Friday, 25 February 2011

Chinese Jasmine Rallies: Beijing to Wuhan, since Feb. 20, 2011

Open Letter to the National People’s Congress from the Organizers of the Chinese Jasmine Rallies

[English Translation by Human Rights in China]

First, we would like to thank every participant of the Jasmine Rallies. Your participation has already made the authoritarian government very nervous. Your presence has made the Chinese government understand that they must choose between these two paths:

The Chinese government will genuinely fight corruption and accept the supervision of the people.
Suppress popular protest, continue corruption, and continue to refuse the supervision of the people.
Every Chinese person with dreams hopes that China will become prosperous, rich, and powerful, that the people will not have to worry about food and clothing, that the government is upright and honest, and that the judiciary is impartial and just. But twenty years have passed [since the 1989 Democracy Movement], and what we are witnessing is a government that grows more corrupt by the day, government officials who collude with vested interests, and a citizenry that has not benefitted from the reform, opening up, and economic development. On the contrary, the people have to endure high goods and housing prices, and do not have health care, education, or benefits for the elderly. And what about ten years from now? Will we face a government even more corrupt? A judicial system even more opaque? Will vested interests give up their vested interest?

Every good and honest Chinese person, please think: So much public housing has been sold to individuals, so many state-owned enterprises and so much land have been sold, and nearly all state-owned property has been sold off. But where has all the money from these sales gone? It goes without saying that state-owned property belongs to the entire people. But what did the people get? Led by an authoritarian regime, the opaque process of privatization has made a small number of people rich, but what did the vast number of ordinary people get?

Every good and honest Chinese person, please think: When Japan, Korea, and Taiwan were in the process of industrializing, they were able to make the overwhelming majority of their people prosperous. Why is it that during China’s industrialization the ordinary people are becoming poorer? Why is it that in just the last few decades China has gone from being a country with the smallest gap between the rich and the poor to one with the largest? It is because the unfair system has made a small number of people incredibly wealthy, and the vast majority of people remain poor.

Every good and honest Chinese person, please think: Every year the government uses public money to eat and drink, buy cars, visit foreign places, and raise salaries for officials; yet it doesn’t have money to spend on health care, education, benefits for the elderly, or other basic needs. The vast majority of Chinese people do not have basic health care, education, or benefits for the elderly. Not to mention Europe, America, Japan, or Korea; our welfare system is far behind those of India, Russia, or Brazil. When other countries use the majority of their tax money for the welfare of their people, where does our tax money go?

Every good and honest Chinese person, please think: At present the renminbiranks first among world currencies in terms of quantity in circulation. This serious “over-issuing” of currency has brought about a vicious cycle of inflation inside China. The excessive printing of currency is recklessly diluting the value of the people’s wealth. Because the renminbi is not an international currency, it is China’s ordinary citizens who are out of luck. The meager income of China’s ordinary people must support goods and housing prices similar to those in Europe and America. On the one hand the government excessively prints money, and on the other hand it uses administrative means to keep housing prices low is this some sort of mockery?

Every good and honest Chinese person, please think: It is a matter of course that officials, when disclosing their wealth, should accept the supervision of the people, and that the government, when publishing details of tax revenues, should accept the supervision of the people. However, the Chinese people have no such power. We have been waiting for decades. Even if we wait for another ten years, we will not be able to get this kind of power. Should we keep on waiting? Are you willing to wait another 10 years, 20 years, 30 years?

In short, without pressure from the people, absolutely no authoritarian government would take the initiative to respect the people or accept the people’s supervision. What we need to do now is to put pressure on the Chinese ruling party. If the party does not conscientiously fight corruption and accept the supervision of the people, then will it please exit the stage of history. We call upon each Chinese person who has a dream for China to bravely come out to take an afternoon stroll at two o’clock on Sundays to look around. Each person who joins in will make it clear to the Chinese ruling party that if it does not fight corruption, if the government does not accept their supervision, the Chinese people will not have the patience to wait any longer.

