Below is the translation of an article written by the prominent author and dissident Yu Jie on July 7th, 2010. Yu Jie was recently interrogated by government officials. This long, but interesting article details the conversation that took place between Mr. Yu and his interrogator. The original Chinese article can be viewed here.
Censorship Everywhere in China-My Second Interrogation by the Chinese Police
“The real symbol of China’s openness should be: when asked at a press conference what his favorite book is, Premier Wen Jiabao would show China’s Best Actor Wen Jiabao, a book by Yu Jie, to the audience and say, ‘This book, certainly this one. It is my best reference.”-from Twitter username: “Playboy”
July 5 2010, Officer Li called me at 10 am, notifying me that the officers from the municipal State Security Bureau wanted to talk to me at the police station in my neighborhood at 3 pm that day. I refused, because I was busy finalizing my new book China’s Best Actor Wen Jiabao, which is to be published in half a month. The state security officers get paid for their time “talking to” people like me, since it is part of their job. But I cannot waste my time, and it is certainly my civil right to refuse their demands. (Read more after the jump)
Officer Li did not try to persuade me to change my mind, which is different from his previous actions. I had a bad feeling that the authorities would not let me go so easily. At 4 pm that day, while I was revising the article “Terminating the State Security Bureau is the First Step Toward a Lasting Good Social Order,” I suddenly heard a loud knock on the door. Usually, visitors would need to ring the door bell and have the doorman open the gate to let them in. But this time, the door bell did not ring. I looked through the peephole, only to find a group of police outside.
After opening the door, I found six people in total, four of whom were undercover agents; the other two were wearing police uniforms. I recognized Mr. Wang, a State Security officer of the Chaoyang District responsible for monitoring and following me every day, but I did not know the other five people. One of them held a portable video camera and was videotaping the event. The leader of the group showed me a subpoena, which read that the authorities summon me pursuant to Section 1 under Article 92 of the Law of Criminal Procedure of the PRC. (I looked up this article after the interrogation, which says “for suspects whose arrest or detention is not necessary, the authorities can interrogate them at assigned locations or at their residences, after showing the warrant issued by the People’s Procuratorate or the Public Security Bureau.” This article is obviously manipulated by the State Security Bureau to legalize their harassment of human rights activists. When the State Security Bureau interrogated me in December 2004, the charge on the subpoena was “suspected of endangering State security,” but this time there was no charge on the subpoena.)
I told them I needed to change my clothes before I could go with them. They said I must let them in; and that I could not go inside to change clothes alone. Then they entered my home, without a warrant from the court. I called my wife after changing my clothes, signed the subpoena, and followed them downstairs. There were two cars waiting. After two minutes’ driving, we arrived at Dougezhuang Police Station, where my household is registered.
The police took me to an interrogation room. I started praying immediately after I sat down: Almighty Lord, please grant me courage and wisdom, to say what I should say, and remain silent on what I should not say, and defeat the darkness and the evil. I felt calm after this short prayer.
A middle-aged policeman started by introducing himself: My surname is Zhu, and I know many of your friends very well. I have been paying attention to you for years, and I heard you have many negative opinions about me.
I replied: Is what you and your colleagues have done good? If not, how can you expect positive opinions from others? I told your subordinates that you should directly talk with me instead of harassing my friends. I know, of course, that you have done a lot of research on me. I will refer to these materials if I want to write an autobiography when I am old. But I believe these materials will no longer be under your control, just like what happened in East Germany. I will be able to go to the archives and look them up without constraint.
Zhu said: As you said, we can talk face to face. Why then did you refuse to talk this morning, making us resort to these means to get you here?
I said: Li did not say it’s you who wants to see me. If he did, maybe I would accept. And you should also give prior notice so that I can make arrangements with my schedule. Your actions are only meant to threaten me, but I am not scared at all. This method can show nothing but your foolishness, because you are making news that will definitely cause the Chinese government to be viewed in a negative light. I do not want be a newsmaker. I take great delight in an undisturbed life, writing at home. You and your colleagues’ actions are a major factor causing social instability.
Zhu: You have too strong stereotypes about me and our work. I hope you will change your opinion in future.
I said: I need a glass of water.
The police sent a person to buy me some bottled water.
I said: A cup of tap water is fine, I don’t need bottled water.
