Posts tagged: anniversary

Happy Birthday China Law & Policy!

By , July 15, 2016

Seven years ago today, China Law and Policy (“CL&P”) was born.  With Chinese language skills, a knowledge of Chinese history and an understanding of law, our goal was to offer a nuanced perspective on China, in particular its legal development and how that development shapes the rest of the world.

In the past seven years, many of our blog posts have focused on the growth, and recent retraction, of China’s human rights attorneys. We believe that legal development does not happen in a vacuum.  While the most recent crackdown on human rights lawyers appears limited to just these lawyers, it is not.  It reflects a ruling party ideology that is uncomfortable with – if not completely hostile to – a rule of law.  Especially when that rule of law seeks to constrain the unbridled actions of the Chinese Communist Party, or more aptly, the actions of its chief, President Xi Jinping.  The western public should not be surprised that China has no interest in abiding by the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s South China decision if it willy-nilly violates its own domestic laws, holding human rights attorneys in detention without access to lawyers and charging them with subversion.

As a result, CL&P’s mission is even more important now than when we first started.  But since it is CL&P‘s birthday, it is time to take stock.  Our reach continues to grow.  We have over 5,500 followers over all of our platforms (twitter, facebook, email and RSS feed) and our posts continue to be cited by journalists, Congress, academics and other bloggers.  Our most popular posts this year deal with issues that China is grappling with in its relationship with the rest of the world.  Our post on the expulsion of French journalist Ursula Gauthier was by far the most popular post this year.  But Anatomy of a Crackdown: China’s Assault on its Human Rights Lawyers, was a close second.  Also in the top five were our analysis of China’s first gay marriage case and our review of Wang Nanfu’s movie, Hooligan Sparrow, a documentary on the life, times and adversity of feminist advocate Ye Haiyan.  Our annual Lunar New Year greeting, a playful post in our “Just for Fun” category, again rounded out the top five.

Where is the cake? Happy birthday China Law & Policy!

While CL&P continues to thrive, I will admit that over the past few months, balancing this blog with other life events has been a challenge.  Hence, a decrease in the level of posting.  But going forward my commitment remains strong to continue this blog and to find even more voices to publicize through our podcasts and guest blogging program.  So if you are interested in writing for CL&P or you have an idea for a blog post or podcast, please reach out: elynch@chinalawandpolicy.com.

Again, this year, I want to thank everyone who reads this blog and who has given me much needed comments, edits and information. But in particular, I want to thank a few individuals who have provided support, encouragement, and ideas that have sustained me through this year:  Jerome Cohen, Amala Lane, Jeremy Daum, Andrea Worden, Edward Wong, Eva Pils, Tom Cantwell, Madhuri Kommareddi, Elise Brown and Jerome Lynch.

Finally, I want to thank the hundreds of Chinese public interest lawyers who continue to fight for the rights of China’s most vulnerable, even in the wake of the Chinese government’s efforts to end their work and obliterate their lawyering.  From your practice of law and your tenacity I have learned much that I seek to apply in my work as a legal services attorney. I continue to be humbled by all that you do.

Thank You and Happy Birthday to China Law & Policy!

Tiananmen 23 Years Later: An Unknown History?

For the great majority of young mainland Chinese, the events of the Tiananmen Massacre have never entered their consciousness; they have never seen the photographs and news reports about it, and even fewer have their family or teachers ever explained it to them. They have not forgotten it; they have never known anything about it.”

So ends Chan Koonchung’s The Fat Years, an allegorical novel set in the near-future Beijing, where China is the only prosperous nation left after the great global economic meltdown of 2008. Most of its citizens are happy – unnaturally so – and fully satisfied with the materialism of their new lives.

But there is a small group of misfits- led by Fang Caodi – that is searching for a missing month from 2008 where martial law was imposed so that the government could bring on the fat years. All remnants of that month have been erased from society’s collective memory: newspapers published during that month no longer exist and no one ever speaks of it. It’s as if it never occurred. Fang and his posse go all over the country, trying to find any evidence of that missing month and trying to find more people like them: people who remember. They find almost no one but then hatch a plan to kidnap a high level government official and interrogate him. They find out about a government intent on guaranteeing that the mistakes of its pass are forgotten and only China’s glorious future is remembered.

Make no mistake, Chan is not talking about a missing month in 2008. What Chan is discussing are the seven weeks that led up to the June 4, 1989 Tiananmen massacre, where martial law was imposed, high-level Chinese officials ordered the army to open fire on its own people, and hundreds of unarmed student protestors were estimated to have been killed.

On Monday the world will mark the 23rd anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. But Mainland China will not. Every year, the anniversary of Tiananmen, known as Liu Si in Chinese, is forgotten on mainland China, unless you count the Chinese government’s stepped up security of Tiananmen Square and random detention of activists as a commemorating event.

Around June 1, 1989, over a million students converge on Beijing's Tiananmen Square

For 23 years, there has been no public mention of the Tiananmen massacre and aside from hushed whispers among older Chinese, in particular the Tiananmen Mothers who bravely try to keep the murder of their children alive, there is little private discussion of the event. The Chinese government’s 23 years of silence concerning Tiananmen isn’t just denial. It’s been a concerted and fairly effective effort to erase Tiananmen, and the government’s bloody actions on the night of June 3, 1989, from China’s collective memory.

