Here is an example of a rights complaint against local police that censors deleted from the then very popular microblogs. More recently increased censorship was made the microblogs less popular. From some translations among the thousand of China photographs I keep on my Flickr website.
Shanghai writer XIA Shang described how the Shanghai police stopped him from having dinner with fellow writer LI Chengpeng and prevented him from going to Shandong to see rights activist Chen Guangcheng who is under house arrest.
The Sina microblog deleted ten of Xia Shang’s complaining tweets so he converted them to an image file and reposted them. The imaged deleted complaints have been retweeted over 25,000 times. Here is the translation of those ten “tweets” called micro-blogs on the Sina.com microblog, a Twitter-like service popular with millions of Chinese:
Yesterday I posted on my Sina micro-blog an invitation for friends to go on a trip to Linyi, Shandong Province to see “black eyeglasses”. [Translator note: Shangdong blind rights activist Chen Guangcheng now under house arrest.] Yesterday the river crab tribe [hexiezu homonym for harmony tribe] went into action. The deleted my postings. Here are my deleted postings. [Note: Xia Shang used the automatic text to image conversion microblog at http://www.changweibo.org then posted the image. The image of the deleted micro-blog postings was then forwarded by over 2500 people on the Sina micro-blog.
[First posting] Half an hour ago, the police burst into my office. They didn’t mince words. “You may not go to Linyi!” I asked them, “Why?” Answer: “You just can’t. One hundred people going to Linyi, what are you doing? You will have to suffer the consequences.” “What consequences? Do you mean some mob is going to make trouble?” Then the police made a veiled threat “I hope your business gets better and better.” Of course, that is saying the opposite of what they mean. Just before he left he said, “You had better cancel that dinner you have planned with Li Chengpeng this evening.” How did they know I was going to see Big Eye? Obviously, they were tapping my telephone.
[Second posting] Those four unwelcome guests were Shanghai police. I met them a few times last year at the time of the big Jing’an Fire. They stated clearly that “going to visit black eyeglasses” was crossing a red line. After they left, I used a different cell phone to ask advice of two lawyer friends. Their opinion was going online or making phone calls could be used to taken as evidence that you are gathering a mob to disturb the peace and suggest that I don’t sacrifice myself needlessly. The lawyers added that if they really try to charge you just for doing that, they are clearly just setting you up. In China, they are always up to tricks.
[Third posting] @Lichengpeng Li, I was just about to leave the office to go to the tea house you suggested to see you. At the intersection of Datian Road and Fengyang Road, I was surrounded by four policemen who told me that we are not permitted to see one another. They wouldn’t say why. They would only say that they are determined to prevent us from meeting. They called for a police car. I couldn’t get away. I can’t play host today. I apologize. I am strongly opposed to these fascist methods that violate fundamental human rights. What nonsense this is! Damn.
[Fourth posting] I had no alternative but to go back to the office. Four policemen also prepared to follow me into the office. I had them show their IDs and police numbers. One wearing coffee colored glasses said “Are you going to sent out some micro-blogs? So we won’t go into the room. They stood outside and smoked. Now, I am in my office in the Jiayou Building on Beijing West Road under soft detention by four policemen (Shang Xia’s note: on the micro-blog, I wrote the actual office room number, I leave it out here.) I wasn’t able to go to Linyi and I am am not getting the same treatment as Chen Guangcheng. Are there any friends nearby? Come and watch the show. It’s free.
[Fifth posting] Today the police mobilized to prevent me seeing my friend. When they put me my under soft detention in my office, for the first time in my life I cursed them. Of course I am not cursing them as individuals. But police brothers, when you go home and take off that uniform, you are a family man like everyone else. Although you do need to eat, you should now that western story “aim an inch too high” and you should know even better the old Chinese trick of inviting people into a trap. Don’t let you family, relatives and friends be ashamed of you. Think it over.
[Sixth posting] Just a few minute ago, a young woman stranger knocked on my door. She has just read my posting and realized that she is my neighbor in this apartment building. She came down to check and when she saw so many police, she knew that it was true. She wanted to take a picture, but she would have been seen easily and so it was too dangerous. She said a few words of encouragement and left.
[Seventh posting] I told the men at the door that Li Chengpeng has already left for the airport. They can go home now. I want to go home too. But they still wouldn’t leave. Today when Big Eye came, he came to take his son to an athletic event. I wanted to take my son and play host and let the two children get acquainted. This was just a private family meeting. Nonetheless, I was detained by a gang of police in my office. What are those damned people doing! What utter nonsense! [Translator’s note: the sound of this explanation can be written using several different ways. Here Xia Shang writes 马列隔壁 which taken literally could mean Marxist-Leninism’s neighbor, which might refer to Mao Zedong Thought, thereby cursing two cursables with one curse.] Damn.
[Eighth posting] Just now, a micro-blogger named @Sugary Gelatin is Too Sweet came to see me. He took a picture of the policeman upstairs and the one downstairs. The pictures are quite fuzzy. It doesn’t matter, I am not interested in exposing the policemen. In fact, I don’t have any personal resentment against the policemen, not even against some of their higher-ups. The are just carrying executing the procedures assigned to them in this black box system. The are just making a living. Now just who is going to take responsibility for this system!
[Ninth posting] When I was confined one of the policemen said, “We can prevent you from seeing Li Chengpeng; we can also prevent you from going to Linyi.” I want to go, but the policeman said, “Our task for today is not to let you see Li Chengpeng. When you call up Li, place the responsibility for not letting you go on our shoulders. You can curse us as much as you want, you can call us utter idiots if you like.”
[Tenth posting] Without any going through any process whatsoever, they illegally prevented a citizen from going to a small meeting. They pushed and shoved to stop me. When that didn’t work they called for a police car and took me into custody verbally. I had not alternative but to return to my office, where they stayed, smoking outside my door. What is it that so scares them that they would do this? To those people hiding behind the scenes, I say, look to your own consciences. Today you stripped a citizen of his proper rights. You too will one day taste that same bitter fruit.