Another State Security officer said: The weather is really hot, so you’ll want cool water. The police station’s conditions are such that our water isn’t really cool.
According to the routine, the State Security officer sitting next to Zhu asked me some questions first. They used a portable video camera to record the whole interrogation. Both Zhu and the other officer started smoking.
I saw a big sign saying “no smoking.” And I said to them: This sign says no smoking, but you’re totally ignoring the sign. You are in charge of law enforcement but you are the one who breaks the law.
Zhu said he did not see the sign and apologized. But he did not stop smoking, and they continued smoking for several hours. There were two other State Security officers in the room, and they did not smoke.
Zhu: You have been very active on Twitter, but you are not quite on top of the ranking list.
I said: You also read Twitter. What I wrote is not only for Twitter users, but also for people like you. I have no secrets. I do not want to catch eyeballs by making extraordinary remarks. I only want some readers who can really understand, the number of readers does not matter.
Zhu: Then let’s get straight to the point. First, talking about this article, is it you who wrote it?
He handed me an article.
It was “The CCP is a Taliban in Hiding,” an article I published on the overseas website Observe China [www.guancha.org] on April 23, 2010. The print-out clearly indicated the website and the time.
Zhu: Was it you who wrote the article?
I said: Yes, of course. I publish all my articles with my real name. I never publish anonymously. I take responsibility for every piece.
Zhu: Look at this sentence. “The leaders of the CCP not only suppress millions of Chinese, but also attempt to promote the Communist tyranny worldwide.” Who are you referring to when using the phrase “the leaders of the CCP”? What do you mean by “tyranny”?
I said: ”The leaders of CCP” refers to the Chairman or General Secretary of the Party, from Mao Zedong to Hu Jintao. “Tyranny” is not as simple. The Great Famine, the Anti-Rightist Campaign and the Cultural Revolution during the Mao era destroyed countless families and killed tens of millions. During the Deng era, there was the Tiananmen Massacre, when the government opened fire and killed people. Today, there are so many examples, the contaminated milk formula, the shoddy “tofu” school construction [in Sichuan], and the toxic vaccines that have killed so many kids. If this isn’t tyranny, what would you call it? And the government massacred people in Tibet and Xinjiang too.
Another state security officer seemed upset by what I said. He said: Did you not see the Uyghurs killing the Han people? The government had to send troops and police to maintain the social order and protect the people’s lives and property.
I said: I do not deny the fact that a few Uygur mobs killed some Han people. But such a “tooth for tooth, blood for blood” policy can’t really solve the problem. The most powerful force is controlled by the government and the government must use it with great caution. Furthermore, why do such ethnic conflicts occur? That’s because the government policy is seriously flawed (I was not aware that today is the first anniversary of the Urumchi Riot).
Zhu: The next sentence “Emperor Mao once said, ‘the most important task for revolution is to tell friends from enemies.’” Who is “Emperor Mao”?
I said, Mao Zedong.
Zhu: Why do you call him “Emperor Mao”?
I said: Mao is a dictatorial emperor, and he himself said he is far greater than Qin Shihuang [the first emperor]. Mao is the first emperor of the CCP dynasty. In Chinese, “Taizu [emperor]”is the general term for the emperor who founds a dynasty.
Zhu: This sentence-“I saw the ugly scene on TV that Wang Guangya made the opposing vote. This is the big dictator’s support for the small dictators. History will never forget this.” Who do you mean by the “big dictator” and “small dictators”? Why do you think that as long as China remains a permanent member of UN Security Council, the UN’s function of maintaining peace and justice will be impaired?
I said: The big dictator refers to CCP, while small dictators refer to the military junta in Burma, the Kim Jong Il regime in North Korea, etc. China’s voting record at the UN clearly shows that it often supports the rogue regimes that are condemned by the international community.
Zhu: You said “It is justifiable to call the CCP’s policy in Africa a ‘neo-colonialism.’ The more active the CCP is in Africa, the more African countries will suffer from dictatorial political systems and dictatorial mindsets, and the farther these countries will be from democracy and freedom.”What evidence can you find to support this remark?
