November 30, 2007

CLOSE BEHIND THE HARMONIOUS COMES THE FIST:

The thuggery behind the harmonious facade (Howard W. French, November 30, 2007, NY Times)

Last October, as Ma Shaofang prepared to travel from the Chinese city of Shenzhen to Beijing to attend a writers' conference, he received a menacing call from the police.

Why trouble a businessman who wants to attend a conference? The problem was that as a student hunger strike organizer during the Tiananmen protests in 1989, Ma had a "dossier" that still trails behind him wherever he goes in China.

The Chinese calendar is filled with special dates, "sensitive moments" whose association with events either historical or current put the authorities on alert and the people on guard.

October 2007 happened to be the month of the Communist Party's 17th Congress, a once-in-five years affair whose political significance is such that the capital is locked down, potential "troublemakers" rounded up and even the airwaves scrubbed with extra vigor by censors whose job it is to see that nothing can sully the image of a serene and clear-sighted leadership.

So with that backdrop in mind, the police "invited" Ma for tea. Ma's account of the meeting, which he recently published, and which was subsequently translated by the University of California at Berkeley's China Digital Times, offers a chilling glimpse of a Chinese reality that few foreigners ever see.

It is a side of China that not only persists, but also thrives. Of a state whose leaders are fond of proclaiming their attachment to advancing the rule of law but who cling to thuggery to intimidate the populace, silence critics and generally to enforce their will.


Posted by Orrin Judd at November 30, 2007 6:30 AM
Comments

Funny. I had a similar experience when I decided to openly (using my real name) campaign against a school referendum in my town.

The inquiries and assessments from state and federal tax authorities were eventually resolved in my favor.

Posted by: Bruno at November 30, 2007 10:45 AM
« EVEN MURTHA WANTS OUT OF THE REALITY-BASED COMMUNITY: | Main | WHO WOULD KNOW THE MIND OF AMERICA OUGHT KNOW BARZUN: »