Archives for posts with tag: China


Tibetans have lost their right to self-determination over 50 years ago to China. The campaign for an end to the Chinese occupation, and for human rights, independence and the preservation of the Tibetan culture and language continues. Peaceful protests and resistance are met with harsh punishment by the Chinese authorities.

Teenage high school student jailed for four years after peaceful protest
Tuesday, 18 June 2013
Wangchuk Dorje; four year sentence for an alleged role in a peaceful march

Wangchuck Dorje was sentenced for his alleged role in a demonstration of more than 4,000 young people in November 2012.

The peaceful march called for equality and language rights for Tibetans, and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

He is a pupil at the Middle School of Nationalities in Rebkong County.

Other students detained at the protest have been released or sentenced already but the whereabouts and details of others are unknown.

Wangchuck Dorje was detained and interrogated for several months. His age is unknown, although, as he was a middle school student, he is likely aged between 16 and 19 years.

After the protest at least four Tibetan school principals were sacked from schools in the area, including the principal of Rebkong County Primary School.

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China must release jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo along with others imprisoned for dissent, Amnesty International said today – one year after the Chinese activist won the award.

Liu Xiaobo has remained in prison since he was awarded the prize in absentia on 10 December 2010, while his wife Liu Xia has been under illegal house arrest.

Meanwhile, other government critics, such as veteran democracy activist Liu Xianbin, have also received long jail terms for speaking out on the same spurious charge of “inciting subversion of state power”.

“The plight of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia is symptomatic of the Chinese government’s increasing zeal for stamping out dissent by any means necessary,” said Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director.

“The increasingly powerful police and security forces act with impunity as they hold individuals beyond legal supervision, often torturing and ill-treating them,” she said.

In August, the Chinese government proposed revisions to the criminal procedure law which would extend police powers to detain people in secret incommunicado detention.

Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” following an unfair trial.

Hi wife Liu Xia, an artist and poet, has been living in enforced isolation at her Beijing home since October 2010 with all forms of communication, including phone and internet, cut off.

Activist Liu Xianbin was sentenced in March to 10 years in prison for his democracy activism, support of the Charter 08 petition movement and his writings on political reform. It is the third time he has been jailed. “With government authorities showing signs of increasing anxiety and insecurity in the lead up to important leadership changes, individuals are at risk of being accused of  ‘inciting subversion of state power’ for merely advocating for democracy, or calling for respect for human rights,” said Catherine Baber.

“Chinese citizens are living in a straitjacket as the authorities imprison and ‘forcibly disappear’ those who speak out for political reform, democracy and human rights, critique corrupt officials or believing in the ‘wrong’ religion,” she said.

Liu Xianbin has published articles on human rights and democracy and worked to increase public awareness of other persecuted activists.

He supported Charter 08, a proposal for fundamental legal and political reform in China, which was co-authored by Liu Xiaobo.

Liu Xiaobo was convicted for his writings on human rights and democracy as well as devising Charter 08, soliciting signatures to it and publishing it online.

Liu Xia was last heard from in February 2011 when she briefly managed to be in touch with a friend. In March 2011, the Chinese authorities told the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, which is investigating her case, that “no legal enforcement measure” had been taken against her.

According to unofficial reports, Liu Xia and Liu Xiaobo have been allowed to meet twice since January this year.


The Economist Aug 10th 2013 |From the print edition

IN THE main room of the small, old-fashioned house, stacked full of books, an old fan scarcely moved the stuffy air around. Wu Dengming’s daughter kept pleading for air-conditioning. Elsewhere in Chongqing, China’s fastest-growing inland city, where 10m people lived in a battery of skyscrapers, almost everyone had it. Mr Wu would not hear of it. It was expensive, and was not green. He had a dream of making everyone in the city turn their coolers to 26ºC, and no lower. Why not? He had managed to organise Chongqing’s first no-car day, in 2006, and as a result—perhaps—you could sometimes glimpse blue sky through the smog that blanketed the place.

Green, green, green, was all he thought about, the family grumbled. In 1997, at 57, he had retired from his security job at the university; but rather than slowing down he had revved up, racing round the city and the region to track down polluters of air, water or earth and report them to the authorities in Beijing. He was hardly ever at home. A row of shoes, many times mended, stood under his bed; most of them were still dirty from when he had sploshed around on the muddy banks of the Jialing or the Yangzi, pointing out to the world’s press where the outlet from a battery factory had stained the rocks yellow, or where the pipeline from a chromium plant had killed all the vegetation.