I said: Everybody knows the CCP is plundering Africa for its natural resources and supports dictatorial regimes. Even the Chinese media has published reports on this. Workers in these African countries have staged quite a few strikes and protests against Chinese investors, and the Chinese are not welcomed by local residents. Many of the dictatorial regimes, for example Sudan, would have collapsed without CCP support.
Zhu: What’s your purpose in writing this article?
I said: I think China has made serious mistakes in its foreign policy: first, its support for the rogue regimes that are involved in terrorist activities has seriously damaged China’s image and earned a bad reputation for China in international community; second, the enormous amount of money used for foreign aid has not been approved either by the National People’s Congress or by Chinese taxpayers. I wish the Chinese government would not treat the administration of foreign aid as a secret.
Then Zhu handed me another article, “When Could the Daydream of ‘Rising as a Great Power’ End?”, which I published on the Observe China website on April 13, 2010. I find it strange that they chose to focus on these two articles, which are by far not my best work.
Zhu: You wrote in this article that “in recent years, the CCP purposefully provoked nationalism among the Chinese, which is a vicious plot to take people’s dissatisfaction with the Chinese government over domestic issues and channel it towards foreigners.” Why do you use the term “vicious plot” here?
I said: If you do not understand this phrase, please look it up in the modern Chinese language dictionary. I am not a Chinese teacher and can’t explain everything word-by-word to you. Many of the State Security officers that I know are graduates from top universities, and they never ask such stupid questions. You should learn from them and improve your education.
Zhu: “Vicious plot” is a negative comment, isn’t it?
I said: Yes, of course it is.
Zhu: Why do you think nationalism is purposefully agitated by the government? Isn’t it the Chinese people’s right to protest against the Japanese seizure of the Senkaku [Diaoyutai] Islands and the Japanese leaders’ visits to the Yasukuni Shrine?
I said: I believe I am in a better position than you to comment on Sino-Japanese disputes. I have done extensive research and published two books on this. You said you know me very well. Have you not read them? Of course the Chinese have the right to criticize some of the Japanese government’s activities, but before that they should first criticize Mao Zedong, who eulogized the Japanese for invading and helping him secure state power. You can look it up in Mao’s collected works. Second, patriotism should be rational. Smashing Japanese cars and destroying Japanese restaurants is not patriotic behavior. Given the high level of globalization nowadays, it is hard to tell if these products are made in Japan or China anyway. The time for boycotting Japanese goods has passed. It is the Chinese people, not the Japanese, who suffer the loss from these actions. As I observed, the Chinese government secretly controlled the anti-Japanese movement in 2004, and manipulated it to let the Chinese people vent their anger over the government’s domestic policies.
Zhu: That’s because of the students’ patriotic passion, how can you call it a plot by the government?
I said: According to the Law of The People’s Republic of China on Assemblies, Processions and Demonstrations, all demonstrations need to apply for approval from the Public Security Bureau. If I apply, could I be approved?
Zhu: It’s up to the Public Security Section, but you can apply.
I said: The anti-Japanese movement suddenly broke out. Did the participants apply for approval? As far as I know, they didn’t. Then isn’t their movement illegal? Why did the government allow illegal activities? Why did the government provide buses to send students to protest outside the Japanese embassy, knowing the movement is illegal?
Zhu: How can you prove those buses were provided by the government, and not hired by the students?
I said: One of my old schoolmates at Peking University told me the buses were arranged by the University.
Zhu: The university is not the government. Your judgment is groundless.
I said: The university is of course part of the government. The President of Peking University is a deputy-ministerial-level position, and the general secretary of the Party Committee at the university is an alternate member of the Central Committee. Which school is not under the control of the government and the Party? It’s you who do not understand the true situation in China. And during the movement, some students threw stones at the Japanese embassy. There were police there, but they did not take any action to stop them.
Zhu: It’s not true. There were so many students outside the embassy. There weren’t enough police to keep everything under control.
I said: The government can have everything under absolute control if it wants to. For instance, during the Tiananmen massacre, there were millions of protestors in Beijing, and the government controlled the situation as soon as they fired their guns.
Zhu: Ok, next sentence: “China’s so-called ‘founding story’ is only the defeat of a less violent axe-gang (KMT) by a more violent one (CCP). As the scholar Xiao Han theorized, the most fundamental Chinese characteristic is the axe-gang spirit: ‘throughout China’s four thousand years’ history, from the first dynasty to the most recent axe-gang regime, all dynasties made their regimes using axes.”What do you mean by “axe-gang”?
