Taiwanese activist tried in China

After Taiwanese human rights activist Lee Ming-cheh was abducted when crossing into China almost six months ago, his wife Lee Ching-yu received a phone call from a Zhang Zhongwei on September 6. Zhang claimed to be Lee’s attorney and asked Lee’s wife to travel to Yueyang, Hunan, China, where Lee would be due to attend trial. Lee’s wife departed for China on September 10 and had to sit through what could only be described as a farce of a trial the next day.

During the trial, Lee “confessed” to charges of “subverting state power” through posting articles on Chinese social media platforms QQ, Weibo, and WeChat with the intent to “maliciously discredit” the Community Party of China and promote democracy. He also added that he received “well-rounded education” during his detention and had come to recognize the progress China made in development. He further expressed his appreciation in China’s “civilized justice system”. The court uploaded Lee’s trial in edited segments to its Weibo account. The court will sentence Lee at a later date.

We may never know what actually led to Lee’s “confession” until and if he is released back to Taiwan. Most people who voted in Taiwan’s election or anyone who has voiced support for an independent Taiwan are guilty of those “charges” Lee “confessed” to. But one thing has never been clearer: China will prosecute and hunt down whoever it wants, under whatever reasons it deems necessary, but it is definitely not convincing any sane Taiwanese that the Communist Party of China, its one-party authoritarian rule, and unification are desirable in Taiwan’s future.

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Linguistic challenges when writing about “China”

The Financial Times last month published The dark side of China’s national renewal (subscriptions required), addressing the idea that all Chinese people should help China achieve the “China Dream”:

To an English-speaking ear, rejuvenation has positive connotations and all nations have the right to rejuvenate themselves through peaceful efforts.

But the official translation of this crucial slogan is deeply misleading. In Chinese it is “Zhonghua minzu weida fuxing” and the important part of the phrase is “Zhonghua minzu” — the “Chinese nation” according to party propaganda. A more accurate, although not perfect, translation would be the “Chinese race”.

Zhonghua minzu 中華民族 is a phrase that doesn’t translate well in English. As discussed by Arif Dirlik in Born in Translation: “China” in the Making of “Zhongguo”, the words China and Chinese are inherently invited by the West.

As Lydia Liu has observed, “the English terms ‘China’ and ‘Chinese’ do not translate the indigenous terms hua [華], xia [夏], han [漢], or even zhongguo [中國] now or at any given point in history.”

Continue reading “Linguistic challenges when writing about “China””

Charter 08

In honor of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Chinese dissident who passed away just hours ago, we are posting his dream of a democratic China in the form of his Charter 08, a petition written to advocate for China’s transformation into a true democracy. May he rest in peace and finally be free.

I. Foreword

A hundred years have passed since the writing of China’s first constitution. 2008 also marks the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the thirtieth anniversary of the appearance of Democracy Wall in Beijing, and the tenth of China’s signing of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre of pro-democracy student protesters. The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles across these same years, now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values. Continue reading “Charter 08”

Going back on (historical) words

When asked about Hong Kong’s “rights and freedoms protected by the Sino-British Joint Declaration”, on June 30, before the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said:

As for the remarks made by those from the US and the UK, I want to stress that Hong Kong is China’s SAR, and Hong Kong affairs belong to China’s domestic affairs. The Sino-British Joint Declaration (1984) clearly marks the transitional period off from China resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. It’s been 20 years now since Hong Kong’s return to the motherland, and the arrangements during the transitional period prescribed in the Sino-British Joint Declaration are now history and of no practical significance, nor are they binding on the Chinese central government’s administration of the Hong Kong SAR. The British side has no sovereignty, no power to rule and supervise Hong Kong after the handover. It is hoped that relevant people will come around to this.

至于媒体报道英美有关人士的表态,我想强调,香港是中国的特别行政区,香港事务属于中国内政。1984年的《中英联合声明》就中方恢复对香港行使主权和过渡期有关安排作了清晰划分。现在香港已经回归祖国怀抱20年,《中英联合声明》作为一个历史文件,不具有任何现实意义,对中国中央政府对香港特区的管理也不具备任何约束力。英方对回归后的香港没有主权,没有治权,也没有监督权。希望上述人士认清现实。

Of no practical significance, nor are they binding. Best wishes to the people of Hong Kong, especially those still fighting for those rights and freedoms. Taiwan must take note.

Nigeria forces Taiwan trade office to relocate

After securing a lucrative investment package from China during the visit of Chinese foreigner minister in January this year, Nigeria ordered Taiwan to rename and move its trade office from the current capital, Abuja, to the commercial hub, Lagos, as well as to reduce the number of staff. Numerous negotiations between Taiwan and Nigeria followed, but to no avail.

Facing strong pressure from China, the director of Taiwan trade office was forced to leave the African country on March 31 as Nigeria could no longer guarantee his safety. Yesterday, Nigeria sent military police to close off the Taiwanese office in Abuja and forced staff to leave. Continue reading “Nigeria forces Taiwan trade office to relocate”

Panama breaks diplomatic relations with ROC

Taiwan’s foreign ministry today announced that it has terminated diplomatic relations with the Republic of Panama, after the Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela announced the decision to recognize the People’s Republic of China in a televised address. Panamanian vice-president and foreign minister and Chinese foreign minister formalized the relationship in Beijing shortly before the address.

Continue reading “Panama breaks diplomatic relations with ROC”