:

      Dear Brian, thank you for your comment. Our site receives a lot of spam comments like many other popular sites do. To keep them out, we have to “moderate” incoming comments to keep the site clean so readers can have a good experience. Thanks for your patience. – The Editor

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