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Chang Ping Responds to Police Demands, Relayed Through Captive Brother

By Chang Ping, March 28, 2016


Around noon on March 28, Beijing Time, police in my hometown Duofu Township, Xichong County, Sichuan province (四川省西充县多扶镇派出所, telephone: 0086 817 4561065), released one of my brothers Zhang Wei (张伟), telling him that, if he succeeds in contacting me, he should pass on three demands by the police and, in return, the police would release Zhang Xiong (张雄), my other brother.

After lunch in my parents’ home, Zhang Wei managed to get in touch with me. Before that point, police had repeatedly asked my two detained brothers to contact me but, they didn’t have a means of doing so. [During my exchange with Zhang Wei], I told him that I did not believe the police’s promise, but he loudly went on to relate their message. It was clear that our exchange was being recorded.

The Chinese police made three demands:

  1. Delete the news I posted online, because the police “didn’t kidnap my relatives”;
  2. Confirm that I was indeed the author of “Jia Jia Was Disappeared for the Crime of Seeing,” and withdraw it from Deutsche Welle;
  3. Cease to publish any articles, or make any comments, criticizing the Chinese government.

I told Zhang Wei that:

  1. The police are kidnapping my brothers when they detain them for over 20 hours without any legal warrant. Even if I was wrong in characterizing the event, it had nothing to do with my brothers, and it’s illegal for the police to punish them by association;
  2. I’m indeed the author of that article, but DW will not withdraw an article just because police in China demand it, not to mention that this is an utterly ridiculous and rude demand;
  3. Whatever I do has nothing to do with my brothers, and the police should have a perfect understanding of this legal concept.

Zhang Wei kept interrupting my speech to prevent me from explaining myself in full. Finally, I promised that I would delete one post on WeChat. After that he took the recorder to the police station to get my other brother.

Domestic Security police were waiting for him in the police station, where they took my brother away immediately.

The reason the police station gave for detaining my family was that when they went to sweep the ancestral tombs, their firecrackers happened to burn some of the plants and vegetation in the vicinity.  But this “offense” clearly has nothing to do with the domestic security police [whose job is to safeguard the political security of the regime]. After they were detained, the interrogation was mostly about me and my work. Given that the case was handled by Domestic Security, it’s clear that it’s a political case.

Actually, from the beginning this was a case of political persecution. After they found that my brother had contact with me, they immediately dropped the pretense.

I deleted the WeChat post as I promised to my brother, but he kept writing me emails telling me that I didn’t delete, and he also said that I must publish a statement erasing the impact of my previous statements and comments.  

Perhaps he really didn’t know that the police were deceiving him from the beginning. Or what is perhaps more likely is that he was under police control, and every message he wrote was under police commands.

As I see it, from Party Central media to local police stations, all of them have learned to manipulate their hostages and put on puppet shows. My younger brother has become another Lee Bo of Hong Kong. Look at one of his recent emails. Don’t the police think this sort of performance is extremely clumsy?

Screenshot of Chang Ping's brother's email.

Screenshot of Chang Ping’s brother’s email. Click to enlarge.

“Brother: don’t misunderstand the situation. The police are investigating us according to the law. Please don’t write another article, and please delete those you’ve already written. Their manner of processing the case is normal and correct. It’s you who has misunderstood them. Look: Originally I was asked to go to the police station in the morning to answer questions, but it was our father’s 70th birthday, so they allowed me to go at 1pm. Later you spoke irresponsibly and claimed that we’d been abducted, causing me and our brother to still be held at the station. Only if you delete your article saying we’ve been abducted will they let us go!”

I now state again that:  

1) I am blocking the email address of Zhang Wei, and I won’t see any more emails from him; my family members and relatives have no other way of contacting me, and I won’t have any more contact with them for a long time, or perhaps forever;  

2) China’s law itself opposes guilt by association. The articles I’ve written have absolutely no relationship with my parents, brothers, or sisters, just like their letting off firecrackers and burning vegetation having nothing to do with me. Police should understand this most basic legal concept;

3) My family members and relatives will continue being brainwashed by the Chinese police, and they’ll think that the misery that’s befallen them is because I don’t care about my family. Some of them have already started cursing me. This will have no bearing on me. Nor do I have any way of making them understand just how despicable and base the CCP is.