We do not necessarily have to overthrow the current government. As long as the government fights corruption, the government and officials accept the people’s supervision, the government is sincere about solving the problems regarding judicial independence and freedom of expression and gives a timetable, we can give the ruling party time to solve the problems. We can call a stop to the strolling activities. We have been waiting for decades, if the government is sincere about solving the problem, we do not mind waiting a little longer. However, if the government is not sincere about solving the problems, but only wants to censor the Internet and block information to suppress the protests, the protests will only get stronger. As more and more people find out about “jasmine rallies,” there will definitely be more and more Chinese people joining in.
We don’t care if we implement a one party system, a two party system, or even a three party system; but we are resolute in asking the government and the officials to accept the supervision of ordinary Chinese people, and we must have an independent judiciary. This is our fundamental demand.

We do not support violent revolution; we continue to support non-violent non-cooperation. We invite every participant to stroll, watch, or even just pretend to pass by. As long as you are present, the authoritarian government will be shaking with fear.

China belongs to every Chinese person, not to any political party. China’s future will be decided by every person. We ask that the government and officials accept the supervision of the people, that the details of tax collection be published, and that taxes are genuinely “collected from the people, and used for the people.” These basic requests are not the least bit excessive. For our country’s future, for the fundamental rights of our children and future generations, please bravely come out. The Chinese people’s thirst for freedom and democracy is unstoppable (as Wen Jiabao said during an interview on CNN).

If you are unable to participate in the strolls, please tell every Chinese person near you: We need an upright and honest government. We need the right to supervise government tax collection. We need the right to scrutinize officials’ wealth. We need the right to publicly criticize the government. These are the fundamental rights of every Chinese person. Please tell every Chinese person near you: Non-violent non-cooperation is the only path for Chinese democratization. Please use word-of-mouth to break through the news blackout and come show your support.

The Chinese people rely on themselves to fight for their rights. We should not even dream that an authoritarian regime would take the initiative to award us these rights. Please join us in non-violent non-cooperation to make the Chinese government respect the basic rights of the Chinese people.

Time: Every Sunday starting on February 20, 2011 at 2 pm. (If the Chinese government is sincere about solving problems such as corruption and public supervision, we will send out a notice stopping the action.)
Rally Locations:
Beijing: in front of the McDonald’s on Wangfujing Street
Shanghai: in front of Peace Cinema at People’s Square
Tianjin: below the Drum Tower
Nanjing, [Jiangsu Province]: the entrance of Silk Street Department Store at the Drum Tower Square
Xi’an, [Shaanxi Province]: the entrance of Carrefour on Beida Street
Chengdu, [Sichuan Province]: under the Statue of Chairman Mao at Tianfu Square
Changsha, [Hunan Province]: the entrance of Xindaxin Building at Wuyi Square
Hangzhou, [Zhejiang Province]: the entrance of Hangzhou Department Store at Wulin Square
Guangzhou, [Guangdong Province]: in front of the Starbucks at the People’s Park
Shenyang, [Liaoning Province]: in front of the KFC at North Nanjing Street
Changchun, [Jilin Province]: in front of Corogo Supermarket at Democratic Avenue of West Culture Square
Harbin, [Heilongjiang Province]: in front of Harbin Cinema
Wuhan, [Hubei Province]: in front of the McDonald’s at Jiefang Avenue and the World Trade Plaza

People who are in cities not listed here, please go to the central square of your city.
We ask websites to help spread this statement, thank you!

One of the organizers of China Jasmine Rallies (Posted on Boxun by a friend on February 21, 2011.)

Friday, 18 February 2011

Universal Values vs. Chinese Characteristics

The Egyptian uprising is an awkward fact for China’s rulers because it undermines one of their favorite arguments. They have long claimed that China has “special characteristics” (meaning that its people prefer authoritarianism, at least for now) and that demands in China for democracy and human rights are merely results of the subversive tactics of “anti-China” forces based in Western countries. But if that theory is true, then one needs to explain why millions of Egyptian people were opposing Mubarak, who was a US client. Plainly something deeper was motivating them.

