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Criticizing Everything – An interview with Chinese satirist Crazy Crab of Hexie Farm

It’s not surprising that China lacks a forum for cutting political cartoons, but one artist is challenging the Party’s dominance with pigs and ducks. Crazy Crab’s satirical cartoons on China, which he posts on his site Hexie farm, show the absurd nature of China’s one-party dictatorship and its efforts to silence discussion. He is probably best known for his work on the Chen Guangcheng dark glasses portrait campaign, and his series on China Digital Times.

Tom: How would you describe yourself and your work?

Crazy Crab: I’m an anonymous cartoonist who doesn’t know how to tell a joke.

I started to draw Hexie Farm in late 2009. It’s a series of political cartoons depicting a ‘great, glorious and correct’ era of ‘harmony’.

Were you always interested in politics or was there an event that changed how you view things?

No, I don’t like politics, especially the politics in China. I have been trying to evade it for a long time. I was only an engineer before I started to draw.

There were two events in late 2009 that made me start drawing political cartoons: One was Feng Zhenghu being refused entry to China, the other was the self-immolation of Tang Fuzhen. At that time, I could not find a Chinese cartoon relating to those two events. So I thought maybe I could try it. So I did it.

What do you hope to accomplish with your art?

There are lots of cartoonists in China. However, real political satires are still rare. No cartoonist dares to challenge the One-Party dictatorship and question the political system. I hope my cartoons could make a change.

Do you have a favorite cartoon and can you describe what was the motivation behind its creation?

I like some simple cartoons, for example, this cartoon I drew last year.

The standing committee had had a friendly and harmonious atmosphere, until discussion of the next generation of leadership started

It predicted that some events would happen in the future.  And it did happen, for instance the recent removal of Bo Xilai and the Wang Lijun incident.

The other one, is simply a truth that most people haven’t noticed yet.

For months you dedicated cartoons to the plight of Chen Guangcheng, and headed up the dark glasses campaign to raise awareness and show support. How did you feel when you heard that Chen had escaped from Linyi?

I just couldn’t believe that Chen Guangcheng escaped at that moment. Yes, I couldn’t help but burst into tears like a child when I found it was true.

Now that Chen is in the US, what cause will you shine your spotlight on next?

I don’t know. Chen is free now, however there are still many other people similar to him, for instance Feng Zhenghu and Liu Xia. They are also under illegal house arrest without any reason. Due to censorship, lots of similar stories, especially if they are common people, can’t even be known.

I don’t know what the next one will be. I hope it will be a funny one. At present, I’m just working on cartooning.

Activists and Dissidents are often labeled as anti-China and are accused of being funded by nefarious foreign forces. Are you anti-China? Do you receive funding from the US state department?

I’m anti-dictatorship, is it anti-China? I know some activists and dissidents who clearly say that they are not against the government, but just want to seek justice or defend their property.

No, I don’t have any funding. But I would like to try. Is there any funding I can apply for? (I’m not joking :))

When you first started posting your comics online, were you worried about the repercussions? Was there a specific one that made you more nervous than others to put up?

Yes, I worried a lot even before I started. My first question was: “Am I crazy enough to draw such political satire for nothing but a nightmare?” This question always bothers me. I don’t have an answer yet.

There are lots of cartoons that make me nervous (It’s unfair, because some of them make the audience laugh loudly). For example, some cartoons about Chairman Mao. But the cartoons that caused me the most sleepless nights are eight cartoons about Tibet. It might be the first Chinese cartoons, by a Han person, standing up for Tibet’s right to be free from religious repression.

Would you describe your battles with censorship and the absurd system as work or play?

It’s not play. Nobody wants to play with the security police. It’s not funny. It’s not a job either. Although I really want to take cartooning as a serious work, it’s very hard to find a place to publish these cartoons. There are only a handful media outlets that can publish this kind of cartoons. Some use them without paying and they take this for granted.

To me, I’m drawing these cartoons just because I want to see how far I can go with my pen.

What do you hope for China?

I hope China will be a country where people have rights to vote, a country where everyone can speak out without fear, and a country where political cartoonists can make a better living by criticizing everything 🙂

Special Offer: For the very first time Crazy Crab is making his art available for sale! If you are interested in buying signed prints of his cutting cartoons you can contact him on Twitter at @hexiefarm, or on Google+ at 蟹农场 (you can choose from anything featured on his site). Prints are usually $25+shipping, but for his first few customers he’s offering a 50% discount. So support a dissident artist and get some pretty great art at the same time.