4) I will continue to expose everything I know about the vile behavior of the Chinese police and the Chinese government.


Chang Ping

March 28, 2016


长平Chang Ping (长平) is the former chief commentator and news director of Southern Weekend. In January, 2011, he was forced to leave the Southern Media Group, and in late 2011, while working at the now-suspended news weekly iSun Affairs (《阳光时务周刊》) in Hong Kong as the editor-in-chief, he was denied of work permit and forced to live in exile in Germany.




Chang Ping: My Statement About the Open Letter to Xi Jinping Demanding His Resignation, March 27, 2016.

Young Columnist Disappeared in Beijing, Believed to be Related to Open Letter to Xi Jinping, March 16, 2016.


Also by Chang Ping on China Change:

We’d Be Satisfied With Any Government!, October, 2015.

Chinese Students Studying Abroad a New Focus of CCP’s “United Front Work” , June, 2015.

Tiananmen Massacre not a “Passing Lapse” of the Chinese Government, July, 2014.



Chang Ping: My Statement About the Open Letter to Xi Jinping Demanding His Resignation

By Chang Ping, March 27, 2016



On March 27, 2016, my two younger brothers and a younger sister were abducted by the Chinese police, becoming the latest victims in the incident surrounding the open letter demanding Xi Jinping’s resignation.  

Since the reposting of the open letter on a state-controlled website, about 20 Chinese citizens have been disappeared.

On March 19, 2016, I published an article in Deutsche Welle titled “Jia Jia Was Disappeared for the Crime of Seeing,” criticizing these illegal abductions carried out by Chinese authorities. I was also interviewed by Radio France Internationale in which I shared my views on the Communist Party’s ongoing power struggle.

Following my article and interview, my direct family members and numerous relatives in China have been subject to investigation, harassment, and threats. On March 27, during a trip back to my father’s home in Duofu Township, Xichong County, Sichuan province (四川省西充县多扶镇) to celebrate my father’s birthday, my two younger brothers and a younger sister, who are based in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, were taken away by officers from the township police station. The police showed no legal warrant for detaining them. I have not been able to contact my family members directly, but through other sources I’ve learned that the police asked my family to contact me and demand that I immediately cease to publish any articles that criticize the Chinese Communist Party, especially my Deutsche Welle column known as “Chang Ping Observation” (“长平观察”) or the government would find ways to charge my family members.  

I hereby state:

1) All of my family and relatives in China have no understanding of my political beliefs, columns, and the media work I engage in, nor are they in any way related to it. Currently they have no communication with me, therefore they will be unable to meet the unreasonable demand of the police. I’d be in support of them, should they wish to cut off all ties with me at any point.

2) Apart from the above column and interview, I personally have no other connection to the open letter. I didn’t help draft it, I didn’t publicize it, and I only read it after it had already been widely promulgated. It’s just like I said in my column: I don’t get involved in internal Party power struggles, and I’ve no interest in doing so.


Click to enlarge

3) Every citizen has the freedom of speech to engage in comment or criticism of the political activities of state leaders. The Communist Party should immediately stop investigating the people they believe are behind the letter demanding that Xi Jinping resign, and cease the abductions, harassment, and investigations of media personnel, commentators, and netizens, and their family members.

4) I’ve been involved in news reporting and commentary for over 20 years, and I’ve always taken to it in a spirit of professionalism, and with independence and autonomy and the conscience of an intellectual. I’ve always done what I think is right, and have always been willing to accept whatever fate brings as a result of that. The harassment and threats of the authorities allow me to see even more the value of my writings, and encourage me to work harder in future.

5) I strongly condemn the Communist Party’s attempts to interfere with the freedom to publish of Western media like Deutsche Welle and RFI. I call for the international community to speak out against these barbaric kidnappings by Chinese police.


Chang Ping

March 27, 2016


Chang Ping (长平) is the former chief commentator and news director of Southern Weekend. In January, 2011, he was forced to leave the Southern Media Group, and in late 2011, while working at the now-suspended news weekly iSun Affairs (《阳光时务周刊》) in Hong Kong as the editor-in-chief, he was denied of work permit and forced to live in exile in Germany.



