Kong Lingping’s Righist Memoir Bloody Chronicles: Prisoners Write and Circulate a Samzidat Publication “The Torch”

From Kong Lingping’s rightist memoir of his twenty-two years in Chinese prison camps and subsequent political rehabilitation. In this chapter, prisoners circulate a handwritten samzidat publication within the camp, the camp authorities, aided by several informers investigate. A ringleader is executed.

Other passages from Kong Lingping’s memoir excerpted here are to be found at https://gaodawei.wordpress.com/?s=kong+lingping

第九章 地狱里的火炬

Chapter 9 The Torch in Hell

In 1974, when Lin Chegao had just returned to the Sixth Agricultural Brigade with the official rank of “officer in charge”, he said to He Qingyun that the most important political prisoners in the Sixth Brigade should be “strictly managed”.

He focused attention on “thought criminals”. He thought he could accumulate political capital this way and make a comeback. He got very gloomy after his return to the Sixth Agricultural Brigade. He was not longer the man who would scream at the slightest provocation and jump into free-for-alls.

His latest “interest” was to pay for tidbits about the faults of the convicts. People like Liu Ziyuan, Wang Shichun, and Chen Xianshi who wanted to get ahead by informing on the other prisoners became part of his network. He would seek them out and make a pretense of being concerned about their future. He would tell them if they were to render some meritorious service he would immediately draft documents asking that their service be considering in winning them a “reduction of sentence”. If they would only actively take the part in the governance of the farm, their reward would be greater than well-known “running dogs” like Ma Wenhua and Zhou Xueqing.

Cover of the compact disk edition of Kong Lingping’s “Blood Chronicles” published in Hong Kong.

Section One Attacking Li Fendian and the Three Meetings

After the Lin Biao incident, the Rebel Movement in the Red Guards completed its mission to “overthrow the capitalist roaders led by Liu Shaoqi” and left the stage of history. The “revolutionary committees” had already taken over management of local affairs from the former local governments. The “revolutionary committees” themselves were composed of two mutually opposing rebel factions.

In the Xichang region a mass organization named “Down with Li Jiangquan Xichang Contact Group” had murdered its way to prominence during the Cultural Revolution. The faction got its name from overthrowing the Southwest China kingpin Li Jiangquan. Another organization, “The Three Meetings“, formed from an alliance of representative of workers, peasants, and soldiers. Both groups said that they had “sworn to defend Mao Zedong to the death” and claimed to obey unswervingly the orders of the Cultural Revolution leading group of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

Caption: Holding aloft the great red flag of Mao Zedong Thought Thoroughly Carry Out the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Revolution is No Crime. To Rebel is the Right Thing to Do.

No matter how they advertised themselves to outsiders, what both groups cared about was the struggle for “power”. They fought fierce battles over personnel arrangements, resource allocation, governance, and adjustments of institutional arrangements.

(1) The struggle

Mao Zedong managed the tense opposition between the two groups behind the scenes. Deluded people killed each other in endless “class struggles”. These struggles left the people of the entire nation hungry and in rags.

In that time of peace, people did not till the soil or make things in factories but instead were poisoned and stirred up to a raging fury by differences in “points of view” and “political lines”. They fought one another in innumerable life-and-death struggles. Some even died “martyr’s deaths”. Anyone could be a target. Husbands opposed wives, fathers opposed sons, and elder and younger brothers fought one another.

The “Down with the Li Jiangquan Xichang Contact Group” and the “Three Meetings” [Note: The three were Workers, Peasants and Red Guards] continued to expand both

See the source image

their areas of operations and their battles with one another. Well-armed “Mao Zedong Thought Propaganda Trucks” appeared on the streets of Yanyuan. The propaganda truck was armored with steel plates so that the opposing faction could not destroy it. The propaganda trucks were equipped not just with loudspeakers and megaphones but with printing presses as well. They printed and distributed many kinds leaflets as they drove along the streets.

The leaflets, in addition to “the latest, highest level directives” were mostly aimed at attacking and insulting the opposing faction or exposing the selfishness of the leaders of the opposing faction.

– 388 –

Publications such as “Battlefield Interview“, “Red Determination” and “People’s Militiawoman” were not only vulgar and poorly written, they usually featured someone’s selfishness in order to seize the attention of the people.

When a certain head of state gave Mao a basket of mangos the story was spread throughout the entire country. Everywhere these mangos were made out to be “sacred objects” and so Mao Zedong Thought propaganda trucks throughout the country carried a basket of mangoes brightly decorated in red, accompanied with the beating of drums, in big parades. Every locality sent special cars to solemn receptions to create one of the most revolting scenes in Chinese history.

This propaganda, unlike official newspapers, did not have to pass through layer upon layer of censorship so almost nothing in them was true. However the accounts of events occurring throughout the country did provide us with glimpses of the “Cultural Revolution bloodbaths” that were going on all over China. This was particularly useful to the political prisoners in the Sixth Agricultural Brigade.

From these accounts we could analyze the chaos in the aftermath of China’s great famine along with with crises that it had brewed within Chinese society. It helped us try to judge the answer to the question “how long can this go on?”

Memorial for twelve Chongqing Middle School students killed during the Cultural Revolution. Street battles between rival Chongqing Red Guard factions killed over 1000 people in July – September 1967.

I remember the description in one propaganda leaflet of a battle in the Fanjiaping district of Chongqing. The article described the battle, the faction taking part in the fight, their schools, the numbers of students, the kinds of weapons they used and the number of dead on each side.

Another leaflet described a fierce battle in Ya’an. I saw genuine “battlefield” photographs which enable many people to experience the tragic scenes of the bodies of ignorant young people lying in the streets.

One leaflet had a special report on how a certain rebel faction red guard group had, in a people’s market, seized the “King of Sichuan” Li Jiangquan and with the secondary target Sichuan province governor Li Dazhang. Their struggle meeting was arranged by red guards from the institutions of higher learning in the Chengdu area. Some elderly peasants sat at the front of the struggle meeting.


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Left: Obliterate the Li Dynasty Right: Overthrow Li Jiangquan and Cohorts

– 389 –

When the criticism meeting began and the red guards had just put a tall hat on Li Jingquan’s head and were about to kick and beat on him so that he would have a “proper attitude”, this upset the “peasant uncles” sitting in the front row. They began shouting “let’s fight with words, not with weapons.”

The two Li’s had run Chengdu for many years. The “elderly peasants” sitting in the front row were actually “running dogs” of the two Li’s. They warned “Don’t think that Li Jingquan has fallen into a hopeless situation these past few days. There will come a day when the “King of the Southwest” will get his old job back. When that day arrives, people who struggled him today will get your own bitter fruit to eat.”

Those words had their effect. Those “elderly peasants” taking the dignified manner of feudal family heads, admonished those leaping and kicking children up on the speaker’s platform. Many Sichuan people tend to speak in an overly dramatic manner and insults and humiliations flew in the air along with spit. Those young full of themselves red guards couldn’t bear the insults of those “royalists” and so ordered that they be seized and taken out of the meeting hall. That soon escalated to kicking and punching.

Those old man were prepared. With a whistle several hundred men surrounding the meeting place charged in. The two sides got into a big chaotic battle both on and below the speaker’s platform.

All that made Li Dazhang, who had been standing on a bench, very anxious. He kept calling “Don’t fight!”. Not realizing that the situation was not yet under control, some people who had “flown” from the Central Committee Cultural Revolution Leading Group in Beijing hurried to where the commotion was underway.

In the chaos, the two Lis had been kicked and punched many times. Their faces had

turned pale. Worried, they listened respectfully to Beijing’s arbitration. The ringleader in the chaos was naturally Li Jingquan. Serious enough for that arrogant and domineering “king of the southwest” Li Jingquan would be the crime of provoking fighting among the people. Clearly the “peasant uncles” “had behind the scenes supporters”. Now what else would Li Jingquan do in addition to obediently writing out his confession?

He pretended to righteousness while deploying all the tricks and deceptions of a lifetime. These were the power struggle tactics the Chinese Communists were good at and had deployed for a long time in Mainland China. How could they not make a mess out of ruling a country this way?

When we had finished reading this report full of mockery and derision, Zhang Xikun and I looked at each other and laughed. The ‘people in authority faction’ who routinely acted so tyrannically towards everyone were no more than this!

(2) Zhang Xikun

Zhang Xikun had been a student in the Peking University Chemistry Department. His background and his misfortunes had been different from mine. He was a sophomore at Peking University when the “campaign for the free airing of views” began. He spoke about the talk that Tan Tianrong had give at the Peking University Student Forum and about how he had admired Tan’s courage and insights. But he had also felt disgusted when, at the end of his talk, Tan had yelled the slogan “Long live the Communist Party!”

In 1957 the label ‘rightist’ didn’t yet exist. The ‘rightists’ were victims designated by Mao for no particular reason other than to achieve his own tyrannical goals. He used the accusation of a “plot” against him to respond to criticisms of what he was scheming to do openly. That he could do that to naive ignorant students who were harmed showed that he had achieved his goal of creating a dictatorship and of his willingness to do anything and harm any innocent to achieve his goals. Later, the wishful thinking embodied in the Great Leap Forward that he initiated showed that he was incapable of running a country. After severely harming national construction, Mao insisted on using tricks learned from Stalin to purge the Communist Party. All this, along with the launching of the “Cultural Revolution” showed the crisis and chaos of his personal rule had fallen into.

After the Chinese Communist Party won power, the harsh policies that had resulted from the manipulations of Stalin harmed ordinary Chinese people. From the repeated abuses of Mao Zedong, we two had arrived at the same understanding about the disasters and calamities that the China Mainland had suffered. That common understanding made us close friends.

– 390 –

Both of us during our student years became victims of Mao Zedong’s “open plot” and were soon imprisoned. Zhang Xikun was sent to the Sixth Agricultural Brigade and put in a closely supervised group. He became one of the key “counter-revolutionaries” whom the authorities watched closely. We had never had the chance for deep discussions because we we lived and worked separately and because there were many informers all around us.

This lasted until April 1967 when at an “additional sentencing” meeting called at the Sixth Agricultural Brigade I declared openly that “I was determined not to change my political path”. Zhang Xikun when he heard about the details about Chen Li and myself in the small prison he decided that he wanted to get to know me.

During a series of ferocious political strugggle meetings where people were beaten up, Zhang Xikun himself got targeted for political struggle. However, introverted as he was, he would not say anything and so since he did not make any great show in public, he never attracted much “attention” from the authorities.

We ran into one another alone by chance one day in the toilets after Chen Li was killed. He took the initiative in speaking to me with words from the heart.

He said, “I have know for a long time what you and Chen Li did. I very much admire your foresight, courage and insight. Mainland China needs you very badly. I want to be your loyal friend in the struggles we have with the prison authorities and I hope that you will be mine as well. “

He continued, “I want to ask you, if in all the conversations you and Chen Li had over the years, if he left between with your any things or any personal testament? I believe, that if any of us get out of here alive, that we have the responsibility to seek out the families of those who died, to tell them how the martyr died for his country and to give them in his personal testament.”

I felt very moved by his words. Finally, after losing Chen Li to martyrdom, I had finally found a true friend with a common goal. That gave me a lot of encouragement. However I had to answer him regretfully that when Chen Li had been sent to the Yanyuan Detention Center, he had left behind only a draft essay “Criticizing Today’s Version of the Founding Emperor of the Qin Dynasty“. After several jail cell inspections, the essay had been found. Now I had not one page or even one character left of what Chen Li had written.

At every inspection our jailers wanted to confiscate every word that we had written. Therefore, living as we did in that kind of environment, we could only preserve our words and deeds in our memories. After that heart-to-heart talk, he suggested several times that we form a secret organization in the prison. However, I believed that the Chinese Communists through their system of strict thought control strangled all opposition thinking. The Chinese Communists had a very robust network of informers that penetrated everywhere. This made it difficult for any groups or people who supported democratic reforms to exist.

The Yanyuan prison held six thousand criminals in custody and three thousand released prisoners who had finished their sentences. Like other prisons throughout China, by time the Cultural Revolution began, there not many left of the “historical counter-revolutionaries” who had once belonged to the Nationalist Party military or had worked for the Nationalist government.

Most of the “counter-revolutionaries” had been forced into opposition by starvation. All they basically knew was what Chinese Communist propaganda had poured into them. They had little idea of liberty, democratic governance, and the protection of human rights. If someone were to talk with them about freedom and democracy, human rights, and the separation of powers in a tripartite government system, they would be dumbfounded and wouldn’t know what to say.

If we had ignored the tightly organized Chinese Communist regime, not appreciated what decades of brainwashing had done, and paid no attention to the difference in the level of knowledge between ourselves and the ordinary people, we certainly would have been attacked.

Mao Zedong had set down five social categories [Notes: Five Red Categories:

Poor and lower-middle peasants (Chinese: 贫下中农)
Workers (Chinese: 工人)
Revolutionary soldiers (Chinese: 革命军人) within the People’s Liberation Army
Revolutionary cadres (Chinese: 革命干部)[clarification needed]
Revolutionary martyrs (Chinese: 革命烈士), meaning immediate family members, children, grandchildren (if any) and relatives of deceased CPC members and PLA service personnel killed in action

and Five Black (Bad) categories:

Landlords (地主; dìzhǔ)
Rich farmers (peasants) (富农; 富農; fùnóng)
Counter-revolutionaries (反革命; fǎngèmíng)
Bad-influencers [“bad elements”] (坏分子; 壞份子; huàifènzǐ)
Rightists (右派; yòupài)

They were all arbitrary man-made categories. The “five categories” were in practice just as if the Chinese Communists had caught a bunch of rats, all with different goals. At present they were incapable of uniting for form an opposition. Therefore the time was not yet right for creating an organization!

In those days when we did not have an appealing political platform with which to attract support, did not have any achievable political goals, it was very hard to achieve a meeting of the minds and create an organization. If we did not do it right, not only would we fail to achieve our goals, but it would result in needless sacrifices.

The catalyst for a democratic revolution was that the people could not earn their livelihoods. The nonsensical policies and actions of the Chinese Communist had creating the conditions in which a democracy movement was possible. Back then, we had to be concentrate on spreading democratic ideas, exposing the reactionary nature of the tyrannical government. We would have to be very cautious about creating any kind of organization. For now, we wanted to bring together people of vision, and carry out an active program of enlightenment to create the conditions for a Chinese revolution.

– 391 –

The Lin Biao Incident had been a great shock that sounded a funeral bell for the dissolving totalitarian power of that bandit Mao Zedong. What came after it, the sound of the explosion of Sun Mingquan’s revenge, had helped bring the political prisoners together politically. Under those conditions, a program for fighting for democracy emerged.

When I think back to course that our resistance has taken, I see that it was a pathway of gradual enlightenment. In 1962, when a group of us from all corners of Sichuan Province were exiled to the border region as slave laborers, the sparks of our opposition were already there in our common opposition to hunger, oppression and slave labor.

The March 15 Sanyuangong Steamed Bun Theft Incident, we found that even by saying “I’m hungry” we would become the objects of political struggle. Faced with bayonets, we yelled “You can’t confiscate our prison rations”. Although this opposition was spontaneous, it was nonetheless a group opposition to the prison regime and a challenge to tyrannical government and its guns.

When the evil winds of the Cultural Revolution began to blow, we were in dire straits. On a May night we in the Sixth Agricultural Brigade openly called for the overthrow of Mao Zedong and yelled the slogan “The dawn will soon come”. While people everywhere were muzzled by a heavy oppression, we decided to fight a hopeless battle like eggs smashing themselves against a rock to express our contempt for the dictatorship.

That May night, we openly exposed and criticized the despotic rule of Mao Zedong’s tyranny. This made our jailers very fearful. Later, the Sixth Agricultural Brigade had a violent struggle meeting in which defenseless prison slaves were beaten up. That and the terror of literary inquisition temporarily held in check our anger at fury a starvation and forced labor but made even clearer to us the brutal nature of Chinese communism.

The torch of resistance had already been lit. We continued battling the authorities through collective refusals to work, prison escapes, hunger strikes and in other ways. This brought about a change in the attitudes of people who still had illusions or had been hesitant. They gradually changed their views. Some determined fighters against prison abuses rose up among them.

Section Two Raising the Torch of Resistance

After Chen Li was martyred, the prison slaves of the Sixth Brigade refused to be terrorized by the bloody deeds of the butchers. They consoled exiles who had been beaten. The exiles came together. Every handshake, every bottle of medicine, every wound salved, every greeting expressed the warm feelings of the group. Their resistance to Mao Zedong’s tyranny brought them ever more closely together. When the earthquake hit, all the prison slaves of the Sixth Brigade gathered in the same earthquake shelter.

This made it easier for them to talk to one another. The collective political study sessions organized by the discipline and inspection personnel became a place for Zhang Xikun and others to bring us together to fight successful battles. In these battlegrounds we not only talked about historical events to illuminate the present and made use of the past to disparage the present, we also discuss how to organize group escapes.

We had come to feel that we couldn’t let things go on as they had, each of us fighting alone against our jailers. Some of the most determined among us hatched strategies on how we could organize ourselves to resist those who were using violence against us. In order to get more people to take part in the struggle against the violent abuses committed against us, we asked our hard core people to take a wise and brave approach so that they would exert greater moral influence.

The first article in “The Torch” was “A Report to All the Exiles in the Sixth Brigade“. In the form of a memoir, it recounted the most violent incidents and murders that had taken place in the Sixth Brigade during the ten years of the Cultural Revolution.

It gave the facts about the authorities’ brutal torture of exiles so that everyone would have a clear understanding of their miserable predicament. This aimed to wake up and bring together those who had become numb, silenced and inured to adversity and inspire them to actively resist!

The Torch” relied on personal experiences with hunger and cold to expose the terrible hardships to the people of the Chinese mainland that were a direct result of Mao Zedong’s tyrannical rule.

The Torch” used examples of jailer cruelty to expose the hypocrisy of what the regime calls “revolutionary humanitarianism”. This served as a warning to everyone not to be tricked by the enticing words of people like Deng Yangguang and fall for things that will bring only pain to themselves and others.

The Torch” used the Lin Biao Incident as an example showed how the fighting in the top level of the Chinese Communist Party will lead to its inevitable destruction. The dawn is coming!

– 392 –

The Torch” is the shout of the upright men of the Sixth Brigade confined behind high prison walls. It is the indictment written in blood and tears of the oppressed slaves telling what has lain buried in their hearts.

In conclusion to “The Torch” we reminded one another that “Democracy must defeat dictatorship and the future is bright”. We who held that torch high knew that the most likely result of our protests would be our destruction like eggs hitting a rock. They had the spirit of people who “We aren’t afraid of going up in flames for we are going to shine our rays of light no matter what may happen”. They would rather die standing than live kneeling.

That small enlightenment periodical lit the flame of resistance. This was defiance at the risk of our lives to the gun barrels. It was the call for an assault at the risk of our lives to overthrow despotism and rescue the people.

With the birth of “The Torch” a battle began in the Sixth Brigade between righteousness and evil, between good and evil, and between humanity and cruelty.

Just as portrayed in the movie “The Sand Pebbles” revolutionary currents divide people into three categories. The first kind of person sees a brilliant future amidst the chaos and stand firm as a pillar of social progress. The second kind have idea of where they want to go and just go with the flow. The third kind surrender to evil forces and finally become traitors.

The traitors mentioned here are not the people who are openly “red convicts”. Those people like Ma Wenhua, Zhou Xuezhu and Dai Chao can for now simply be called “confused”.

Just because they are open about their position, they still retain some degree of sincerity and so they are easy to deal with. The ones who are the problem — the kind of people who once devoured by the tiger spur the tiger on to gobble up new victims — are those who normally furiously curse the tyrants, taking a strong stand against Mao Zedong’s tyranny, and yield to no one in their complaints about the miserable situation of the exiles and in their attacks on political tyranny only to sell out the others behind their backs.

Zhang Xikun underestimated the shamelessness of these traitors. Among the first readers of this newborn publication was just one of those ghosts who encourage tigers to find new victims.

Section Three The Prison Gate

When some brave patriotic people had just published “The Torch” in prison, a filthy plot to sell them out quietly began. Before I recount this tragedy, let me first introduce the four traitors who sold their souls: Chen Xianshi, Liu Ziyuan, Wang Shichun, and Huang Xuequan.

Chen Xianshi was 26 years old. I am not clear where he came from or his family background. I only know that he had been transferred from other brigades to the Sixth Brigade because he had often escaped from prison. He was put into the “strictly supervised group” together with Zhang Xikun.

The first few days after his arrival in the Sixth Brigade, he showed in his words and manner how angry he was at the authorities. All the prisoners transferred to the Sixth Brigade had to be prepared for a stiff sentence. The jailers made no allowances for ignorant small fry like Chen Xianshi. He screamed and cursed when humiliated several times by the jailers shortly after his arrival at the Sixth Brigade. He looked like the very model of someone resisting their “personal remolding”.

He introduced himself to others in small group sessions this way: I worked in a Chongqing factory before my arrest. My family belongs to the “Five Red Categories”. After the Cultural Revolution began, I became a leader of the Red Guard Rebel Faction. In 1971 while in a fight with the Red Army Faction I incurred a “blood debt” so in a muddleheaded judgment I was sentenced to prison.

– 393 –

To use Chen Xianshi’s own words: “Although I have only a primary school education, I have always been loyal to Chairman Mao’s revolutionary line. During my Rebel days, I killed several capitalist roaders in order to serve the needs of the revolution. My sentencing certainly reflects the incorrect line on the part of the court.” Chen Xianshi’s own frivolousness and obsessions showed that the evil Mao cult had penetrated to the very marrow of his bones. How can a person like that ever calmly endure the purgatory they enter when they are sent to jail?

After Lin Chegao said his file, he put him into the informer group.

When after that, he got into trouble with the guards several times, Lin Chegao would rescue him. That gave him the official title of group leaders in the strict supervision group.

One evening, Lin Chegao asked Chen Xianshi to come to the office alone. After a simple interrogation, he switched to the main subject. “Your background is different from most of the other prisoners. I know that you are loyal to Chairman Mao, made some mistakes and was sent to jail, and that you still can’t accept that. Have you thought that opposing the government in a reform through labor brigade will only tighten the noose around your neck. If you want to get out of here fast, then you should find ways of rendering service to the Party.”

Lin Chegao watched Chen Xianshi’s expression as he talked with him. He saw that Chen Xianshi did not understand his meaning. He continued, speaking more openly, saying “The men of the Sixth Brigade are all extreme counter-revolutionaries who hate the Communist Party. Every day they do counter-revolutionary acts. Today the Party is testing you. Do you stand together with the counter-revolutionaries? Or are you decisive and draw a firm distinction between them and yourself to render service to the Party?”

Chen Xianshi raised his head as if he had understood. Lin Chegao raised his voice and continued pointing out to Chen Xianshi how he could get on the right path. “According to what I understand, Zhang Xikun and other people in your group are very active. If you can get evidence of their counter-revolutionary activities, and report them right away, I guarantee, that not only will you get credit for having rendered meritorious service, I will also prepare documents that will record your service and propose reducing your sentence. That could get you early release.”

When he heard that, Chen Xianshi’s eyes lit up. He was now fighting in the same foxhole as Lin Chegao up on the plateau. Although Chen had been jailed for murder, now the two men were on the same side.

Lin Chegao took out a bottle of white wine. The two men drank together. Lin Chegao, feeling the effects of the win, started boiling over with the anger he felt inside. “I am very annoyed at all the nonsense from the Old Conservatives. What is He Qingyun doing? There are so many verbal attacks on Chairman Mao in the Sixth Brigade but he ignores them all and still wants to tell me all his gossip. He doesn’t know how to handle the prisoners and he wants to manage me. I want to get a name for myself by arresting some determined counter-revolutionaries. Everyone will see who is up to the job, me or He Qingyun.”

“Let’s drink a toast. Make a good record of every problem that you find so that it will provide a good basis for interrogations later. We’ll make sure that the Sixth Brigade arrest cases are well prepared. People will know who is the tough one, me or He Qingyun.” Lin Chegao raised his glass high and clinked it together with Chen Xianshi’s and drank it bottoms-up. Chen Xianshi bowed and raised his glass and drank it all down.

From the evening that conspiracy was hatched, the two colluded, one openly and the other secretly, one on the inside and the other on the outside spinning all around a big evil “web”. From then onwards, Chen Xianshi watched and listened carefully to the two hundred prisoners of the Sixth Brigade. Chen Xianshi however never did find a trace of “The Torch“.

Xia Guangran, reading and writing as he lay in a corner of the wall, had already, very discerningly, noticed several times the very crafty eyes of Chen Xianshi. He told Zhang Xikun and so Chen Xianshi very soon was no longer considered a potential member of their group.