The Other China

By Yaxue Cao, published: June 1, 2012

 

When I last visited China in 2004, I did what a visiting overseas Chinese typically does: spending time with family and friends, sightseeing, and enjoying the food. In Beijing I felt like a time traveler arriving at a future time from a quiet, immobile past. I hardly recognized the city at all. When my brother drove me from Beijing to Shanxi on sparkling highways that stretched down the endless great middle plain and then through the mountains of Taihang (太行山), tunnel after tunnel, I had to remind myself that these were the same mountains I used to gaze at from the train and observe a rock or a hut basking in the lazy afternoon light. In my hometown, I had become a complete stranger too, and had to ask directions to find my high school.

The excitement about the 2008 Olympics was already in the air. A college friend in Beijing showed me the site of the future Olympic Forest Park, an expansive dirt surface out below her apartment windows. “Are you coming back for it?” She asked me. “Beijing will be so much prettier because of it.”

The 2008 Olympics was a grand showcase of China, and for the rest of the world that had had thus far not much of an idea of what China was like, the event set the tone.

Even though I had been on and off writing about China in the form of short stories, travelogues and memoirs, I sort of wrote off current China as something I don’t know and can’t write about, and limited my subject to the time I lived there.

Last fall though, soon after I started contributing to this blog, I opened a Weibo account to try to update myself (China’s Twitter-like social media while Twitter is blocked by the Great Fire Wall of China). I was dumbfounded to see one avatar after another with Chen Guangcheng’s picture. Up to that point, I had only a vague idea who Chen Guangcheng was, what had happened to him, and my most vivid impression was a photo from the New York Times of a man, against the backdrop of the countryside and a blue sky, brandishing a broom at, presumably, journalists trying to visit Chen.

On Weibo, Netizens were making rendezvous to visit Chen—not expecting to really see him but to campaign for his freedom. Those who came back recounted how they were beaten, robbed and thrown out. Well-known intellectuals, artists and journalists were on video condemning the persecution of Chen and demanding his immediate release from brutal house arrest. Chen Guangcheng-related posts covered my screen, page after page after page.

For me, this was something ten times more exciting than the opening ceremony of the Olympics. While I was nauseated by the grand, all-too-familiar sameness of the latter in the end, the online rally in support of Chen Guangcheng straightened me up with a complete otherness, something completely new!

Since then, I have learned more about this other China, and I am still learning something new every day.

Let me set my frame, say, on 2004, the year I last visited. When I was frowning at the blackened shirt at the end of the day in Beijing, wondering on my way to Shanxi what it was like behind the poplar trees lining the highways, and later recording my uneasy, 10,000-yuan banquet with a millionaire in a piece of writing entitled Hometown, I had no idea that……

In the same year, rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng (高智晟) represented plaintiffs in four cases: The first one had to do with forced demolition, and he lost.  With the second one, also a forced demolition case, he didn’t even succeed in filing it. The third one involved the state forcefully appropriating private oil rigs in Shaanxi province using police and armed police. It ended with the lead lawyer of the legal team (not Gao) being arrested for “disrupting social order” and clients suffering crippling debt from lost property.

Later that year, he would represent a Falun Gong practitioner against forced labor. No court would take the case, and he was told “the court belongs to the Communist Party, the laws are made by the Party. No Falun Gong cases shall be filed, because the Party says so.” Helpless, he wrote to the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress appealing for judiciary independence and the rule of law.

He went on writing more letters and staging more protests. He would be kidnapped, disappeared, tortured in the most unimaginable manners and imprisoned. He is currently serving time in the remote Shaya (沙雅) prison in Xinjiang (新疆).

In 2004, Chen Guangcheng, a blind man from a village in Shandong, filed a lawsuit against the Beijing subway authority for violating regulations that allow disabled individuals free transportation. He won the case, and was cheered on by the media. He was among the first people in China who made the cross from defending consumer rights (e.g. from fake products) to defending basic human rights.

Like Gao Zhisheng, he insisted on the law being respected and observed.

But his victorious rights defending career took a turn for worse when he started helping defend villagers against brutal abortion and sterilization in the following year. He would be kidnapped, tortured, imprisoned, illegally detained in his own home until his recent, improbable escape. He has been denigrated as a “pawn for anti-China forces overseas.”