The example of Tunisia raises a related question, equally awkward. For China’s rulers, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the ousted dictator, would have been seen as following their own approach—the so-called “Chinese model” of economic growth combined with political repression—and having much success with it, or so it was assumed for many years. But the Tunisian people took to the streets to overthrow him. Did the people want something more than the Chinese model? How could that be?

In recent years, China’s own activists have identified freedom, democracy, human rights and human dignity as “universal values”: this is one of the core ideas in Charter 08, the reform document the government has tried so hard to suppress. China’s rulers have countered by claiming that “so-called” universal values are merely “tactics peddled by the West.” This confrontation has spawned a “universal values debate” in Chinese intellectual circles...

- Middle East Revolutions: The View from China, Perry Link

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Union Squared: Tank Man, Union Square, New York, NY, U.S.A. February 12, 2011, by Secret Agent.

Union Squared: Goddess of Democracy, Union Square, New York, NY, U.S.A. February 12, 2011, by Secret Agent.

Composite Images of Tank Man and the Goddess of Democracy

Friday, 11 February 2011

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Reactions from the Chinese Blogosphere: China & Egypt

China Election and Governance
Over the course of 30 years of reform, China has already established its worldwide economic status. But in terms of human rights, the Chinese government lags behind, not only failing to win respect from international society, but also remaining passive on the subject in every respect. Human rights does not receive sufficient attention within China, placing officials and the public in opposition to one another and leading the government to do a poor job of maintaining stability. The situation is unsustainable. The events in Egypt have been enough to attract our attention. The government that disdains human rights cannot survive in the end.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Chinese Blogosphere: The True Battelground
On January 25, 2011, Yu Jianrong, a famous human rights activist and sociologist, launched a Sina microblog in which he called on Chinese netizens to wield their camera lenses, expose child beggars and upload the pictures to the blog, a cause he believed can save the mistreated children and help battle such crimes.
    The microblog has sent immense reverberations throughout the country’s cyberspace. 74,834 have followed the microblog and thousands offered their clues and pieces of evidence.
    According to Information Times, the 30 plus children found on the streets of Guangzhou, Guangdong Province in south China all came from a few villages administered by Fuyang, Anhui Province in east China. These villages are quite well-off by Chinese rural standards, but they profit from the “industrialized” child-abduction and abuse.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Landmark China: An Augmented Reality Project

F1. Landmark AR: Tiananmen Square
Concept: Deploying communication technologies and contemporary art expressions, artists elevate 'mobile phone experience' to in-depth exploration on our surrounding world, to discover hidden meanings under surfaces. The Landmark China Augmented Reality project will be installed at varied tourist attractions throughout China, and link those locations to Chinese cultural spirit, or current social challenges, therefore inspire audience to further examine the 'reality.'

How it works: Landmark China is consisted of a series of site-specific installations that are invisible in physical space, but  viewable on screen of a mobile phone. The mobile phone application uses geolocation software to superimpose artwork (the augmentation) at the precise GPS coordinates of a desired site, where audience can see the augmentation integrated into the physical location as if it existed in the real world (F1, F2).

F2. Landmark AR: Chang'an Avenue

What to see: We are developing three types of Landmarks: 1. Landmarks with Cultural Spirit; 2. Landmarks of Current Social Turbulence;  3. Landmarks of Social-Environmental Crisis. Resurrecting historical figures conveying free spirit, or reviving a scenario questioning the superficial prosperity, the Landmarks redefine human environment of current popular tourist attractions throughout China. Audience can immediately perceive the 'layered' reality on a cell phone screen: art, politics, history and culture, which are deeply connected.

Display: While the actual work needs to be experienced on site with an iPhone or Android device, there are a number of ways displaying documentation of  Landmarks in galleries and museums:  Image of Screenshot in forms of print, light-box; video documentation, particularly for Landmarks with animated components.

