Disappearance

Today¡¯s New York Times reports China¡¯s amendment to Chinese constitution to allow private property ownership. China Approves Amendments to Constitution on Human Rights, By CHRIS BUCKLEY.

The very last paragraph touched on something else:

Mr. Wen also dismissed a recent call by a prominent Chinese surgeon, Jiang Yanyong, to reverse the official condemnation of the Tiananmen Square political protests of 1989. At the outset of the parliamentary session, Dr. Jiang circulated a letter calling on top government and party leaders to review the student-led protests and condemn the use of force to squelch them.

¡°Unity and stability are really more important than anything else, and that’s what I’m most concerned with as Prime Minister,” Mr. Wen said.¡±

The fact is, while the constitution was being amended during the past weekend, two of the largest weblog hosting company shut down their services: blogbus and blogcn. Approximately 90% of my Chinese RSS subscription come from those two services. Suddenly my rss reader went deathly quiet. All the names, characters, voices, words, funny or sad lines, suddenly disappeared. As if a vibrant universe suddenly darkened.

The reason?

Some of their subscribers were circulating the same letter mentioned by Prime Minister Mr. Wen.

It reminded me of South America, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and all those places that have been torn by civil war, when people¡¯s loved ones start disappear without any explanation.

What are happening in Chinese weblog world are virtual disappearances.

It is funny that NYT actually adds ¡°Human Rights¡± to the end of the title on this report; does no one know what is happening to Chinese people¡¯s freedom of speech? Did media turned a blind eye to all the disappearance in Chile, Sri Lanka, South Africa, too? Is this a pattern?

I find it ironic that Chinese parliament chose to show their gesture at expanding Chinese people¡¯s material freedom at exactly the same time when shutting up people¡¯s voice. What¡¯s even more bizarre was that Western Media seemed to be in full agreement with Chinese government. Maybe the only freedom that any institution or mass media really cares is nothing but material freedom. As long as people have the freedom to consume, then capitalism won¡¯t die. Who cares if the consumer is forbidden to speak his/her mind?

One of those weblogs that disappeared this weekend belonged to ¡°zeze¡±. Her weblog¡¯s name is ¡°Witch zeze¡¯s magic plant¡±. I always liked her tag line, which says, ¡°A plant is a creature that will continue to grow, as long as it is not dead.¡± I found that aspect of anyone¡¯s blog appealing. When I am too busy to update my own weblog, I would remember that tag line and think, it is okay, it is not dead, it will continue to grow, it is just taking a break, it is hibernating. When any of my beloved weblog stops updating for a while, I would say the same thing to myself, believe that someday, somehow, it will spark a tiny new leaf, to let us know, it is still growing¡­

I truly wish these suddenly disappeared weblog will return someday, somehow, and continue to grow¡­

2 thoughts on “Disappearance

  1. hit this link (a new post from your recommended site):
    http://www.livinginchina.com/archives/000712.html

    Two weeks before, I talked with a colleague from Dublin office (a German, seems all are German here wherever they come from)
    We have a nice talk. He will take annual leave in China and plans to visit Beijin. So I suggested: ‘You should go Great Wall, Forbidden City…’
    ‘And Tian’anmen Square.’ He smiled with interest.

    I am really embarrassed. Although I don’t take much west views, I know he is not insterested in this scenery just because we sing ‘I love Beijin TAM’ from the very young age.
    My tone of pride is turned down a bit without notice. This is really a delicated feeling: it is a shame you don’t know the things about your own land.
    Well. It is a totally blank in my brain on this issue. I don’t believe any saying about it. Truth is beyond any type of official reports and rumors. I take it in this way.

    My colleague is a funny man. When head for Shanghai, he told his Dublin friends: There are two possibilities that I don’t come back, arrested at TAM square or meet a incredible woman. And he will hold a small flag with company name if arrested, he promised, to go on to the news headline.

    When I heard the journalist asked for a re-evaluation on the event on the live show of Wen’s meeting, I think it is in-applicable.
    Well, it just won’t go in this way. Even something is changing, say, more open or transparent, for quite some years the tune won’t change, especially for those already passed. It is just not the way.