– 394 –

When Chen Xianshi on the pretext of lying sick in his bed, secretly examined Zhang Xikun’s waste paper, all he found was some Tang and Song dynasty poems, some copied calligraphy and some “Down with the Li Jiangquan Xichang Contact Group” propaganda leaflets. No matter how closely Chen Xianshi watched or how hard he listened, he got nothing other than complaints about how hard the corn was or how salty the vegetables were.

Liu Shunsen held a criticism meeting in the earthquake shelter. He gave a vivid talk to the assembled exiles about how the Shanghai secret society leader Du Yuesheng and Fan Shaozeng had become close friends.

Chen Xianshi had heard of Du Yuesheng. But who was Fang Shaozeng? Chen Xianshi made a secret report to Lin Chegao of what he had heard. The two semi-literates thought about it for a long time what could Li Shunsen have been talking about in some secret code?

Those two arrogant, conceited people were very ignorant. Later Chen Xianshi kept listening intently to Liu Shunsen, seeing him as the gateway to some great success. The Shanghai waterfront, the Shanghai waterfront! Liu Shunsen was telling the story of the kidnapping of Huang Jinrong, Du Yuesheng’s alliance with the KMT intelligence chief Dai Li. He had never heard those stories before. They must have made him despair of his own ignorance.

Nonetheless, he stuck out his long nose and and sniffed all around under people’s beds. He only found things like small sacks of rice. Chen Xianshi kept at it like that for two weeks but didn’t come up with anything.

When Li Chegao called one of their irregular meetings, Chen Xianshi, who hadn’t found anything, came with his head held low. This time Lin Chegao looked very angry at him and a bit tense. Lin Chegao thought it strange that there were two people he didn’t know in the room.

One of them was Liu Ziyuan. Liu Ziyyuan, 40 years old, spoke very little but was obviously shrewd. Liu Ziyuan had planned several prison escapes when the Sixth Agricultural Brigade was established. When his plans were exposed, the authorities put him into the strict supervision group for the most serious political prisoners. He was the “senior statesman” of the strict supervision group since he had been in it from the start.

After the end of the Cultural Revolution, Liu Ziyuan was still a determined rebel. The jailers found proof that he had several times stirred up “prison disturbances” so the prison authorities had always designated him as “one of the people to watch most closely”.

At the start of the Cultural Revolution, Liu Ziyuan was forced up on the speaker’s platform to be criticized. Naturally, Liu Ziyuan also became one of the main targets for Chen Xianshi’s secret reporting.

Liu Ziyuan normally kept silent. He spent his time on poetry and painting. Whenever he had a spare moment, he would get his paper out and copy calligraphy. Chen Xianshi often felt that something secret was hidden in his writing. Therefore, Liu Ziyuan became one of the main targets of Chen Xianshi’s searches.

Chen Xianshi had found Liu Ziyuan’s copy of the Han style calligraphy poem that Ye Ting had written before he was beheaded and had put it in a secret report to Lin Chegao. He would never have guessed that he would meet Liu Ziyuan in the office.

Another person who came to the meeting was Wang Shichun was an even bigger surprise. Ever since he had arrived in the Sixth Brigade, Chen Xianshi had known that Wang Shichun was well-known for his strenuous resistance to remolding. It was said that Chen Shichun had served in the KMT military but at the year of “liberation” 1949 Wang Shichun was only twelve years old. “After liberation” he had to wear the label of KMT military secret agent and suffer through many purges as an “historical counter-revolutionary”.

His background was more accurately described as “student”. During the years of the great famine, he had listened to the Taiwan broadcasts and tried to escape. When he was discovered, his old and new offenses were combined and he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

– 395 –

Wang Shichun met people like Wen Tingcai and Liu Shunsen shortly after entering prison and was sent along with them from Chongqing to Ganluo. Wang Shichun often suffered torture and hardships. He had no illusions about the Communist Party. Wang Shichun was a weak and frightened character. He suffered from rickets. He was conquered by the violence of the Chinese communists.

In order to get laughs from the other exiles he would often say strange things. He was always pouring oil on the fire. He could tell which way the wind was blowing. He would often encourage other people to take risks. Once things became more serious and the authorities were investigating, he would disappear. Therefore the Sixth Brigade nicknamed Wang Shichun “the old bat”.

The most classic example was the “steam bun theft incident” at the Sanyuangong in Ya’an. Wang Shichun at the time was standing directly behind Deng Zixin, continually inciting him to do something: “I don’t see you acting with your usual enthusiasm. The steamed buns are right in front of you but you don’t dare to grab one.” How could Deng Zixin, with his tough and vehement character, now excited by hunger, resist Wang Shichun’s prodding? Deng was the first to grab a steam bun from the basket!

After taking this action that led to the riot, when the authorities were trying to find out who had made the first move, Wang Shichun didn’t say one word. As a result, several people who had taken steamed buns were given additional sentences. Deng Zixin, as the ringleader, had twelve years added to his sentence. The provocateur in the background, Wang Shichun, got away unscathed.

After the Sixth Brigade was established, Wang Shichun was involved in many escapes, prison commotions, conflicts with guards and collective work slowdowns. Yet he always escaped being implicated when these cases were investigated. He Qingyun, with his keen sense of smell, notice that Wang Shichun was often the instigator in many of these incidents. “The old bat” was the nickname that He Qingyun gave him.

One day He Qingyun finally understood Wang Shichun’s joke about the “Wang family medicated plaster” according to which the ashes of a copy of “Quotations from Chairman Mao” and wine, when drunk together, would make an unparalleled panacea that made men strong and vigorous and made women calm and prevented miscarriages.

The Wang family plaster joke got Wang pushed up onto the speaker’s platform for a 1968 struggle meeting. He was accused of the crime of “viciously insulting the great leader Chairman Mao”. He was struggled for a week. Under the blows of his persecutors, he kept confessing and begging for mercy. He even got on his knees to admit everything.

Wang Shichun, despite have been beaten black and blue all over his body, still had to go out to the fields to work. He Qingyun wouldn’t let the matter rest after the struggle session — he wrote up the case and got five years added to his sentence for a total now of 20 years. This made “the old bat” suffer not only physical pain but also wounded him in his soul.

Wang Shichun had once been a “good friend” and devoted follower of Chen Li. After Chen Li died a hero’s death, there were many murders in the Sixth Brigade compound that made Wang Shichun deathly afraid. Faced with the choice of life or death, Wang Shichun went from one extreme to the other!

At this “informers’ meeting”, Chen Xianshi saw on Lin Chegao’s office desk was a piece of paper that had been crumpled and torn into pieces and then later pieced together.

Chen Xianshi stared at the paper. On it was written the title “A report to all the compatriots of the Sixth Brigade“. It was in Zhang Xikun’s handwriting. Chen Xianshi was astonished. The thing that he had been looking for so hard had been provided by people he had been monitoring.

These three people all had different attitudes so they looked at each other coldly. With Wang Shichun and Liu Ziyuan, one was the old bat afraid of the sunlight, the other was a shrewd operator. They both knew well that this was a matter of “betraying a fellow prisoner and mistaking an enemy for a friend”. Betraying a fellow prisoner was the most hated, despicable act one can do in prison. Once discovered, such a person could no longer expect to get by peacefully in prison. The two of them had in fact debated long and hard with themselves before committing their betrayals.

Lin Chegao was thirty years old that year. He had fought for power during the twenty years since he had committed himself to the “revolution” before he achieved the envied position of deputy director of the farm revolutionary committee. An unexpected change in the wind came immediately after the Lin Biao Incident when people hauled him down from his position. Later, after lying low for a while and after several fights, he had gotten to his current position.

After having been left out in cold and suffering his own frustrations, Lin Chegao no longer had the arrogance and self-confidence that he had begun with. Faced with this reality, he decided he would make good little by little until he could get He Qingyun removed and then rise himself step by step.

– 396 –

After Lin Chegao returned to the Sixth Brigade, he still relied on his old influence at farm headquarters. His target was the number two man on the revolutionary committee He Qingyun, the very man who had kicked him downstairs. He wanted both to get his revenge and to clear away an obstacle to his rise. Lin Chegao produced an “important counter-revolutionary case” to take care of that “country hick” and make him lose his job.

Now Lin Chegao said nothing to the three men in front of him. He pointed at the paper on the desk in front of him and said, “You know better than I do what is going on in the Sixth Brigade. The evidence that I have today proves that there is a large, well organized counter-revolutionary group that calls itself “The Torch” that has been working furiously to foment counter-revolutionary activity in the Sixth Brigade.

They are aiming at Chairman Mao, the great leader loved by the entire nation, calling on the overthrown capitalist class reactionaries to arise and overthrow the people’s democratic dictatorship. They have now reached the stage of openly publishing a counter-revolutionary periodical in prison. This very rare case shows that the Sixth Brigade had in the past not taken the class struggle seriously. What has been implemented instead has been the capitalist class line thereby giving opportunities to class enemies.

After saying this, Lin Chegao got furious. This immediately got Chen Xianshi more excited while Liu Ziyuan still just sat there impassive as before, like a pool of stagnant water. Wang Shichun eyes kept moving as if he were thinking of something.

Stopping for a moment and then continuing in a loud voice, Lin Chegao said “You have already found important evidence. This is very good. Now we have already had a breakthrough in the case of this big counter-revolutionary group. This could not possibly be the work of Zhang Xikun alone. A considerable number of people in the Sixth Brigade must be involved.”

Of the three traitors, only Chen Xianshi was listening with expression. The other two listened listlessly with frozen expressions.

Liu Ziyuan and Wang Shichun both knew very well that the discarded manuscript for “The Torch” about which they had made their secret report revealed just one dark corner of the prison. If a counter-revolutionary organization did not even have a charter how could a case be brought against it?

However, after Liu Ziyuan and Wang Shichun were “summoned” to Lin Chegao’s office, the nerves Sixth Brigade, already tense, got stretched even more tightly.

Zhang Xikun and his colleagues knew that since they had lost a draft manuscript that they were being watched especially closely. Whenever they went to the toilet, there were other people accompanying them step by step. Whenever they practiced calligraphy there would be people watching them suspiciously from a distance.

I have the habit of reading and writing while lying in bed. One afternoon we didn’t go out to work because it was raining. I was as was my habit taking notes on the “Yugong” geography chapter of the “Book of Documents” that described how the ancient founding emperor Dayu had built waterworks to control flooding and provide irrigation. I didn’t have a good foundation in classical Chinese and it was hard to get reference materials so as I read the text carefully I would always be leafing through an old dictionary.

Suddenly He Qingyun charged into the cell and with a lightning move grabbed my notebook. He stood at the cell door giving it a close reading. When he saw clearly that it was all quotes from the text of the Book of Documents he unhurriedly handed me back my notebook.

That unusually quick move by He Qingyun made the authors of “The Torch” take immediate precautions. At this point, however, Zhang Xikun didn’t know about the draft manuscript that he had thrown away. Wang Shichun had already handed it over to farm headquarters.

The Torch” was born just that way at the point of a sword. From its first issue, it was passed secretly from hand-to-hand in the prison. The loss of the discarded manuscript made Zhang Xikun more vigilant. Zhang Xikun and the others increased their lookout for Liu Ziyuan and Wang Shichun so Lin Chegao never got another trace of “The Torch” but just then another black hand was reaching out towards him

In 1973, Zhang Xikun as a result of a foolish argument with Huang Xuequan, was put into into a solitary cell in the small prison. On his second night in the small prison, Huang Xuequan broke through the roof and escaped again. This was the first time that anyone had ever escaped from the roof of the small prison and also set a new record of five escapes in just three months. When he was recaptured, he was not only beaten up badly but put in the same 15 kilogram leg iron worn by convicts sentenced to death.

The discipline and inspection department thought it would be best to take advantage of the “Double Strike Campaign” [Note: Double for “fighting opportunism” and fighting “counter-revolutionaries now at work” 打击投机倒把、打击现行反革命 ] and have him shot as a warning to the others. Lin Chegao got the recommendation to have Huang Xuequan executed. While he was examining Huang Xuequan’s file, he discovered that he came from a working class family and was a worker himself. He had been sentenced for “listening to an enemy radio station and planning to betray the country and go over to the enemy” and the charge on this interrogation record was only escaping.

Lin Chegao said that Communists, when considering executing any member of the working class, must be extremely careful. They need to take the doctrine of the class struggle into consideration. Although he knew that a life-and-death struggle was going on within the Party, it may be that he was too inexperienced and did not understand the rules of the game. Perhaps He Qingyun didn’t know how to handle him and was wanted to get rid of him as a problem.

He only had before only some documents that he could use to write a note criticizing the work of the discipline and education department. He decided to call Huang Xuequan in for an interview. He would ask him why, even as a member of the working class, he opposed the Communist Party. Even though he had committed a crime and felt badly about serving his sentence, why would he commit even more crimes by repeatedly escaping?

Huang Xuequan kept silent as if he had never thought about these issues. “What crime did you commit?” Lin Chegao asked, knowing full well the answer. “I listened to an enemy radio station and tried to betray the country and go over to the enemy side”. Huang Xuequan’s answer was wooden and forced. Although he had actually “listened to an enemy radio station” but he had never even considered “betraying the country and going over to the enemy side”. He had never understood why the court had pinned that crime on him.

These kinds of cases were very common during the Cultural Revolution. Lin Chegao had seen many of these cases and he wanted to know what these “criminals” really thought so he continued, “tell me what you think about it”.

Huang Xuequan became silent again. This was a question that would be very difficult to answer. He had always avoided it. What had he been thinking? He was a worker in an electronics factory. Semiconductors had just appeared in China and he was very interested in this technology. He followed up on this interest and to his own surprise became his factory’s top expert on semiconductors. No matter whose radio was broken, he was able to fix it.

While he was helping people fix their radios, he had to follow a procedure to calibrate the radio so they would receive the correct frequencies. He happened to tune to the frequency of a Voice of America broadcast to calibrate the radio. Just then VOA was just then broadcasting information about the actual situation in Mainland China. The broadcast naturally interested him because it was utterly different from the lies he heard on the Central People’s Broadcasting Station. After he had been listening for a long time, he had fantasies about escaping to freedom himself but he was just an ordinary worker. How could he ever escape from the evil clutches of the dictatorship of the proletariat?

When the Cultural Revolution began, Huang Xuequan with the idea in mind of ‘giving it a try and see what happens’ wrote a letter to the mailbox address provided on the Voice of America broadcast. This was just a letter sent out to see if anyone would answer. He would never have guessed that that letter would have a disastrous effect on him.

Soon afterwards, Huang Xuequan got married and went on honeymoon. Soon after he returned, the security department of the factory got a summons from a court. That is how Huang Xuequan, was first detained and then formally arrested, completely to his own astonishment. After being sentenced in a nonsensical process, and realizing that he would not be allowed to return home, he began to regret what he had done.

– 398 –

Soon after he was imprisoned, not a year after their marriage, his beloved wife asked for a divorce. Huang Xuequan got very upset. He had never imagined that this could happen. He didn’t know what to do.

When he first arrived in prison, Huang Xuequan was just like Cao Jixian. He could only say one thing “Let me go home”.

In 1968 Huang was transferred from the Chengdu prison to the Yanyuan. He had been sentenced to fifteen years in prison for “the crime of betraying the country and going over to the enemy side”. Therefore he was quickly moved to the Sixth Brigade. While there, he bumped into his Chengdu neighbor Zhang Xikun.

Huang Xuequan couldn’t bear the hard labor, hunger and torture of prison life. Moreover he couldn’t stop thinking about his beloved wife so he immediately decided to “escape”. Thoughts of his wife made him think about escaping day and night. It had seemed to him that escaping was the only way he could rid himself of his pain.

During his three years in the Sixth Brigade he had tried to escape a dozen times. After every escape attempt not only would he be beaten but he had to return to a life of hard labor and oppression.

If a political prisoner had tried to escape as often as had Huang Xuequan, his head would have rolled long ago. A high proportion of the political prisoners shot during the Cultural Revolution were escapees. Five of them were killed in the Jiang Xuejun case. During every “Strike Hard” campaign, there were always some escaped counter-revolutionary prisoners shot.

Huang Xuequan, however, had not been executed thus far because he was ignorant, childish, and had no political agenda. After Huang Xuequan was put into leg irons, He Qingyun had somberly warned him that “the mercy of the people’s democratic dictatorship is not boundless. You have already escaped more than twenty times. I think that only a “shelled peanut” will be the only solution to your very cold thinking”. (A shelled peanut meant a bullet. The size and coloring of a shelled peanut resembled a bullet.) “Very cooled thinking” refers to how during an escape, the escapee and their pursuers run fast, making them feel a cooling breeze so it is called “cooled thinking”.)

Huang Xuequan was tense when Lin Chegao called him in. He wondered “Are they going to kill me this time? What will they ask me before they kill me?” When Huang Xuejin entering Lin Chegao’s office, Lin Chegao suddenly asked him something that had nothing to do with executing him: “Were you neighbors with Zhang Xikun?” Huang Xuequan answered coldly, “Yes”, then in a begging voice asked “I don’t want to die. I am too young. I want the government to give me another chance. I regret…”

Lin Chegao saw how anxious he was and told him a surprising decision: “The brigade, after studying your case, finally decided to give you one more chance. Your leg irons will be removed tomorrow and you will be sent to the second strict supervision group. If you try to escape again, that will be the end for you. If you distinguish yourself, we will consider, based on your achievements, treating your generously and perhaps even releasing you. Your fate depends entirely upon you.”

Huang Xuequan’s eyes brightened. This is what he had been hoping for day and night. Then he got depressed again, thinking of the long prison sentence ahead of him. How could he endure fifteen years of hard labor?

– 399 –

Lin Chegao continued, “The situation in the Sixth Brigade is extremely complicated. According to my understanding, Zhang Xikun is publishing an underground periodical called “The Torch“. If you can provide us with clues or even evidence I will see that your sentence is reduced. Do you understand me?”

Huang Xuequan’s eyes opened wide with astonishment and doubt. He didn’t dare imagine that the rifle aimed at his head could be turned aside so easily. He immediately understood that the path that Lin Chegao proposed for him would open in exchange for selling out someone. That someone however would be the same Zhang Xikun he had grown up with.

Although Zhang Xikun was a few years older than Huang Xuequan, they had been close friends ever since they were little. Their mothers too had been very friendly so the two families were good neighbors to one another. Since their two sons had been thrown into prison, the two women had supported in each other as they shared the same worries. Huang Xuequan didn’t think about it then, as he left Lin Chegao’s office, but although the leg irons were heavy, he would realize that once they were taken off, he have other heavy shackles weighing down on his conscience.

That evening, Huang Xuequan turned over the problem in his mind as he sat in his solitary cell. He couldn’t get to sleep. After the second time the guard checked on him, he sat up for a long time leaning against the wall. He noticed that the guard on patrol outside was no longer brutally harassing him.

Early the next morning, Shen Guanke came escorted by a soldier took a knife and hammer to open the 15 kilogram leg irons on his feet. When the leg irons were gone, his feet felt like they were floating in air. He went with Lin Chegao to the second strict management group. Chen Xianshi stared at him oddly when he came in.

Huang Xuequan had escaped from that group three months earlier. When he was taken back, Chen Xianshi had used his own belt to whip him like an animal dozens of times. Huang still had on his shoulders bloody marks from that whipping so he stared back furiously at Chen Xianshi.

Huang Xuequan did not feel relieved when he left the small prison. Should he try to “escape” again? Or should he be “loyal” to Lin Chegao and focus on what that implied? Should he do what Lin Chegao had asked him to do? He worried all day about what he should do.

Zhang Xikun, perceptive as he was, had already noticed that Huang Xuequan was “not in good spirits”. He did not realize than that Huang Xuequan was a deadly threat to him.

To help his childhood friend rid himself of his depression that about passing him “The Torch” so that he could understand the evil doings of the authorities and what he should be fight to achieve in the future but Xia Guangran objected.

Xia Guangran said that The Torch had just appeared, and to all indications, had already gotten the attention of the authorities. For now all the readers should be people who have no illusions about the authorities. Huang Xuequan’s own thinking was still very immature. He had gotten used to drifting from one job to the next. He had no political goals. Moreover ordinarily his views were different from people who belonged to The Torch group.

Moreover, for some reason the prison authorities had taken off his leg irons and let him out of the small prison. This was unusual. Until the reason for that became clear, he should be treated very cautiously until he had proven that he could be a loyal and reliable person before letting him read “The Torch“.

Unfortunately, Zhang Xikun did not heed Xia Guangran’s warning. In order to quickly cut off any connection between “The Torch” and the group should there be some accident while it was being passed around to read, everyone followed the rule of passing it along a “one way path”. Whoever received “The Torch” should within a set time return it to the person who had given it to them and not share it with anyone else.

Once Zhang Xikun got “The Torch” back from the vegetable group, he formally passed it to Huang Xuequan and told him that he must return it to him return it to him personally within two days.

– 400 –

Huang Xuequan was surprised that “The Torch” fell into his hands so quickly and easily. The next morning, Huang Xuequan read that underground publication secretly while he was in the toilet. Then he hesitated.

First of all, Huang Xuequan did not think that this “material” was particularly valuable. Everything in it was true. When he thought back to had Zhang Xikun had been a good childhood friend and how much he respected Zhang’s character, he felt that he couldn’t in good conscience sell out a good person. Lin Chegao was a tricky person anyways. There was not way of know that if he actually did give it to him, that Lin would actually fulfill his promise to get Huang’s sentence reduced.

Huang Xuequan thought that on the other hand, wouldn’t it be a shame to give up this chance for nothing now that it had fallen so easily into his hands? Lin Chegao had made his conditions clear. He could give him a try. He went back and forth but couldn’t decide. He sat there getting more and more anxious.

Zhang Xikun had given him a set time to return “The Torch” so he needed to make an immediate decision. Just as he was hesitating, he ran into Liu Ziyuan. He almost never spoke with the quiet Liu Ziyuan. He respected him very much. He had often seen how Liu Ziyuan would incite the younger prisoners to get into fights with the discipline and education department personnel but never display his own feelings. Now having run into him, he couldn’t resist asking him for advice.

Huang Xuequan handed “The Torch” to Liu Ziyuan and asked him quietly what he should do? Just at that moment, people in the yard were being told to go out to work so Liu Ziyuan put “The Torch” into his pocket and the two hurried out of the toilet.

Liu Ziyuan after reading the publication, realized that he had gotten a treasure. He had been tracking “The Torch” for months and not it had suddenly and unexpectedly fallen into his hands. The publication had articles written by four different people. Although the articles were unsigned but they were all handwritten. He recognized Zhang Xikun’s handwriting. Liu Ziyuan felt with this arrow ready to shoot on his bow he must shoot it now. He had already made the first step. Now he must keep on step by step.

His first thought was to give it immediately to Lin Chegao. He soon changed his mind when he realized that this issue, like the torn page from the previous one with the “Notice to all the fellow sufferers of the Sixth Brigade” would only provide evidence against one person — Zhang Xikun. Lin Chegao’s objective was to use Zhang Xikun as an opening to dig out the entire “counter-revolutionary clique” hidden within the Sixth Brigade. Relying just on this one issue of “The Torch” wouldn’t accomplish that, it would be like trampling on grass and alerting the snake. It would destroy all the clues he had collected earlier.

Liu Ziyuan decided that he would quickly return to the cell and return “The Torch” to Huang Xuequan and tell him that he must return it to Zhang Xikun at the appointed time.

Lin Chegao strongly approved of Liu Ziyuan’s tactic of “letting out a long like to catch a big fish”. “Now that The Torch has finally appeared, our main priority is to grab everyone who contributes to it. We want to catch them all.”

Lin Chegao called a meeting with Liu Ziyuan, Wang Shicun, Chen Xianshi and Huang Xueyuan and commended highly what Liu Ziyuan and Huang Xuequan had done. He praised Liu Ziyuan for his “quick thinking”. He told them that in addition to finding out who was writing for “The Torch” he wanted to find out who it was being passed to so that he could uncover the entire network. He wanted to catch them in the act so that he would have all the evidence he needed.

Some pieces of scum had uncovered the network and has secretly surrounded Zhang Xikun and his group. Each of those dogs exposing the network had his own agenda.

The most energetic of them all was Chen Xianshi but unfortunately he was also the least able. In Lin Chegao’s notes, he remarked that now that the case has come this far, Chen Xianshi no longer had any role to play but Lin gave him a task nonetheless because he liked him. One of those tasks keeping Liu Ziyuan and Wang Shichun “under surveillance”.