I could not stand it anymore, and told him our conversation could go on for days if we continue to talk in this way. I said: An axe-gang is an axe-gang. It’s a concept proposed by Xiao Han, which I agree with wholeheartedly. An axe-gang is a gangster organization that takes over state power through violent means. You can look at Stephen Chow’s kung fu movies. Here is my article, you read it by yourself, if you can’t understand it, hire a tutor. It’s not my job to explain word-by-word to you.
Zhu: You received your MA from Peking University. But I am not so well educated as you are. Your articles are usually very long, and we can’t figure out what you mean after spending much time reading them. Try to write shorter articles in the future, so that we can understand them with ease.
I said: I am sure high school graduates can understand my articles. If you can’t, it shows your education level is lower than high school. You should go back to school. And I like writing long articles. If reading articles is a tiring task for you, you should change your job. You can’t have any feeling of achievement or dignity from your current job. It’s a dirty job, and you can feel better if you go switch to something more rewarding.
Zhu: Changing jobs is not as easy as you think.
When finished talking about the two articles, Zhu asked me to sign and fingerprint every page. This procedure is exactly the same as my first interrogation when they questioned me on more than ten articles. Today it is only two articles. But I saw Zhu had many other articles in his hand.
I asked Zhu how long our conversation would take, since I needed to prepare dinner for my child; and if it would take long, whether I could text message my wife and tell her to go home early.
Zhu: It’ll take a while, so you are unlikely to be home for supper on time, and you can text message your wife.
Then I turned on my cell phone (they made me to turn it off during the talk) and text messaged my wife.
Zhu: Our conversation about your articles will stop here. Now let’s talk about your recent writings and publication plans.
I said: Lifelong Faith and I Have Wings like a Dove, both collections of interviews with Christians coauthored by Wang Yi and me, and Who Would Restore the Old Territory for China, a collection of my articles on the restoration of faith to a Chinese society in social transition, will all be published in Taiwan by Yage Press. I discussed this with the press in my email, and you should know every detail since you have been monitoring my email. In addition, The Muddy Foot Colossal, my book about the dissolution of the Soviet Union, will also be published in Taiwan by Yunchen Press. Currently my books can only be published in Taiwan or Hong Kong.
Zhu: Your articles cannot be published inside China. Have you ever thought about the reason why?
I said: You’re the one who’s doing this job, and you certainly know the reason. You ask this question, it seems like you’re on your first day traveling in China as a foreigner. In a word, the problem is that the Chinese government doesn’t tolerate criticism, and China doesn’t have the basic freedom of speech or freedom of the press.
Zhu: There’s the book, China’s Best Actor: Wen Jiabao. You said on Twitter that you’ll publish it in Hong Kong soon. When will you finish it and when and where will it be published?
I said: I’ll finish within a month, and it’ll be published in the next two or three months. The publisher hasn’t decided.
Zhu: Who will write the preface?
I said: The preface will be an article by Wang Yi, which is called “Giving the Gospel to Wen Jiabao.”
Zhu: Did Wang Yi agree to that?
I said: Of course Wang Yi agreed.
Zhu: Can you tell me about the main content of the book?
I said: It’s mainly a critique of Wen Jiabao’s policies since he became premier, focusing on his failure to accomplish political system reform, and squandering the opportunity that history has provided him to do so.
Zhu: What are the main chapters in the book?
I said: For example, there are critiques on Wen’s economic policies, foreign policy, cultural policy, and education policy. It also critiques his [earthquake] relief efforts, and his role in helping your department [the State Security Bureau] to undermine rule of law, etc. That’s what it’s about for the most part. In terms of the behavior of the State Security guards, I’ll write a separate article about my own encounters in recent years. These last few years, whenever it’s a so-called “sensitive time,” you’ll send someone to my door, and they’ll take me away in their car. Do you think this makes sense? Isn’t it wasting national resources? They even follow me when I go to bookstores and libraries. Is it necessary?
At this time, another State Security officer, Wang, said: It’s very good to accompany you to libraries. I can read books, and become an intellectual.
I said: What you’ve done is illegal. A previous security guard, Zhao, said himself that there’s no legitimate reason for doing this, but it’s the command from above, and it has to be carried out.
