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Terence Shen's Column

Not Everyone Can Be A Hero

I do not want to make my blog too political. But here is the hard fact:yesterday, Liu Xianbin, used to be a Chinese student leader during the 1989 June 4th movement, was sentenced to 10-year imprisonment on the charge of “subversion”. He has previously spent 11 years in the prison and was just set free in 2008.  When first been put into the jail, he was only 23 years old. Presumably, he will be 53 years old after he comes out of the prison ten years later.

From a 23-year old young man to a 53-year old man, goddammit, he spends much of his life time in a cell! When I first came cross this news, I was just going to swear F words, then I tried so hard to refrain myself from getting too emotional. I wonder if it’s worth doing it when standing out  for others is such risky. In this imperfect and unfair world, shits happen all the time, especially in China where over a billion people fighting with each others for better lives. Should we just mind our own business, or should we just accept the reality and walk away whenever we face the difficulty and danger?

I believe, to Liu Xianbin and many other human rights activists in China, the answer is a 100 percent No. We call these people heroes. Our time needs heroes, and China needs heroes. They are the glimmers of hope for China’s future.

To those who would answer Yes to the questions, I want to show you a paragraph in a movie script:

“I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of the everyday routine, the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration – whereby those important events of the past, usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, are celebrated with a nice holiday – I thought we could mark this November the fifth, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat.

There are, of course, those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now orders are being shouted into telephones and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?

Cruelty and injustice…intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance, coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told…if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.” —- from V for Vendetta

An incomplete list of jailed human rights activists in China (2009-2010)


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9 thoughts on “Not Everyone Can Be A Hero

  1. Oh Jesus……list的链接果然打不开……回学校翻墙再看!

    Posted by Sherry Zhang | March 27, 2011, 4:41 pm
  2. “In this imperfect and unfair world, shits happen all the time, especially in China where over a billion people fighting with each others for better lives. “

    Recent Pew research reports show that the majority of Chinese people are well happy with their government.

    Of 1.3 billion Chinese how many are dissidents? Several hundred? Most Chinese people I know are just intent on making a living and getting ahead educationally and economically.

    China has done tremendously well, economically, and in humanitarian terms since 1949. Under both Mao and his successors China has regained her independence and developed the nation.

    Industrial development since 1949 has been incredible. In 1949 China’s industrial capacity was 1/90th that of Belgiums. Now China is the no. 2 economy in the world.

    So it seems China has done very well under the communist party. The facts speak for themselves.

    Posted by MW | April 1, 2011, 3:27 pm
  3. “In a spring 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, 87% of Chinese said they were satisfied with the way things were going in their country”

    Posted by MW | April 1, 2011, 3:29 pm
    • Thanks for your reply.
      The survey you quoted is definitely persuasive. It is true that economic reform lifted majority of Chinese population out of poverty. It is also true that majority of Chinese people have shown no interest in politics.
      I never say CCP is not successful in this aspect. I am just saying that there is no freedom of speech in China, no matter how many dissidents there are, and I admire those who risk their lives to speak out for others and uncover the corruption. To liberals, what CCP did to the intellectuals is disgusting, even though CCP can justify what they did in the name of social stability.

      Posted by Terence Shen 沈达明 | April 1, 2011, 5:04 pm
  4. You have a point. The CCP is disgusting in many ways. The fact that the sons and daughters of the leaders are so privileged and corrupt. The fact that they run big companies out of their privileged positions.

    Nobody said China is perfect. There is much wrong there.

    But remember. China is a developing country. All developing countries in the world have the same problem.

    Just because you have ‘democracy’ in the Western sense will not solve all problems.

    Look at this map of corruption perceptions index: China is bad. But India (democracy) is just as bad. Indonesia is worse (democracy), Phillipines is worse (democracy), Mongolia is worse (democracy), and Russia is much much worse (has elections at least).

    Remember. White people are racist against Chinese. They do not want good for China. China needs to improve. But do not listen to white people, to the US, Britain – who forced us to buy opium in the past.

    China is improving every day now. And will be more free with increasing prosperity. Overall China has chosen the right path.

    Posted by MW | April 1, 2011, 6:54 pm
    • I know what you mean. In my opinion, the Chinese did a good job but they can do much better in some aspects if there are less corrupted CCP hypocrites.

      My suggestion: Don’t act like a racist yourself. White people are many. You can’t simply say they are racists against China. Many of them love China more than many Chinese themselves and know China much better than us.

      Posted by Terence Shen 沈达明 | April 1, 2011, 7:13 pm
      • By and large white people are racist against Chinese.

        How many of them love China? Hardly many. Except perhaps the likes of Dr Norman Bethune, Rewi Alley, Agnes Smedley. They were friends of China.

        But most are hate China and are fearful of China’s rise.

        How many black people, or Asian people, or Iranian people, or Arab people do you ever hear always criticizing China and interfering in China’s internal affairs. Almost never.

        Yet always we hear the US, the UK, talk about ‘human rights’ etc –which is just a smokescreen to restore imperialist subjugation of China.

        Why is it only white people who think they have the right to tell other countries what to do?

        The answer is white people feel they are superior and have the right to boss coloured people around.

        Posted by MW | April 1, 2011, 7:47 pm
  5. I enjoyed your post and MW’s crafty reply to it.

    Isn’t it amazing MW that 87% of the people in that interview replied that they were happy, when a People’s Daily article that came out shortly before that reported that it was only 6%.

    Yes China has come a long way, but for people who are now in their 20’s and 30’s those gains do not seem as large, so it is not surprising that some Chinese people are unhappy when they face growing inflation, sky rocketing housing prices, and the same low wages (although a few provinces and cities are now adjusting those in the name of harmony).

    I think it’s hard to a imagine that large numbers of Chinese people are being swayed by western trickery, when so much of the information coming from the West is censored by the Chinese gov’t.

    I’ve talked with several African’s, they have plenty of their own complaints about China’s actions.

    You’ve also forgotten dozens of white missionaries that loved the Chinese people so much that they stayed behind to protect those left behind during the Japanese invasion, built China’s first universities, encouraged the education of Chinese women and pushed for an end to foot binding, built China’s first modern hospitals and trained medical personnel. You’re memory for history seems to be just as spotty as those who only see the bad in China.

    Posted by Tom | April 11, 2011, 10:30 am


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