– 401 –

Liu Ziyuan very much despised Chen Xianshi and was most displeased that Chen was involved.

Wang Shichun was the one who understood Zhang Xikun best. Wang Shichun didn’t like Lin Chegao’s arrogance and had not respect for Chen Xianshi either. He knew by intuition among which of the men “The Torch” was circulating. That was, however, intuition and not proof. Therefore he was unwilling to tell Chen Xianshi whom he suspected and not even willing to share it with Lin Chegao.

Huang Xuequan was the most ignorant of all. He hadn’t thought about what he was getting into and after he got into it he had no idea about what to do. He his only interest was that Lin Chegao’s generosity was what was keeping him alive. He was aware that he had gotten “The Torch” very easily but had lost his opportunity to deliver it to Lin Chegao himself. Just because he was careless and gave it to someone else, Huang Xuequan lost his chance to get the credit for it since Liu Ziyuan instead taken most of the credit.

Huang Xuequan, as the childhood friendship with Zhang Xikun, was the one best suited to get from Zhang Xikun’s mouth the names of the members of “The Torch” group. Huang, however, was very hostile to Chen Xianshi and did not want to “cooperate” with him in this dirty affair even though Lin Chegao get telling him that he must do what Chen Xianshi assigned him to do. Huang Xuequan also felt that Wang Shichun should mind his own business.

The four of them break the big “The Torch” case had very strange relationships with one other! Chen Xianshi carried a notebook all day, watching Zhang Xikun and noting down who he was with, the time and the place. Whenever Zhang Xikun went to the toilets, Chen followed him, thinking that he would be able to seize evidence but never found anything.

When the strict supervision group went out to work, they were always escorted by armed guards so “The Torch” was usually passed from one person to another in the toilets. Many times Zhang Xikun’s bed was secretly searched after he went out to work. The searches always came up empty. Even publications which they had seen before vanished suddenly without a trace.

Section Four The November 8th Battle of Wits

The morning of November 8, 1974 was a particularly cold and cloudy Sunday and a whistling wind coming from the north. After breakfast all the exiles huddled on their beds and got out their needles to repair their ragged cotton-padded clothes. Only one or two people walked around in the courtyard. Chen Xianshi then sat on his bunk near a window pretending to read with a copy of the Chinese Communist Party political theory journal “Red Flag” in his hand, covering his face but with his eyes focused on the courtyard.

At 9 AM, Zhou Zhi came to the door of the first strict supervision group and glanced in the direction of Zhang Xikun who was sitting in the middle of the room. Zhang Xikun was sitting in his bed copying from “A Political History of China” and seemed not to notice him.

Zhou Zhi walked slowly away from the doorway and then towards the toilets at an unhurried pace. About fifteen minutes later, Zhang Xikun slowly got out of bed and walked casually over to the toilets.

Chen Xianshi, when he saw Zhang Xikun make that move, he turned towards Huang Xuequan and signaled him. Huang Xuequan then walked with Zhang to the toilets. Cai Xianlu secretly got out of bed and in a strange voice called out a warning to Zhang Xikun. Chen Xianshi got out of bed and walked straight to the brigade office.

(1) Capture

That day, after Zhou Zhi finished reading “The Torch”, he prepared to return it in the toilets according to Zhang Xikun’s rule. Just as Zhou Zhi took out “The Torch” to pass it to Zhang Xikun, Huang Xuequan walked into the toilets. Zhang Xikun put “The Torch” and a “leaflet” that he had picked up into his cotton-padded jacket. When he saw Huang Xuequan come in, he hesitated for a moment. When he heard Cai Xianlu’s voice yelling to him, then he realized that something had gone wrong.

– 402 –

Zhou Zhi hurriedly put his head out to look around the corner of the toilets to see Lin Chegao hurrying towards the toilets. He cried out involuntarily “This is no good!”. When he spoke to Zhang Xikun, Zhang hurriedly took out “The Torch”, tore it into bits, and stuffed it into his mouth.

Hurrying footsteps could already be heard outside the toilets and now Lin Chegao flew into the toilets. Huang Xuequan had already gotten up to stop Zhang Xikun from swallowing “The Torch” paper. The two men fell into a heap as they wrestled with one another. Lin Chegao yelled when he came into the toilets and pounced on Zhang Xikun. Immediately, Lin Chegao, Chen Xianshi, and Huang Xuequan were fighting with Zhang Xikun and Zhou Zhiwu. One side was furiously tearing up and destroying “The Torch” while the other was furiously trying to grab torn pieces of “The Torch” from that Zhang Xikun and Zhou Zhi had put in their mouths.

At this moment, the sentry post rang the alarm bell and He Qingyun hurried in with two soldiers who sealed off the toilets and the exiles who now filled the courtyard. Some tried to move towards the toilets but the armed soldiers stopped them.

Two minutes later, Zhou Zhi was escorted out of the toilets with his arms tied behind his back. Just behind him, He Qingyun and a soldier escorted Zhang Xikun out with Chen Xianshi and Huang Xuequan following behind. He Qingyun ordered the exiles to disperse and escorted Zhang Xikun out the iron gate.

The onlookers wearing worried expressions discussed what had happened in a low voice. Only Liu Ziyuan and Wang Shichun stood together far away from the others at the door to the second strict supervision group.

He Qingyun called to the guard tower. Soon, all the soldiers stationed at the Sixth Brigade entered the courtyard. Within five minutes, all the exiles were forced back into their cells and the Sixth Brigade imposed a curfew.

Lin Chegao stood by himself in the toilets. He took the fragments of “The Torch” torn from Zhang Xikun and Zhou Li that had fallen on the floor, collected them one-by-one and put them in a corner of the mortar wall. He took some fire tongs and collected the scraps that had fallen into the shit pit one-by-one as well and put them together with the bits on the toilet corner wall. Finally, he took the Red Guard Rebel Faction pamphlets taken from Zhou Zhi that had fallen to the floor and put them together. He took out the camera that he had taken along with him and took picture from different angles.

At the same time, He Qingyun telephoned an urgent report to farm headquarters. Deng Yanguang immediately issued his “instructions”: Thirty management and education department cadres would be immediately sent to the Sixth Brigade. He Qingyun was ordered to keep the Sixth Brigade tightly sealed and not allow anyone to leave, and for He Qingyun to mobilize all the guard resources to closely monitor people all the designated as key people so that they will not be able to destroy evidence of counter-revolutionary activities.

At 10 AM, the Sixth Brigade office was filled with management and education department cadres sent by farm headquarters. Lin Chegao divided up the people who had just come to the Sixth Brigade into nine groups. Each group was led by a Sixth Brigade cadre.

Then, the cheerful whistle blew to order an urgent assembly in the courtyard. All the exiles of the Sixth Brigade lined up in eight columns.

He Qingyun, with his armed clasped behind his back, and a somber expression told the group that there would be an immediate “major inspection”. He announced the “Five Forbiddens” inspection rules:

Nobody was permitted to leave where they were sitting,

Nobody was permitted to leave where they were sitting,

Nobody was allowed to go to the toilet,

Nobody was allowed to pass any thing or any scrap of paper back and forth,

Nobody was allowed to whisper in another person’s ear, and

Nobody was allowed to look around can cast glances on the others.

The soldiers on the guard tower installed four machine guns. The atmosphere in the courtyard became very tense. The cold weather felt even colder. All the exiles felt terrorized. None dared even to lift their heads.

– 403 –

A search group made up of 30 education and discipline department officers and armed personnel wearing big face masks stood in front of each of the line of each of the groups and inspected each prison slave’s luggage one-by-one.

As one of the people on the brigade blacklist, I was one of the prime suspects for being a member of “The Torch” group. An education and discipline officer from farm headquarters and He Qingyun carried out my “key inspection”.

When the inspection began, I was still a member of the vegetable group. The two followed me step-by-step into the cell. The ordered me to take all my luggage out to the prison yard and then to take all the sod on my bunk out and carry it to a different corner of the yard.

They had me tear up the sod in front of them to prove that nothing was hidden inside it. Then they ordered me to take the planks in my bed apart.

The two inspected all sides of it to make sure that there were no “holes” in which something might be hidden. Then they took up each board to make sure that there weren’t any pieces of paper hidden between them. Then they checked for cracks in the wall, the roof and even in the tiles.

Finally they climbed off the bed to search the mud under the bed with a flashlight. They knocked on any suspicious place as if to check if something were hidden down below. Then they checked all around the bed. The inspection of the bed alone took over two hours.

The area under the bed hadn’t been swept for a long time so the dust and damp smell was stifling. Wearing big face masks themselves, they forced me to move things around for them. After they found that there was nothing suspicious, they escorted me out to the yard to my luggage, had me sit in a lotus posture and ordered me not to look around!

Then the two men started to “dissect” my pile of rotting luggage. They used knives to cut open my old leather suitcase, cutting open every layer and every crevice in it including the lock that could no longer lock and the handle. Finally, when they had proven that nothing had been hidden in the leather suitcase, they threw it aside.

When I saw how those things that had accompanied me for fifteen years had been taken apart, the scene of that day I had walked to the train station seventeen years and deep feelings of distress surged up in my mind.

Then they took from the mess of my overturned luggage my notebook and all my paper and threw it into a barrel. Then they opened up my ragged cotton covers and ten pound cotton bedspread and used a knife to slash open the cotton bed mattress.

That cotton mattress I had put together in my spare time with thousands of stitches from pieces of cotton wadding and cotton cloth torn from old cotton quilting. When they opened those stitches they found a pile of old rotting cotton. The two men felt every lump in the cotton and didn’t stop until they were sure that there was nothing in it.

Once they finished tearing apart the cotton mattress, they tore apart my quilt the same way. Once they had torn off the ten-odd patches on the quilt, they pulled out all the cotton batting inside and then felt all the clumps in the cotton.

The sky slowly darkened. The inspection went on for a full ten hours — from 10 o’clock in the morning until 8 o’clock in the evening. They kept right on without taking a break.

When once the sky over the Sixth Brigade went dark, the sentries turned on searchlights. The searchlights were like two dragons monitoring covetously every corner of the yard. But this time, where I was sitting was just a mass of torn scraps of cloth and cotton. Everything I owned including those books I had gotten with great difficulty, my notes and letters had all been thrown into the basket.

– 404 –

After the inspection was finished, He Qingyun ordered me to stand up and take off my cotton-padded clothes. Those cotton clothes weighed over ten pounds. I had made it from ten pieces of cloth. It was very ugly but kept me warm all winter. Now the cadre from farm headquarters without any explanation took his knife and took apart that treasure I needed to protect myself during the winter.

That evening was very cold. Our breath turned to frost in midair as we exhaled. I stood there shivering in my underwear, my teeth chattering, illuminated by the searchlights cold light. I had been stripped clean down to my underpants. They hadn’t found anything they were looking for. Then finally they ordered me to take off my underpants and bend over and open my buttocks to make sure that there was nothing hidden inside.

That might have been the most thorough inspection I had in my entire life but I didn’t feel it since I was shivering so hard that all my attention was focused on enduring the cold. I felt a flash of temper and protested to He Qingyun several times, “What are you doing? This is no way to treat people even when you are punishing them.” The man from farm headquarters stared at me and then tossed over the cotton vest he had finished inspecting over to me to put over my shoulders.

I thought that if it it hadn’t been for the flames of fury that had burned in my chest I would have simply frozen to death. Several times my teeth chattered so hard that I bit into my lips and blood dripped out of my mouth.

The search continued until 11 PM when the prison slaves were chased into their cells. Zhang Xikun was jailed in the small prison from which he never emerged. They transferred me from the vegetable group to the second strict supervision group. I slept on Zhang Xikun’s old bed.

The chaos from the inspection confronted me back in our cell. I glanced at that broken leather suitcase that had accompanied me for eighteen years and felt a nameless fury rise within me. I felt my body burning with rage.

After casting aside the broken leather suitcase, I could only use a ragged cloth bag to hold clothes that needed to be washed and sit quietly on the bed. The bed covering and the mattress had been cut into strips. I couldn’t get to sleep. I felt as if I had just climbed out of a frozen hole in the ground. I didn’t feel any warm air at all.

Just then, at about 2 AM, I thought about Zhang Xikun. Although he had long since been prepared for martyrdom, I felt very badly for him.

Like Chen Li, he had not been able to leave behind anything to remember him by. If I were to be the slightest bit careless, in this environment in which people are killed like flies, I could bring down upon me the same fate.

The searchlight shone in the yard all night. The only sound I heard was the north wind intermittently whistling through in the tile roof and the sounds of guards on patrol.

(2) Standing up in Self defense

Under the yellow lights of my cell, I sat bundled up in my torn quilt remembering in detail the events of the day.

We had every right to protest to the authorities about the unreasonable inspection we had suffered but everyone was stupefied with terror as they never had been before. The warriors of “The Torch” had not had time to react and so no-one protested.

Today our jailers had not found anything but I didn’t think that they would give up. Lin Chegao despite this extremely through search, had found not a single word that could be “evidence” linked to “The Torch”. When I thought about that, I felt a little warmer and my head began to clear.

– 405 –

Today I still can’t accept their crazed inspection and senseless brutality. Lin Chegao and He Qingyun should have a guilty conscience for what they did. I should never stop reminding them of it.

When I thought of it, I got braver and yelled in a loud voice to the courtyard, “I am cold, give me cotton-padded clothing.” That sound sounded all the sharper, like a bomb exploding in the night sky, because of the desolate silence in the Sixth Brigade courtyard.

I don’t know whether it was because they were too tired or because the butchers had a guilty conscience, the sentry did not pay attention to my yells. That evening was just like that one at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution nine years before.

I shouted loudly again. This time the light of a flashlight appeared at the main gate. He Qingyun, carrying ragged cotton clothing walked over to me and threw it down beside me. He threatened me in a fierce voice saying, “Kong Lingping, you need to behave. This isn’t 1966. Don’t be stupid.”

I immediately seized the opportunity to scold him, “What right did you have to tear up my cotton clothes and bed cover. Those were things that the government gave me out of its humanitarianism. You tore them up as if they were nothing, as if you didn’t know what they represent.” I criticized him in that tone in order to break up the atmosphere of terror that he had so painstakingly created.

I knew that everyone in the building was watching or listening to my protest. He Qingyun had no idea that I would make a loud protest to the prison authorities. He had torn up my clothes and bed cover in a mindless fury. He Qingyun and Lin Chegao were at odds on the issue of the counter-revolutionary group in the Sixth Brigade. Lin Chegao’s making of a big thing of the case amounted to a complete rejection of He Qingyun’s education and management of the Sixth Brigade.

Confronted with that, He Qingyun probably was secretly thinking, Lin Chegao does not deserve an ounce of the credit for what the Sixth Brigade has achieved during these years. Lin Chegao not only failed to intimidate this prime culprit Kong Lingping, Kong is using it to attack us. How will Lin Chegao solve that problem?

For show, he yelled in a low voice, “It is late at night and I don’t want to argue with you. You need to be clear about one thing. People naturally will want to get even with you.” After he said that, he turned and walked out through the main gate.

I didn’t want to give up that opportunity so I followed up, “What evidence to you have to tie my case up with Zhang Xikun’s? Why did you put me in the strict management group? Because I had been quiet all these years? Because you can just do anything because you feel like it? Are you supposed to be implementing the decision of the Wuhan Public Security Work Conference that strictly forbade striking and cursing prisoners and using torture to make them confess? Lin Chegao himself alone is responsible for what happened in today’s search.”

That angry complaint was based on my intuition that He Qingyun would hear my meaning and understand what I was aiming at. He and Lin led two constantly battling factions. I wanted to make full use of the conflict between the two factions.

My loud complaint to He Qingyun was meant to help calm the people who wrote and passed around “The Torch”. I was telling them that there was a split within our rulers, that they were very weak, and that we can use the conflict between them. Don’t lose waver because Zhang Xikun and Zhou Zhi were now locked up in the small prison. Above all, don’t fail to see the real situation because of the performance put on by those ugly clowns.

He Qingyun didn’t say a word, thereby ending our “verbal battle”. His footsteps moved quickly to the courtyard and quickly disappeared behind the prison’s main iron gate.

– 406 –

In the dim light I put on the cotton-padded clothes that he had brought for me. They were much warmer than my old, patched a thousand times “suit of armor”. As the threat of cold receded, I felt relieved.

Things went back to normal. The previous night’s atmosphere of terror quickly dissipated. When the Sixth Brigade went out to work the next day, we were noisy and making jokes as usual.

The next morning I went out to work with the strict supervision group. With empty hands I went to the field improvement work area. I didn’t have any tools so I went to the carts full of mud to help move them and dump soil. I hadn’t sleep the previous night so when afternoon came, I felt like my eyelids were weighed down by hammers and wanted to go to sleep.

Just at that moment He Qingyun came walked through the fields to us. I didn’t want to pay attention to him but he saw me standing alone in the field without having a hoe in hand to dig in the soil and not going to load the soil cart so he asked me with a very cold expression “Why are you just standing there?”

“Didn’t you see that the cart is not full yet?” I answered him coldly. “Where are you tools?” “With the vegetable group.” “Why didn’t you bring them?” “What use would those tools be here for carrying shit buckets, shit ladles, and carrying poles be of any use here?” I answered with a laugh.

Everyone in the strict supervision group stopped and stared at me. I knew that every move I made would have an effect on the prison slaves. The soldiers accompanying the group were also looking on in astonishment. After years of silence, I was astonishing them by showing my old cutting edge.

He Qingyun was a mass of contradictions. He hadn’t wanted yesterday’s sudden inspection to find the charter of the “The Torch” and the names of the members of the group but he was also didn’t know what to do about his biggest headaches, those ringleaders who despite all his “hard work” were still determined not to remold themselves. He didn’t feel that he pound on his chest claiming that he was in the right but he didn’t dare get into an open dispute with Lin Chegao in front of the discipline and education department either.

The search hadn’t turned up any evidence. Lin Chegao had come up empty. That made He Qingyun secretly happy, even to the point of not getting into an argument with me when I belittled him to blow off some steam.

Lin Chegao certainly was very disappointed. He had spent an entire six months thinking that he could catch a big fish in the Sixth Brigade. Yet the only one caught on the spot with Zhang Xikun was Zhou Zhi. Although it was said that they were caught in the act of passing “The Torch”, but Zhou Zhi would not be of any use. At most he was just a person peripheral to the group. None of the other prime Torch suspects were caught. They found no evidence of a counter-revolutionary organization. They found neither a charter nor a list of names.

Even with a copy of “The Torch” and several Red Guard pamphlets about “rebelling to the end”, they still did not have enough to make a case against the group so Lin Chegao was trying to figure out how to open the mouths of those men to give him what he needed. How could he face He Qingyun’s ridicule if he were to put all the “suspects” into the small prison?

The second day Zhang Xikun was put in the small prison, Lin Chegao had him transferred from the small prison to a secret newly built prison built next to the forestry brigade. There was barbed wire on the walls. The people there were not prisoner or people freed after finishing their sentences. They were a group of workers brought there from who knows where.

– 407 –

Lin Chegao was very skeptical about the Sixth Brigade’s ability to keep things secret. He was afraid that if Zhang Xikun was kept confined in the Sixth Brigade, there would be communication between the small prison and the big prison. He needed strict isolation so that he could find contradictions in the confessions of the people being interrogated. With that he could make a breakthrough and so the interrogations would be more productive.

From then on, there was no contact between Zhang Xikun and the political prisoners of the Sixth Brigade. The Xichang regional court and the Sichuan Superior Court organized a special investigation team that focused on “The Torch” case. All they found however, was just a handwritten publication that Zhang Xikun and Zhou Zhi had passed between themselves. The testimony that Chen Xianshi and Liu Ziyuan provided was seemed to be right but was actually wrong. There was not enough evidence and so there were arguments about whether confessions “accepted” or “rejected”.

Fortunately we could use the split between Lin Chegao and He Qingyuan to oppose Lin Chegao. This was a battle of courage and wits. We could have been killed if any of us were to say the wrong thing during our interrogations.

(2) Charging Headlong Into Danger

In this battle of courage and wits, we were proud that all of the members of “The Torch” realized that it was all for one and one for all so all this made the political prisoners of the Sixth Brigade more mature.

One evening, He Qingyun called me to his office. The Cultural Revolution had been underway for nearly a decade. Although He Qingyun has called me to his office several times each year, most of our conversations had been one-on-one. Most of our conversations were about conflicts between the discipline and education department and myself, after political cases such as the Lin Biao incident or to ask me my attitude towards an ongoing “Strike Hard” campaign. This time it was different.

When I walked into He Qingyun’s office, I saw two unfamiliar men sitting next to him. The two men had unfamiliar expressions on their faces. I guessed that they were part of the special team investigating the Zhang Xikun case. One of the men seemed to be in charge of the interrogation while the other took notes.

I sat calmly on a wooden bench and waited for their questions. I knew that while He Qingyun was superficially on the jury in this case in fact he was the star in this performance.

He Qingyun and I had had many conversations and so we knew each other quite well. I knew that He Qingyun was not at all persuaded that this “counter-revolutionary gang case” that Lin Chegao was pushing hard was a real one so I had some margin to defend “The Torch“. Although I had already several times in the previous few days accused Lin Chegao of making groundless accusations. He Qingyun made a pretense of stopping me but from his expression on his face I could see that he wanted to encourage me to make get my bold criticisms off my chest.

I also knew that there was no legal procedure to Chinese Communist preliminary hearings. There was no relying on the facts to reach a conclusion. Just the opposite, first they drew the conclusion, then they designed a confession to match it. That is why there were so many people wrongfully convicted.

This time we were at the tail end of the Cultural Revolution. Now that the Wuhan Work Conference has given the highest level guidance to “Focus on evidence and strictly forbid forced confessions”, there were some constraints against blindly jumping from first impressions to conclusions.

Before the interrogation started, He Qingyun hid something that he had copied out to give the impression that he had a well-thought out plan but I thought he was faking it.

For several days I had taken the initiative at the works found that lacking evidence, he had gone ahead and done an irregular major inspection had been carried out using unreasonable methods including tearing up clothing and bed coverings. I realized that He Qingyun was at wit’s end now that he was confronted by the superior court’s special investigation team for “The Torch” case. After several minutes of awkward silence, the chief interrogator asked me my name and birthplace. and then went straight into his interrogation:

“Today we are formally interrogating you about “The Torch” case. Don’t beat about the bush. You need to honestly answer the questions we put to you.”

– 408 –

I wanted to reject his premise and reply that since I had nothing to do with “The Torch”, I was entitled to say nothing at all. But I repressed that impulse and listened to what he said.

“First of all, I want you to honestly tell us everything you know about “The Torch“. We want you to take the initiative to tell us what happened. According to policy, if you tell the truth you can get a reduced sentence. If you resist, you will be treated harshly.”

I immediately replied. “What leads you to believe that I know anything about “The Torch”? What do you want me to say?” “Don’t pretend. We have a great deal of evidence and information from interrogations that proves that you are a member of “The Torch” group. Today we want you to honestly confess. You should know that resistance is futile.”

He Qingyun laughed coldly as if there was a well-thought out plan. I realized that that he really thought just the reverse. The interrogator continued, saying, “We want you to tell us the names of “The Torch” group and their program of action. We don’t need to remind you about what you did yourself, now do we?

“No wonder Cadre He often searched my things and now he has given up hope. The reports you have don’t amount to anything. If you have all the evidence you need, then why do you need to interrogate me today?” I answered firmly.

My response confounded the interrogator. After two minutes of silence, when it seemed that the interrogation could go no further, he changed the topic. “Have you read “The Torch”, the interrogator asked, now clearly trying to find another route of attack.

“If I say that I haven’t read it, then you have already according to the hot air that discipline and education officer Lin has been letting out, at least half the people in the Sixth Brigade have read it. I am of course already in the group that you firmly believe is involved. So if I answer truthfully that I know nothing about it, you won’t believe me. However I don’t think that we should have a useless argument about whether or not I have read “The Torch“.”

“Didn’t you say that “The Torch” is full of rumors and that it slanders the Chinese Communist Party so why don’t you put it out there in the open and criticize it? Why not allow us to enrich our experience? That would be just what you have done before by publishing in your newspapers reactions articles so that everyone can criticize them. If it is just criticizing you, then you should understand very well that that is completely different from calling for the overthrow of the Communist Party and the government and inciting violence. I think that you need to make a clear principled distinction between criticizing you and organizing counter-revolution. Charges of counter-revolution are not to be made arbitrarily. From what I know, involved in “The Torch” case are some pamphlets that you distributed. What kind of absurd counter-revolutionary organization is that then?”

The preliminary hearing officer from Xichang was astonished at my response. Probably among the political prisoners whom they had met in prison, there were very few who could make such a telling counterattack who could expose the nature of the authorities and make a strict distinction between that and the charges that they were being made.

