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Liao Yiwu, translated by Michael Martin Day, March 4, 2019 On December 9th, 2018, on the eve of International Human Rights Day, in my hometown of Chengdu, Sichuan, the most influential house church in China today, the Early Rain Covenant Church, was raided by the police and banned, and more than 100 believers were taken away. The chapel, seminary, and other church property funded by the congregants were seized and the property was immediately and illegally occupied, becoming the government office hall of the Double Eyes Well Community. The founders of the church, the husband-and-wife pair of Wang Yi (王怡) and Jiang Rong (蒋蓉), were both accused of “inciting subversion of state power”, arrested and have gone missing until this day, leaving their ten-year-old son, Wang […]


Yaxue Cao, October 15, 2018     On the morning of October 11, Ms. Pu Wenqing (蒲文清) arrived in Beijing accompanied by a couple of supporters. Ms. Pu is 85 years old, a retired doctor living in Neijiang, Sichuan province (四川内江市). As soon as she stepped off the train at Beijing West Railway Station, she spotted six people who had followed her all the way from Sichuan. In China, they are known as “jie fang renyuan” (截访人员), or local government workers whose job is to trail, stop and take back to their hometown petitioners who have gone to the capital on a quest for justice. That is what brought Ms. Pu to Beijing –she was seeking justice for her son. With the help of activists, […]


On the morning of May 13, while visiting a black jail in Ziyang, Sichuan province (四川资阳), seven rights lawyers from Beijing and Chengdu were intercepted, beaten and kidnapped by unidentified men. After that their cellphones ceased to answer. Upon learning the news of their colleagues’ encounter, four more lawyers went to Ziyang to help. They were first followed by men in plain clothes, and then they too were snatched. The eleven lawyers are: Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), Tang Jitian (唐吉田), Liang Xiaojun (梁小军), Tang Tianhao (唐天昊), Lin Qilei (蔺其磊), Li Heping (李和平), Zhang Keke (张科科), Guo Haiyue (郭海跃), Wang Cheng (王成), Yang Huiwen (杨慧文) and Wen Haibo (温海波). Rights lawyer, legal scholar Teng Biao tweeted Monday evening, Beijing time, that several lawyers were hurt. Jiang Tianyong’s […]


Update 1: Cheng Wanyun’s legal name (name on ID) is Cheng Aihua (程爱华). Update 2:   Telephone numbers: PSB State Security Office of Nanchong Municipality (南充市公安局国保办公电话): 0817-2803084. PSB of Xichong County (西充县公安局值班电话): 0817-4200085. State security chief of Xichong PSB Zhao Yanlin (西充县公安局国内安全保卫大队负责人:赵晏林主任): 0817-4202969. Update 3: Cheng Aihua’s father is willing to speak to the media and the public about his daughter’s case. His home number is 0817-4224168. Update 4: This is believed to be the post that got her in jail: “This is gonna be fun to watch. All manners of ugly bootlicking to please the emperor. We on the other hand would work harder to seek justice for all who have died in earthquakes, school-bus accidents, floods and brutal abortions.” Update 5: On Chinese New Year’s […]


By Yaxue Cao …Continued from yesterday Components of a He Cha Session When the state security police descended on these law-biding citizens, often in plain clothes, asking to have a talk with him or her, they didn’t bother to show their ID and did so only reluctantly in some cases when the interrogatee insisted. Never mind the warrant. There was none. In one case, the wife of an interrogatee opened the door to find policemen asking her husband to go with them. When she asked why, she was told “it’s inconvenient to say.” When she insisted the police show a warrant, the police said there was no warrant, threatened to use force, adding, “You are in China.” The Interrogation: The security police asked an interrogatee’s name, […]


This article was written by a Chinese friend in Chengdu who is passionate about the protection of animals. The first time I heard about the House of Love (爱之家, aizhijia) was on Christmas Day, 2008. I was giving a lecture on animal rights in western countries during my last period of the semester. One of the students came to me after class, saying she had been a volunteer for the House of Love for a long time. “Visit our blog, or come to visit us when you are free,” she said. So I did. I searched their blog on line and was totally surprised that there was a private animal shelter right here in Chengdu. I called Chen Yunlian, owner of the shelter to verify […]