Zhu: Did he really say that? Then he’s unprofessional.
I said: Could it be that what you’re doing is illegal? What laws do your actions emanate from?
Zhu: Zhou Yongkang is in charge of political laws. Why do you criticize Wen Jiabao?
I said someone previously raised this question on Twitter, and my opinion is: The Ministry of Public Security is a department under the State Council, and Wen is definitely responsible for the Ministry of Public Security. Of course, I also criticize Zhou Yongkang.
Zhu: There are so many Party and government officials, and there are nine people in the Standing Committee at the Politburo, but you solely criticize Wen. Why?
I said: I published a book The Confrontation between Liu Xiaobo and Hu Jintao last year, which criticized the No. 1 person. After the No. 1 person, obviously it’s time to criticize the No. 2 person. The time is ripe. I criticized Wen many times, not just focusing on him as a person, but also his position as premier.
Zhu: Then subsequently will you criticize the No. 3 and No. 4 person? For example, Xi Jinping?
I said: I have criticized Xi Jinping. In terms of whether to write another book criticizing someone else, it depends on my schedule.
Zhu: You think Wen’s mistake is political system reform. How then do you think China should carry out political system reform?
I said: It’s so simple. For example, lifting the censorship, accomplishing the freedom of press, freedom of religion, starting elections, implementing the two-party system (I think the two-party system is better than the multi-party system),making the judiciary independent, etc. Political system reform isn’t too complicated. Another example is elections within the Politburo, like Vietnam having two candidates for the general secretary position. Couldn’t the Politburo have two candidates to choose from?
Zhu: These ideas are pie in the sky, and not able to be implemented.
I said: Then act according to Charter 08 which you must be familiar with. The No. 19 suggestion from Charter 08 offers guidance on political system reform. It’s better to carry out the reform sooner rather than later.
Zhu: The principles of Charter 08 are not aligned with Chinese reality.
I said: Then what do you think of the Chinese reality? I think you have a “reversed racist” way of thinking. You think the Chinese people are inferior, undeserving of democracy and freedom? Even Wen recognizes the existence of “universal values.” You’re worse than Wen. You should really learn his speeches, and improve your political quality.
Zhu: We cannot bring Western conceptions to China. Wen’s universal values are absolutely different from your Charter 08. If you cannot differentiate them, you have IQ problems.
I said: Your “Marxism” came directly from the West, no? Your concept of “only the official is allowed to light the fire”? I don’t want to argue with you. You can ask whatever question, I’ll talk about my opinions, and you’d better not refute me. I will only answer questions about my own articles.
Zhu: Do you consider Liu Xiaobo to be your big brother? You write a lot of articles about him.
I said: Did I write about him in my articles? I wrote that the CCP is a gangster axe-gang. I have a special moral kinship with Liu Xiaobo, and it’s not a relationship between a big brother and a little brother as you said. Liu is my mentor.
Zhu: You see what happened to Liu Xiaobo, and no Western countries can help him.
I said: I think, in contemporary Chinese history, Liu Xiaobo will be viewed as a great figure in our history.
Zhu: You have a wife and a child, so don’t stand on the opposite side of the Party and government. When you reach the stage of Liu Xiaobo, it’s too late to turn back.
I said: You also have a wife and a child, and eventually there will come a day, within my lifetime, when your wife and child feel shameful of your evil acts…
Zhu: Yes, within your lifetime. You’ve mentioned it in several articles.
I said: Within my lifetime, I’ll definitely see the trial against you, but I’ll be one of the victims asking the court to pardon you. Obviously, I don’t know whether the court will do it.
Zhu: As you said, when you’re in power, I need to beg you to release me?
I said: Not begging me to release you, as I don’t have the power to release you. I’ll never be in power, as I’m always a critical intellectual, and I’ll keep my distance from power. What I meant was that I will always forgive you for the evil you have inflicted on me, even if you don’t repent.
Zhu: I should remind you that you shouldn’t be taken advantage of by some anti-China forces. You see, since Obama came to power, the American embassy no longer keeps in touch with you. America is not reliable. You criticize Obama; is it because he wouldn’t grant you an interview like Bush did?