Also by Chang Ping on China Change:

We’d Be Satisfied With Any Government!, October, 2015.

Chinese Students Studying Abroad a New Focus of CCP’s “United Front Work” , June, 2015.

Tiananmen Massacre not a “Passing Lapse” of the Chinese Government, July, 2014.



From Tiananmen to Leipzig

By Frank Sieren, published: September 10, 2014


Chances are we will never get to know what really happened 25 years ago in Beijing. But a trace leads from Beijing to the peaceful revolution in the former GDR, says DW-Columnist Frank Sieren.


Just one month after June 4th incident in 1989, a high-ranking East Germany politician traveled to Beijing. His name is Günter Schabowski. At the time he was an official of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) and a member of the central committee of Eastern Germany´s Politburo, the center of power of the SED. With him he had two orders from Erich Honecker, head of state and party leader: to congratulate the Chinese government for successfully cracking down on the counterrevolutionary movement. brotherly greetings from hardliner to hardliner so to speak.

On top of that Schabowski should “find out what really happened on the Tiananmen Square.” Not that the Politburo in eastern Berlin did not believe that Beijing had taken drastic measures; it didn’t trust the western media and saw them as instruments of propaganda. Schabowski therefore was sent to get an idea for himself about what had happened. Schabowski, son of a plumber, with a diploma in journalism who had risen steadily up the ranks within the SED, wasn‘t the only one in Beijing looking for first-hand information.

Quietly,US President George Bush also sent an envoy, Brent Scowcroft. But his mission was different. He was to assure Beijing that the USA would outwardly show its indignation but behind the scenes work on a fast normalization of the relations. The reason for the American message was simple: At the beginning of the 1970s Mao Zedong and the then US president Richard Nixon had allied against the Soviet Union, and Washington wanted to continue the pact, especially after Michail Gorbachev, the then head of state and the Party of the Soviet Union, had visited Beijing in May as the first USSR leader since the split with China in 1959. The Americans wanted to err on the side of caution, although Gorbachev‘s visit had not been a pleasant one for Beiijing.

Gorbachev: Chinese Leadership Has Lost Control

Because of the protests Gorbachev had to enter the Great Hall of the People through the back door. Instead of supporting the Chinese leadership, Gorbachev kicked Deng Xiaoping in the back.  Assuming the wisdom of a western statesman, he told the Russian news agency Tass at the end of his visit that the Chinese leaders had lost control. This was a huge loss of face for Deng that definitely fuelled his decision to use military force to end the protests.

Erich Honecker, who had been angered by Gorbachev’s reforms for years because they made him look pigheaded, wanted to show his approval of Deng’s decision by sending Schabowski to Beijing. Schabowski met with the newly-installed CCP Secretary General and president of China, Jiang Zemin, who, formerly the party leader of Shanghai, had replaced Zhao Ziyang who had been dismissed for siding with the students.

Confession of Weakness

Jiang explained to his East German comrades that the military had cleared the Tiananmen Square peacefully and it was only in the neighboring streets that things got out of hand, and that about 400 people died when protestors and soldiers confronted each other. Schabowski was surprised that Jiang basically conceded that the bloodshed occurred because the leadership had obviously lost control over the situation. “That was a surprising confession of weakness,” Schabowski later recalled.

He noticed how uneasy the Chinese politicians he met were about the international condemnation after having been celebrated as exemplary reformers for just a decade before. So shocked and shaken was Jiang Zemin by the bloodshed of his own people that Schabowski refrained from relaying Honecker’s congratulations for “successfully cracking down on the counterrevolutionary movement,” Schabowski recalled. Jiang did not speak of the protesters as counterrevolutionary forces but only as confused students. From Jiang’s remarks, the visitor from East Germany neither confirmed the rumored news of a “massacre” in Tiananmen Square nor heard the assumed position of Beijing, that is, while restoring order,  “unfortunately” there had been some inevitable casualties.

No “Beijing Solution” for Leipzig

Jiang’s tone had consequences for the German-German unification process that shouldn’t be underestimated, because a mere five months later the SED-Politburo had to decide whether it should bring in tanks against the protestors in Leipzig. Schabowski was of the same opinion as Egon Kgon, the head of the state and the Party, he says looking back, “one of the lessons from the events in Beijing was that we must not use military force against protesting citizens.”