    Jean’s Reply:
    Personally I think Dr. Jiang’s letter was ahead of his time. It is not the right time, like you said. When i just heard of the headline, my first reaction was “is he crazy? ready to be jailed?” But later when i read the entire letter that Mom has printed out for me on the dinner table. I think i understand why he has to do it.

    It is probably the survivor’s guilt, and especially being a doctor involved in the situation, he needs some kind of closure for himself. I feel sympathetic toward him. He probably thinks he is old enough and doesn’t have too much time to lessen this guilt. He wants to do something for the dead.

    I never expected the government to actually act upon his request. But i’m still upset that they chose to shut down all the large blogging services. For god’s sake, most of the things that i enjoy reading has nothing to do with politics. They were like soap operas, little things, trivial things, what do they have to do with politics? why do they have to be shut down?

    I find that depressing.

    This “shut-down” reminded me of June 4th more than Jiang’s letter. Whenever you think the atmosphere has been relaxed enough and people actually are allowed to talk freely, the government will do something to show you who is really the boss.

    Honestly, i think it is an insult for government “to prevent dangerous information to get to the people”. I believe all men should be allowed to know whatever there is to know and make their own judgement. But i understand your concern and the Chinese government’s concern.

    In the west, there is a strong mis-trust toward the government. Regardless it is a socialist one or a democratic one. All body of power should be curbed in someway. The real danger is the government itself, not the information about the government.

    Anyway, I’m ranting because i don’t get to read all those funny/interesting/individual blogs i have been enjoying for the past year. They weren’t even political, so there is no danger to speak of. I don’t think anyone has the power to shut people up. Remember that famous line on the web? “I don’t agree with you, but i will wholeheartedly defend your right to speak.”

  2. I agree.

    Sometimes it is just depressing. Have to face the reality.

    I am downhearted this noon. As you said, relation is the bitterest thing when work in China. Sometimes it is what people think, the style.
    Today I have lunch with a new colleague. She’s arround 40, but join as a very beginning stage the same as us.
    The style is totally different. I am not age-discriminal but…
    It is said she scolded our office cleaner. The staff refused to print things for her because it is not her job. And she said, you are clearner, you do what you are told to.
    I just can’t stand such a person.
    Everything is different. She reminds us to speak English because our leader (SG) is here. But, here is in China. We speak Chinese as we like, at lunch time!

    Sometimes you just feel it is a long long way to go to change the way.
    A friend of mine is working in government. She’s always depressed. As she complained, the person holds the power (the older generation) just has weird thoughts, the terrible way to handle things. You can see the shaddow of the Culture Revolution. I said, yes, it takes time when young people grow into the important position and change the way. But she worried, hey, all excellent young people flee away from government just because can’t bear it. How do you suppose it will change?

    Jean’s Reply:
    I feel your pain. But we should be optimistic. Looking back, it has been merely ten years, but things are so very different now!! Don’t you think?

    Mom showed me the article on ÁªÏë²ÃÔ±. We were both amazed at how much it resembles lay-off procedures here in the US. Welcome to Capitalism! 🙂 Chinese corporations are catching up with high speed. Fast learners!

    The gap between your co-worker and you seem to me more of a generation gap. It is not a unique product in China. She reminds me of an ex-coworker. He was an immigrant from Pakistan. At the beginning he was full of the arrogance and long-winded talk. He always called meetings and never solved any problems, and he always looked down on people whose ranking was below him. It was so out of sync with Silicon Valley¡¯s casual and easy-going atmosphere. He reminded me how well the British colonial system has brain washed generations of Asia¡¯s sub continent. It was so typical of a bureaucratic class. You could still see them in lots of western government agencies. French government, for example, is notorious for breeding such characters. Chinese people are familiar with the arrogance and rudeness of workers in US embassy. But the truth is they are everywhere. They are less obnoxious in the US because taxpayers paid their salaries. Without us, they wouldn¡¯t have a job. But still, when it comes to immigration service, they are almost uniformly bad. During Clinton and Gore era, there was an order from the White House to improve their service and attitude. Today, the IRS and BCIS (Immigration service) are slightly more polite than before. Hats off to Clinton. 🙂

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