I said: I’m an independent intellectual beyond the control of any force. I criticize the CCP, not because America protects me. No matter what American policy will be, it won’t change my critical attitude toward the CCP. If you learn from my articles, you’ll see that since Obama became president, he hasn’t cared about Chinese human rights issues, but my critiques of the Communist government haven’t declined. Besides, I criticize Obama, not because he hasn’t seen me, as I never take the initiative to meet with these political figures. When I met with Bush, we didn’t know about it in advance. Today, I criticize Obama because I’m a hardcore Republican. Aside from his policies on China, I very much disagree with his domestic policies. If I was an American intellectual, I would criticize Obama more sharply than I criticized Wen Jiabao.
Zhu: In your mind, democracy and freedom should be like it is in America, right? Since you love America, and you think they have democracy and freedom, you should move and live in America.
I said: I just want to live in China, which indicates that I love China more than you do. No matter how evil the environment is, I just want to live, observe, and write here, in order to help China progress.
Zhu: You said we’re brainwashed, but I think you’re brainwashed by opposing Western powers.
I said: You certainly can think so, and I don’t want to convince you, just like you shouldn’t try to convince me.
Zhu: How many copies of the book will be published?
I said: Around 2000. All the books I’ve published in Hong Kong and Taiwan are around the same number. There aren’t too many people reading books, and there are fewer people who care about mainland China’s problems.
Zhu: You publish so few books?
I said: Now you’ve helped me advertise, and many overseas media outlets will cover this, so I’ll sell a few more books.
Zhu: Then you cannot make too much money from writing, and books don’t pay much do they?
I said: I’m not doing it for the money. If I was in it for the money, and became a hack writer like Yu Qiuyu, I’d be really rich. Now I write books for a few thousand yuan, but for me, it’s enough.
Zhu: You think you’ll surpass Yu Qiuyu if you become a best-selling writer?
I said: The value of an article cannot be measured by its popularity.
Zhu: I advise you not to publish the Wen Jiabao book, or you’ll be responsible for the consequences.
I said: Criticizing Wen Jiabao as a premier is part of every citizen’s right to free speech. I think my critiques of him are within the constitution and part of my safeguarded rights. If I criticize Wen Jiabao, if I wrote something that slandered him and damaged his reputation, he could write articles to refute my criticism, or deal with it legitimately by challenging me in court.
Zhu: Wen Jiabao is not an ordinary citizen, but a national official. Criticizing Wen Jiabao, publishing any irresponsible speech, and quoting from hearsay might jeopardize national security and harm national interests. You’ll bear severe criminal responsibility. It’s not up to Wen Jiabao to sue you personally, but for you to bear criminal responsibility for your actions. The Supreme Court has a clear interpretation on this, and I would guess you know it.
I said: I’m willing to take responsibility for every article I’ve written, and I’ll still publish this book in Hong Kong. No individual or organization can stop this book from going to print. It’s your business if you charge me for my speech. You charged Liu Xiaobo for his speech, but the same opinions from those six articles quoted in his verdict can be found in many of my articles. Even if I don’t publish this book, you could at any time deal with me the same as you dealt with Liu Xiaobo.
Zhu: As long as you know, it’s dangerous to move ahead.
I said: It’s my honor to live and write like Liu Xiaobo.
Zhu: Good, I admire this declaration. You’re not like some other people, who are easily crushed the first time they come under pressure, but I feel you’re very obstinate and subjective.
I said: Everyone is subjective. I publish my own opinions, which don’t represent any group.
Zhu: Have you ever thought about the influence you have? After reading your articles, many people might develop in a bad direction. You must be responsible for that. I’ll give you a suggestion: you should publish your opinions after collecting sufficient evidence. A lot of people think you’re just a complete cynic who doesn’t do constructive work. You should also consider your personal image.
I said: First, for the authorities who monopolize evidence and information, I would rather hope they disclose more information and provide it to the public to use, analyze and shape their own judgments. Second, apart from critiques, I’m doing constructive work. I’ve written many articles, and critiques are only part of that work. I’m not a so-called “dissident,” but I am an “opinion-holder.” The former uses the Party’s perspective as a standard, while the latter uses one’s own perspective as a standard. For me, it’s not important whether I’m the same or different from the Party, but most importantly, whether I express “my” perspective. Not all of my perspectives are “different” from the Party. My opinions have never followed the majority, but they’re all formed from my independent thinking. I’m not supporting anyone who’s against the Party. For instance, my opinions on Yang Jia’s case are different from those activists. Someone said the police deserved to be killed. I think those police killed by Yang Jia were innocent victims. Therefore, one day when the public throws stones at you, I would be willing to protect you.