Between then and now, there have been the cases of Deng Yujiao (邓玉娇), Yang Jia (杨佳), who both killed gov’t officials; on the internet, Chinese citizens voiced their support vigorously for those who “committed crimes” to defend their dignity. There was the Wenchuan (汶川) earthquake, Tan Zuoren (谭作人) and Ai Weiwei. There was 08 Charter, and there was Shouwang (守望) Church. Last year Wukan (乌坎) captured the attention of the world.

There have been campaigns to end hukou apartheid and campaigns for safe food and campaigns for a cleaner environment. Independent candidates tried to compete to become people’s representatives despite intimidation and enormous odds. There have been more and more protests each year, tens of thousands of them, against land grabs, unfair working conditions, corruption, and all sorts of other social ills.

I was asked the other day whether there is a “movement” in China. I took the question to someone who I believe can answer better, but writing for a “foreign blog” can be a risk for this writer as it can lead to fresh accusations by the security police. Poorly equipped to answer such a question, I don’t think there is an organized movement due to severe suppression, but it seems to me and to many observers that things are moving (I have contacted an outspoken dissident, who is now working on a more detailed post on the subject). Voices from the educated class are urging for transitioning to a democratic, constitutional China; while people from the bottom of the society are increasingly demanding for “an explanation” of the injustice inflicted on them. Together they are the other China, a China that insists on fairness, reason and justice.

On May 29, Dr. Xu Zhiyong (许志永), founder of Open Constitution Initiative in Beijing that has been repeatedly shut down, posted a blog post titled China’s New Civil Movement. “China needs a new civil movement,” he begins. “…The aims of the new civic movement are a free China with democracy and the rule of law, a civil society of justice and happiness, and a new national spirit of freedom, fairness and love.”

Meanwhile, as June 4th (anniversary of Tian’anmen Square) approaches, the authorities are once again taking “sensitive people” out of Beijing and setting up police posts to watch more. On Twitter, over the last few days, reports of being summoned by police for “tea” keep rolling in.

 

A train, a fight, and Chen Guangcheng

I arrived in Beijing late on the high speed train from Nanjing a few days ago. In Nanjing we were whisked to the South train station on a relatively new subway, walked into the massive new transportation hub (it brought back memories of the Three Gorges Dam), and arrived roughly a thousand miles away in just 3 and half hours*. It was everything that China appears to be in Thomas Friedman’s accounts, and even as skeptical as I can be at times about China’s progress, it was hard to contain my sense of awe. For a moment I forgot about the pollution that had limited my view the entire journey and the massive cost of the projects and enjoyed China’s glorious achievements (but just for a moment).

Then I stepped through some kind of portal that seems to exist somewhere between Beijing subway line 4 and line 2, from the rapidly modernizing to the rapidly deteriorating construction of prior decades. It was one of the most striking reminders of Beijing’s progress in the last decade that I experienced during my trip. Line 2’s drab station prepared me for stepping out into the rain and walking to the hotel I was staying at, which seems to have somehow escaped the bulldozers that have reclaimed so many of Beijing’s ugly 90’s era buildings.

The scene in the lobby seemed like something out of a bad Chinese comedy. A man wearing a suit and hotel slippers shuffled by, his slacks rolled up to his knees. Another man who had just been scolded for smoking, dropped the butt on the floor and smashed it under his foot. A drunk man, who also happened to be smoking just barely managed to catch the ledge of the front desk as he stumbled through the door. Nobody bothered to tell this man that there was no smoking in the lobby. The main attraction however was the couple in the throws of a heated argument with the hotel manager.

The man claimed that he had booked a room online and had already paid for it while the hotel manager calmly repeated that there was no record of his booking and that he had never heard of that website. The angry man was brandishing his wallet like a dagger as he pounded his fist on the counter. “When you get off work, I’m going to kill you!” he screamed. The manager seemed accustomed to such threats, and the growing audience snickered as the man’s rage built.

Suddenly, the man’s wife slapped the wallet out of his hand and scolded him for being so easily tricked online. To me it looked as if the man was close to suffering a mortal blow to his reputation. As in most situations in China when face is lost, instead of retreating the man doubled down on his threats against the manager in the hope that he may yet be victorious. I was worried that the man was very close to making good on what had previously seemed like hollow threats. As he worked himself up, the manager slipped back into his office. The man was quick to claim this as a victory and then assented to paying for a night in a discounted room.