They understood that the evidence “that had been obtained” was at most only revelations of the dark side of the rule of the Chinese Communists from a pamphlet. That could well be just the work of one person or a group of people. To make from that a counter-revolutionary organization was something that could only come from the wild imaginings of mentally disturbed people.

– 409 –

This made me think of the big character poster that Pu Shiguang and the “editors of the voice of those who were not members of the Communist Youth League” that had given rise to wrongful convictions for organizing a counter-revolutionary gang. Local officers of the Communist Party were not even understand basic legal definitions and so just made them up as them up for themselves, turning them into reflections of their own barbarism and ignorance.

It was already clear what cards they held in their hands. I had thoroughly refuted their conclusion that they had made about a “counter-revolutionary gang”. Therefore who would draw up the charges against the others since all the cases are alike? It just didn’t make any sense to go any further or to ask any more questions. My interrogation ended hastily with that.

Then Liu Shunsen, Xia Guangran, Chen Rongkang, and Deng Zixin, whom they considered to be prime “Torch” suspects were interrogated the same way. Since my reply had become one of the main threads in the case, the court didn’t find any evidence.

Lin Chegao’s hope that he would find materials about a “counter-revolutionary” group through the interrogations was in vain.

Section Five The Warriors of “The Torch” Have A Clear Conscience Down to the Present Day

Now the main cause for concern was the safety of Zhang Xikun and Zhou Zhi in the special small prison next to the Forestry brigade. Zhang Xikun was in a particularly dangerous situation since he was being held in strict isolation. That made is easiest for the Chinese Communists to use their methods of deception and terror to reach their goal of a breakthrough on the case. They use those kind of methods when they framed Jiang Zhengjun’s “counter-revolutionary gang”, implicating dozens of people and manufacturing a story about a “counter-revolutionary organization”.

All of us had faith in Zhang Xikun’s strong character. Not afraid of being a martyr for the truth, he would hold firm and be worthy of everyone’s respect. We blamed ourselves for not being able to rescue him and had great confidence that he would be able to defeat all the tricks and deceptions the authorities threw at him.

Lin Chegao did not accept defeat. In March 1975, he again locked up Liu Shunsen and Xia Gurangran in the Sixth Brigade’s small prison. Although the authorities took great pains to isolate Zhang Xikun, they were not able to cut off Zhang Xikun’s contact with his comrades-in-arms in the Sixth Brigade. Less than two weeks later, the Forestry Brigade heard from a worker at the special small prison and so they became aware of the living conditions of Zhang Xikun and the others.

According to the information from the Forestry Brigade, although Zhang Xikun and Zhou Zhi were being kept in strict isolation, they hadn’t yet been tortured. Everyday people from the Superior Court made “humanitarian” psychological warfare on them. Meals were sent to them from the farm headquarters cadre’s cafeteria. That made me think of what conditions had been like for Chen Li and myself eleven years before in the small prison.

(1) An interrogation

Zhang Xikun was the one in the most danger! In Mainland China prisons, leaders who “organized a counter-revolutionary gang and intended to overthrow the people’s democratic dictatorship” faced the death penalty.

By November 8, the authorities still hadn’t found any evidence except for the publication that had been taken from Zhang in the toilets. The court had no evidence upon which it could base a conviction. Now a finding of guilt could only be based on testimony from Zhang Xikun and ourselves. That was way Zhang Xikun had been captured and locked away in the small prison for a while. Whether he and the others in “The Torch” group lived or died depended upon his testimony.

Soon we heard from the Forestry Brigade about Zhang Xikun’s interrogation. Interrogator: “Now we will explain policy to you once again. The copy of “The Torch” we got from you had been copied by you by hand. The periodical that you published proves that you are a capable organizer. The articles in that publication, in their style and content are certainly not the work on only one person but rather by a group of people. You know that organizing counter-revolutionary propaganda in prison normally results in the death penalty but here we still take the attitude of trying to help a sick person with the objective of transforming them. If you quickly make an honest confession about yourself and your fellows, we can still, in the spirit of the policy of “merit counterbalancing guilt and so giving a lighter sentence to someone who tells the truth to reduce your degree of criminal responsibility or even grant you amnesty. You need to think carefully about that.”

– 410 –

Zhang Xikun: “I have already clearly told you many times that “The Torch” that you found was my personal project. I think that your technical studies will come to that conclusion. You have already turned the Sixth Brigade upside down. How can you not accept the results of your own search? Therefore I believe that you shouldn’t be trying to complicate things. As for your claim that I am not ready to die and that I am a troublemaker, I have been hearing this from you for decades. Do you really think that if the hungry people of this country will revolt and overthrow you is a reactionary plot to regain their lost paradise? Is that just ridiculous? There are more and more people in those classes that you had thought exterminated. What does that mean? I am a student and I am an ordinary person who is stuck deeply in an abyss of suffering. I not a member of those despised classes that you believe have been exterminated.”

“Of course power is in your hands. Today you can do whatever you want to do. If you want to kill me, you can kill me. But can you kill all those ordinary people that you have you have taught yourself and now oppose you? We have deep differences in how we understand the world and so we will never reach agreement. As for your claim that I organized a counter-revolutionary organization that is your subjective belief. Thinking that you can get me to confess to the counter-revolutionary organization that exists only in your imaginations you have created in your minds is just wishful thinking. I urge you to stop wasting your time. I won’t sign won’t sign the confession that you want.”

Those words took the interrogators by surprise. The interrogator said, “Then I want to ask you, which articles were written by you, which ones were written by others such as Liu Shunsen and Kong Lingping? We have sufficient proof that they were your co-conspirators. You can’t cover up for them.”

The interrogators were using methods they were confident in to force Zhang Xikun to confess. That is the customary method of the Chinese Communists: confessions substitute for evidence and suppositions substitute for facts. They thought that they could force Zhang Xikun to tell them the name of the other members of the “gang”.

Zhang Xikun answered unhurriedly, “You will suspect any Chinese who will not bend to your repression and despotism and dares to tell the truth. After all these years, what Chinese person is there who has not suffered from starvation and the cold? How many more pretty lies have you concocted?”

“For many years, you have deceived the people. You have spoken nonsense about bumper harvests in agriculture and about great achievements in manufacturing and forced peasants in people’s communes to eat grass and bark and starve to death on their own land. Urban residents and workers were even tricked into making small furnaces to forge a pile of useless scrap iron. You have been telling lies for fifteen years about catching up to Britain and surpassing America and left the people without even homes that can shelter them from the wind and the rain.”

“You are imitating the Founding Emperor of the Qin Dynasty who wrongly convicted many innocent people of crimes throughout the country. You used the people to conquer the country and turn it into a hell on earth where no one dares to speak out. It isn’t enough that you force good people to endure starvation. You want them to sing songs of praise to the Great Helmsman and to the Communist Party as the people’s savior and to force them to prepare for war and natural disasters.”

“You are responsible for the fact that the bodies of the dead lie strewn everywhere. Blaming the evil fruits of your policies on heaven above or the Soviet Union below is just shameful. Future generations will never forget that you incited blind and ignorant young people to fight the bloody battles of the Cultural Revolution for the sake of propagating their crazy dreams.”

– 411 –

“You have already all of China a hell on earth. Your crimes are obvious. What need is there for me to write about them. Even if I write about them, they can be characterized by a single proverb: “they are just not enough paper to write them all down”. During the Cultural Revolution you forced us to make confessions before a statue of Mao Zedong. Your people “seek instructions in the morning, and report your thoughts in the evening” and write essays declaring one’s loyalty. That is just ridiculous.”

“As far as what you say about Liu Shunsen and Kong Lingping, and I am sure that you suspect others, I am certain that among all the two hundred people in the Sixth Agricultural Brigade, there is not one who does not hate you in the bottom of his heart. The torture and the beatings is the only reason that accept your tyrannical behavior. You are determined to think that the people who oppose you are members of a well-organized gang but that is just nonsense that you made up yourself. If that were really true, haven’t you just become a very small minority of isolated elements? Didn’t you say yourself that the counter-revolutionaries are just a small minority?”

“Liu Shusen, Kong Lingping and the others are my good prison friends. That is completely different from what you infer to be a “counter-revolutionary organization”. We did not establish any organization and wrote no charter. We believe that the actions we take in prison to oppose you does not need any charter to bind us together. You don’t need to be racking your brains about it.”

The interrogator’s question drew stern responses from Zhang Xikun. They became the ones interrogated by Zhang Xikun. The interrogators could not use their customary methods of forcing a confession against someone who saw death as if it were a return home so nothing was recorded on the official interrogation record.

Of course Zhang Xikun was a admirable man of iron. The people handling his case did not understand and could not answer his questions to them. A low ranking interrogator, even if they had no proof, could only base their conclusion on the facts of the case.

The interrogator continued, “Well, I can see that you are still determined to resist. The others won’t do the same. They will explain their issues. Now we will give you more time to think things over carefully. How about us coming back and see you after you have come around? Now you need to explain other issues connected to “The Torch”. When did you write “The Torch”? How many articles did you write? What were your motives and objectives? Who read your “The Torch”? How did you pass “The Torch” from person to person?….”

This can be captured completely by the words the Chinese Communists used to use in those years, “A single spark can light a prairie fire!” This was a spark for China’s democratic movement and a spark to destroy the hell that Mao Zedong had created.

The “The Torch” interrogations continued this way from their start in December 1974 until they concluded a full eight months later. The Sixth Brigade superficially became peaceful once again. I transferred from the strict supervision group to the fieldwork group.

Liu Shunsen and Xia Guangran, who for a time had been locked away in the small prison, were released from these and returned to the main prison. Zhou Zhi and Zhang Xikun, however, remained locked away in the big prison. We heard from time to time their bravery in their confrontations with their interrogators. We heard all these stories from workers who managed the special small prison.

Zhang Xikun and his magnificent force of character defeated the people who were keeping him locked up in the small prison. When the workers spoke about Zhang Xikun, they all made thumbs up gestures. We all knew that if it weren’t for the courage of Zhang Xikun standing up to the arrogance and bluster of those butchers, Lin Chegao would have succeeded in making an absolute mess of the Sixth Brigade.

In those days there was a big earthquake in Xichang. The rumors came while we were still in our earthquake shelters, gathered together and so more easily able to compare notes on the political situation around the country and to calmly consider what our policy should be towards them. “The Torch” could no longer be published. That torch raised in hell did nonetheless shed its light on many souls living there.

Among the four renegades, Chen Shi was the most fortunate. He had only been sentenced to five years. He muddled through three years in prison. Lin Chegao’s proposal for his early release was accepted without difficulty.

(2) The Meeting

In August 1975, the Xichang District Court signed its judgment in the case of Zhang Xikun’s counter-revolutionary gang. Zhang Xikun was sentenced to death. The judgment was to be implemented immediately. Zhou Zhi was sentenced to death with a delay of two years for reconsideration if he behaved well.

– 412 –

Hard counterattacks on anyone who appeared even slightly to be taking the lead in political opposition to the authorities was the only method Mao Zedong’s tyranny had. Zhang Xikun paid with his life for carelessness in passing along “The Torch”. What was so brave and admirable about Zhang Xikun was that he sacrificed his life in order to cut all the links between “The Torch” and the other members of the group. In June, the head of the special group of the Xichang Intermediate Court that investigated Zhang Xikun conducted the last interrogation.

The head of the special group said: “We already indicted you according to the evidence that the Xichang Procuratorate provided on your prison counter-revolutionary gang and counter-revolutionary publication. After eight months of investigation and determining the truth of the matter, your case will be resolved according to the regulations of the People’s Republic of China on punishing counter-revolution. Your will be “sentenced to death, to be implemented immediately, permission to do so having been given by the Supreme Court”. Even at this very last moment, in order to spare you this, hope that you will give us a full report about your organization and collaborators. This is your last chance. If you can tell us who the other members of “The Torch” gang are, we can still, based on the Party’s policy of rewarding meritorious deeds, reconsider your sentence. We can even go so far as to pledge to you, that if you choose to make an honest confession, that we can save your life and even go so far as to consider special handling of your case. We will give you just three days to think things over and hope that you will give this careful consideration. Now we ask you for your response. Are you willing to consider confessing?”

His opponent had already shown that, like the proverbial Guizhou donkey, he had already gone as far as his mediocre skills would take him. This last effort to seduce Zhang Xikun failed. From the very start, the opportunity to save himself by selling out the others had been held out to him. Zhang Xikun, with what seemed like supernatural powers, laughed in the face of the temptation presented to him by those devils and refused to go down that road.

He calmly responded, “As far for my comrades, 600 million people across China all oppose your tyranny. They are all my comrades. You talk nonsense about how the free world is hell on earth but you yourselves have killed enormous numbers of people in China and made China the real hell on earth. The more people you kill however, the sooner will come the day when your tyranny will be destroyed. As for talking about a reduced sentence, let me tell you bluntly that you don’t have the right to do that. Only the people have the right to pardon your crimes. I will go cheerfully and without shame to my death. Just like the many other Chinese whom you have killed for no reason at all I am a just man. I am sure that the Chinese people will remember me because I stood up to tyranny and was died in the fight against your tyranny. With that I can console myself and console my 600 million compatriots. Whether or not you can accept what I am telling you today, that day will come when you will realized that I told you the truth here today!”

That moving speech was Zhang Xikun’s last declaration. After that last interrogation, a 15 kilogram leg chain was put on Zhang Xikun’s feet. The interrogator made a red check mark on the notice reflecting the fact that their efforts to make him pliable and to trick him had failed.

On August 25, 1975 the authorities announced the verdict of death for this warrior who had never bent from start to finish. They decided that he would be executed the next day on the farm. They asked him what do you want to say in his last twenty-four hours on this earth?

Zhang Xikun gave them a cold laugh. That cold laugh expressed the regrets, the regrets of a man who had not realized his lofty ambitions. Then Zhang Xikun in a loud voice left behind his last words, words that immediately circulated among all the many exiles and workers who had completed their sentences at the Yanyuan Farm.

“Over the past twenty years I have seen with my own eyes criminal policies and a tyrannical system of government has perverted democracy, slaughtered the innocent, lost the support of the people, destroyed effort to develop the country, has moved step-by-step on the road to its own destruction. My deep regret is that I will not live to see the day when you are all destroyed. That day will come and when that day comes it will definitely be a big step forward for China. That day I will be in heaven with [the executed late Qing Dynasty Reformation Movement leader] Tan Ci celebrating with the people sharing in the success of the democratic revolution!” Workers at the small prison passed to people outside their vivid account of the last words of his fighter for democracy.

It was the season of ripening apples that the guards in the apple orchard chose a big, yellow apples for him and made a special cleaning of his clothes just before his execution!

On August 8, 1975 just before dawn at 6 AM were rousted out of their beds. In order to create an intimidating atmosphere, He Qingyun, standing in front of the assembled ranks, announced the rules for today’s announcement of the verdict:

“You are forbidden to bring a stool or paper and pen. At the meeting you must sit properly at your assigned place facing forward. You may not talk or change you position. You may not whisper to one another. You may not during the meeting leave your place to urinate. You may not greet or talk with people from other brigades.”

After He Qingyun finished his announcement, he made a gave a stern greeting. “Today there will be police patrolling through the meeting grounds. Whomsoever breaks the rules will be detained by armed guards. Whatever happens to them then will be their own responsibility.” Before we left for the meeting ground, He Qingyun ordered the leaders of the various groups to search all the participants and to confiscate any paper and pens that they have.

By late August the windy season had already come to Yanyuan as it head in past years. This day, however, was different. The solid overcast made us feel especially gloomy. I saw that sky covered in thick gray clouds and felt very depressed. I wondered whether the sky would rain or cry? Do the gray heavens have feelings?

The entire meeting place was surrounded by two lines of soldiers. When I entered the meeting place, I saw that those soldiers in green army uniforms hidden outside the enclosing wall were in combat readiness. A machine gun was mounted on a 1.5 meter high wall behind the speaker’s platform.

Fierce eyes peered from over the top of the wall under green military caps staring at the unarmed people already coming in to the embankment as if they were to prevent someone from calling for action and the rest of us rushing the speaker’s platform and pillaging the execution grounds.

On two uncovered platforms on either side of the speaker’s platform were several hundred brigade leaders and cadres from all of the various brigades. They knew the prison well and understood that the prisoners were a bunch of slaves so oppressed that they could be easily led by the nose. They, unlike the soldiers, had a casual and satisfied attitude.

The meeting place, which could hold thousands of people, was divided by chalk markings into many squares. The prison slaves from each brigade were lined up in their square where they were to stay obediently and not move to any other square.

Director Yang of the farm headquarters revolutionary committee was in charge of today’s mass meeting. Sitting next to Yang was the director of the Xichang Intermediate People’s Court. Director Yang frequently went to the microphone to complain that the heads of the various brigades were not in the squares where he had ordered them to go. He often ordered them to arrange the ranks properly. He didn’t stop and settle down until 10 AM. All that back and forth relaxed what had been a very intimidating atmosphere and so people started chattering with one another.

Declaring that the meeting had begun, Director Yang made a show of calm and seriousness as he stood up. In his left arm he waved the Little Red Book that he had brought along and read the quotation chosen beforehand that was often used at meeting to pronounce verdicts and announced the rules for the meeting.

No sooner had he stopped talking than two armed soldiers on either side of the speaker’s platform started shouting in a loud voice. Shouts of “kill, kill” came immediately in response from behind the short wall. This made us think back to the age of autocracy when two runner boys would stand on either side of the court and bang on the ground with wooden clubs and yell in chorus “mighty, mighty”.

Just as this gloomy ambiance was pressing down upon us, rain started to beat down intermittently on the meeting ground soon followed by a big downpour.

– 414 –

The black barrels of 20 machine guns threatened those down below from atop the low wall, speaking fire from the barrels when ever there was chatter in the meeting place. On the mortar embankment sat thousands of people in the lotus position. Despite the downpour nobody got up.

Thousands of pairs of eyes stared at the jailers of the various brigades on both sides of the speaker’s platform. Under the heavy downpour, some looked around for a place to run to get out of the rain while others opened an umbrella that they had brought along but were ordered to put them away by the warriors behind the wall. This made those who had gotten up to flee the rain slink back to their original places. The people who closed the umbrellas they had just opened used handkerchiefs and shirts to cover their heads.

I sat below the speaker’s platform sitting upright and straight ahead with my eyes nearly shut. I thought that I might as well take off my cap and let the rain soak me from my bald head on down. Rain ran down my clothes and pants to drip down onto the mortar where my legs were crossed. It seemed as if heaven itself was crying and praying for wrongly condemned souls to be released from purgatory.

The sounds of a disturbance arrived suddenly from the direction of the toilets. Several people were yelling hysterically there as armed soldiers used their clubs to drive the slaves away from the toilets where they had gathered. A pounding sound came as the clubs hit their heads and bodies. Some held their bloodied heads as they dodged the clubs but no one screamed.

The guards from the various brigades on the platforms looked towards the ranks of the convict ranks that they managed. Some came down from the platform. The disorders lasted for over ten minutes. All the people near the toilets were dispersed by force. The rain started to occupy the front lines. Director Yang walked to the speaker’s platform, looked up to the sky towards the slowly dispersing dark clouds and noise came from the microphone once again.

He ordered that two soldiers bring each prisoner forward. Thirty prisoners were dragged forward, each by two soldiers, like a hungry tigers attacking a sheep. All the people brought forward had bloody faces and were covered with bruises.

As was the custom at the time, the people who were being judged were beaten up behind the small wall, tied up hand and foot. Then they were pushed up onto the speaker’s platform. We had become used to seeing this terrible cruel torture. They were trampled upon before being executed. This was done for the slaves to see. The first person in this line of people that we couldn’t bear to look at was Zhang Xikun.

We had been separated for ten months. We saw him then, not only with his face full of blood and all tied up, but that his throat was spasming. He had words he wanted to spit out to the court or to make a call for action to the people down below but he couldn’t speak. He struggled because he couldn’t cry out.

At that moment the entire place became silent. Myself and the other members of The Torch group all press down hard on our chest to contain the fury that we felt. We raised our heads and met Zhang Xikun’s eyes.

Just at that moment, I saw He Qingyun on the left hand side of the speaker’s platform lower his head. He Qingyun was just behind Zhang Xikun. I could see that he looked ashamed of himself. I understood something of his inner feelings since I had heard a rumor that He Qingyun’s wife often nagged him, “The world is full of evil so it is better not to so many evil deeds.” No wonder that he had been so reticent over the past year.

During interrogation Zhang Xikun, calm in the face of death, had deeply moved him and made him realize that his own hands were already drenched in the blood of innocent people. Once he realized that, and took the armor plating off his heart, he knew too that in this turbulent society there was no knowing just who would come into power.

The odd thing was that that day Lin Chegao did not appear on the speaker’s platform. He was the murderer directly responsible for the killing of Zhang Xikun. Today it should be Lin Chegao who was up on the speaker’s platform. He should not be afraid to confront Zhang Xikun!

– 415 –

With Director Yang order, the loudspeaker burst out with the sounds of people shouting themselves hoarse by screaming political slogans. A group of brutal soldiers escorted a group of barely alive men who cannot even find the release of death from their pain. After the depressing sound of gunfire, more yelled political slogans.

(3) They Walked Beside You

I don’t recall getting from the square amidst Director Yang’s yelled political slogans. I don’t know how one after another we walked out of the iron gate of the Seventh Agricultural Brigade. The only thing I remember is on the right-hand side of the road fifty meters from the big iron gate were lined up the corpses of the eight men who had been shot that day. Zhang Xikun’s body was tilted downwards. The iron ball and chain he had worn lay in a pile of soil beside a roadside white birch tree.

This demonstrated that it was not enough to show how the condemned had been beaten to a pulp before they died was not frightening enough. They purposely put these bloody beaten corpses on the roadside so that we would feel that terror again as we walked past them.

In order to remember, I counted the white birch trees along the road from the first one to the seventh one. I could see clearly two streaks of the blood that had dripped off Zhang Xikun’s face. His tightly shut eyes showing us his determination to leave it all behind him. His face showed the deep worries of people who suffered through terrible calamities!! His slightly open mouth showed the regrets and exhortations of one who wanted to talk about the lofty ambitions never realized.

Under the watching gun barrels, I bowed with each step as I walked past. My thoughts filled with him. “Rest in peace! Zhang Xikun, my dear comrade-in-arms. I will always remember what you gave me! As long as I still have breath, I will fight to bury this evil tyrannical system! As long as I still have breath, I will make sure that the world knows your glory! As long as I still have breath, I will keep your spirit alive among us!”

Section Six The Punishment of God Above for Judas

The four Judases were Chen Xianshi, Liu Ziyuan, Wang Shichun and Huang Xuequan.

With Lin Chegao’s support, sentence reduction documentation for these four was sent to farm headquarters. However, except for an improvement in their living quarters, they did not even get a bone for their troubles. Justice has a long arm however. They did not escape it. The four convicts were punished by heaven above.

After Zhang Xikun was locked up in that special small prison at the Forestry Brigade, Huang Xuequan was transferred out of the strict management group and was sent, like I was, to the Second Fieldwork Group. Liu Ziyuan, who it was said had an old illness flare up again, applied to be sent away for medical treatment. After Wang Shichun was transferred out of the strict management group, he began to complain more and more because he hadn’t received what he wanted. His showed his disappointment, saying that if he had known better, he wouldn’t have fallen in with Lin Chegao’s gang of crooks and become the whipping dog of everyone in the Sixth Brigade.

– 416 –

The most satisfied of the four was Chen Xianshi. His had been sentence to five years in prison. He had already, without actually realizing it, muddled through three of them. In May 1975, he packed his bags and cheerfully stepped out beyond the threshold of the Sixth Brigade’s big gate and reported to the headquarters machine shop.

The previous year, Guo Xian, who had been implicated in the case of Sun Mingquan’s revenge bombing, had been released from the small prison for “lack of evidence” and returned to the machine shop. Chen Xianshi, who had just been transferred from the Sixth Brigade, was assigned to be Guo Xian’s apprentice.

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Wuhan Writer Fang Fang: “Disdainfully Facing Down a Finger-Pointing Epidemic” — The Ultra-Left is a Virus

“Disdainfully Facing Down a Finger-Pointing Epidemic”: The Ultra-Left is a Virus

(Central News Agency, Taipei, March 25th) As Wuhan prepares to end the closure of the city, author Fang Fang, known as the “Conscience of Wuhan” ended the diary she has been writing since the start of the city closure. In the conclusion to her last diary entry,

See the source image

Fang Fang expressed her strong desire to hold on the memory of those lost to the coronavirus and her anger at provocations by the hired internet commentators of ultra-left. She said they themselves are a virus infecting Chinese society.