Zhu: Let’s talk about the church issue. My second piece of advice to you is not to use religion to play politics. Such deeds will reap severe consequences.
I said: I suggest you not judge others’ faith. Everyone has their own relationship with God, and only God can judge. I know that previously you harassed the pastor and his colleagues at the Fangzhou church. Today I inform you, officially, when it comes to my personal business, you should talk to me directly instead of harassing my friends at the church. You often said to my friends at my church and other people from other churches that Yu Jie is not a Christian. Your attempts to alienate me won’t have any impact. We’re together with the Lord. If you continue to harass my friends at the church, I can only publish your names and phone numbers, and appeal to friends online to do a “human flesh search” [find all your personal details on the internet].
Zhu: I’m doing my job, and I’m not afraid of that. Certainly, you have to pay a price for that. I’ve talked with your pastor Shen Quan and your church friend Old Xu, and they are pretty supportiveof you. What do you think of the relationship between religion and politics?
I said: I insist on the principle that religion and politics should be separate. I never propagate my political opinions at the church. Many of our church friends are pure believers who have no interests in politics. My speeches on the outside have never represented the Fangzhou church.
Zhu: You talk about the cultural and social responsibilities of Christians, but don’t they include engaging in political activities?
I said: Every Christian certainly has the right to take part in political activities, since Christians are citizens too. Politics is part of public life, a way to distribute power, and it’s not patented by the CCP.
Zhu: Whatever you say, but according to the Regulations on Religious Affairs, your church’s existence is illegal, because you haven’t registered.
I said: This is a regulation, not the law, because it hasn’t been approved by the National People’s Congress. Thus, you can say that we violate the regulation, but not the law. For us, we first respect the guidance of the Bible, and then the Constitution. In the Constitution there are acts protecting citizens’ freedom of religion. We obey the Constitution, and we don’t recognize the lower level laws and regulations by government departments that contradict the Constitution. Besides, it’s the government departments who make obstacles to registration. We don’t oppose registration if it’s in accordance with principles of the Bible and the Constitution.
Zhu: In the Bible, it says that people should submit to those in power, right? As a Christian, aren’t you willing to follow this sentence?
I said: It seems like you’ve read the Bible, or you only know this one scripture. I specifically wrote an article talking about this question. The Bible is a complete truth, which you cannot quote out of context. That sentence should be understood within the whole Bible, which is connected with other views like “We ought to obey God rather than men,” and “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” Consequently, when a political power violates our freedom of belief, we have a right to criticize and oppose it.
Zhu: I hope you won’t invite foreigners to join the meetings of your church, including Hong Kong, Taiwan and overseas pastors, or I’ll definitely take care of that, and you’re directly responsible for consequences.
I said: The church exists and is regulated according to its principles, and you don’t have the right to put any conditions on that. Since the Roman Empire, so many powers have persecuted churches over the last two thousand years, but the church still exists today, while those powers have disappeared into thin air.
Zhu: The last thing, what’s your view on the Independent Chinese PEN?
I said: I’ve reached my full term being the vice president and the director, and I was an ordinary member two years ago. I won’t talk about their business since I’m not in an official position. I don’t know the current situation. I will certainly stick firmly to PEN’s principles of writers’ freedom of speech.
Zhu: So you pay membership fees?
I said: Of course I pay membership fees. It’s an obligation of the members.
Zhu: Among your books, you might have extra copies. Can you give me a few, and I can learn from them?
I said: I don’t give books to the police. You can buy them in Hong Kong. If you change jobs in the future, maybe I’ll give you some books to read.
Zhu: We don’t have a high salary, and we cannot afford those expensive books in Hong Kong, not to mention it’s not easy to travel to Hong Kong.
I said: Your department has lots of money, and you can get reimbursed for the cost of doing business. Besides, the Beijing Customs confiscated many of my books, and they acted on your command, so you can get the books from Customs.