The year of the dragon began with the news that armed police were firing on protesters in Tibetan areas in Northern Sichuan. On Weibo, a netizen said he spotted a sniper on the roof of Jokhang Monastery (大昭寺) in Lhasa, Tibet; another expressed surprise at seeing “so many armed police” on streets of the same city who demanded her to delete pictures she took of them; and many more described seeing military vehicles full of soldiers moving on highways in Western and Northern Sichuan. Otherwise, there isn’t much talk about Tibetans, either the self-immolations or the violence, on Weibo due to censorship. On Twitter however, the news as well as the talks came in steadily from all directions. In this issue, I have several items on […]


Last Train Home claims to be a documentary about migrant workers heading home for Spring Festival, but it is so much more than that. The director opted to focus on a single family, whose parents work in Guangdong province, while their children are looked after by their grandmother in rural Sichuan. In happens to cover the one Spring Festival that almost didn’t happen because of the massive winter storms that swept China in 2008, and depicts the anxiety that many felt. As one the father says, “If you can’t spend Spring Festival with your family, than what is the point of living”. The daughter in the film was the most interesting character I thought. After failing to achieve academic success in high school, she drops […]


For those of you reading this outside of China, it’s important to understand that China has probably close to a dozen different kinds of police. There are traffic police, railway police, bus police and countless others. When there is a problem, like when my friend had her i-Pod stolen as she got on a bus, it took 6 phone calls to figure out which police should handle the case (ultimately it was the bus police, even though they didn’t think it was their jurisdiction because she wasn’t fully on the bus when it happened). Of these police, there is one branch that is the most feared and despised, they are known as the Chengguan (City Management). While most criticisms of gov’t agencies are only ever whispered […]


It was 2:28 in the afternoon when the 8.0 magnitude earthquake struck, it was felt as far away as Hanoi, but I didn’t notice it because I was running late to class. A few of the students who walked in late to class, still rubbing the sleep of their noon nap from their eyes, asked their classmates if they had felt the earthquake. Nobody knew what they were talking about, and so we continued our classes as usual. After class the news started to come in slowly. I remember the sickening feeling when I realized that every time I checked CNN’s website the death toll had risen, it had started at 10,000, but we knew that it would be much higher. It wasn’t until the […]


Du Haibin’s film “1428” captures a variety of scenes from post earthquake Beichuan in a way that I hadn’t seen before. Even though I was in China at that time, and remember checking the news hourly for days, there was still very little I knew about the conditions in Sichuan at that time. All of the images were being very carefully selected before they were shown on TV, but this film manages to capture everything that was left unseen. The documentary begins just 10 days after the earthquake that killed more than 80,000 people, and shows how chaotic life can be as people struggle to know what steps to take next. Many people spent their days trying to scavenge scrap metal from collapsed buildings to […]


This week Frontline aired an in-depth look at Chinese artist/dissident (or perhaps  dissident/artist) Ai Weiwei. The full episode entitled “Who’s Afraid of Ai Weiwei” is available online here along with a profile of his online activism here. If you aren’t familiar with Ai Weiwei, it’s time for your formal introduction. Ai Weiwei first caught my eye a few years ago when he championed a movement for a complete name list of those who died in the Sichuan Earthquake in 2008. It is believed the gov’t set an “official” number of causalities from the earthquake very shortly after the event, and never revised the number. Thousands of children died in school buildings that had been poorly constructed (Ai Weiwei estimates more than 5,000). These buildings collapsed […]


We’ve seen how limited interconnectedness and a lack of communication have been causing problems in China’s banks and hospitals. Today I want to bring up a third trend that is critical to understanding how China works. China’s Government This might not be a popular view in the West, but China’s National government has created some excellent policies and laws (for the most part, the most oppressive laws are hold-outs from twenty years ago). I believe that they have a clear vision of what they want for China, and they are eager to be in a globally respected position. The problem is their inability to implement many of these plans because of local officials. I realized this last year when I read “Will the Boat Sink […]


This is part Four of a series on childhood in Rural China. Part One. Part Two. Part Three. When I first arrived in China my friend Kyle made an excellent point. He told me that it was impossible to fully understand our students, because they have overcome tragedies and obstacles greater than we could ever imagine. At the time I thought that it was an exaggeration, of course I can empathize I thought, but now I know that he was right. Some of the people I am most in awe of were the students I taught in Guangxi and Sichuan. Helen was a shy girl, but you couldn’t help but notice her irrepressible smile. In Yizhou the other students had two nicknames for her, “Happy” […]


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