The day before Fang Fang ended her diary, she recorded the death of Guangxi’s nurse named Liang who had gone to Wuhan to help. She added that efforts were just going through the motions since she was already brain dead. Some ultra-leftists attacked her web page, overwhelming it with messages that accused Fang Fang of having been “driven crazy by heartbreak and creating rumors”. [Note Hong Kong’s Sing Tao Daily on March 24th reported “Guangxi’s Help Wuhan Nurse Fainting and Death Widely Reported Online; Official Claim She is Still Receiving Intensive Care.” End note.]

In her final article, she Wuadmitted that “I know very little about medicine” and that after having looked more carefully into the story, she wanted to make a sincere apology to “all readers, but also to Nurse Liang’s family.” She added that Nurse Liang’s life mattered a great deal to everyone since she “worked so hard for Wuhan.”

Nonetheless, Fang Fang said she also wanted to thank those “ultra leftists who attack me every day. Without their constant encouragement, a lazy person like me would not have kept on writing for so long. Maybe I would have lazy people like me might not have written for a long time, or maybe I would have given up after a few days or not have written so many diary entries.” By the 62nd day of Wuhan’s closure, she had written a total of 60 articles starting on the first day of the Lunar New Year.

She said that those attacks pleased her since her attackers revealed their twisted logic, distorted thinking, greatly biased perspectives, poor command of the Chinese language and low moral character to their readers. And they did it every day. Every day they showed off their shortcomings and perverted moral values. “They showed their true face.”

Fang Fang said that despite the abundant shortcomings of the extreme left, “but they are in fact just like the new coronavirus virus. They infect our entire society bit-by-bit.” They very quickly infected many Chinese officials and those infected officials became in turn their protectors and sponsors, helping them to expand their influence every day. They are as arrogant as the mobsters of crime families. They have become a giant network that can completely change social climate, raining down abuse on anyone who has different views.

That is why, she continued, that the extreme left threatens Chinese society with a national calamity. They are the biggest obstacle opposing China’s reform and opening! If this ultra-leftist force is allowed to run rampant and infect all Chinese society with its viruses, then reform will fail and China will have no future.

During the great epidemic, Fang Fang, who told us that she had been a professional writer for 40 years, wrote a documentary account of the lives and fears of Wuhan people trapped in their closed city who desperately wanted to understand what was really happening.

Looking back on these 60 entries in her diary, Fang Fang’s calm and unsensational narrative style captured many readers. For example, her diary entry for the 16th day of the Wuhan city closure explaining that Wuhan’s epidemic disaster meant . “This is not the kind of disaster where you put on a mask and stay home for a few days. … This disaster is a corpse in a crematorium. Before there was only once corpse per car. Before there were coffins; now there are body bags and one car will carry several… “, and ” the years have not been quiet in the disaster, only the death of the patient can not be reconciled, only the daring of the relatives, and only the living Living to death. “there is no peace in the midst of disaster, only the sick not reconciled to their deaths, only the heartbreak of their families, only the living who live constantly in memory of their dead.”

Also in the prefabricated hospital, officials and medical staff wore masks and sang to the patients, the song “Without the Communist Party There Would Be No New China“. Fang Fang criticized them saying, “When will civil servants go to work without brandishing the flag and taking group pictures? When will leaders do inspections without people singing and proclaiming their gratitude? When will there be the real thing and not just a show? Only in this way will people get to know what is really going on. When that happens, will people see that common sense has prevailed and concrete issues are being addressed. If that doesn’t happen, how will the suffering of the people ever end? “.

Fang Fang wrote about a middle school classmate who had been infected and died. “Today our classmates are all crying for her. Our classmates who had always cheered our prosperity now say “If we don’t shoot the people responsible for this the anger of ordinary people will never be appeased!” That diary entry was very popular.

Professor Dai Jianye of Wuhan’s Central China Normal University once commented, that he had heard that the government follows closely reports from the epidemic area and had sent hundreds of journalists to report on the epidemic area but “all of them together don’t match one Fang Fang.”

Dai Jianye pointed out that compared to Fang Fang’s diary, there is “not even one article” among Chinese media worth reading and some of them “insult your intelligence”. For many people in Wuhan, the first thing they do when they get up in the morning is to read Fang Fang’s diary. They don’t pay attention to what is on the radio or what is in the newspapers or what the mass media is saying.

Fang Fang’s diary has been the constant companion of Wuhan people during the hardest days of the epidemic. She said that although today is my last diary post, “My Weibo account is still my platform and I will continue writing here as I did before. “I will continue to insist on my personal views”, and in particular will continue to urge the authorities to hold officials accountable. “I will not give up.”

She said bluntly that she doesn’t know whether the authorities will eventually prosecute her. No matter what, the people of Wuhan who experienced the tragic closure of their city have the responsibility to demand justice for those who have died. “If we were to give up our demand to prosecute those responsible…I would say: people of Wuhan, you have borne on your shoulders not only a disaster but a burden of shame as well. To forget would be a disgrace to us all.”

Fang Fang said that while there are some who deliberately disparage her writings or ignore them, she will continue to insist on speaking out. “I have written it all out word-by-word. out that if anyone intends to easily check off this, it will never be possible, “I’ll write it all out word by word, and wrote the story of those responsible on history’s pillar of shame.”

At the end of her last diary entry, she quotes from New Testament 2 Timothy Chapter 4 verse 7 as she bids farewell to her diary readers:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

She added that the support of her readers had made her feel that she was not alone.

(Edit: Cao Yufan / Qiu Guoqiang) 1090325

Chinese text https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/202003255005.aspx

橫眉冷對千夫指 方方日記最終篇:極左是病毒

最新更新:2020/03/25 15:20


















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Wuhan Diary #41 The 45th Day of the Wuhan City Closure — March 7, 2020

March 7, 2020 The 45th Day of the Wuhan City Closure

Today is the first day that I have participated in the community group vegetable purchase. This wasn’t the group food purchase from the supermarket organized by officials but done instead by placing an order through a WeChat Mini Program open source app. This enables people from the same community to place an order together. Each package you order weighs five or six pounds so it can be a bit too much for a small family but unlike the supermarkets, you are not getting unsaleable goods, there is no minimum purchase, they can still deliver to the entrance of the community and the prices are a bit lower than the supermarket. So it is the best choice for me.

Once I get a notice from the group, I can go downstairs to pick it up. I wait for a while at home and don’t leave until I expect that I will be the last one. Mother gets angry that I go so late, thinking that the others will have gotten the good stuff and I will only get left-overs. I think in these times it is better not to fight in a scrum. Getting infected for the sake of a few vegetables doesn’t make any sense. When I get to the food pick-up point, I find that I am indeed last, that the vegetables are all pre-packaged so there isn’t any pick-and-choose. I hadn’t expected that I would get a few extra garlic sprouts for being the last one – the delivery guy just gave them to me. Life is like that, always full of the unexpected. I didn’t care about losing out some but ended up being pleasantly surprised to get a bit extra.

The potatoes I bought last week have already germinated. It can’t be helped. We get plenty of vegetables through our group purchases but if we don’t consume them in a short time the easily go bad. That is hard to avoid. Fortunately with potatoes if you cut off the part that is germinating, you can still eat it. I heard earlier that some of the bean products from group purchases were going bad and that sometimes the pork stank.

Recently many communities have been distributing “Caring Provisions”. Our

Image result for 爱心物资 蔬菜
240 tons of donated food supplies on their way from Sichuan Province to Wuhan.

community also gets them and once I got a notice about them in our community WeChat group. There was a violent scrum for the provisions at the distribution point; some people got hurt when they tripped and fell. After that I didn’t get anymore notices to pick up provisions. Our community network manager said that after that those provisions were being set aside for households in particularly difficult circumstances such as widows, widowers and elderly people living alone. Fine, if they are really doing things that way. The only question is that the varieties, quantities and distribution of these “Caring Provisions” is never published one might suspect that something funny is going on behind the scenes. During the state of emergency I don’t get too excited about that, but some people do, and in the end this will cause problems between the residents and the community administration. Once this epidemic is finally over, our community will feel its repercussions for a long time to come.

The government recently released some meat stocks at a very low price although quantities were limited. Our community issued a notice and mother had me buy some. I have doubts however about the quality of the meat from the government stockpile. In the past some so-called “vampire meat”– years old frozen meat of uncertain quality — got on the market from government stocks. Although now we are in a sudden epidemic outbreak, I still have a hard time believing that the meat is of good quality.

One of my classmates stayed in Beijing to work after graduation. This year she didn’t manage to get back to Wuhan before the epidemic broke out. Her parents in Wuhan became infected with the new coronavirus. Just at the time when hospital beds were in short supply, she asked for help on our classmates’ WeChat group, hoping that someone could arrange for her parents to be hospitalized. Fortunately that auntie and uncle persisted in trying to find a hospital. Yesterday evening I heard that they were both cure although auntie is still in the hospital and uncle is in isolation in a quarantine facility.

Many times after graduation I regretted my choice and really felt that I should have left Wuhan. For grown children to be living with their parents really is a disaster! I always do worry though, since I am an only child and my parents are getting older, particularly public homes for the aged are of very uncertain quality, can I really abandon all responsibility for them?

After the sudden outbreak of this epidemic, I more than once rejoiced that I am at home together with them. I made sure that the wear their face masks properly and that they don’t go outside. I take care of buy food by express delivery. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be in my classmates’ position. I don’t know what I would do. It would have driven me absolutely crazy.

What can we do? If they make us live in an abnormal society, we’ll just have to get on by living abnormally.

Yesterday evening, the new Wuhan City Communist Party Committee Secretary Wang Zhonglin called a video conference of the Wuhan Municipal New Coronavirus Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarters. At the conference, he stated “We shall carry out gratitude education amongst the broad masses of the entire city so that people will be grateful to the Communist Party General Secretary [Xi Jinping], grateful to the Communist Party, obey the Communist Party, follow the Communist Party, and so become a source of powerful positive energy. ”

I think that must be a consequence of the incident at the Gongguan Community in the

the Kaiyuan neighborhood of the Qingshan District. Those voices that yelled out “Its all fake!” embarrassed the leadership so they need to reprimand us. That is absurd! It is just so absurd that I can’t keep myself from laughing. Grateful? Grateful for Li Wenliang or for Wang Guangfa? Grateful to the medical workers who came to Wuhan from the outside or grateful to the Wuhan Red Cross Society? Grateful to the volunteers or grateful to the Health Commission? Grateful to the Communist Party General Secretary? Grateful to the government and to the State for the false reports and dereliction of duty that led to the loss of thousands of lives and shattered innumerable families?

According to official figures, the death count in Wuhan as of yesterday was 2349. I don’t

Circulating online
in China of a blindfolded
man on log surrounded by
sharks. Banner flying above
the log reads “Gratitude”

believe that number. We may never know. There are still many thousands of seriously ill people in the hospitals. There are innumerable dead, just innumerable bones that have not yet cooled down, innumerable ashes that have not yet been interred, innumerable people who never got a chance to say goodbye.

Not only that, we are today still confined to our homes, the schools are still closed, and factories and businesses have not yet gone back to work. There are still many thousands of people at the fangcang temporary shelter hospitals and at quarantine centers who cannot yet return home. The delivery of supplies hasn’t yet returned to normal. Just a few days ago there were still people jumping off buildings to their deaths. … And now they want us to be grateful?

Yes, we Wuhan people certainly are grateful. We are grateful for the kindness and assistance that has come in from around the world. We are grateful for the sacrifices of medical workers. We are grateful for the selfless contributions of volunteers. We are grateful for the countless numbers of ordinary people who have kept on working through it all. Wuhan people are not ingrates. We remember those who have helped us.

However, we have suffered so much sorrow, pain and fear. Who will take responsibility for that? Who is responsible for the false reporting? Who is responsible for the malpractice of the Red Cross Society? Who is responsible for stuffing their own pockets with profits from selling relief supplies? Who is responsible for all those people holding do-nothing jobs in government departments? The normal life of the city has already been halted for 45 days. Who is responsible for that?

And as for “strengthening gratitude education”, wouldn’t it be far better to have an education that develops a sense of honor?

Chinese text:

3月7日 武汉封城第45天




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Xu Zhangrun: The People are Angry and No Longer Afraid

Back in early February, Geremie R. Barmé translated this essay by Tsinghua University Law School Professor Xu Zhangrun. Viral Alarm: When Fury Overcomes Fear — An Essay by Xu Zhangrun, Translated and Annotated by Geremie R. Barmé

This essay made the Chinese Communist Party even more disappointed with Professor Xu who they see as constantly emitting what the Party calls these days “negative energy”.

The China Heritage website of Australia’s Wairarapa’s Academy for New Sinology has a collection of translations of some of Professor Xu’s essay and some article about him.

I translated earlier Xu’s November 2018 essay “Whoever Heard of a Teacher Who Doesn’t Speak” criticizing widespread censorship in China which was published on the Financial Times Chinese language website.

Although my qualifications cannot compare with Dr. Barmé’s, I did find the essay fascinating and so decided to work through it on my own and put it up here on here on my translation blog.

The first thing one might notice is that some of the copies of this essay available on line lead with the summary before quoting the first line of Boris Pasternak’s poem “February”. Most of copies I see online do not include the summary.

Leading off with a Russian poem! China’s Russia connection has always fascinated me. From Mikhail Borodin sent to China by the Communist International at the request of the Republic of China’s leader Sun Yat-sen and influenced both the organization of the Nationalist Party and the Chinese Communist Party. To the ‘Flying Bears’ of the Soviet Volunteer Group who helped China fight Japan before the ‘Flying Tigers’ came along up until the USSR – Japan Non-agression pact. As well as the many Soviet advisors who made many Chinese friends while in China during the 1950s notwithstanding the vagaries of Sino-Soviet relations during that decade as my Chengdu writer friend Yin Shuping, one-time boy Xinhua correspondent with the Chinese Volunteers in the DPRK, told me. He kept in touch with a few Russian friends until he died a few years ago.

Professor Xu writes in the slightly archaic literary style of the oldtime righteous scholar. To echo those illustrious predecessors and the old time high prestige language of the past. Some of the very elderly (not to mention Mao himself) were educated in that tradition; some of their students are still active. When I visited 94-year old exiled Henan hero AIDS-fighting physician Dr. Gao Yaojie last week in New York City, she told me that in her early education she spent four years memorizing the Four Books.

Citing and re-interpreting the authorities of the past to justify innovation in the future seems to be a Chinese tradition. The authority of the old in China versus the appeal of the new in some other cultures — in China something like putting new wine in old bottles. Just like the Mao’s old quote “Practice Is the Sole Criterion of Truth” was turned around in 1978 during Party Secretary Hua Guofeng’s time (the Deng gang (or is it just the specious and overly simple conservative/reform dichotomy of Deng fans?) doesn’t like to share credit) for reform) to sweep away ideological detritus of Mao’s era to push forward with reform.

Xu Zhangrun has been writing articles criticizing the Chinese Communist Party and Party Secretary Xi Jinping’s policies for some years and has suffered for it. He is now apparently under house arrest in Beijing.

Professor Xu’s sees that China as going rapidly downhill under Party Secretary Xi Jinping. The tightening of one man rule has led to paralysis and passivity making China ever less capable of facing up to its chronic problems.

The People Are Angry and No Longer Afraid

by Xu Zhangrun

Summary: As the poet sang,

“Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Therefore scholars are good-for-nothings. All they can do is breathe their deep sighs, pick up their pens, and write essays calling for fairness and justice.

Summary beginning with the first verse of Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Black spring! Pick up your pen, and weeping,
Of February, in sobs and ink,
Write poems, while the slush in thunder
Is burning in the black of spring.

February by Boris Pasternak, first verse. Translated by poet’s sister, Lydia Pasternak Slater.

Just as the Year of the Pig was about to give way to the Year of the Rat, an epidemic broke out, first in a great city. and then spread throughout the entire country. In an instant, the Divine Land of China became desolate and the population fearful. The dithering of the authorities brought disaster to the common people and spread the pestilence throughout the world. China has gradually become an island unto itself, cut off from the rest of the world. The image of “reform and opening” built up laboriously over more than three decades seemed to have crumbled in an instant. The blow slapped China, and especially its system of governance, back to the pre-modern era. The blocking of roads and the slamming shut of gates brought with it a whole string of man-made, barbarous humanitarian disasters that recall the Middle Ages.

All this was brought about by the intimidation into silence and the falsification of reports by powerful officials both high and low. Then followed their preoccupation with their personal affairs, their evasion of responsibility and their claiming credit for the good work of others, stupidly ignoring their important task of coordination to accomplish the essential task of prevention. Monopolizing all power, stressing that all decision must be referred to the top leader for a decision for fear of “organizational dysfunctionality” and assuming responsibility with respect to the top leader only for their own inaction due to “institutional incapacity arising the rules of the organization”.

Specifically, it was the “perversion of morals” and corruption by personal interests of this political regime dedicated to “defending the entire country” that affected the livelihoods of the vast population of the land, creating a man-made on a greater scale than any natural disaster. This exposed the utter moral bankruptcy of the regime and its institutional weaknesses more than ever before. Therefore the source of this man-made disaster is to be sought in the ethics, politics, society and economy of today’s China. The Yankees may well want to harm the China’s economy but unexpectedly China’s own rulers rushed in to get the job done first. It was especially the confusion spread by own words and actions after the pestilence broke out, their deliberate lies and flagrant irresponsibility that has infuriated and broken the hearts of the people.

Yes, the people’s anger has already erupted like a volcano. Infuriated people are no longer intimidated. Therefore we’ll weigh the characteristics of the world’s systems of governance and examine China’s own overall development since [the year Wu Wu of 60 year cycle — apparently 2018].

Summarized in the nine points below, I respectfully submit this for the consideration of my compatriots.

First of all, political corruption has completely undermined the political system.

Protecting their family wealth and ruling the country has become the core concern of this political system and of its highest authorities. Whenever they speak of “the masses of the people” they merely mean taxable units to be exploited by various means, mere numbers to be controlled through “stability maintenance” and “necessary expendable” needed to maintain the locusts, both big and small, of this totalitarian government. State authorities both high and low concealed the epidemic, repeatedly delaying reporting, for the sake of the debaucheries and dance parties of those surrounding “the core leadership” showing that they the idea that the people are innocent and that Heaven cares about their fate does not occur to them, not does the idea that we share in the good and bad fortune of peoples in the global system.

When it did happen, they made fools of themselves, acting completely with no conscience causing harm to the common people. The core of power still exists, breeding both inefficiency and chaos, especially with the web police so dedicated to serving the cruel government. Like bird dogs, they swiftly close in on their prey and work overtime to block information. News spreads quickly however, revealing that the security agency is in charge and the National Security Commission of the Communist Party of China has become the most powerful department. Though it sits at the very top of the power pyramid, it is a pre-modern apparatus that had its day but now that day is past. In fact, as our ancestors once clearly observed, “Keeping people’s mouths closed is harder than holding back a mighty river”.

Who cares whether the Cyberspace Administration of China has any patience left, it is powerless against the 1.4 billion mouths of China just as was the case for people in ancient times. So it goes all around the land, believing that their power knows no limits, indulging in the self-deceptions of the so-called “leader” yet in the end they are unable to conceal it.

When the outbreak occurred, no leader displayed any virtue or knowledge whatsoever. When finally grabbed by their lapels, with officers and soldiers dying from exhaustion on the frontlines, and calamity befell untold hundreds of millions of people, they still stood their screaming their empty political slogans, saying a little bit of this and that, to create the appearance of taking it all very seriously. The spectacle made the people sneer and ridicule them. This was not so much about them but about the “corruption of morals” in the political system. It was as if seventy years of unbroken disasters had already well taught the people the evils of totalitarianism — this great epidemic has made that fully and completely clear. I ask only of my hundreds of millions of compatriots, both elders and brethren, that they long remember this, be less servile, and employ their own rationality in the conduct of public affairs. No longer permit yourself to be buried alongside the totalitarians. If not, you will forever be taken advantage of and forever have great difficulty in saving yourselves.

Next, the political system has been crushed under tyrannical rule and the technocrat-run bureaucratic system built up over three decades has come to an end. Not so long ago, motivated both by morality and personal advantage, many able technocrat took charge forming a technocratic bureaucracy that although not ideal and having many shortcomings as able to serve its purpose at the time. One cause of this was that, taking advantage of the quest for political achievements to gain promotion, some poverty-stricken people from the younger generation were incentivized to work hard. Here is won’t discuss the Red second generation taking advantage of their special connections to hold a job without doing any work, being good-for-nothings, not able to do anything but fully capable of ruining things.

Unfortunately, due to the unbroken succession of purges in recent years, people throughout the red lands all sing the same tune. All they can do is obey and see to their own advantage. The result has been that the morality and capable people of the technocratic bureaucratic system who are motivated to seek the political achievements they need to get promoted were without anyone being aware of it, vanished from the system. In particular, those with “red genes” who are judged by their own and reserve advancement to their own making everyone disappointed and discouraged as as time went one, increasingly inclined to depart from morality and humaneness.

Among the reasons for this, is that in this post-leader era, the leadership system itself was destroying the mechanisms of governance. What was promised to be modern governance actually plunged the governance of the country into a predicament growing out of the lack of structure in governance. The symptoms of this were in fact “organizational dysfunctionality” and “institutional incapacity arising the rules of the organization”. Can’t you see? Following the lead of just one person and the failings of that person, means that there is no system of running the country, no direction for government but endless power struggles that harm the country. Officials do not have any guidance. Good official don’t dare to take initiative while bad officials seek to turn the situation to their own advantage. If you don’t do anything you won’t get yourself into trouble, or even be duped, as the less capable push out the more capable and all sorts of madness occurs.

Next, domestic governance is completely overturned. This sudden rapid decline manifests itself in the following two ways:

There economy is already trending towards less growth. This year’s trends will only confirm that, making the worst performance since the “disturbances” [of 1989], pushing to new extremes the dysfunctionalities of “organizational dysfunctionality” and “institutional incapacity arising the rules of the organization”. The trust of the people in government has fallen sharply, they fear for their property rights, officialdom and academic boiling with anger, society deteriorating, the cultural and publishing worlds bleak, with only the dogshit world of red songs and red theater flourishing. The production of ever more shameless articles and hack tunes that fill the air with sickening praise of the leader is already a confirmed trend.

The most troubling of all is misjudging the situation in Hong Kong and Taiwan, in particular the refusal to honor the basic commitments to the Hong Kong Basic Law. That lousy move made trust in government plummet to a new low. This has resulted in great dissent and discord in the wealthiest and best-educated part of China and shown to the world what a faithless scoundrel China’s political regime really is.

Meanwhile, US-China relations have been disrupted because the superpower has no fixed rules governing its internal affairs – such a shortcoming is something that can shape the destiny of a nation. Just because of that, with the muddle-headness and carelessness of its leader and the uncertainty of an oceanic county about just where its borders lie has led to confusion. The online discussions about “the imperialists have not given up their plot to destroy us” – they want to do it but haven’t done it yet. Indeed, just let them do it! That is not only ridiculous, it is heartbreaking.

On the other hand, the tightening and restrictions on civil rights over the past several years and the destruction of civil society, the ever stricter restrictions on speech, have weakened or even destroyed society’s early warning systems. With the epidemic came, tightly sealed mouths led to tightly sealed cities. The death of hope led to the death of human beings. Therefore it is easy to understand what came together with all that. The more that political opportunism and vulgar pragmatism expand in politics, reaching their extremes you get the “sent-down youth politics” [Note: the politics of the youth sent down to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. End note], a characteristic phenomenon of a particular time revealing that both morals and intelligence had both vanished.

We can say that those people at all levels are the worst leaders we have had over the past forty years. Therefore what we need right now is to implement Article 35 of the PRC Constitution, abolish press restrictions, end the management and control of the Internet by online spies, put into practice for our citizens the various rights of freedom to organize themselves including freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. The human rights of all people must be recognized an in particular the right of universal suffrage. Moreover, as far as determining responsibility of individuals and the system for the epidemic and the concealment of information about the epidemic, we need to set up an independent mechanism for determining that. That will be the way for “post-war reconstruction” and is a pressing matter.

Court politics has reappeared. Along with the actions to centralize power over the past few years, the integration of the Party and State has become even more marked. In particular, we see the Party taking over the functions of government as we discussed earlier, this has paralyzed nearly the entire bureaucratic system. Whatever his motive was, the top leader is not strong enough to impose himself on his powerful subordinates so he uses the Discipline and Inspection organs as a whip, beating the system to death, continues on and on, not knowing what the next steps should be, wanders along, lost. Moreover, because freedom of speech is lacking in the modern bureaucratic system, that is there is no “His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition” present, and the wielders of the whip themselves lack oversight so we end up back at the system of the National Security Commission [of the Communist Party of China] taking everything under its control and strict iron-fisted leadership.