My point today may not be immediately obvious, but I think these two experiences are key to this week’s political discussion over Chen Guangcheng’s future. One being that China is keen to be viewed as a “modern” nation – this means that the pretense of rule of law will be one of the main points of any negotiation and that it is highly unlikely that the Central Gov’t will acknowledge that Chen was being held illegally. Secondly, that if threatened with a loss of face on a global scale, China may begin to behave like the man in the lobby, drumming up empty threats and jabbing at the US with its wallet.

For these two reasons, I think that the current tone of the Obama administration is probably for the best. The US could come in trumpeting the value of human rights and leave empty handed, or they can arrive and quietly deal with Chen’s case in a way that saves face. Neither of these options are particularly satisfying, but it is unrealistic to hope for much more. Leaving with less would be a political disaster for Obama in an election year that has already begun to focus on US-China relations. Speculation of the deal being presented as Chen leaving for the US for medical treatment seems the most likely outcome, especially given that Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer left on similar terms in 2005.

*On the train I just happened to be seated next to a young woman from Linyi. I was going to ask her whether or not she knew of Chen Guangcheng’s imprisonment in that city, but backed out when she mentioned that her parents were gov’t officials. Now I really wish I had.

The escape of Chen Guangcheng is not a victory

Last week Chen Guangcheng entered a US embassy for the protection that the Chinese gov’t had failed to provide the innocent man. According to Chen’s friends, it was a step that Chen did not want to take. Today we will be looking at three lessons Chen’s case teaches us about China’s legal system.

Chen as a free man in Beijing with activist Hu Jia

Chen Guangcheng would never call himself a dissident; he might hesitate to even describe himself as an activist. The incredible thing that we should keep in mind as representatives from the US and China decide Chen’s fate, is that he is a man who simply thought that the laws on paper should be enforced. Chen’s initial fame came from his efforts to protect the rights of the disabled and he fell afoul of the system when he sought to stop forced abortions which were beyond what the one-child policy called for (Yaxue’s profile of Chen back in November covered this in-depth). His case, even more so than Bo Xilai’s, demonstrates that China absolutely is not a country ruled by law.

When my wife mentioned this case to a few of her students, they were baffled that such a case could even exist. Surely, they thought, this was another instance of local governments acting out and the Central gov’t simply is unaware of the abuse. However as we have discussed before, the Central gov’t has been aware of Chen’s illegal detention for at least half a year. Also, Ge Xun’s extra-legal detention in February showed that silencing the story of Chen Guangcheng was a national priority that involved the upper levels of government. Chen’s escape illuminates the fact that the supposedly benevolent Central Gov’t was unwilling to protect the rights of the individual when it did not benefit the Party line. I know that this is in no way surprising to most of my readers, but to many of my Chinese friends who are not as involved in politics, it will be shocking.

Chen’s case highlights another interesting aspect that we should bear in mind, that Chen’s detention was only made possible by the involvement of hundreds of villagers turned thugs. I don’t believe these are bad people, I think they are poor and desperate people who saw an opportunity to escape poverty. In China, censorship, black-jails, and forced demolitions all rely on the participation of individuals in despicable acts. As China raises the standards of living I believe it will become more difficult to attract the number of people necessary to impose such plans (or at the very least, cost prohibitive).

Finally, it should be noted that Chen’s case is in no way a victory.

A victory would require some kind of reform or future promise offered to those who are trying simply to enjoy the protections enshrined in the laws of the People’s Republic of China. A victory would have been the Central Gov’t stepping in and stopping the abuses in Linyi instead of supporting them by cracking down on activists in other provinces. A victory would have been an acknowledgement of Chen’s case and a public denunciation of the practice (similar to what happened in Wukan). A victory would have been the removal of those who imprisoned Chen (they continue to enjoy the privileges of Party rank). There has been no victory yet, and it is doubtful there will be one as a result of Chen’s case.

After 5+ years of waiting, I think it is safe to say that Chen is a patient man, and yet he knew that at this point, escape was his only option for freedom. That Chinese law offered him no protection. This must have been a heart rending decision for a man who lost so much for his dedication to upholding the law. China is no closer to securing the rights of its people, which is what Chen was fighting for in 2006 when he was thrown in prison under false accusations (the China Daily account from that time is preposterous). Chen’s escape simply means that one less person is suffering from extra-legal detention, but does nothing to prevent it happening to others. I hope now that Chen has escaped his home turned prison, those who worked for his freedom will now take up his original cause.

Christian Bale visited Linyi – Does foreign pressure mean anything to the Chinese gov’t?