His business card listed five titles and six awards, including “Top-ten Person, China Legal News, 2007”. The most important title was “Founder, Chongqing Green Volunteer League” (motto: “Action, not words”). He had set this up in 1995, originally as a campus group that planted trees, picked up litter and lectured people on their environmental duty. It had grown fast, and had notched up big successes. In 1998 he had taken a TV crew to film illegal logging in the wild forests of Sichuan outside the city; the film was a sensation, and logging was banned. Some 15,000 students signed his petition to stop the Nu river dams. His was one of the few NGOs to be recognised officially by Beijing, and in 2011, for the first time, a court admitted his suit against a factory that had dumped 5,000 tons of chromium waste in Yunnan province. No wonder he had a spring in his step, a smile on his face, and burst so readily, if hoarsely, into the old songs.

It was all so dangerous, though, said his wife. What if she lost him? In the Sichuan forest, when he first went, the loggers had smashed the crew’s equipment. Factory owners frequently sent hoodlums to beat him up. Well, risk-taking was necessary, Mr Wu said. He was tough enough, having done his bit for Mao in the People’s Liberation Army; he also practised t’ai chi every day, to calm himself; and when security guards started towards his car he would just roar away, laughing.

But the money he spent! At home he was a miser; the few clothes in his wardrobe cost 15 yuan at most, except the grey-and-white favourite jumper in which he liked to meet the press. Why wear fancy clothes? he would say. Why build fancy mansions? Why drive cars? He used one himself, though, to race back and forth, with a GPS to track down the factories and an MP3 player to record conversations. So extravagant, his family complained; the government gave almost nothing to NGOs, so he had to fund much of it out of his tiny pension, his savings and his grandson’s lottery winnings. What was left for them? Well, countered Mr Wu, he was frugal on his trips, making stale pancakes last several days and drinking from roadside taps.

The people’s voice

He had disappointments, for sure. Companies and local government were too deeply in cahoots for much to change. Factories that were meant to be closed down just kept going. Court cases mysteriously ran into the sand. Petitions were ignored. His chief worry was the huge raft of rubbish and sewage in the Three Gorges reservoir on the Yangzi, but the project was so entangled with national pride that nothing was being done. China was so hell-bent on growth and prosperity that it had lost its sense of moral obligation.

The old days had been better: the days when Dragon Spring and Clear Stream, two half-dried-up and polluted creeks, had run with pure water, and he had grown up as a farm lad in green paddy fields and forests that stretched beside the Jialing. (He still swam in it, though it was now dense brown and lined with factory chimneys.) He missed old Chongqing, with its gossipy warren of houses and gardens, and preferred to drink his green tea in cheap teahouses in the old style.

There he would listen to the environmental horror-stories of ordinary working people, and teach them how to cope. No one else would. The party had placed itself too far above the woes, and rights, of common folk. As a farmer who had moved to the city himself, he spoke the language of the peasants forced from their plots by landslides, the fishermen whose stocks were dead, the weeping, terrified villagers whose livers had been enlarged by strontium in the river water. China, he kept saying, needed to know about these things. Thanks to him, one of the first forthright voices, it began to. Even his daughter, after years of griping at him, was suddenly moved by the tales of the sick, displaced and dying to become a green activist herself; and, at last, understood him.


Tenzin Gyatso is the 14th and current Dalai Lama as well as the longest lived incumbent. Dalai Lamas are the head monks of the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, and is also well known for his lifelong advocacy for Tibetans inside and outside Tibet. The Dalai Lama was only formally recognized as the 14th Dalai Lama on 17 November 1950, at the age of 15.

During the 1959 Tibetan uprising, which China regards as an uprising of feudal landlords, the Dalai Lama, who regards the uprising as an expression of widespread discontent, fled to India, where he denounced the People’s Republic and established a Tibetan government in exile. He has since traveled the world, advocating for the welfare of Tibetans, teaching Tibetan Buddhism and talking about the importance of compassion as the source of a happy life. Around the world, institutions face pressure from China not to accept him.

For certain periods between the 17th century and 1959, the Dalai Lamas sometimes directed the Tibetan government, which administered portions of Tibet from Lhasa. The 14th Dalai Lama remained the head of state for the Central Tibetan Administration (“Tibetan government in exile”) until his retirement on March 14, 2011. He has indicated that the institution of the Dalai Lama may be abolished in the future, and also that the next Dalai Lama may be found outside Tibet and may be female. The Chinese government rejected this and asserted that only it has the authority to select the next Dalai Lama.

The institution of the Dalai Lama has become, over the centuries, a central focus of Tibetan cultural identity; “a symbolic embodiment of the Tibetan national character.” Today, the Dalai Lama and the office of the Dalai Lama have become focal points in their struggle towards independence and, more urgently, cultural survival. The Dalai Lama is regarded as the principal incarnation of Chenrezig, the bodhisattva of compassion and patron deity of Tibet. In that role, the Dalai Lama has chosen to use peace and compassion in his treatment of his own people and his oppressors. In this sense the Dalai Lama is the embodiment of an ideal of Tibetan values and a cornerstone of Tibetan identity and culture and an inspiration for non violent struggle elsewhere.