Finally all the layers of government are under the control of one man. Yet all men are mortal with their own particular shortcomings. Under the Party-State system, there is no division of countervailing powers to share responsibility and to combine strength with strength and built trust and cooperation. From that is born court politics. To put it into plain language, this is decomposition of the “collective leadership” decomposed into the “the nine dragons who command the rain” [Note: traditionally, the dragons in charge of the rain who can’t agree to anything and so cause drought. End note] ineffective oligarchy, all losing power as they counterbalance one another to the point that a small leading circle becomes the “state within a state” something similar to what the Americans would sighingly call a “hidden power structure”.

Considering past events in the light of this, the normal state of the “1949 political system” – bureaucratic responsible government so that even in the era of Mao Zedong, Premier Zhou was allowed his small domain. When the “Revolutionary Committees” and their People’s Security Organizations [人民保卫组] appeared, they broke up that organization but finally that new system itself in the end could not last. During the past forty years, the “nobles” have largely balanced one another, and the previous integrated party-state gave gave way to the administration implementing the directives of the Party. It has been only over the past several years, however, that a closed, incompetent, brutal jungle-like court politics has appeared, decisively preventing the reconstruction of normal governance.

Once the blockage is in place, there is room neither to advance nor to retreat, creating tensions, but nobody can do anything about it. They can only watch as the situation continues to deteriorate until finally things have gotten to such a state that recovery is now impossible. By then, the economy and the society have already been severely harmed. A moral, secularizing society plunged into such a dangerous situation cannot function, the law becomes ever weaker, and so the foundations of civil society itself disappear so that in the end there is no longer even a shadow of an advanced political and social order. When there is a small disturbances, or a great disaster comes, people cannot save themselves and obstacles appear to others helping them, resulting in a great calamity.

The disorders in the Jiangshan district of Wuhan City, although it is located at a subordinate level, the root of the disorder lies at the level of superior authority. The superior authority has been completely consumed with the task of “protecting the country and ruling the country” that they have ignored the sovereignty of the people which is inherent in the “building a civilized country and a free country”. So what do we get? Just what they say in online discussions “by joining together we can do great things” but that immediately becomes “by joining together we can cause a lot of trouble”. The big epidemic in Hubei is proof of that.

Fifth, using “digital totalitarianism” and “Weibo social media terrorism” to rule the country and to control the people. Over the past thirty-odd years, with the basic situation unchanged, the ideological conformity of officials has gone from seeing to build a rich and strong country through “Rejuvenating China”, nationalism and the Four Modernizations to “The Three Represents” and “The New Three People’s Principles” and then to the “new era” of one confusing twist and turn after another. Looking at quality the overall pattern is a rise and then a decline. “The Three Represents” comes at the top and flattening of the trajectory after when we see a decline to the present when we see a naked appeal to “digital totalitarianism” to “defend the country”. It seems to me that trend towards making a transition from Mao-style totalitarianism to authoritarianism halted after the 2008 Beijing Olympics and a contrary trend took hold back towards Mao-style totalitarianism.

This trend has accelerated considerably over the past six years. This accelerating trends relies on unlimited spending on science and technology resources suitable for creating a “1984”type “digital totalitarianism”. Therefore a “social media terrorism” targets all the country great many citizens, using the blood and sweat of the taxpayers to support a vast network of online police so as to monitor and control the words and actions of the entire nation. This system can be called a poison aimed directly at the citizenry. Every gesture that one makes can lead to freezing or closing your social media account, closing down a chatgroup, or even dispatching armed police to your door. This makes everyone feel that they are in danger an feel pressure to censor themselves for fear that some unimaginable punishment will descend upon them. This smothers all chance for public discussion of ideas. This strangles as well means of communication and advance warning mechanisms in society.

Therefore a “fascist military tyranny” is gradually taking shape which moreover is daily showing signs of structural failures and symptoms of its falling apart such as “organizational dysfunctionality” and “institutional incapacity arising the rules of the organization”. Just for this reason, it is not hard to see that facing the big epidemic that the omnipotent totalitarian rule with one monarch in charge of everything unexpectedly manifests itself in state governance as being overwhelmed with problems so that a great manufacturing country finds itself suddenly short of facemasks. In Wuhan and indeed through Hubei Province down to the present there are uncounted multitudes of people who are not getting medical care, they look for medical care but can’t get it, many suffering patients try many avenues to get help but don’t find it. Many are those who have lost their lives and gone to the netherworld. Thus does the true state of the omnipotent as the ultimate incompetent is exposed for all to see. The cause is cutting off communication among people in society, cutting off all sources of information, allowing only Communist Party media and propaganda. This country is always a cripple, if only it were really a giant!

Sixth, revealing all the cards in one’s hand thereby foreclosing any opportunity to make improvements. To put this another way, this ends all hope for “reform and opening” policy. Judging from the many statements between year-end 2018 about “what should be changed”, “what shouldn’t be changed”, and “what certainly won’t change” to the various declarations made in the report of the Fourth Session of the Nineteenth Congress of the Communist Party of China, one can say definitively that the third wave of “reform and opening” in the modern history of China has died of old age. To be certain, it death throes began six years earlier; what this last gasp does is send us a clear and unmistakable signal that this is so. If we were to review twentieth century world history, it has only been right-wing dictatorships that have, under pressure, been capable of making a democratic transition without a great deal of bloodshed. Nonetheless, the last years of the Soviet Union, and especially those of the red totalitarians of the communist countries of Eastern Europe unexpectedly did make a peaceful transition. That was surprising and reassuring.

However, in our country at the moment, the question of whether or not the authorities have closed off that path, rendering a peaceful transition impossible has arisen. If that in fact is what has happened then we have come to a situation in which “If the country prospers, the people will be miserable. If the country falls, the people will also be miserable.” Who could imagine we are back to all that once again! May we hope that once great epidemic passes, all our nation’s people will reflect on this, become more aware of this issue, and consider whether we might be able to embark upon the “fourth wave of reform and opening”!

Seventh, if we continue down this path, as we are already seeing, China has been becoming increasingly isolated from the rest of the world. Over the past hundred-odd years, China has always been switching sides back and forth with respect to the modern world system which originated in Mediterranean culture and reached its peak in the Atlantic civilization. Sometimes China resists that camp and sometimes China goes along with it. China keeps going back and forth, enduring brutal shocks going along its own uncertain path. Over thirty years, having finally calmed down and reflected upon the immense suffering of its recent past, it decided to “give in and listen to reason” and “set itself the task of catching up”, finally even “astonished with its renovation of itself” and “joined the mainstream”.

Unfortunately, in recent years it has committed repeated violations and acted unreasonably, and stated clearly that “reform and opening” has reached its end. The leftist totalitarians have “retreated and can retreat no longer”. They could not accept transforming themselves along with a peaceful transition so they blame the world order. Be that as it may, looking at the big picture, over the course of a much seesaw competition, China because of its vast size and its open attitude in the end was able to rise in the world system, become an important player within that system, and in fact forced a re-definition of just what is the center and what is the periphery. However, an overly aggressive export-oriented policy unsuited to its over national capacity and its current situation, and particular a regressive trend in its internal affairs as the country daily became “more fascist”. These trends made the other players in this system become cautious and even fearful of the rise of the Red Empire which while loudly calling for the construction of a “community of common destiny” is in fact creating a tragic situation by rejecting that community and in fact clearly became more and more isolated. These matters, however complicated they are, are in fact very simple in principle:

  • Can can a regime that cannot treat its own people well treat the world well?
  • How can a nationality that is unwilling to merge with the world cultural and political system possibly ever join in a “community of common destiny”?

That is why, although exchanges on the economic level will continue, China’s isolation from the rest of the world in the sense of a shared cultural community will only be further confirmed. This is not a war of cultures, nor what is commonly used phrase “clash of civilizations” can convey. Even less does it have to do with the fact that a dozen-odd countrie have imposed a ban on receiving travelers from China, or that people around the world just don’t like China, reject China or are just quietly discriminating against China. In this context we can raise the issue of feeling of a “Yellow Peril” emerging. Those who pay the price in the pain of discrimination and isolation are my fellows of Chinese ethnicity but not the rich and powerful among the Chinese.

A better way to put it would be that China, with respect to the modern system of universal values that has formed over the course of long historical trials, has taken up a position in opposition to those values while placing itself within the system of nations by entering into treaty obligations. How then does the living cultural consciousness of my country and my nation and our national philosophy survive by choosing what to select or reject, which orders to accept or reject. In this matter, if we go along, we flourish, if we go against the flow we be isolated. We will not be on the map of global modern political culture, friendless and alone.

The way to turn this around and to rebuild our image as a great country, is to shoulder the burden or our responsibilities. First of all we need to start by building good governance into our internal politics – a good political system founded on “constitutional democracy and a people’s republic” that is ruled effectively. Only then will we be able to break out of our isolation, and take our place among the nations ruled by the laws and principles of the world system. This is the way forward for the survival of our nation, its prosperity and bright future. When that time arrives, we can easily imagine that China will join the G7 making it the G8.

Eighth, the people aren’t afraid anymore. One can put it more verbosely but it comes down to that. The people have had a hard time making a living for themselves, in their hundreds of millions they have endured much misery, “our people” have been tossed back and forth in a turbulent era, that they have long cast aside any in the mythology surrounding authority. Even less would they give up the small measure of civil rights, three meals and a basic decent standard of living, and give all that up to be at the beck and call of some tyrant who would hold them completely under his power. No, on the contrary, especially during this time of a great epidemic, the people are angry and won’t take it anymore. They have themselves witnessed the concealment of information about the epidemic situation, showing clearly their callous and cruel disregard of the people’s well-being. They have seen for themselves all the talk of happiness and prosperity while the people are made to pay the heavy price, cast aside like straw dogs after the ancient sacrifices. They have seen themselves while many people are dying, the authorities are incredible shameless in their deletion of social media accounts, forced into silence people who would speak up, manipulating public sentiment and orchestrating the singing the praises of the leaders. In a word, “I don’t believe it” they say this will not go on any longer.

Some say that the will of the people is invisible and cannot be touched and is the most useless of all things, and that the experience of the world has confirmed this time and again. They are not completely wrong. As a matter of fact, if all the people says “Kill him!” yet he lives out his natural life, then like that great bird which everyone spits on that appears at the end of the world, then people will be shocked to see that Heaven itself it blind, and that Heaven does not stand up for justice. But in fact, Heaven itself is suffering just as we are.

However, if one can say that humaneness is what makes a person a person, and that within every human chest lies a beating human heart, and neither the heart of a world nor the lungs of a dog. Just because of this we have the four sufferings of life: birth, aging, sickness and death and our blending of joys and sorrows. Just because of this we have the blending of disaster and happiness, justice and seeking personal advantage, hatred and love. Because of this flower petals and tears fall, water flows and people are filled with sorrow. What the public yearns for is that cutting through the thistles be as easy as pushing aside dry weeds and crushing rotten woods. As for those who have for year led easy lives prostituted to the authorities, it is not for them to change the channels through which the raging currents are pouring. History will judge them and will not be cheated.

Ninth, the signs of decline have already appeared. The countdown has begun; the day of constitutional governance will come. The PRC Constitution was revised in 2018, opening up a Pandora’s Box. The very moment when centralized power has reached its apex is the moment when the reverse trend takes hold. From here on out we’ll see it running madly in reverse showing finally many symptoms of decay. Even leaving aside the matter of the loss of popular support, the problems discussed above we see how strong man politics produces results contrary to expectations such as the policy failure with respect to Hong Kong and Taiwan and the disarray in Sino-American relations, the irretrievable onset of economic decline, China’s global isolation clearly demonstrate the failure in China’s governance which is flying in the face of common sense in modern governance. Everyone now faces a depressing situation in which fear has already turned into deadlock, thinking hard and worrying about how the game will open and the changes that will be taking place.

Insisting that an internal change will be able to break that deadlock is like fishing for the moon in a pool of water. The development of the Hong Kong and Taiwan situations have already moved from peripheral issues to the center of attention towards a breakthrough that may open up a slim chance of survival. These kinds of breakthroughs on the periphery are gradually moving to center stage a way forward to a peaceful transition. On the other hand, it may further constrict the possibilities of any more progress on the great Chinese-style opening.

These days, what my friend calls the “troubled city” may turn out to be the New Jerusalem of the old community of China. In other words, the breakthroughs at the periphery means that for the second time in modern Chinese history, we will see the dawn of constitutional government. At this critical juncture, the day wants to dawn, bring light where there is no light, while power strives to hold onto the past and reject any innovation, rejecting public opinion. That remarkable door has already opened; it can be foreseen that many will die before the dawn comes.

The nine points above, I submit to my nation’s people, are all common sense. As I have said several times before, because the governance of the country has not yet entered into a normal state, the nation’s political culture is still not a modern one. Moreover, being aware of its numerous advantages, let us insist upon “constitutional democracy in a people’s republic” to bring to an end this already fifty-year long cultural transition. Just because of this, how could we, “we the people” ever be “as lazy as a pig, as subservient as a dog, and as shameless as a maggot”? !

At this point I would like to review how since 2018 I have been punished for my speech, have been reduced in rank and suspended from my position, have been compelled to remain at school under surveillance, and have been troubled by the restrictions on my movements. I expect that new punishments will befall me for writing this article. This may well prove to be the last article I write in this life; there is no way of knowing.

However, now that the epidemic has come, and I find myself standing on a cliff’s edge, I have the responsibility to speak out. I cannot shirk this responsibility. There is no evading it. Otherwise we would be even less than those pigs who are slaughtered and their meat sold.

Yes, it is true what the western philosophers say about righteous anger which contains both righteousness and anger. When I reflect upon the teaching of ancient sages of my Chinese homeland that righteousness and humanity are one: — that “The feelings of the people illuminates the way that should be followed” in these disturbed times which make of a dusty scholars in their studies intellectuals , joining in the battles of their times even at the cost of their own lives. After all, freedom, is a kind of existence that transcends the here-and-now as well as the pursuit of goal. Freedom is the most spiritual of the phenomena in our world. Freedom is what individuals find in the free gift of themselves to others. The sons and daughters cannot be held apart as an exception to this. This world spirit, this spirit here on Earth, is nothing but the splendid flowering of the idea of liberty. Therefore, friends, my hundreds of millions of compatriots, even though the inferno lies before us, what have we to fear!

You, this great land that lies beneath my feet, you have so much love and so much hard-hearted ness, so little good fortune and so many hardships. You have worn out our patience. You have bit by tiny bit peeled away our self-respect. I don’t know whether I should curse you or I should praise you. What I do know, however, what I know very painfully, is that whenever I think of you I cannot keep my tears from overflowing from my eyes and my mind from filling with painful sorrows. Yes, indeed, it is like what the poet chanted, “I will not go quietly into the that good night, the sunset of old age should brightly burn, in anger at the fading of the light”.

Therefore scholars are good for nothings. They sigh their long sighs. Their only sword is their pen, discussing fairness, demanding righteousness.

In this great epidemic seeing all the chaos that has ensued, I hope that my compatriots, my 1.4 billion brothers and sisters both young and old, the vast multitude who will never be able to flee this land, that all should roar with anger at infamy, one and all consumed with burning anger for righteousness’ sake, and pierce the night’s pestilential mists to greet the dawn. Everyone together with all your strength, your hearts and your lives embrace the sunlight of freedom that will soon descend upon this land!

Drafted completed on the fourth day of the first month of the 37th year of the sexagenary cycle. Revised final version completed on the ninth day as a big snow suddenly fell outside my window.

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  复次,内廷政治登场。几年来的集权行动,党政一体之加剧,特别是以党代政,如前所述,几乎将官僚体制瘫痪。动机既靡,尾大不掉,遂以纪检监察为鞭,抽打这个机体卖命,维续其等因奉此,逶迤着拖下去。而因言论自由和现代文官体制阙如,更无所谓“国王忠诚的反对者”在场,鞭子本身亦且不受督约,复以国安委一统辖制下更为严厉之铁腕统领,最后层层归属,上统于一人。而一人肉身凡胎,不敷其用,党国体制下又无分权制衡体制来分责合力,遂聚亲信合议。于是,内廷生焉。说句大白话,就是 “集体领导”分解为“九龙治水”式寡头政制失效、相权衰落之际,领袖之小圈子成为“国中之国”,一个类似于老美感喟的隐形结构。揆诸既往,“1949政体”常态之下,官僚体系负责行政,纵便毛时代亦且容忍周相一亩三分地。“革委会”与“人保组”之出现,打散这一结构,终至不可维持。晚近四十年里,多数时候“君相”大致平衡,党政一体而借行政落实党旨。只是到了这几年,方始出现这一最为封闭无能、阴鸷森森之内廷政治,而彻底堵塞了重建常态政治之可能性也。一旦进路闭锁,彼此皆无退路,则形势紧绷,大家都做不了事,只能眼睁睁看着情形恶化,终至不可收拾之境。置此情形下,经济社会早已遭受重创,风雨飘摇于世俗化进程中的伦理社会不堪托付,市民社会羸弱兮兮,公民社会根本就不存在,至于最高境界的政治社会连个影子都没有,则一旦风吹草动,大灾来临,自救无力,他救受阻,必致祸殃。此番江夏之乱,现象在下,而根子在上,在于这个孜孜于“保江山,坐江山”,而非立定于人民主权、“以文明立国,以自由立国”的体制本身。结果,其情其形,恰如网议之“集中力量办大事”,顿时变成了“集中力量惹大事”。江夏大疫,再次佐证而已矣。



  第七,由此顺流直下,中国再度孤立于世界体系,已成定局。百多年里,对于这个起自近代地中海文明、盛极于大西洋文明的现代世界体系,中国上演了多场“抗拒”与“顺从”的拉锯战,反反复复,跌跌撞撞。晚近三十多年里,痛定思痛,“低头致意”以及“迎头赶上”,乃至于“别开生面”,蔚为主流。惜乎近年再度犯二,犯横,表明“改开”走到头了,左翼极权“退无可退”,无法于和平过渡中完成自我转型,因而,也就怪异于现代世界体系。虽则如此,总体而言,几番拉锯下来,中国以其浩瀚体量与开放性态度,终于再度跻身现代世界体系,成为这个体系的重要博弈者,重新诠释着所谓“中心—边缘”的地缘叙事,也是事实。但是,与国力和时势不相匹配、太过张扬的外向型国策,尤其是内政回头,日益“法西斯化”,引发这个体系中的其他博弈者对于红色帝国崛起的戒慎戒惧,导致在高喊“人类命运共同体”之际却为共同体所实际拒斥的悲剧,而日呈孤立之势,更是眼面前的事实。事情很复杂而道理却很简单,一个不能善待自己国民的政权,怎能善待世界;一个不肯融入现代政治文明体系中的国族,你让人怎么跟你共同体嘛!故尔,经济层面的交通互存还将继续存在,而文明共同体意义上的孤立却已成事实。此非文化战争,亦非通常所谓“文明冲突”一词所能打发,更非迄今一时间数十个国家对中国实施旅行禁限,以及世界范围的厌华、拒华与贬华氛围之悄悄潮涨这么简单。——在此可得提示者,隐蔽的“黄祸”意识势必顺势冒头,而买单承受歧视与隔离之痛的只会是我华族同胞,而非权贵——毋宁,关乎对于历经磨难方始凝练而成的现代世界普世价值的顺逆从违,而牵扯到置身列国体系的条约秩序之中,吾国吾族如何生存的生命意志及其国族哲学,其取舍,其从违。在此,顺昌逆亡,则所谓孤立者,全球现代政治文明版图上之形单影只、孤家寡人也。扭转这一局面,重建负责任大国形象,担负起应担之责,而首先自良善内政起始,必然且只能皈依人类普世文明大道,特别是要坐实“主权在民”这一立国之本。在此,内政,还是内政,一种“立宪民主,人民共和”的良善政体及其有效治理,才是摆脱孤立、自立于世界体系的大经大法,而为国族生存与昌盛之康庄大道也。那时节,顺时应势,中国加入G7 而成G8,亦且并非不可想象者也。




  行文至此,回瞰身后,戊戌以来,在下因言获罪,降级停职,留校察看,行止困限。此番作文,预感必有新罚降身,抑或竟为笔者此生最后一文,亦未可知。但大疫当前,前有沟壑,则言责在身,不可推诿,无所逃遁。否则,不如杀猪卖肉。是的,义愤,如西哲所言,正是义愤,惟义与愤所在,惟吾土先贤揭橥之仁与义这一 “人心人路”之激荡,令书斋学者成为知识分子,直至把性命搭进去。毕竟,自由,一种超验存在和行动指归,一种最具神性的世界现象,是人之为人的禀赋,华夏儿女不能例外。而世界精神,那个地上的神,不是别的,就是自由理念的绚烂展开。如此,朋友,我的亿万同胞,纵然火湖在前,何所惧哉!



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Wuhan Diary #40 The 44th Day of the Wuhan City Closure — March 6, 2020

March 6, 2020 The 44th Day of the Wuhan City Closure

Fang Fang’s latest Wuhan closed city Diary was deleted from her public Weibo account. In her diary she discussed the video circulating on social media yesterday — during Deputy Premier Sun Chunlan’s inspection visit to a community in the Qingshan District, many residents confined to their apartments all shouted “It’s fake, it’s all fake!”.

Fang Fang wrote:

For some years, whenever a senior leader came to make an inspection there has been all kinds of phony going-through-the-motions although that didn’t fool anyone. In fact, you can’t just lay the blame for that on the grassroots; fakery goes on at every level. If it was done at the grassroots then it won’t be possible to get anything done. Wuhan today is a closed city: what could have been the cause of that but the results of fakery.

The central leadership will hold an immediate meeting this afternoon and demand immediate solutions to the problems that the masses have called to the attention of the leadership. Just think about it, isn’t it a good thing that that happened? If all those people had not called out, however would the leadership know the difficulties they face? If they remain silent, if you just cooperate and pretend that things are fine, aren’t you just causing problems for yourself? Therefore when you should complain about things, then you should do it.

Wuhan writer Fang Fang’s Diary (serialized uncensored on Chinese service of Radio France International and censored within China)

Where I differ with Fang Fang is that I doubt that the leaders are really unaware of all the fakery? I don’t know when she writes that, if she really believe it, of if she is watering down criticism about a serious issue because she is only able to criticize by using subtle and guarded language.

One needs to understand that the high the ranking that officials hold, the more accustomed they are to cheating. Naturally when the emperor wears his new clothes he hopes that all the people will all tamely call out “what beautiful clothes!”. Fang Fang in calling on people to complain just follows the old logic of Chinese in the old days who would block the roads to protest against corrupt officials saying “The Emperor is good but those rapacious officials under him are very bad!”

From another perspective, when someone could report such a mild and empathetic words as Fang Fang’s and that they would be deleted, what would the reaction be to the kind of things I write. Just thinking about that frightens me.

Many of Fang Fang’s ideas and ways of thinking clearly bear the stamp of the 1950s, especially in what she writes about Traditional Chinese Medicine. Most of that I disagree with. However, Fang Fang when she writes about those things that she knows personally is being honest and brave. For Chinese people today that is not at all easy. I remember the poem Shandong Province Writers’ Association Vice Chair Wang Zhaoshan wrote after the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake.

When disaster brought desolation far and wide
The Party Secretary issued commands
The Premier conveyed orders
The Party manifested its deep love, the nation it’s love
Many rushed to the ruins
Over one billion cried as one
Even the departing souls now relieved of worries
Felt blessed

When you realize that kind of shameless stuff represents the mainstream of the literary world, then you can understand how valuable Fang Fang is.

Two days ago some people on Weibo social media reported a physician who had earlier reported a Weibo post about Chinese Traditional Medicine. Angry about shortsightedness and inattention to important matters, his words were perhaps a bit harsh. Someone took aim at him, claiming that “people online needs to be wiser and better-behaved. At this moment when regulation and management of the Internet is being strengthened, I want to help purge the Internet!!” Later I found out that the report was made by a middle school student. I don’t know whether or not that child knows what the word “purge” means.

I haven’t been writing about anything relating to the words “report” and “the Internet Firewall” lately probably because of the controversy surrounding fans of the pop singer Xiao Zhan had made reports against a fan fiction website. Only today I saw something from a Xiao Zhan fan that touched me.