As a China blogger, it’s a pretty big week, open rebellion in Wukan has attracted a flock of journalist, and then Hollywood star Christian Bale/Batman attempted to visit blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng. The big question floating around at the moment is does foreign pressure mean anything to China?

Before I address that question I would first like to point out that Christian Bale has created one heck of a dilemma for China’s censors. The media gears have been spinning wildly to promote his new film, The Flowers of War, which opens today in China. I passed Mr. Bale’s image at least 4-5 times just on my way to work this morning. How are they going to block discussion of his trip to Linyi without limiting the reach of what has been called a propaganda film?

The film has been criticized overseas already for portraying the Japanese soldiers as monochrome monsters, and I am worried that the film will be fraught with historical inaccuracies (the Rape of Nanking is something I have spent a considerable amount of time researching). He also hasn’t given the most impressive answers to questions asked about the film.

That being said, his trip to Linyi is nonetheless heroic. The video of him being chased out of the village has refocused the spotlight on Linyi, at a moment when efforts from Chinese activists were waning. Both Yaxue and myself were overwhelmed upon hearing that a prominent westerner finally made the trip, knowing in advance what the result would be. I’m sure many other Chinese were moved by this as well.

So will Bale’s visit to Linyi and the media gathering in Wukan help or hurt the situation?

Many observers worry that foreign coverage will allow the Party to label these incidents the result of foreign involvement, but there is a growing gap between what the gov’t says and what the people believe (as evidenced by the air monitoring debate in Beijing). Claims of “foreign involvement” have already been made in both places, and have been soundly rejected by Chinese activists. In one case, a prominent commentator claimed that Chen had been funded by foreign forces and was met with a lengthy confrontation by a young woman wearing sunglasses, a symbol of Chen’s supporters, demanding proof that he couldn’t provide. The video spread quickly across Chinese forums.

In Wukan, foreign journalists are reporting that the villagers are very much aware of the danger that comes with communicating these problems beyond China’s borders, but they feel it’s the only way to get China’s gov’t to act. One journalist, Tom Lasseter, tried to buy toothpaste from one of the shops in Wukan, but the manager wouldn’t accept his money and thanked him for being present. In both places, Chinese villagers/activists have sought foreign attention.

In the situation of Wukan the villagers still firmly believe that the central gov’t will help rescue them from the clutches of the corrupt local officials. Activists in the Chen Guangcheng case continue to press the fact that his detention is illegal, and hope that the central gov’t will push the local gov’t to set Chen and his family free.

Both cases rely on action from the Central gov’t, which prefers to plead ignorance about problems caused by local gov’ts. Foreign media coverage will very likely force some kind of resolution, whether or not that is a positive is impossible to know.

This brings us to another one of the big problems with this question: it assumes China and its people are one homogeneous mass. Within China there are currently two factions competing for future control of the Party. One seeks to further liberalize the economy and promotes grass root efforts; the other urges the Party to reassert itself as the sole power.

While this blog often focuses on the activities of China’s netizens that are pushing for reform, it is important to remember that China’s internet is also home to a large group of Nationalists who would urge the Party not to appear weak in front of foreign cameras (remember what happened in a certain square in ’89).

The central government’s reaction to either of these situations could signal China’s future direction, and the Party prefers to communicate through drastic measures. A shift towards liberalization and democracy, might be shown with investigations into local officials, demotions and possibly executions. A shift back to centralized power could include investigations of local “agitators”, as well as lengthy jail terms and possibly executions.

There is also a third group to consider, perhaps the largest, that is indifferent when it comes to these issues; the side that doesn’t want to discuss “unhappy things” as a co-worker calls them. This group shrinks each time something happens in a place that reminds them of their hometown.

Ge Xun, an activist involved with Chen’s case, told me, “In my view all publicity will help. I am one who believes in openness (no face saving backroom deals), and that freedom is something that people are born with, it is not given or granted. No one can regain their freedom once it has been taken away by begging, it must be fought for.” Today that fight involves a man and his family in Linyi, and a village of farmers and fishermen in Wukan, struggling to regain what has been taken from them. Whether the Central gov’t decides to side with the people or the corrupt officials, we will be watching.

Who is Chen Guangchen – From a Small Prison to a Big One

By Yaxue Cao

…Continued from earlier posts, this is part 3. Part 1, Part 2

From a Small Prison to a Big One

Chen Guangcheng was released on September 9, 2010, and has been under illegal house arrest since then. His home is monitored by multiple cameras, floodlit 24 hours a day, and all communications with the outside world are severed. Close to a hundred men guard his home and are present on every road leading to his village, intercepting, beating, robbing, and humiliating visitors.