The subdued tone of the Chinese leadership was confirmed by a third party a year later. In 1990, the then former chancellor Helmut Schmidt met with Deng Xiaoping, the first German politician visiting China in the aftermath of 1989. Deng also spoke about the muddle-headed students and he faulted the party’s internal division for the incident. Deng did not leave Schmidt the impression that he would like to do the same thing again. His main concern was how to bring China back to the path of opening up to the world. As a matter of fact: 1989 has remained a one-off in the history of the New China.

A Realistic and Fair View On June 4th Is Possible

Why is this historic episode so important? It shows a picture of June 1989 that is closer to the reality. It helps no one when the west lopsidedly exaggerates the events; it is just as shameful as the silence the Chinese government imposes on the incident of 1989. Both impede consensus, for example, the consensus that it is wrong and short-sighted to jail those who want to discuss the matter, even though a political party doesn’t want to comment on it. But this consensus is rather reached if [China’s] national security can´t claim anymore that it has to stop western exaggerations from agitating its own citizens.

The West has developed an understanding of the law and justice over centuries, and it is based on the onus of proof, which distinguishes between negligence and intent, between a single killer and a serial killer, and in which there is no place for guilt by association.  We should stick to this principle even when we are outraged. It’s not about relativization of events, but about fairness even for those who have acted unfairly and still do so today, because only fairness of this kind gives power to your own values.


DW-Columnist Frank Sieren has been living in Beijing for 20 years.



Tiananmen Massacre not a “Passing Lapse” of the Chinese Government, Chang Ping’s rebuttal to this article by Sieren


(Translated by Florian Godovits. This is the first of three articles by Frank Sieren that China Change has translated from German to English to present the complete picture of the Sieren vs. Chang Ping debate about the Tian’anmen incident and China in general. – The editor)


German original on DW site

Chinese translation on DW site

Tiananmen Massacre not a “Passing Lapse” of the Chinese Government

By Chang Ping, published: July 8, 2014


On June 4, Deutsche Welle published a piece by its China correspondent, Frank Sieren, titled: “From Tiananmen to Leipzig” (German, Chinese translation).  In this article, Mr. Sieren takes an inventive angle on the bloody act which took place twenty five years ago in Beijing. In angry protest, a number of Chinese advocates, including student leaders Wang Dan and Wuer Kaixi, human rights lawyer Teng Biao, and the group Tiananmen Mothers, have issued signed statements. What follows is my attempt to explain what prompted this outcry, and to explore the issues at hand with Mr. Sieren.

Mr. Sieren writes that “We would perhaps never know what happened twenty-five years ago in Beijing,” and that “for those in the West to unilaterally exaggerate the facts in their description of the incident helps no one. To do so would be as shameful as the ongoing silence of the Chinese government about the 1989 incident.” He calls for “a pragmatic and fair assessment of Tiananmen.”

The Chinese Communist Party itself has never denied the fact that the army, doing its bidding, drove tanks onto the Square and streets of the Chinese capital, to butcher peaceful student and citizen demonstrators. Media around the world, including Deutsche Welle and the Party paper People’s Daily, as well as the memoirs of Chinese leaders such as Zhao Ziyang, Li Peng and Chen Xitong, have left us with a vast body of documentary evidence. What is more, Tiananmen Mothers, student leaders and participants are for the most part still alive; over the last quarter-century, they never stopped seeking accountability for these crimes.

Let us be clear on one point: when Chinese advocates call for making the facts of Tiananmen public, it’s not because they “do not know what actually happened.” Rather, they are fighting against the government’s cover-up, distortion and dilution of truth. One of the goals of those responsible for the massacre is keeping the theory that “the truth can never be known” in circulation. This is precisely why each of the last twenty-five summers in China kicked off with a crackdown: a large number of dissidents are rounded up and kept at home or in prison, and censorship keeps such a stranglehold over the Internet that euphemisms,cleverly wrought and thickly veiled allusions, and even the vaguest associations to the massacre are choked off before reaching the digital ether. The expanding economic might of the Chinese government has also persuaded some international media to self-censor in their reporting.