I am confused and perhaps I am being naive but shouldn’t website from outside China be blocked? You can still use a VPN to get on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. How could it be that before this affair occurred that one could get on the Archive of Our Own fan fiction website without even needing a ladder?

I planted a flowering bush, just a small little bush. Every year it flowers beautifully in season. In Wuhan the winter cold penetrates right to the bone so when the weather turns cold I move bushes in flower pots indoors so the bushes can continues to grow indoors. Unfortunately, there isn’t much space for it in the room so when new branches and twigs grow, they the hit the wall, get twisted around and then grow back towards the plant itself.

When I saw those words, I thought of that bush. When it has unlimited space to grow, the bush develops in whatever direction is suitable; when moved indoors it starts to get deformed. The Great Firewall of China is like that; Chinese people become like a plant confined to a flower pot.

Some people realize that the flower pot is there and so right away jump over the firewall to enjoy the grand vistas of the outside world.

Some others notice the flower pot but for various reason, just stay inside the pot even as the feel space closing in on them. Even though they understand very well that they are becoming deformed, they cautiously putting the best face on matters that they can, avoid and resisting any discussion of the issue. The braver ones among them try to smash through the walls of the flower pot but they always end up tearing apart their own flesh and bones in the process. There are now fewer and fewer people like that.

Still others know that the flower pot is there but still don’t feel deformed or troubled in any way. “The water and the fertilizer is all the same both inside and outside the flower pot. Moreover, flowers bloom on both sides, so there isn’t any difference between the inside and the outside.” Some go even further, even writing articles arguing for “The superiority of the flower pot” or cursing the braver ones among the second kind of people: “If it were not for you, the flower pot would not be getting smaller and smaller!”

The last group has spent all their life in the flower pot. They have never enjoyed the air, the sunshine, and the rain of the outdoors. Conversely, they feel that it would be “dangerous” not to be in the flowerpot and to argue the contrary is a “great heresy and treason”. Growing up twisted only natural.

I don’t know which among the latter three groups of people is the most tragic.

Naturally there are also some people who, living outside the flower pot, who just love to boast about the superiority of life inside the flower pot.

Recently a list was published of “Advanced workers on new coronavirus prevention and control within the Chinese public health system”. Thirty-four of the names had black borders around them including 21 from Hubei province. I felt unbearably sad as I read those names.

On that list I saw also saw the name of Wang Guangfa. He was one of the experts sent to Wuhan with the second expert group by the National Health Commission. At the time he said that the epidemic “can be prevented and controlled”. I can’t accept the fact that his name is on that list.

On that list are both Dr. Li Wenliang, who was reprimanded for telling the truth, and Wang, who is getting the award for lying to hide the truth. Both are being celebrated as advanced workers. I can’t imagine how the citations for those awards will be written.

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Wuhan Diary #39 The 43rd Day of the Wuhan City Closure — March 5, 2020

March 5 The 43rd Day of the Wuhan City Closure

Today is sunny and warm.  Sitting by the window reading a book taking in some sun feel very nice. However, according to the weather report, beginning tomorrow we will have several days of rain. The cherry blossoms have bloomed in our small community. Too bad it is just one tree without many blossoms so from a distance it looks like a pink mist rising up into the sky. The cherry blossoms on the Wuhan University campus have probably bloomed as well. 

When was a student I especially disliked this time of year since the campus would get jam-packed with people and on paths stretching along ranks of cherry trees all one could see was a great mass of black-haired heads.  So how could anyone appreciate then the beauty of the cherry blossoms?  This cherry blossom season nobody went to see them.  I really do envy the faculty and staff who live on campus who have their own cherry blossom garden.

The past few days the trash we put outside the gate often gets scattered far and wide.  I didn’t realize at first what was going on then my mother said that it must be stray cats “How sad. There isn’t anyone outside so now nobody takes care of the little wandering animals.” I thought that must be the reason.

I could only sigh and think that everyone and everything are suffering from this epidemic. 

My friend told me that in their community two people killed themselves by jumped out of their buildings.  Then I realized that the reports I had seen on the Weibo microblog about an old man who had killed himself were about their community.  A mother pregnant with her second child also killed herself there. 

I have heard of other suicides recently.  I don’t know anything about the personal circumstances but they do have indicators — a lonely old man and a woman in her second pregnancy — I can guess that some of these cases may be related to depression and hopelessness caused by the difficulties that they face. 

We are all waiting for the end of the epidemic.  If you have never lived through this experience yourself, it is hard to understand what it is like.  This affects people in different ways so unavoidably there are some people who feel that they just won’t make it so I don’t have the heart to tell people to “be brave”. That would just be too flippant and arrogant a thing to say.  I can only hope that we will soon be done with this very difficult situation.

A few days ago, the Zhong Nanshan group published in the Journal of Thoracic Disease and article entitled “Predictions on Trends of the Chinese COVID-19 Outbreak Based on the SEIR Optimization Model and AI”.  According to the article:

 “A five-day delay in implementation would have increased epidemic size in mainland China three-fold. Lifting the Hubei quarantine would lead to a second epidemic peak in Hubei province in mid-March and extend the epidemic to late April. Were the interventions to be introduced 5 days earlier than they had been, the number of cases nationwide would have been two-thirds less.” [Note 120K vs 40K with wide 95% confidence intervals on text available online. Article preprint available PDF online in English  http://jtd.amegroups.com/article/view/36385# End note].

The first time I saw this article was on Dr. Ding Xiang (a public social media accout).  Later I saw it several times in other places. Then official media picked it up. The most interesting thing about it is that when official media share the article they deleted that last line..

Wuhan was closed on January 23. Five days before that was January 18, a saturday when I went with friends to a museum and the theater.  The theater was bustling and there wasn’t an empty seat in the theater.  We didn’t know then that that terrible virus was silently spreading all around us. Fortunately my friends and I were wearing face masks but only ten or twenty percent of the people there were wearing face masks. 
Here I don’t want to be imagine myself after-the-fact some great hero like Zhu Geliang “If only at the time I had done this or that”.   I don’t have any expert skills and I don’t have any authority myself, but where were the experts and the people in authorty then?  They are there to protect us!

Today we know a number of lines of evidence from which we can deduce that by January 18th things were already extremely serious.  But there was no “management and control” going on. At that time the word the propaganda people were putting out was still “there is just limited person-to-person disease transmission going on” and that “no medical workers have been infected”.  Please now, I ask you, what good are you people?

Today on social media microblogs I saw a video by the “miraculous doctor” Li Yuehua someone who has no medical license whatsoever. When I saw the name, it look familiar.  Then I realized that wasn’t he the family physician who Chen Beiyang, that former deputy commissioner of the Justice Bureau  who had demanded a high class sickroom for himself, had mentioned in his letter of apology as someone who had “astonished the nation’s leaders with the effectiveness of his treatments”?!  When I thought of that I smiled to myself because I never thought that story would have gotten around so quickly.

This guy practicing medicine without a license, the miraculous Dr. Li, seriously claimed that his medicine can “kill the virus”.  The therapy was to give an injection of phenol at four acupuncture points on the chest.  Not to mention that this had long been used, but went on to say that this therapeutic method can cure the common cold, mumps, measles, shingles, and viral facial paralysis. All these are self-limiting illnesses that get better on their own. If that kind of fraudster can fool a deputy commissioner of the Justice Bureau, that those old guys in authority must really be pretty weak-minded!

Today is the anniversay of the death of Yu Luoke [Note: Yu Luoke, a 28 year-old apprentice in the optics department of the People’s Machinery Plant, was executed at a rally in Worker’s Stadium on March 5, 1970 for having written an essay opposing the Cultural Revolution. End note] .   There are some things and some people who can never be forgotten. 

Chinese text

3月5日  武汉封城第43天








前几天,钟南山团队在Journal of Thoracic Disease发表了“基于SEIR优化模型和AI对公共卫生干预下的中国COVID-19暴发趋势预测”的文章,其中提到:









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Wuhan Diary #38: The 42nd Day of the Wuhan City Closure — March 4, 2020

March 4 The Forty-second Day of the Wuhan City Closure

As of today, the Wuhan city closure has already lasted three half-months.

Yesterday, the number of new confirmed cases fell to one hundred. Many people got very excited hoping that the city closure will end soon. Some people optimistically estimate that we will be able to go back to work on March 10.

I am not so optimistic however because those figures are not very reliable.

Caixin Feb 26th. According to the Fifth edition of the New Coronary Pneumonia Diagnosis and Treatment Program issued by the National Health and Health Commission on February 4, it is clear that asymptomatic infection may also become the source of infection. It is also very important to determine the infectivity and scale of infection of asymptomatic infection for the prevention and control of the epidemic . However, in data published on the epidemic notification, these cases have not yet been disclosed.

This is the current standard for including a case as a suspected case of coronavirus:

  • Suitable epidemiological history (there are four possibilities);
  • Suitable clinical presentation (three types of symptoms with a CT scan image being one of them).

Both conditions must be satisfied at the same time. If the first condition cannot be satisfied then all three clinical presentations must be satisfied. For there to be a confirmed diagnosis, in addition to the conditions for a suspected diagnosis being satisfied, the nucleic acid test must be positive as well.

What are the consequences of setting such standards? If an infected person does not have clinical symptoms, even if the nucleic acid test is positive, then that person is not included as a suspected case. Or if an infected person has all the clinical symptoms, including a CT scan showing lung lesions but the nucleic acid test is negative then that will not be counted as a confirmed case. The worst thing is that the nucleic acid test is only 30% to 50% accurate.

When we get this point, things are like someone whose underpants have been stolen but are still covering their ears not to hear the burglar alarm. What good does that do?

My only hope is that they do not give us false hopes.

The hospital hardest hit by this epidemic is probably the Wuhan Central Hospital. According to press reports, over two hundred workers there have been infected by the coronavirus, including three deputy hospital heads, one deputy director of nursing. Many department directors are on Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), many physicians are on respirators. Three physicians there have already died in the line of duty: Li Wenliang, Jiang Xueqing, and Mei Zhongming.

I have always felt that the top management of this hospital are bureaucrats. From the very beginning of this epidemic when decisive corrective action was taken against the rumor-mongering physician of that hospital, the hospital has manifested a strong “Party character”. “All medical personnel are ordered not to discuss among themselves in public the medical situation and not to leave any trace in written or graphic form that could serve as evidence of discussions of the medical situation”.

Another physician who was reprimanded was Ai Fen, director of the Emergency Department, said in an interview that she “had informed the hospital of the admission of patient but did not get any response. After she didn’t get any response, all she did was order the medical personnel in her own department to wear N95 face masks.” Not only was there an insensitivity to medical matters, there were not even any measures taken to increase protection for medical workers.

From all these many details, we can see that the effort has not focused on reducing the effect the contagious disease has on the hospital staff, ordinary people and the people of the city. Instead the focus has been on reducing insofar as possible the effect the outbreak has on political security and on their own official careers. That way of doing things is completely in line with the way bureaucratic factionalism works in the Chinese Communist Party. That is incompatible with being a medical professional. Or even less, not even the way a modern person with any common sense would have acted. Sure enough, I learned from a friend who knows this hospital that the party secretary of Central Hospital came out of the public health sector, was previously a department head of the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission and certainly lacks a specialized medical background and experience as a front-line physician.

Even more astonishing is that the latest propaganda from Central Hospital unexpectedly stated that “during the course of this epidemic, over twenty physicians and nurses from the Oncology Department, 19% of the staff, were infected by the coronavirus. Most were husbands and wives both working on the front-line against the epidemic. Director Wang Chun, despite the infection of many family members including his father-in-law, mother-in-law, and child took the lead is remaining at his post diagnosing fever cases. An Oncology Department nurse returned to the front-line just ten days after her miscarriage. Nurse Guo quarantined herself at home because there were no hospital beds available. Dr. Yang after serving a shift in relief diagnosing fever patients did all kinds of support tasks including working as a porter….” So many medical workers were infected. They don’t see them as shameful. Instead they see it as an honor. Those references of a “couple both medical workers”, “several family members infected”, “ten days after her miscarriage”….. when I came across those words I felt that they were bloody words. All these very terrifying things they list one-b-one, flaunting them.for

I am really frightened for those doctors and nurses. [Note for more details, see this Google Translate machine translation of a mid February article entitled “Witnesses Tell: the infection of medical staff in Wuhan Central Hospital” from China Newsweekly. End note.]

On the Weibo microblogs under the category “Coronavirus Patients Asking for Help”, I see very many postings from coronavirus patients looking for someone to help them. Recently I saw a posting about a three-year-old patient who was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in 2019. Before the epidemic began he had already had seven chemotherapy treatments and 25 radiotherapy treatments. He needs five more chemotherapy treatments. After the outbreak of the epidemic, however, the hospital where he was getting his treatments was requisitioned and so he was unable to continue his chemotherapy treatments. He had looked everywhere to get help without any result. Therapy had already been delayed for a month and his condition might take a turn for the worse at any time.

I can never understand why prisoners who have completed their sentences are allowed to leave the city while seriously ill people who are not infected cannot be smoothly transferred to a hospital in another province to get treatment?

I don’t know what to say. Should I be just heart-broken? Or sad that the lives of the people are so difficult? Why, after an entire month has gone by, why is there still so many clear gaps and chaos? I don’t know.

Chinese text:

3月4日  武汉封城第42天


















武汉市中心医院是当地 27 家三级甲等医院之一,官网显示,该院职工总数有 4300 多人。其前身为汉口天主堂医院,有 140 年的历史,主要有后湖和南京路两个院区,均位于汉口,两者相距五六公里,其中后湖院区距离华南海鲜市场不到两公里,这也是武汉市中心医院较早接触到新冠肺炎病例的重要原因。

截至 2 月 4 日,武汉市中心医院在全市定点医院中,收治的发热病人仅次于金银潭医院,开放床位 510 张,已用床位 525 张。然而,在此次参与新冠肺炎救治的过程中,武汉市中心医院的职工中,截至 1 周多前达到新冠肺炎临床确诊标准的已达 230 多人,其中 130 人住院,100 多人居家隔离,多位科主任与院领导都 ” 中招 “。


2 月 14 日,国新办就疫情防控最新进展特别是关爱医务人员举措举行发布会。发布会上,来自国家卫健委的数据是,截至 2 月 11 日 24 时,全国共报告医务人员确诊新冠肺炎病例 1716 例,其中湖北省 1502 例,而武汉市的医务人员确诊人数达到了 1102 例,占湖北的 7 成多。


艾芬 1997 年毕业于华中科技大学同济医学院后,进入武汉市中心医院工作,现任该院急诊科主任。据她介绍,2019 年 12 月 18 日,一名 65 岁的男性个体经营者来到医院南京路院区看急诊。在五天前,他出现发热症状,体温高达 39.1 ℃,发热前有寒战,但无鼻塞、流涕、呼吸困难、咳嗽等症状。此前在 12 月 16 日,该男子先是到医院门诊就诊,经过阿莫西林克拉维酸钾、奥司他韦及乐松片等三天对症治疗无好转后被收入急诊病房。急诊科医生给该男子尝试了碳青霉烯类高级的广谱类抗菌素,依然无任何好转迹象,而其肺部感染表现为 ” 双肺多发散在斑片状模糊影 “。

12 月 22 日,该男子转入该院呼吸科救治,12 月 25 日转入同济医院,再之后,转入专门收治传染病人的金银潭医院。在后来的追溯过程中,艾芬了解到,该男子是华南海鲜市场的一个送货员。

12 月 27 日,艾芬接诊了第二例此类病人,是一名 40 多岁来自武汉远郊区的年轻人,无华南海鲜市场接触史,在当地诊所治疗了一周多,高烧不退,肺部感染严重,指脉氧为 90%。这个年轻人随后被收入呼吸科,做了纤维支气管镜与肺泡灌洗液检验。12 月 30 日,送检的结果出来,该男子感染的是一种冠状病毒。看到化验单上标注有 “SARS 冠状病毒 ” 字样,艾芬感到 ” 很可怕 “,第一时间向医院公共卫生科和院感部门报告,但医院有没有再向上级疾控部门报告,她并不清楚。

这份检测报告,于 12 月 30 日下午被该院眼科医生李文亮发在同学微信群里,并被大量转发。艾芬称,当时大学同学私下问她关于冠状病毒的消息,她就把检测报告发了过去,并特别用红圈对 “SARS 冠状病毒 ” 进行了标注,但不知这份报告后来是怎样流出去的。

几乎同时,12 月 28 日,医院后湖院区急诊科接诊了 4 例和华南海鲜市场有关的发热病人。到 2020 年 1 月 1 日前后,医院共收治了 7 例 ” 不明原因肺炎 ” 病例。12 月 29 日,艾芬所在的急诊科向医院公共卫生科上报了这 7 例发热病人中急诊科收治的 4 例。公共卫生科回复称,已上报江汉区疾控中心。江汉区疾控中心说,湖北省中西医结合医院与武汉市红十字会医院之前也已接到类似病例。在急诊科上报的 4 例病例中,有一对母子,儿子在华南海鲜市场工作,母亲去海鲜市场送饭,并没有接触过华南海鲜市场的物品,但依然染病,而且病情较重,艾芬当时就推断,这个病可能 ” 人传人 “。

1 月 1 日凌晨,后湖院区急诊科又收到了一位由武汉市红十字会医院转入的 65 岁男子。该男子在华南海鲜市场附近开诊所,最近收治了很多发热病人,之后自己也有了症状,病情严重。艾芬分析认为,这位诊所老板的病很可能就是他诊所的病人传给他的。

1 月 1 日,她再次向医院公共卫生科和医务处报告了该诊所老板收治了多例病人的相关消息,希望能够引起重视。她担心,” 一旦急诊科医生或者护士被感染得病了,就很麻烦 “。

12 月 31 日,武汉市卫健委通报了 27 例 ” 不明原因病毒性肺炎 ” 的相关情况,称到目前为止未发现明显人传人现象,未发现医务人员感染。就在这天凌晨,李文亮受到了市卫健委和医院的警告和批评。1 月 1 日,武汉市公安局发布通报,称有 8 人因 ” 发布、转发不实消息 ” 而遭传唤。

1 月 1 日晚将近 12 点,艾芬也接到了医院监察科的信息,要求其第二天到监察科谈话。1 月 2 日,在和监察科纪委谈话过程中,领导批评她 ” 作为专业人士没有原则,造谣生事,你们这种不负责任的行为导致了社会恐慌,影响了武汉市发展、稳定的局面。” 艾芬提及了这个病可以人传人,但没有获得任何回应。

1 月 2 日起,医院要求医务人员之间不许公开谈及病情,不得通过文字、图片等可能留存证据的方式谈论病情,病情只能在交接班必要的时候口头提及。对于前来就诊的患者,医生们也只能讳莫如深。

林媛是武汉市中心医院的一名护士,在 1 月初听到这一疾病的相关消息后,只能隐晦地提醒身边亲友,要戴口罩。

在和医院反映情况无果后,1 月 1 日起,艾芬只得要求自己科室的医护人员先戴起了 N95 口罩。

” 战友 ” 倒下

1 月 1 日后,武汉市中心医院接收到的发热患者愈发增多,像 ” 火山喷发 ” 一样。艾芬所在的急诊科在 1 月的第一个星期内,先将后湖院区急诊外科病房改造成呼吸科隔离病房,有 20 张左右的床位。第二周,又改造了急诊内科病房,随后,南京路院区也将急诊病房改造成隔离病房。随着病人越来越多,所有的隔离病房都逐步搬到别处,急诊内外科的病房又改成留观门诊,一共能接纳五十多个病人,但依旧无法满足激增的患者。

倪芳是医院呼吸与危重症医学科专科护士长。1 月 10 日,她所在科室的病房也被征用,开设了 22 张床位,当天床位就全部收满,她所负责的病房一直处于满员状态。

1 月中下旬起,武汉市中心医院步入收治新冠病人的顶峰期,一床难求的状态一直持续到了 2 月初。艾芬称,1 月 21 日急诊量和发热门诊总计达 1524 人,其中发热病人 655 人。如果按照现在湖北省临床确诊标准来讲,这 1524 人中,90% 左右都是新冠肺炎患者。而在疫情发生前,中心医院的日均急诊量为 550 例左右。

病人激增过程中,医护人员感染的情况开始出现。1 月 10 日,急诊科发现了医护人员被感染的第一个病例,是后湖院区的一名护士。” 我们后来分析,她可能是口罩没有戴好,” 艾芬说。

1 月 1 日,急诊科医护人员开始戴口罩。1 月 10 日,穿上了隔离衣。再过几天,防护等级升高,穿上了防护服。但感染的医护人员在不断增加。该院急诊科共有 200 名医护人员,包括 50 名医生,150 名护士。到目前为止,急诊科医护人员 CT 显示肺部感染、临床诊断确诊的有 30 多人,核酸检测呈阳性的有 7 个,艾芬的团队处在 ” 边战斗,边倒下,边补充的状态 “。

武汉市中心医院医护人员在抗疫前线。 图 / 央视新闻截屏

艾芬分析说,急诊科医护人员感染的原因主要在于其工作强度大,急诊室空间有限,临时搭建的穿脱防护服的地方也不很规范。” 突然来了这么多病人,还有家属,围着我们,空气中的病毒的密度太大了 “,” 护士给病人进行打针、抽血等操作时,因为近距离接触,导致了感染。” 不过,好在急诊科病情严重、住院的医护人员并不多。

倪芳称,她所在的呼吸科从 1 月初就对这一疾病保有着警觉,” 我们科室要求口罩都要戴好,勤洗手,要用手消 “,在进驻隔离病房后,先后穿上了隔离衣、防护服。该院呼吸与危重症医学科医护人员总计 160 人左右,感染的人数大约有 16 个。

但并不是所有科室都有这样的防护意识和装备。李文亮是武汉市中心医院较早的感染者之一。他是在 1 月 8 日接诊一位 82 岁的女性青光眼患者后被感染的,接诊时 ” 没有做特殊防护,病人来的时候也没发热,就大意了。”


甲乳外科主任 1 月 16 日左右做肺部 CT 显示出症状,而两天前他还在给患者做手术。心胸外科一名副主任医师 1 月 22 日在一场主动脉手术未做完时,就出现了畏寒的症状,手术后测体温出现了高烧,其所在科室同事推测称,该医生是在手术前后和患者、患者家属谈话时近距离接触感染的。被感染且病情较重的还包括一名泌尿外科主任医师,其中三名医生都在武汉市肺科医院救治,最重的还用上了 ECMO 进行抢救。此外,这次被感染的还有医院的三位副院长,其中一位副院长病情较重。

据统计,武汉市中心医院截至 1 周多前达到新冠肺炎临床确诊标准的职工已达 230 多人,其中 130 人住院,100 多人居家隔离。

” 最开始可能只有部分科室对疾病的信息了解多一点,比如说急诊科、呼吸科,而别的科室不一定知道,” 艾芬说。而且,在 1 月 15 日之前,新冠病毒 ” 未明显人传人 ” 的说法广为传播,让前来看病的民众与其他科室的医护人员都放松了警惕。

王宇是武汉市中心医院儿科医生,平时也会接诊很多传染病患者。他告诉《中国新闻周刊》,1 月初他就听说了医院有收治这类病人的消息,但对于新冠病毒到底多大的传染性、毒力强弱并不了解,因此,包括他在内的很多医生最初只是戴了一层口罩简单防护。而对于很多不接触呼吸道传染病的外科科室来说,可能平时看病连口罩都不戴。

中心医院护士李媛所处的是非发热门诊这样的一线科室。1 月 16 日,她所在科室的一位病人 CT 显示疑似感染,她和同事这才警觉危险就在身边。

多位受访者称,大约在 1 月 15 日后,随着身边相继有 ” 战友 ” 倒下,医院内的医护人员对这一疾病变得重视起来,开始加强防护。心胸外科在这前后自购了一批 N95 口罩。王宇大约在这个时间听说了武汉协和医院已有多名医护人员感染。1 月 17 日,医院开了院感会,下发了关于这一疾病的一些相关资料。也在这天前后,武汉同济医院发热门诊穿隔离衣、防护服的短视频在网上热传。



17 年前的 ” 非典 “,武汉并不是重灾区。看到这样 ” 全副武装 ” 的视频,武汉市中心医院疼痛科主任蔡毅起初还是感到奇怪,” 即便当时有防护意识也不知道要穿防护服 “,” 同济接收了很多发热病人,他们可能更早意识到这个问题。”