*Landmark: Forbidden City 故宫
- Ji Kang
Mobile Phone Screenshot: Ji Kang, the famous member of 'non-cooperation' movement
in ancient China, plays qin at execution ground of Forbidden City
Painting of Ji Kang

* Landmark: Great Wall 山海关
- Meng Jiang Nv crying (coming soon)

*Landmark: Great Hall of the People 人民大会堂
- Mad Drummer 弥衡
Mobile Phone Screenshot: Mi Heng (173-300), the Mad Drummer,
scoffs treacherous court official, at Great Hall of the People, Beijing
Painting of Mad Drummer

* Landmark: Three Gorges Dam 三峡大坝
 - Qu Yuan 屈原
Mobile Phone Screenshot: Qu Yuan, the upright official
and great poet's spirit emerges at Three Gorge Dam
Painting of Qu Yuan

* Landmark: West Lake in Hangzhou  杭州西湖
- Lady White 白娘子
Mobile Phone Screenshot: Lady White, the spirit fighting
for love and freedom, at West Lake, Zhe Jiang province.
Painting of Lady White

* Landmark: Tiananmen Tower  天安门城楼
- 3 Young Men Defacing Mao's Portrait
Mobile Phone Screenshot: 3 young men threw eggs filled with paint
at Mao's portrait on Tiananmen Tower, during 1989 Student Protest
Painting of 3 Young Men Defacing Mao's Portrait

* Landmark: Shanghai World Expo China Pavilion  世博会
- Yang Jia  riding bicycle (coming soon)

* Qian Yunhui + city of Yueqing in Zhejiang Province  (coming soon)

* Landmark: Bird Nest Stadium of Olympic Game  鸟巢
- 2008 Sichuan Earthquake Monument

Mobile Phone Screenshot: School rubble as Monument of
2008 Sichuan Earthquake, at Bird Nest Olympic Stadium Beijing
Painting of School rubble of 2008 Sichuan Earthquake

(in process, more coming soon)

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Feb 2011 Cairo

* Princeton, New Jersey (CNN) -- When the Egyptian people took to the streets of Cairo to protest the oppressive government of President Hosni Mubarak, they instantly challenged one of the most powerful strains of U.S. foreign policy thinking.
      In American diplomatic circles, the "realists" have long argued that the U.S. must be primarily focused on national self-interest, rather than concentrating on trying to promote democracy and human rights in other countries.
     They object to the style of idealism promoted by President Woodrow Wilson, who envisioned that war and diplomacy could transform international relations by institutionalizing cooperation among nations, allowing for the self-determination of people and ending war for all time.
    ... It is impossible, they said, for democracy to take root in the Middle East given the history of the region. To protect strategic interests such as access to oil, they felt it essential to make peace with bad rulers.

* "People need to see that you not only talk the talk, but walk the walk, and people need to understand and believe that you really, seriously take democracy, rule of law, freedoms seriously," ElBaradei said Sunday. Asking "a dictator" to implement democratic reforms "is an oxymoron, frankly."

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

From Tiananmen Square to Tahrir Square

Artists use smartphone Augmented Reality application to revive Chinese Statue of Democracy on Tahrir Square, Cairo
mobile phone (iPhone or Android) screenshots of Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality: Goddess of Democracy on Tiananmen Square, Beijing

The fact that social networking sites have fueled the protests in Egypt will no doubt spur Chinese officials to further scrutinize such sites. And they may be right to pay attention: Zhao Jing, a liberal Chinese blogger who goes by the name of Michael Anti, said that “it was amazing netizens on Twitter cared about Egypt so much” that they had begun drawing parallels between China and Egypt. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt was being called Mu Xiaoping, a reference to Deng Xiaoping, who quashed the 1989 popular protests in Beijing, while Tahrir Square in Cairo was being compared to Tiananmen Square.

Yet, there are intellectuals in Beijing skeptical of any similar protests arising in China, mainly because this nation’s dynamic economy has given many Chinese hope for a better life.