Mainland Chinese born after 1989 largely do not know anything about the events surrounding those seven weeks 23 years ago nor the bloody repression on the night of June 3 into the early morning hours of June 4. To the extent that they have heard anything about it – from a professor who might have supported the students in 1989 or from a family member who was there – their recollections are muddied at best.

Chan’s The Fat Years is a warning: that the Chinese must not forget the past; that they must continue to remember. But that warning is mixed with the reality that perhaps some Chinese do want to forget, especially the young. Compared to 1989, times have never been better. Why rock the boat? Why be bothered with your parent’s history?  And that is Chan’s second note of caution to the Chinese: do not be lulled into acceptance by materialism.

But those messages will not be heard in China.  In keeping with their efforts to annihilate Tiananmen from collective memory,the Chinese government has banned The Fat Years. In the introduction to the English translation, Julia Lovell notes that the book has still

A rickshaw driver ferries two dying students on he morning of June 4, 1989

made its way around dissident circles in Beijing. But dissidents in Beijing are a small, insular group; the vast majority of Chinese will remain unaware.  The fact that today’s dissidents and rights activists still remember Tiananmen is one weakness in the Chinese government’s goal and might explain the two-year crackdown on activists.

For the first few years after the Tiananmen massacre, the question was, how long will the Chinese government refuse to investigate the murder of hundreds of Chinese students. Twenty-three years later, now the question is, will the Chinese ever know their own history? As time passes, memories fade, Tiananmen mothers die, and the Chinese Communist Party remains in power, the answer seems to be leaning toward no.

That is why we must never forget June 4, 1989 and continue to memorialize and investigate the events. As censorship increases in China, the western world is ironically becoming the repository of China’s modern history. Eventually, the Chinese people will demand that they be allowed to learn their own history; eventually they will be free to decide for their own what aspects of their history that they want to commemorate and what they want to forget.  Eventually, the West’s repository of knowledge will be accessed by the Chinese.

Chan’s The Fat Years should not be read for its literary style. At many points the narrative really slows down and “near future Beijing” is actually 2013, making it difficult for the current English reader of translation to find it even slightly believable. It also appears to peter out toward the end with the main characters just fading from the page. But for the ideas that the book presents about modern day China and its potential future, it is an important read.  Especially today, on this anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The Fat Years: A Novel, by Chan Koonchung (Nan A. Talese, 2012), 336 pages.

A BBC news report from the early morning of June 4, 1989

Happy Birthday China Law & Policy!

By , July 18, 2010

Last Thursday marked China Law & Policy‘s first year anniversary, giving us an opportunity to take stock.

When I started this website last summer, a good friend who has his own website told me I should be happy if I get more than 10 hits a day.  And I was.  Things started out slow, but when I was getting a consistent 20 hits a day, I felt good.  But now, a year later, China Law & Policy receives over 1,500 hits a month, with a subscriber list of over 200 people.  In a year, China Law & Policy has published 103 articles, covering a variety of issues, some serious, and some a little less so.  But all with the purpose to offer a different perspective on China and to better inform the U.S. public about issues pertaining to China.

Interestingly, the two most popular articles both involved criminal justice in China.  The article on British citizen Akmal Shaikh’s execution in China at the end of December received the greatest readership (Death Sentence for British Citizen Upheld; Execution Date Set).  But our April 19 article on the Rio Tinto trial in China (Rio Tinto Trial in China – A Miscalculation about Rule of Law?) and Prof. Vivienne Bath’s critique of the article (A Response to Rio Tinto – A different Opinion from Australia) was also extremely popular with our readership.  Rounding up the top three is from the “Just for Fun” section about Lady Gaga’s popularity in China (Oh My Lady Gaga! A Star is Born in…China).

China Law & Policy has also been very fortunate to attract other talent as well.  Marcy Nicks Moody, a regular contributor, has written a series of hard hitting articles about economic policy and trade issues between the U.S. and China.  Her article on China’s response to the Haiti earthquake (In the Aftermath of Haiti’s Earthquake: Where is China?) offered an interesting perspective on China’s soft power and was picked up by many other websites.  We also have had great articles from trade specialist Adam Bobrow, Chinese lawyer and professor Cao Xinglong, longtime China-watcher Susan Fishman Orlins, Gaga expert and Uigher food enthusiast Thomas Cantwell, and Chinese art expert Taliesin Thomas.

One of the goals of China Law & Policy has been to offer an outlet to a younger set of China-watchers, those who have come of age with a China that has always been a friend and never a foe.  The mainstream press is still largely reserved for an older set of “China experts” – those raised during the Cold War and who had to deal with the baggage of Red China vs. Free China (the Mainland vs. Taiwan), baggage that today’s younger China watchers do not have to carry.

In the next year, China Law & Policy would like to increase the number of guest bloggers and further diversify the opinions offered on the website.  We would also like to have more articles from Chinese scholars.  Prof. Guo Zhiyuan’s interview on mental illness and the Chinese criminal justice system remains our most popular interview.

Finally, China Law & Policy would like to thank all of those who have been supporters of the website.  From the beginning, there have been many that have constantly encouraged, provided article ideas and new ways of thinking of issues; this support has truly been invaluable.  Thank you.

But we still want to hear from you. Have ideas about what China Law & Policy should do in the next year?  Have topics that you think China Law & Policy should cover?  Or just general comments?  Please use the comment section to let us know.  Thank you for your continued support!

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