艾芬称,当年非典,她还在心内科,当时只强调多通风、戴口罩,也没有戴 N95,身边好像没有一个人倒下。

在院感会后,王宇上班开始穿隔离衣。但隔离衣、防护服并不是所有科室都能有。王宇说,” 有可能接触感冒、发热、咳嗽这类病人的科室应该都是配了 “。艾芬觉得这也没有办法,毕竟这类防护物资不是那么多,难以做到每人一件,只能优先保证重点科室。李媛所在科室的监护室收治了一名疑似的新冠病人,同事问能否配发防护服,医院则害怕医生如此穿着,会引起病人恐慌,并称还没有到防护级别。

1 月 21 日,护士赵刚去隔离病房支援,在那里,他见到了正住院治疗的李文亮以及其他本院工作人员。当时,他所在病区收治的院内职工已经有 20 余位。1 月 22 日,汉口医院成为专门收治发热病人的定点医院,中心医院收治的病人暂时向汉口医院转移。在汉口医院,赵刚见到中心医院院内疑似感染的职工差不多已有 40 位。而在最近十来天,在医护人员做好防护,且就诊人数开始减少时,艾芬称,医院医护人员的新增病例也变少很多了。

从 1 月 21 日起到 1 月底,武汉市政府先后征用了三批共 23 家医院作为收治发热病人的定点医院,以缓解武汉市仅有的两家专门传染病医院——武汉市肺科医院、金银潭医院的压力。武汉市中心医院后湖院区作为第二批被征用的三家医院之一,进行了病房改造,从 1 月 27 日左右开始集中收治病人。医院绝大部分专科门诊也先后停诊,集全院主力,前来支援。

1 月 29 日,福建与甘肃两个援鄂医疗队进驻武汉市中心医院,分别接管了后湖院区的一个和两个病区。但 2 月 2 日,福建医疗队 ” 转战 ” 武汉市金银潭医院,甘肃省医疗队成了中心医院的唯一外援。该省医疗队有 100 多人,负责两个病区的 80 多名病人。中心医院绝大部分的病人救治还是要靠自己的人力。

大量的人力投入也带来了巨大的物资消耗。赵刚记得,1 月 21 日早上,他到南京路院区隔离病房支援时,还有医用级的 3M 口罩可以戴,到晚上,口罩的量就不是那么充足,” 护士长说,后面的物资不知道什么时候可以到 “。1 月 22 日,防护服、口罩的级别、质量就变得差一些,此后每天的物资就有了微妙的变化。


1 月 23 日,武汉市中心医院发出了向社会求助捐赠物资的公告。2 月 10 日,在李文亮去世三天后,中心医院再次向社会求助,而由于受李文亮事件的影响,一些网友也发出不再向中心医院捐物资的声音。记者了解到,中心医院物资来源主要是社会捐赠,通过武汉疫情防控指挥部调拨获得的数量不多。记者致电武汉市红十字会与指挥部宣传部。红十字会称,他们只负责物资的筹集,分配由防疫指挥部下设的应急保障组负责。而指挥部宣传部称,应急保障组不接受记者的采访。

医院一名负责物资筹集的工作人员在 2 月 11 日接受《中国新闻周刊》采访时称,物资目前只能按照以天为单位供应,也还是只能优先保障一线科室,而且物资医院自身也难以采购到。” 但这个病有潜伏期,其他普通科室也需要防护。” 倪芳说。

物资的消耗是巨大的。倪芳称,以呼吸科在后湖院区最先开设的三个病区为例,三班倒,护士医生查房,每天消耗防护服、口罩等一套完整防护装备的数量是 100 套。《中国新闻周刊》获得的一份武汉市中心医院物资需求清单显示,该院医用防护服每天消耗量为 2280 件,N95 口罩 4560 个,一次性隔离衣 4560 件,防护面屏 2280 个。但 2 月 14 日,倪芳在接受《中国新闻周刊》采访时称,过去两天,由于没有隔离衣穿,只能将质量不好的防护服当作隔离衣,再在外面穿一件防护服。赵刚说,由于防护服质量不好,表面有沙眼,只能用胶带粘裹住,而且有些防护服穿上一蹲下来打个针就破了。而因为面屏、鞋套不足,医院医护人员还不时有拿黄色塑料袋套在头上、脚上替代的现象。倪芳称,近日医院物资又筹集到了一部分,短缺的状况暂时得到缓解。

武汉市中心医院医护人员在抗疫前线。 图 / 央视新闻截屏

艾芬说,由于方舱医院、火神山医院开始接收病人,过去一两周,中心医院急诊病人的数量也开始下降。2 月 13 日,后湖院区发热门诊量只有 400 多,南京路院区只有几十个,而且很大一部分是之前积压的不重的病人来做核酸检测的。但床位依然很紧张,甚至是超负荷运转的状态。

赵刚说,2 月 12 日,医院一位医生想要住进来,也要等床位。而医疗设备的欠缺也是中心医院面临的难题,疼痛科主任蔡毅说,他所在的病区有 4~5 个重症患者,呼吸不畅,需要上呼吸机,但他的病区只有一两台这样的机器,其他病区有的甚至一台都没有。

但医院对病人的收治还在继续。经过调整,倪芳所在的病区床位最近从 22 张增加到 40 张,集中收治重症患者。据了解,中心医院后湖和南京路院区还将总计增加 300 张床位,” 还有很多病人没收进来 “,艾芬说。

让倪芳感到有些欣慰的是,2 月 14 日,医院又给她调配了 10 个护士,这意味着,她的部分同事可以轮换休息一段时间了。



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Wuhan Diary #37: The 41st Day of the Wuhan City Closure — March 3, 2020

March 3 Forty-first Day of the Wuhan City Closure

A secondary disaster resulting from our epidemic home confinement has been making my parents and “sick at the sight of one another”. To them, anything I do or say is wrong. I also can’t stand the webchats they get into on their WeChat group of middle-aged and elderly people. They are obsessed with those fanatical, brainwashing stories of how “China is astonishing the world”. We can no longer discuss matters as equals. To their deeply Confucianized selves, my unwillingness to accept their views – no matter whether I do so calmly or in furious opposition – they see as defiance to their authority. “Filial piety, is all about obedience” they say. If I do not agree with their ideas and ways of thinking, then they hit me with the big club of an accusation — that I lack filial piety.

Earlier I thought that since the decisions I make are wise enough, they will come to accept that I am reasonable, mature adult and gradually come around to my way of thinking. Later I discovered that was just my own wishful thinking. Just take this epidemic as an example. I believe that I have handled it fairly well. They however refuse to acknowledge that and avoid discussing the matter altogether. For example, although I have already been working for several years, they still will never forget that I refused to take the civil service examination. To their way of thinking, being a civil servant is the best possible occupation and best possible lifetime career for me. My rejection of that path tells them that I am not mature. We have different standards for what is “reasonable” and what is “mature” so we will never agree.

Recently there has even been nonsensical talk that “the virus came from the United States”. One day my mother suddenly said “Why is it that this virus doesn’t attack Americans but specializes in hurting Chinese people?” So following her line of thought I said, “If China is so good, why was there SARS in 2003 and coronavirus in 2020? Why is it that during that time the United States did not have such a severe epidemic?” Even before the sound of my words had faded away, mother screamed at me in a loud voice, accusing me of not loving China, adding “How could we have ever raised somebody like you?” Its always that way. There is no way that we can have a conversation. There is no thinking going on. There is no understanding There is no way that we can understand one another. I feel smothered.

Perhaps my experience is limited, but I do wonder whether that kind of close-minded, stubborn and cruel middle-aged and elderly people is specific to China or if they are found all over the world.

I have often thought that the thinking and character of my parent’s generation was determined by the special historical period during which they grew up. They were born during the “three years of natural disasters”, they were educated, studied and their world view formed during the Cultural Revolution and the years during which educated youth were sent down to the countryside. They married and started a family under the one-child policy. In the prime of their lives they became unemployed. It is as if this country made a special point of raining disasters down on that generation. I have tried to understand things from their point of view in order to understand their logic and way of thinking. Later I gave up. I just couldn’t do it or perhaps I should say that I wasn’t willing to do it – I wasn’t willing to let myself get dragged into that suffocating whirlpool. I just didn’t have the empathy for that.

I used to think that once my parent’s generation leaves this world, China would become a more generous and vigorous place and would no longer be so oppressive and narrow. Over the past two years I have gradually discovered that my views are too naive. People born in 2000 and thereafter grew up in the Internet age so one might think that they would be more broad-minded than we are and be able to accept new things more readily therefore their thinking should be more advanced and their thinking freer and bolder. I never even considered that they might instead turn out to be a malformed generation.

Among the hot topics on search engines these past few days, “fans of the pop singer Xiao Zhan” has replaced the “Wuhan epidemic”. This happened because the fans of this top-tier pop star are disgusted at the sexual fantasies of fan fiction by a writer with the penname Zijiagege so they organized a fan support group to make a report to the authorities. That resulted in the blocking of the fan fiction website. In fact I don’t like novels that contain sexual fantasies about real people, especially the very many authors for who write adults-only content, I believe that violates the rights of the people they write about.

I can’t accept the behavior “I don’t like you so I will report you” so that you will be put in a hopeless situation. I don’t like the evil attitude of being narrowly partisan and of excluding anyone who is not a member of your faction. Moreover, the ones who did things like that such as organizing the star’s“big fans” were just a group of girls in their third year of middle school. Others who have observed this spectacle, the opponents of the star, are now organizing their own group to accuse the corporate brands cooperating with the star of tax evasion. What is really frightening is that both sides use the same logic of raking up the other side’s past to attack them, use the same tactics, and try to absolutely destroy the other side. The spirit of the Cultural Revolution has never left this land.

Today I saw on a WeChat microblog someone saying “Reporting something is a neutral term. Didn’t Dr. Liang Wenliang make a report too?” That one left me speechless. “Reporting” is an individual taking on the cloak of authority to attack another individual. It is a very low act, it is poisonous and it is back-stabbing. The act of a whistle-blower is that of an individual exercising oversight with respect to government power. That citizen oversight should be the right of every citizen. The two are objectively different. Most young people within the Great Chinese Firewall don’t understand that logic, are unable to distinguish truth from falsehoods, lack common sense, and believe that they possess the truth. I don’t see them as being any different from my own parents although that attitude in young people has a more unpleasant odor.

Recently I have been nostalgic for what the Weibo micro-blogs were like a decade ago. Back then there was more tolerance and free discussion. There were many “old friend” whom we now can only see on Twitter. In those days the stars would laugh at the foolishness and stupidity of the little pinkos online. When people encountered others they disagreed with, they would find points of agreement and accept that they had some points of disagreement.

In those days, people still had hope that increased public interest in and participation in public affairs would change China. Now matters are completely different. Now everywhere fandom is neat and well regulated. Everywhere you go in China it is as if locusts have gone through and vampires have massacred everyone in the city.

Naturally this isn’t something that the fans have done on their own. The very idea that Big Brother China, towering in the sky, into the clouds knows all is enough to make people throw up. The best footnote to this would be the “politicization of fandom and the pop-idolization of ruler of the country”.

The saddest thing about all this is the road I have seen taken with my own eyes. The 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the melamine milk powder incident; the 2011 Wenzhou train collision; in 2012 the bringing of false charges against the author of the online novel Ballad of the Desert by some people who didn’t like her novelization of ancient Chinese history; in 2014 the stigmatization of journalists by the head of the Internet Security and Informatization Leading Group appointed by Xi Jinping and the July 9th mass arrest of human rights defender lawyers; in 2015 the Tianjin explosion incident; in 2016 the Changsheng Bio-Technology vaccination scandal; and in 2017 the cruelty to children at a nursery school. In every single one of these incidents I could see the influence that they would have on the future. But I am just an ordinary person, merely a mote of dust in an era and can just be swept along with the winds down to the present until today when I am battered by the onslaught of the pneumonia virus.

Finally, I should memorialize two physicians who died in the line of duty:

Dr. Jiang Xueqing, Chief of Thyroid Gland and Mammary Gland Surgery at the Wuhan Central Hospital who died in the line of duty on the morning of March 1.

Image result for 眼科梅仲名医生
Dr. Mei Zhongming

Dr. Mei Zhongming, of the Ophthalmology Department of the Wuhan Central Hospital, who died in the line of duty on March 3. Dr. Mei was a colleague in the same department as Dr. Li Wenliang.

An old man who died too because his daughter had become infected with the coronavirus. His wife and granddaughter were also infected. On February 5 he tried to ask for a hospital bed for his granddaughter through the Internet. That day he learned how to post the first microblog of his life “How are you?” That old man named Liu Li has already passed away.

Chinese text


















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Wuhan Diary #36: The 40th Day of the Wuhan City Closure — March 2, 2020

March 2, 2020 The Fortieth Day of the Wuhan City Closure

Our calendar is still on February. If I weren’t writing a diary every day, I might even forget what day it is. Each day is a repeat of the previous one. It seems like we are stuck frozen in time as if we were falling into a black hole.

I started working last week. The company wants each department to video conference once a day. Fortunately our department head isn’t someone who like to just go through the motions. So we had two daily video conferences but then gave up on them. But I guess that she worries about her appearance in a video conference and feels getting all made up for it just isn’t worth the trouble.

Example: finished 14-day Quarantine Certificate of Health from Danshan, Zhejiang.

Our two company colleagues who had been infected are now completely cured. Their street committees even gave them a certificate stating that they are free of medical observation. Chatting with colleagues recently I discovered that having only two colleagues infected means that our company got off lightly. Many companies have colleagues who have passed away. No matter when this epidemic ends, I don;’t think the tears shed because of the sudden onslaught of this virus will dry anytime soon.

The deceased are now gone but as for the survivors, the most troublesome problem we have now is getting paid our salaries. If we put aside the days of the Lunar Festival holidays, we have spent a full month as hermits. Paying salary will depend entirely upon the kindness of the company. This makes me feel a bit like a fish on a cutting board.

Proverb: The other guy is the knife and I am the fish.

Today I happened to hear that another friend has been infected. The symptoms – cough, fever and panting are all too clear. A CT scan showed lesions in the lungs but the nucleic acid test was negative. I’d guess that because of that the case won’t be counted among the “confirmed” cases. He hasn’t been admitted to the hospital but is doing self-quarantine at home. Fortunately he hasn’t infected other family members and the disease seems to be under control and he seem nearly cured now. He told me that medical expanse work like this: two nucleic acid tests are free of charge; the first CT scan he had to pay for himself; his community registered his case free of charge; he has to pay for all the medicine himself. Fortunately he has full medical insurance coverage so the financial burden will not be too great.

I was concerned before that the accuracy of the nucleic acid test is just 30% – 50%. Who knows how many “fish that escaped the net” there have been. Fortunately my friend only had mild symptoms. If he had gotten worse, he wouldn’t even have qualified to be admitted to the hospital. Even more fortunate is that none of his family members have been infected. If they had been, how could any of this make sense.

I wandered the streets of Wuhan for 20 days and my hair was half white
Photo from Nanfang Renwu Weekly article “I Wandered Wuhan’s Streets for Twenty Days; My Hair Turned Half-white” 我在武汉街头流浪20天,头发白了一半

I saw an article from Nanfang Renwu weekly on the Weibo microblog. Interviewed was a homeless person who stranded in Wuhan. Here are some excerpts from the report:

  1. “1. I bought a hard seat ticket back to Yiwu at 6 pm on January 23rd. I only wanted to transfer overnight in Wuhan. I didn’t know until I got to the train station that Wuhan had been closed at 10 AM that day. The first I heard about the epidemic in Wuhan was from a street vendor who was hawking face masks.
  2. Hotels prices went up day-by-day. The hotel cost 130 RMB on the first day, 170 RMB on the second day, and more than 200 RMB on the third day. I can only switch hotels. Once the hotel price exceeds 200 RMB, I move to a cheaper one. I stayed in four different hotels in all.
  3. I don’t know where to go. I walked down the street, went into a park and fell asleep on a bench. A security guard woke me up saying, “You aren’t allowed sleep here!” Later I realized what he meant. Sitting was allowed but not lying down.
  4. Many supermarkets are closed. If I can enter the supermarket, I buy instant noodles. If I can’t find boiling water, I chew them. One time I got lucky once and found a supermarket that was open so I went in right away to buy bread.
  5. I called the emergency number several times and they said they can’t handle my kind of problem. I went online to the Wuhan Notice Posting Bar website and posted messages 5 or 6 posts but never got a reply. Everyone must think that I’m a liar.
  6. After wandering for about a week and I caught a cold. My head was dizzy and very painful, and my throat was even more painful but I had no money so I had to call my wife. I told her that this time I am done for. She immediately sent me 200 RMB. I forced myself to work to a pharmacy and bought some cold medicine. Without boiled water, I couldn’t dissolve the powdered medicine so I poured granules into my mouth, swallowed them, and then swallowed a few mouthfuls of mineral water.
  7. I got a call from a friend. I owed him $ 50,000. His mother suddenly got cancer and needed money. I had to borrow 6,000 yuan from another friend to repay part of the debt.
  8. On that snowy day in Wuhan, the snow kept falling right on my face. Water was dripping everywhere and there was no place to lie down. I walked up onto an overpass. I looked down at my own shadow below. I saw my own thoughts of suicide reflected down there.
  9. In my wanderings, I have lost all sense of time. Somebody asked me yesterday how old I was. The thought just occurred to me. Today is February 5th. My birthday. I am 48 years old. What can I look forward to? I on the road ahead there appears some hot water I can drink, I’ll be satisfied.
  10. A person in uniform took us to a nearby hotel where we stayed. After a good night’s sleep, I got up and looked in the mirror. My hair had turned half-white during these days in Wuhan … “

I have been thinking about the issue of the protection of detained people and homeless people during the city closure. Why did it take the government one month after the city closure to take action on this? I saw someone on Weibo microblog saying “There are so many things to do so we should take them slowly one at a time”. People like that even expect to be complimented “You have worked so hard under such difficult conditions!”

People here praise and fawn over the authorities yet they treat defenseless ordinary people very badly. I’ve never accepted this abnormal psychology of kiss up and kick down.

During this month, I have often wonder just what about my life is worth recording? Although I live in the epidemic area, neither me nor my family has been infected and our food and water supplies are still is good shape. Whatever difficulties we have can be overcome. What’s the point of me writing about all this?

It wasn’t until I saw that personal interview with the Wanderer that I finally believed I understood. I need to record and remember these things. I’m live in the epidemic area. I need to record the pain and despair close at hand as if it has had become engraved in my own heart. In the coming months and years I will need these things to remind myself not to become a numb and selfish person. I will need to remember this pain so as to remind myself in the years to come not to be a numb and selfish person.

Being an empathetic person may well be the greatest contribution I can make to this world.

Chinese text:

3月2日  武汉封城第40天









“1. 我买好了1月23日下午6点回义乌的硬座票,只想在武汉中转一夜,到了火车站才知道,上午10点,武汉封城。从街边叫卖口罩的小贩口中,我第一次得知了武汉的疫情。

2. 酒店每天都在涨价,第一天130,第二天170,第三天就要200多。我只能换着酒店住,一旦一家酒店的价格超过200,就换一家更便宜的,前前后后换了4家。

3. 我不知道自己能去哪儿,沿着那条街胡乱地走。我走进一个公园,躺在长椅上睡着了。一个保安把我喊醒,「不准在这里睡!」后来我才明白他的意思,不能躺在椅子上,但是坐在椅子上是被允许的。

4. 好多超市关了,要能进超市,我就买包泡面,找不到开水,就干嚼。有一次比较幸运,碰到一个开着门的超市,我马上进去买了一点面包。

5. 我打过几次救助站的电话,他们说,这种事他们管不了。我又在武汉的贴吧、58同城里求助,发了5、6个帖子,没有得到回复。我知道,人家是把我当骗子了。

6. 流浪了大概一周,我感冒了。头很昏很痛,喉咙还疼得要命,但我没什么钱了,只好打电话给我老婆。我和她说,这次完蛋了。她马上给我打了200块钱。我撑着身体,去药店里买了点感冒冲剂。没有开水,冲剂泡不开,我就往嘴里倒颗粒,干咽下去,咽完再猛吞几口矿泉水。

7. 我接到朋友的电话。我欠他5万块,他母亲突然得了癌症,需要钱。我只好跟另外一个朋友借了6000块,先还给他一部分。

8. 武汉下雪那天,满天的雪飘下来,掉在我的脸上。到处在滴水,没有地方可以躺了,我走上了一座天桥。看着自己的影子,那时我看着桥底下,自杀的心都有了。

9. 流浪久了,我没有时间概念了。昨天人家问我年龄,我才想起来,今天是二月初五,我的生日,我都48了。有什么愿望呢?要是面前出现一杯热水给我喝,我就满足了。

10. 穿制服的人把我们带到附近的酒店,住了下来。睡了个好觉,起床我照镜子,发现在武汉的这段时间,我的头发白了一半……”





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Wuhan Diary #35: The 39th Day of the Wuhan City Closure — March 1, 2020

March 1 The 39th Day of the Wuhan City Closure

First of all, I wish myself happy birthday!

When Wuhan was first closed I always felt that it would still be closed on my birthday. I never imagined that I would have such such an unusual birthday. Having lost my freedom, being cooped up inside during the dark days of the epidemic, “the future” to me today seems to be vaguer and more uncertain than during any of my other birthdays.

We don’t have any butter but I baked myself a cake anyways. That was all I did for my birthday. I made three birthday wishes: first of all health for the whole family; second, that I pass the language exam planned for this year; and third that this year I will earn more money for my travel expenses.

The epidemic has affected me most by changing my attitude about money. Before, I thought if having enough to live comfortably would be enough. On “days of the full moon” I have always been very happy. When the epidemic came, however, I realized that I don’t have any ability to stand up to danger.

If we hadn’t been well-stocked with food and supplies before the epidemic, I would have been very worried about paying the prices they charge now.

Another effect on me has been that I am even more determined than ever before to get away.

Being forced to stay at home for so long has been even harder on my stomach than on my nerves. Every day I think about what I like to eat barbecue, fried chicken, cola, milk tea, hot pot, skewer what I miss most is Wuhan breakfast cuisine.

Wuhan, as a universe-level city that unite urban and country life and as the city that

August 6, 2018 issue of Sanlian Life Weekly with cover stories on the breakfast foods of Wuhan, Xi’an, Xiamen, Guizhou and Yangzhou.

has more universities than any other, but at heart it a city with a seaport atmosphere. The “Wuhan Breakfast” is the outstanding representative of Wuhan’s urban culture. The Sanlian Life Weekly devoted a special article to the “Wuhan Breakfast”. Some say that you could eat a month of “Wuhan breakfasts” without eating the same breakfast twice. That is no exaggeration. What I think of most fondly is the breakfast vendor stall near my company. What I love best are soup noodles + noodle nests; hot dried noodles + eggnog; tofu + tofu pudding. I can only hope that that little shop survives the epidemic.

A few days ago, my mother made hot dry noodles. The only drawback is that there is no alkaline noodles. The sesame sauce tastes so delicious it makes you want to cry.

I saw the price of fresh vegetables published on the official Weibo miniblog “Wuhan Announcements” two days ago. It was probably posted with the intention of showing that Wuhan prices are stable. Among them, the cheapest pork costs 16 RMB per jin [Note: 500 grams; approximately one pound. End note] , I sent the notice to a friend who joked that this was “The Emperor’s New Meat“. It’s really good to think about it that way.

A few days ago the finance magazine Caijing visited the Wuhan Baishazhou agricultural and sideline products market, the largest vegetable wholesale market in Wuhan. First-tier wholesale prices have not risen significantly and supplies are adequate. Why then are things either getting more expensive or out of stock at the retail level?

See the source image
Albert Camus’ The Plague

Donations have also been coming in from outside Wuhan. My family hasn’t gotten any of those yet although the communities of some friends have gotten them, but only a few and I don’t know where they were dragged off to.

Recently, I read Camus’s The Plague. I bought the book a long time ago and hadn’t had time to read it. Now, living in a closed city during a contemporary plague, is the the right time to read it. The book has a magical feeling.

Last night I saw online a book entitled A Great Country’s Battles the 2020 Epidemic – China Fights the New Coronavirus Epidemic, and immediately ordered a copy just in case. Those old newspapers back in the day that reported “production of 10,000 jin per mu” are now all historical relics.

Image result for 亩产万斤
During the Great Leap Forward many reports of fantastic increases in grain production were published. Pictured is August 13, 1958 issue of People’s Daily reporting a new rice production world record at a people’s commune of over 36,900 jin per mu [6000 lbs per acre]. The Great Leap Forward was followed by the 1959 – 61 famine that killed over 30 million people, largely as a result of ideologically-inspired eccentric agricultural policies.

Image result for 2020大国战疫—中国狙击新冠肺炎疫情进行中
A Great Country’s War on the Epidemic 2020 – China Fights the New Coronavirus Epidemic,

Chinese text:

3月1日  武汉封城第39天















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