After a video of him was smuggled out and shown to the world, he and his family were beaten. In a letter smuggled out later to seek help, his wife described how Zhang Jian (张建), the Deputy Party Secretary of Shuanghou Township, and about 70-80 national security officers raided their home and beat the couple severely, how they searched the premise and took away their computer, video recorder, tapes, chargers, flashlight and more. Later on, their windows were covered with metal sheets, and more objects were seized including Chen Guangcheng’s cane, paper and pens. Their daughter was not allowed to leave the house, and her books and toys were removed too. Three people followed Chen’s mother wherever she went. Mostly worryingly, Chen Guangcheng’s health was deteriorating from gastrointestinal bleeding.

Yuan Weijing’s Letter (click to enlarge)

In late July, Chen Guangcheng succeeded in calling a friend in Beijing on a stormy day when the mobile phone block failed. He and his wife were again severely beaten.

The efforts to free Chen Guangcheng started as soon as he was released from prison when a trickle of friends and netizens tried to visit him without success. Recently, the trickle has become a stream, widely reported and closely watched by many.

Who Are They? Where Does the Order Come from?

Who are Chen Guangcheng’s persecutors anyway? We know there was Li Qun (李群), the Party Secretary of Linyi who has since been promoted to Party Secretary of Qingdao, a much bigger and more important city, and a member of the Standing Committee of Shandong Provincial Party Committee.

Li Qun

There was Liu Jie (刘杰), the head of Linyi Public Security Bureau and scores of other officials and officers from the government to the court to the township.

Why are so many people in China willing to defy the law to carry out orders from their superiors? Where else on earth is power so unchecked, so ugly, that hundreds of thousands of people are subjected, in such a blithe way, to unbearable suffering for the interest of a mere few?

For the audience of this blog, it is particularly interesting to note that Li Qun was an assistant to the mayor of New Haven, Connecticut for three months after studying in the MPA program in the University of New Haven, in the early 2000s, through Shandong province’s cadre overseas training program. He was so proud of that three months that he wrote and published a book entitled “I Was an Assistant to an American Mayor” (《我在美国当市长助理》, Xinhua Press, 2004).

Since Chen Guangcheng’s case has become an international affair, it is clear that what has happened and is still happening in Linyi has the backing of Beijing. Where does the order come from? Why are they so afraid of this blind man?

Place of Origin

Chen Guangcheng hails from a very special place. As Li Chengpeng (李承鹏), a renowned online commentator reminded us, a mere 170 kilometers northwest of Linyi is the home of Confucius who tirelessly preached “benevolent governance.” Even closer to him once lived Jiang Tai Gong (姜太公) and Mengzi (孟子) who advised the rulers to always put people and their communities first so as to nourish peace for everyone.

Jiang Tai Gong (姜太公)

With affection, his friend Teng Biao (滕彪) described Chen’s warm, confident voice, his sensibility to others’ pain, and how he directed their car, followed by officers, “insouciantly” through the streets to eventually get rid of their pursuers.

The sages would have been proud of Chen Guangcheng. Indeed, he, like them, represents the best of China.

A very short distance from Chen Guangcheng’s village was a place called Meng Liang Gu (孟良崮), where in 1947, the Communist Army fought and defeated the Nationalist Army and moved another step closer to the new China they envisioned. Linyi area was one of the oldest bases of the Communist Party before 1949 where people supported and made sacrifices for the communist cause.

What do they get?

A display in Meng Liang Gu Battle Memorial in Linyi depicting people of Yimeng Mountains supporting the war effort.

“To toll the bell,” someone commented online, “sometimes a blind man will do.”

(Sources for this article: Writings by Teng Biao (滕彪), Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), Guo Yushan (郭玉闪), Zhai Minglei (翟明磊) and others. I apologize for not documenting the sources professionally as I should. )

 Take Action:  Front Line Defenders offers an easy way for you to support Chen and his family, it just takes a minute to send the form letter to your ambassador asking them to press for Chen’s freedom.

Activist Ge Xun, who runs a website supporting Chen, told Tom that he believes the only hope for Chen Guangcheng is continued domestic and international pressure. The action on the ground must be taken by Chinese people, but they are bolstered in their efforts knowing that there are friends overseas who will advocate on their behalf if they too are wrongfully imprisoned.