Monthly Archives: 1月 2015

CDT Bookshelf: Heather Inwood’s Verse Going Viral

at-Emmas-wedding_2-243x300Heather Inwood (image courtesy interviewee)

Poetry is revered in China, but is it still a living art form? In 2006, Han Han said modern poetry–and poets–are of “zero value.” Reverence for classical poetry begins when children are taught to Continue reading

‘I Don’t Know Where Some Cadres Get Their Magical Powers’ And Other Quotations from Xi Jinping’s New Book on Corruption

459270358_0THE EDITORS 01.28.15

Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images
Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Earlier this month, at the close of the Chinese Communist Party’s 5th Plenum, the official People’s Daily noted on its website that as this important agenda-setting meeting came to a close Continue reading

Teng Biao: What will this crackdown on activists do to China’s nascent civil society?

Even the renowned rights lawyer Pu Zhiquiang has been caught up in the arrests since 2012. But the democratic push won’t stop

Chinese-human-rights-lawy-010Chinese human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang

Pu Zhiqiang speaking to reporters at the Chongqing higher people’s court in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality, 28 December 2012. Photograph: Yongping Xu/EPA Continue reading

Murong Xuecun:Xi’s Selective Punishment

JAN. 16, 2015

HONG KONG — A Chinese government official I know was put under shuanggui, the secretive system of internal Communist Party investigation in which victims are detained, questioned without counsel and sometimes tortured. Continue reading

China to Force Authors to Provide Real Names When Publishing Online

By AMY QIN January 27, 2015

15SINO-NAMES01-articleLargeHao Qun, known to most readers as Murong Xuecun, is one of many prominent Chinese writers to use a pen name.
Shiho Fukada for The New York Times

Zhou Shuren is widely regarded as one of China’s most influential Continue reading

Prison of the Mind-A Chinese poet’s memoir of incarceration

JULY 1, 2013

Liao Yiwu was imprisoned from 1990 to 1994, after reciting a poem, “Massacre,” in memory of dead pro-democracy protesters.

Spending time in jail is no fun anywhere, but each society has its own cultural refinements of misery. The sadistic imagination of Chinese prison authorities, though hardly unique, is often remarkable. But so is that of the inmates themselves, who form their own hierarchies, their own prisons within prisons.

At the Chongqing Municipal Public Security Bureau Investigation Center, for example, also known as the Song Mountain Investigation Center, the cell bosses devised an exotic menu of torments. A few samples:

SICHUAN-STYLE SMOKED DUCK: The enforcer burns the inmate’s pubic hair, pulls back his foreskin and blackens the head of the penis with fire.


NOODLES IN A CLEAR BROTH: Strings of toilet papers are soaked in a bowl of urine, and the inmate is forced to eat the toilet paper and drink the urine.


TURTLE SHELL AND PORK SKIN SOUP: The enforcer smacks the inmate’s knee caps until they are bruised and swollen like turtle shells. Walking is impossible.

There are other tortures, too, meted out in a more improvised manner. Liao Yiwu, in his extraordinary prison memoir, “For a Song and a Hundred Songs” (translated from the Chinese by Wenguang Huang; New Harvest), describes the case of a schizophrenic woodcutter who had axed his own wife, because she was so emaciated that he took her for a bundle of wood. The cell boss spikes the woodcutter’s broth with a laxative, and then refuses to let him use the communal toilet bucket, with the result that the desperate man shits all over a fellow-inmate. As a punishment for this disgusting transgression, his face is smashed into a basin. The guards, assuming that he has tried to commit suicide, a prison offense, then work him over with a stun baton.

Alexis de Tocqueville came to the United States in 1831 to study the country’s prison system, and ended up writing “Democracy in America.” Observing the Chinese prison system from the inside, from 1990 to 1994, as a “counterrevolutionary” inmate, Liao Yiwu tells us a great deal about Chinese society, both traditional and Communist, including the impact of revolutionary rhetoric, forced denunciations and public confessions, and, as times have changed since Mao’s misrule, criminal forms of capitalism. He ends his account by saying that “China remains a prison of the mind: prosperity without liberty.”

Liao was incarcerated for writing a poem, “Massacre”—a long stream-of-consciousness memorial to the thousands of people who were killed on June 4, 1989, when the pro-democracy movement was crushed throughout China. The poem, in its English translation by Michael Day, begins as follows:


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Hong Kong Editor, Attacked Last Year, Expresses Hope for Future of News Media

By CHRIS BUCKLEY and ALAN WONG JANUARY 23, 2015 7:01 AM January 23, 2015 7:01 am

23sino-hongkong-tmagArticleKevin Lau Chun-to in January 2014, after his dismissal as editor of the Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao.Credit Associated Press

Since the newspaper editor Kevin Lau Chun-to was attacked with a cleaver last year and left bleeding on a Hong Kong street, he has embodied fears that the city’s long Continue reading

China harassing and imprisoning Chinese working for foreign news outlets

2015-01-04T092956Z_01_PEK01_RTRIDSP_3_CHINA-STAMPEDEPolicemen stand in formation as they guard on the bund where people were killed in a stampede incident during a new year’s celebration, in Shanghai, on Jan. 3. Chinese state media and the public criticised the government and police on Friday for failing to prevent the stampede in Shanghai that killed

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