25 Silence

At the Asia Society in Hong Kong is an exhibition with a number of muted landscapes recalling Matisse or Cezanne. Quite a few capture scenes of snow. Made on scrap cardboard or homemade paper, these paintings seem innocuous, but they represent dissent. They are by brave artists who worked surreptitiously during and just after China’s devastating Cultural Revolution, when Mao Zedong dictated art must serve the state. This meant art had to abide by social realism—rosy-cheeked Red Guards striding into an everlasting optimistic future—or nothing. Dismissed as bourgeois, landscapes were dangerous to paint. The snow on roofs, footpaths and garden walls signified purity, a substitute for Mao’s urban drab.

“Light Before Dawn: Unofficial Chinese Art 1974 to 1985” is an unusual exhibition which brings together the works of 22 Chinese artists who quietly banded together during a repressive time. These artists shared techniques and forged a solidarity that helped them to outfox the authorities. Their art was a rebellion against “the pattern of brutality, narrow-mindedness, hypocrisy, and irrationality” institutionalised during the Cultural Revolution.

Three schools of artists, each with a distinctive style, emerged during the period: Wuming (No Name), Xingxing (Stars) and Caocao (Grass). The earliest group, No Name, started painting in 1972 and included a large number of women. Some worked in machinery factories at night so they could paint during the day. They helped each other by sharing miniature home-made paint boxes squirreled away in book bags when they travelled. Shi Zhenyu, whose 1965 modest-sized seascape (just 15 x 20 centimetres) is the earliest work in the show, was one of the few to hold down a steady job, though a most un-artistic one. During the bad years of the Cultural Revolution, he worked as a carpenter and electrician at a machinery plant at the Bureau of Light Industry.

The Stars group, also based in Beijing, is known for its resolve to thwart censorship. One morning in September 1979 they hung 150 works by 23 artists on the fence around the National Art Gallery in Beijing. Oil paintings, pen and ink drawings and sculptures went up, some suspended from ropes in the trees, others just placed on the street. In a memoir of the period, Wang Keping, a sculptor and leader of the Stars, described how on the first day word of mouth attracted a crowd of art lovers, including the chairman of the Chinese Artists Association, who offered his endorsement. By the third day, the police moved in and the show was closed.

Grass was a school in Shanghai dominated by ink painters who established a new style using ink that combined calligraphy with abstract expressionism. The founder of Grass, Qiu Deshu, was a gifted artist who served as a Red Guard, and was selected by his factory to participate in the propaganda painting classes at the Shanghai Art School. But he also experimented with forbidden techniques, such as woodcuts, pouring and splashing ink, and even making tears in the paper, to show his despair. For such innovation, he was fired from his job. Undaunted, he continued abstract painting with ink. Many of his works are now in important private collections in America.

The exhibition features two sculptures by Wang Keping. Perhaps the most stunning piece in the show is Wang’s “Silence”, which is a wooden sculpture of a man’s head with a round plug shoved into the mouth. This piece conveys some of the frustrations of working as an artist in China in the immediate aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. Mr Wang had a job as a playwright for the government television station, but his scripts were always rejected. He liked working with wood, and found piles of abandoned wood at a briquette factory that he bartered for theatre tickets. Fed up with the stultifying atmosphere, Mr Wang left for Paris in 1984, where he made a name as a sculptor. In September he will hold a retrospective show of sculptures at the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing, an important gallery in the city’s vibrant 798 art district.

The more than 100 paintings and sculptures in the show represent the beginnings of the contemporary Chinese art that has captured the international art market for more than a decade. After fighting the authorities and seeing little progress in freedom of artistic expression, many of the artists followed Mr Wang’s example and went abroad. Some went to New York, others to Europe. They studied at art institutions in ways they could never have done in China. Some sold works to established galleries in the West, many have paintings in prestigious private collections.

Then in the mid-2000s some started drifting back home to a vastly changed China. One of the younger artists in the Stars group was Ai Weiwei who fled to New York, studied at the Parsons School of Design, and has returned to Beijing with a global name. When they first started creating art more than 30 years ago, the spirited young artists of the No Name group could barely have dreamed they were laying the foundations for what would become a competitive, high-priced and internationally sought world of contemporary Chinese art.

Tiananmen Square Protests 1989 (Beijing, China)

The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese, were student-led demonstrations and received broad support from city residents, exposing deep splits within China’s political leadership. The protests were forcibly suppressed with a crackdown that initiated on June 3–4 became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre as troops with assault rifles and tanks inflicted thousands of casualties on unarmed civilians trying to block the military’s advance on Tiananmen Square, which student demonstrators had occupied for seven weeks. The scale of military mobilization and the resulting bloodshed were unprecedented in the history of Beijing, a city with a rich tradition of popular protests in the 20th century. The unknown protester stood in front of tanks the day after and achieved widespread international recognition due to the videotape and photographs taken of the incident.