Under those circumstances, it is little wonder that Tiananmen Mothers, banned from mourning their loved ones, or those driven into exile for pursuing the ideals of democracy, or ordinary Chinese who, contending for justice, must live with constant lies and fear, are outraged when they see Tiananmen inaccurately reported by the Western media, and the Chinese government portrayed as wronged, misunderstood, and in need of a champion.

What is especially important to note is how countless Western journalists strove with all the means at their disposal to shed light on what happened. For their pains, they were interfered with, blocked, harassed, threatened, beaten and even jailed. If there be inaccuracy in Western reporting of Tiananmen, by and large it can only be attributed to the news blackout imposed by the Chinese government itself.

What protesters find hardest to swallow is that, on the one hand, Mr. Sieren declares “we may never know what happened,” demanding that in accordance with Western “concepts of law and justice,” observers strive to distinguish between “momentary negligence and deliberate act, individual culpability versus group collusion and, above all, avoid guilt by association;” on the other hand, assuming both omniscience and omnipotence, he sees fit to pronounce the last word on the incident: “Indeed, 1989 is a passing lapse in the history of New China.” (In the German version, this statement was deleted after the article was first published, but remains in the Chinese version.)

Such statements exhibit sheer ignorance of contemporary Chinese history. From the Anti-rightist Campaign, the Cultural Revolution, to the Tiananmen massacre and today’s “stability maintenance,” or rule by secret police, Chinese Communist rule been both consistent and continuous. Even Xi Jinping, the new President, emphasizes that in no way can the first and last thirty years of the Party’s performance “be cut off from each other or set up as opposites”; no disavowal of what the Party ever did will be allowed. During this reign, man-made catastrophes never stopped, where even official records show that tens of millions died by violence. Not a single one of these disasters can be termed “a passing lapse.” Rather, they are the inevitable outcome of unfettered autocratic power and the consistent practice of quashing all opposition. The Tiananmen massacre is but one instance of this take-no-prisoners approach. Taking a page from the CCP’s verdict of the Cultural Revolution as “Mao’s error in his twilight years” and pegging Tiananmen as “a passing lapse in the history of New China” may be ingenious, but frankly is rather dated as far as tropes go.

Mr. Sieren, in quoting from East German official Zubovsky’s memoir, paints both Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin as distraught and decisively penitent over their “passing lapse.” Zubovsky recalls that “I was shocked by (Jiang’s) admission of the weakness in the leadership…Jiang never called the demonstrators counterrevolutionaries, but rather misguided students.” He also quotes former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, self-declared close friend of Deng’s who defended the Party’s Tiananmen decisions several times, as saying that “Deng never gave Schdmit the impression he would make the same mistake again. His overriding concern was how to return China to the path of opening up to the world.” This assertion does not sit well with the fact that the Chinese government never let up its brutal treatment of dissidents.

Not only did he distort China’s history, Mr. Sieren also aired some exceptional views on German reunification. To me, it is undeniable that Tiananmen shocked the world and helped to dispel illusions the people of East Germany may have entertained toward their Communist dictators. The students and ordinary citizens in China made a significant contribution to the changes which transformed the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, ending the Cold War’s global threat. However, according to Mr. Sieren, peaceful reunification was mostly dependent on the attitude of East German and Chinese leaders, highlighting that “the effect of Jiang’s tone on German reunification cannot be underestimated.” In my opinion, this is grossly unfair to the East Germans who fought to the end and at great risk to their lives.


Chang Ping. Photo from DW site.

Chang Ping. Photo from DW site.

Chang Ping (长平), former chief commentator and news director of Southern Weekend. In April, 2008, Chang Ping was removed from his positions for the article Tibet: Truth and Nationalist Sentiments, published in the Financial Times Chinese edition. In August, 2010, ordered by the CCP Propaganda Department, the Southern Media Group banned his writings from the Southern Metropolis Daily and Southern Weekend, and the ban soon became nation-wide. Websites were ordered to take down everything written by Chang Ping. In January, 2011, he was asked to leave the Southern Media Group. He then worked in Hong Kong as the editor in chief of iSun Affairs (《阳光时务周刊》) until the authorities denied him a work visa out of pressure from the Chinese government. He lives in Germany now and is a current affairs commentator for South China Morning Post.


(Translated by Louisa Chiang)

Chinese original