These days, smothering someone is as good as crowning that person—previously unnoticed but now many people are interested in his views and works. A ‘smothering’ order is a reading list.
Dissident writer and human rights legal activist Yang Maodong, better known by his pen name Guo Feixiong, was detained in August of 2013, formally arrested two months later for “gathering a crowd to disrupt order in a public place,” and finally allowed access to legal representation in November of 2013. The charges stem from his involvement in organizing support for Southern Weekly staff members who protested against censorship at the paper in early 2013. The New York Times reports that the activist’s trial is expected to begin on Friday in Guangzhou, and that his lawyers and family members are expecting conviction and imprisonment. Read on.
Photo of the Day: Ancient Methods by Bryon Lippincott (taken in Beijing)
To honor the 110th anniversary of Deng Xiaoping’s birth on August 22, cartoonist Rebel Pepper (变态辣椒) served up a new cartoon on Twitter.
Deng Xiaoping’s reformist politico-economic theory is often summarized by the late leader’s maxim, “It doesn’t matter whether a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice it’s a good cat” (不管黑猫白猫,捉到老鼠的就是好猫). Deng’s birthday this year comes amid the newly launched CCTV miniseries Deng Xiaoping at History’s Crossroads, which has been the cause of controversy due to its omission and revision of sensitive aspects of Deng’s tenure. Rebel Pepper’s cartoon uses the two-tone feline metaphor to represent sustaining points of contention about Deng’s career: the bloody crackdown on protesters on June 4th, 1989, and the culture of money worship ushered in by his sweeping economic reforms.
Rebel Pepper’s outspokenness recently made the cartoonist the target of a state media smear campaign. After posting a cartoon mocking pro-Beijing protesters in Hong Kong, state media highlighted social media comments about a trip to Japan which countered popular anti-Japanese sentiment so often encouraged by Beijing. Radio Free Asia notes that the cartoonist, currently in Japan, fears detention upon returning to the mainland. Last October, Rebel Pepper was briefly detained for sharing information about flood victims amid an ongoing crackdown on Internet rumors.
Photo of the Day: Sky line of SuZhou by Yuxiao Wu
Liberal Hong Kong media website House News shuts down, citing political pressure. “As a businessman who frequently travels to and from the mainland, I have to admit that I felt very scared every time I crossed the border,” says co-founder. Tony Tsoi Tung-ho. This and more, today at China Digital Times.
Photo of the Day: Wall flower, Dali City by Stephan Rebernik (taken in Dali, Yunnan)
A blogger is given 6.5 years in prison for “fabricating and spreading online rumors for economic gain.” A giant yellow toad disappears from the Chinese Internet. This and more, today at China Digital Times.
Photo of the Day: Kite by leniners (taken on the Bund, Shanghai)
Cartoonist Badiucao comments on the recent detention of veteran journalist Gao Yu on suspicion of “leaking state secrets.” In a speech accepting a journalism award in 2006, Gao Yu quoted Republican era journalist Shi Liangcai as saying, “You have a gun, but I have a pen.” In his drawing, Badiucao depicts a pen’s quill being placed in the barrel of a gun to show the power of free speech.
Read our Q&A with Badiucao in which he discusses his artistic and personal influences.
(“The Pen is Mightier Than the Gun,” by Badiucao)
The National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications, a branch of China’s main media regulator, recently announced a new crackdown on pornographic online content, a measure the Global Times notes is essential for China’s “cyber development.” But “Cleaning the Web 2014” has little to do with porn, and much to do with bolstering the Party’s new media influence.
In 2012, we partnered with Open Society Foundations to bring you a special issue we called Writers Bloc. Now we’re doing it again: this time, it’s Free Expression with the Open Society Foundations and Free Word Centre, as well as Article 19 and English PEN. We’re excited to share this new special issue with you.
In Writers Bloc, Zadie Smith wrote: “Writing is often called ‘news from elsewhere,’ and speaking about one world to another has always been one of the many aims of the writer.”
This year we’re proud to present more ‘news from elsewhere,’ whether that be close to home or across an ocean; behind closed doors or stirring up a storm on the streets. Read our special issue here.
For several Guernica contributors, the topic of free expression leads to a discussion of self-censorship in China, and of the fierce arguments that followed Mo Yan’s 2012 Nobel Prize for Literature win. Emily Parker speaks with novelist Yiyun Li about the Zhu Ling poisoning case, “self-censorship in China, the line between fact and fiction, and whether it’s possible to create good art under a repressive regime.” Meanwhile, Pankaj Mishra urges readers to approach Mo Yan with an open mind.
Guernica also talks to the author of the upcoming book “I am China,” Xiaolu Guo, about her frustration with the West’s fondness for Chinese dissident artists. The special issue also features 1989 Tiananmen Square student protest leader Hu Ping’s essay on freedom of speech, translated by Eric Abrahamsen with an introduction by Wuer Kaixi, as well as a feature by Emily Strasser on self-immolations in Tibet.