Zhu: Our department is not as powerful as you imagine. Customs are not under our command.
I said: Doesn’t the situation today prove that you can do whatever you want?
Zhu: We can leave it here today. There’s still a long way in the future. Even though you’re not willing to meet us, our meeting is inevitable in the future. I no longer wish to use this method either. We’re improving our working methods, and we’re continually exploring how to communicate with dissidents, from the Xidan Democracy Wall to 1989 until today, we have changed greatly over the past years. So you should change too.
I said: This is the only part I can accept from what I’ve heard today. I myself certainly have places to improve, and I don’t think each of my articles is perfect, or each of my views is absolutely correct. All my articles can be revised. Besides, I never treat you as enemies, as you’re just cogs in the totalitarian machine. My principle is not to have violent conflicts with you. However, you shouldn’t think of making a fuss to garner merit [with your supervisors]. If you want to get promoted by defaming me, then we’ll only have violent conflicts.
Zhu: I won’t depend on you to get promoted or rich. However, we have a saying in Beijing. If you cooperate with our work, you’ll have some good days, and even have the opportunity to publish your articles in public.
I said: I won’t cooperate with your work, and I think your work is unjustified. I only follow the truth of the Bible and the Constitution.
At 8:30pm, after I signed the record of our conversation, I shook hands and said farewell to Zhu. Another State Security officer, Wang, drove me back home.
At night, several media called. Within two days, Reuters, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Kyodo News, New York Times, BBC, Radio Free Asia, Deutsche Welle, Voice of America, Germany’s Die Welt, Radio France Internationale, Sankei Shimbun, Radio Australia, Swiss TV, South China Morning Post, Ming Pao Daily News, Apple Daily, China Times, Taiwan’s Central Broadcasting, among others all covered this incident in detail.
The security guard Zhu made a mistake in his wishful thinking. Every time I’m harassed by State Security officers, I’ll write more articles criticizing the authoritarian system. These officers contributed to my redoubled writing efforts. And this incident caused more media and readers to take notice of the book China’s Best Actor: Wen Jiabao. Isn’t it like a free advertisement?
Dark powers cannot accomplish “blocking people’s mouth is just like preventing the flood.”
When reaching the end of this article, I thought of a classic story from Zuo. Today the Communist Party speaks highly of China studies, and Wen Jiabao also likes to quote from Chinese classics. The title I used is from a poem my friend Xu Jin gave me many years ago, and I’ll end this article with this story:
In Duke Lu Xiang’s 25th year, in the Qi Kingdom, there was a royal historian Bo who boldly wrote “Cui Zhu killed his monarch.” Cui Zhu ordered Bo to change it, not writing it so explicitly. But Bo insisted that he not change it, and as a result he was killed. When the royal historian was changed to Bo’s brother, Zhong, he also refused to change the writing, and he was killed too. Then the royal historian was changed to another brother Shu, who was still not willing to change it, and he was killed as well.
At the end, the youngest brother, Ji, became the royal historian. When he wrote, Zhu picked up the book and told Ji: All your three brothers are dead, do you love your life? If you change the words, you’ll be exonerated. Ji answered: “It is the historian’s responsibility to write according to what happened. If I live while shirking my responsibility, I would rather die.” Previously, Zhao Chuan killed Duke Ling in the Jin Kingdom, and the royal historian Dong Hu thought Zhao Dun’s rule was just, and thus wrote ‘Zhao Dun killed his monarch Yi Gao.’ Dun didn’t blame him, and he knew that a historian’s responsibility shouldn’t be shirked. Even if he didn’t write it, someone else would. Not writing it could not cover up the dark side of the kingdom, and he wrote for people who understood. “I don’t want to die, but it’s your choice!” Cui Zhu sighed, “I have to do it because I’m afraid the country will be hurt. Though you write the way it is, people will excuse me.” Thus he returned the book to Ji.
Ji exited with the book. When he returned to the historian’s place, he met with another historian Nan Shi. Ji asked why, and Nan Shi replied: “I’ve heard that all your brothers had died, and I’m afraid you won’t be able to escape death, thus I came with the book.” Ji showed him the book, and Nan Shi left.
July 7th, 2010, “July 7th Incident” Chinese national humiliation day
At home in Beijing
The author sent and first published at <Democratic China>