Aisixiang Enjoying Intellectual Discussion — Two Articles

The Enjoying Intellectual Discussion [Aisixiang] website has many intriguing articles.  A good place to read about what Chinese writers and scholars are talking about.  Here are two articles I read today.  The Aisixiang server must be located in mainland China since I see a Beijing Municipality registration at the bottom of the opening page of the website.

aisixiang

Tong Zhiwei童之伟 , Huadong University constitutional law prof on police and prosecutor abuses/coverup in the case of Lei Yang, a 29 year old man killed by police in May 2016.童之伟:雷洋案引举国关切之原因剖析  Tong examines the case and why this abuse of police power so alarmed Chinese people this year. 我国警察权过于强势是不争的事实,人们普遍希望警察权能像法律规定的那样受其它机关,包括检察机关的有效制约,但致死雷洋案处理过程中显露的检警关系的实际情况,显然背离法律制度的要求。在中国的检警关系中,虽然检方宪法地位更高,但实际上警方更强势,在办理刑事案件方面往往摆脱检方的监督制约,事实上主导案件的处理。所以,昌平警方抓住致死雷洋案不放的做法,让检方很难按照宪法法律的规定正常行使职权。既难以有效展开司法调查,更难以对相关犯罪嫌疑人立案侦查。另外,人们还注意到,北京市公安局政治部领导在案发后还专程去慰问致死雷洋案的具体责任单位,慰问“东小口派出所专项行动参战民警”。这客观上加大了检察院对涉案民警立案侦查的难度。 http://www.aisixiang.com/data/102677.html

Jiang Keshi 姜克实 , a Chinese historian (Waseda University PhD in history) who teaches at Okayama University in Japan, discusses the role of history books and history teaching, especially at the secondary level, in forming the views of young people of both countries. In Japan, a historical understanding or perspective is never reached since history is taught as one thing after another. If anything, Japanese youth get the feeling that Japan was one of the major victims of World War II. In China, education stirs up hatred towards Japan. Events which occurred so long ago, since the participants have all died, should not be presented in such emotional terms. Thus education about history spreads hatred of Japan among Chinese youth and to the average Chinese person. The problem isn’t historians since historians see their field as a science, but in the political use of history. Whenever will Chinese historians be able to study free of politics and Chinese historical work meet international standards? 姜克实:我如何看中日之间的历史和解 http://www.aisixiang.com/data/102726.html

Posted in Law 法律 | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Heaven won’t drop meat pies on us from the skies, only by fighting hard for our dreams can we make them come true.

Heaven won’t drop meat pies on us from the skies, only by fighting hard for our dreams can we make them come true. 天上不會掉餡餅,努力奮鬥才能夢想成真。— Chinese Communist Party Secretary and President Xi Jinping in his 2017 New Year’s message. Maybe juvenile of me, but this interesting expression really stuck in my mind as I listened.

Of course one can also translate this as “God helps those who help themselves”  although here using the Chinese metaphor in the translation makes it feel fresher.  I noticed while correcting English compositions years when I taught English in Taiwan that sometimes when my students used Chinese expressions directly translated into English (assuming they were grammatical and made sense in context), their expressions seemed fresher than the cliche that we might have used in English.   I suppose the reverse is true as well since we mostly aren’t used to the cliches in foreign languages.

Of course Heaven and God can be considered different ideas.  God isn’t part of communist discourse except perhaps when the need arises to approve the reincarnation of a Tibetan lama!

President Xi also mentioned the brave sacrifices of UN peacekeepers killed in Africa, progress China has made this year such as the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Bank, progress on making it easier for peasants get legal status when they move to the city to work, progress in space, the victory of Chinese women’s volleyball at the Olympics and also a caution — “We are determined to pursue peaceful development, we will certainly protect our territory, sovereignty and maritime interests. No matter what some people may write on these issues, the Chinese people will accept no less. 我們堅持和平發展,堅決捍衛領土主權和海洋權益。誰要在這個問題上做文章,中國人民決不答應!

There was also the interesting expression 新故相推,日生不滯 maybe means something like “The old and the new strengthen one another, and new things are arising all the time”

President Xi’s New Year’s Greeting are on Youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSL1fbfGVT8   and of course featured in the Chinese national news broadcast for December 31 .

I was intrigued glancing at the Google News Chinese (Mainland) page — I got the impression that commentaries on the New Year’s remarks were much easier to find than the full text.  Articles such as “Respectfully Listening to President Xi’s New Year’s Message”  But the full text can still be found.  I get this and other top level speeches impression that speeches of the top leader gets layers of interpretation from the very start.

習近平發表2017年新年賀詞全文 2016-12-31 19:25

新年前夕,國家主席習近平發表2017年新年賀詞。全文如下:

2016年即將過去,新年的鐘聲即將敲響。在這辭舊迎新的美好時刻,我向全國各族人民,向香港特別行政區同胞、澳門特別行政區同胞,向台灣同胞和海外僑胞,向世界各國各地區的朋友們,致以新年的祝福!

2016年,對中國人民來說是非凡的一年,也是難忘的一年,「十三五」實現了開門紅。我們積極踐行新發展理念,加快全面建成小康社會進程,推動我國經濟增長繼續走在世界前列。我們積極推進全面深化改革,供給側結構性改革邁出重要步伐,國防和軍隊改革取得重大突破,各領域具有四梁八柱性質的改革主體框架已經基本確立。

我們積極推進全面依法治國,深化司法體制改革,全力促進司法公正、維護社會公平正義。我們積極推進全面從嚴治黨,堅定不移「打虎拍蠅」,繼續純凈政治生態,黨風、政風、社會風氣繼續好轉。

2016年,「中國天眼」落成啟用,「悟空號」已在軌運行一年,「墨子號」飛向太空,神舟十一號和天宮二號遨遊星漢,中國奧運健兒勇創佳績,中國女排時隔12年再次登上奧運會最高領獎台……還有,通過改革,農村轉移人口市民化更便利了,許多貧困地區孩子們上學條件改善了,老百姓異地辦理身份證不用來回奔波了,一些長期無戶口的人可以登記戶口了,很多群眾有了自己的家庭醫生,每條河流要有「河長」了……這一切,讓我們感到欣慰。

2016年,在美麗的西子湖畔,我們舉辦了二十國集團領導人第十一次峰會,向世界貢獻了中國智慧、中國方案,也向世界展示了美輪美奐的中國印象、中國風采。「一帶一路」建設快速推進,亞洲基礎設施投資銀行正式開張。我們堅持和平發展,堅決捍衛領土主權和海洋權益。誰要在這個問題上做文章,中國人民決不答應!

這一年,多地發生的自然災害和安全事故,給人民生命財產和生產生活造成嚴重損失,我們深感痛惜。中國維和部隊的幾名同志壯烈犧牲,為世界和平獻出了寶貴生命,我們懷念他們,要把他們的親人照顧好。

2016年,我們隆重慶祝了中國共產黨成立95周年、紀念了中國工農紅軍長征勝利80周年,我們要牢記為中國人民和中華民族作出貢獻的前輩們,不忘初心、繼續前進。

「新故相推,日生不滯」。即將到來的2017年,中國共產黨將召開第十九次全國代表大會,全面建成小康社會、全面深化改革、全面依法治國、全面從嚴治黨要繼續發力。天上不會掉餡餅,努力奮鬥才能夢想成真。

小康路上一個都不能掉隊!一年來,又有1000多萬貧困人口實現了脫貧,奮戰在脫貧攻堅一線的同志們辛苦了,我向同志們致敬。新年之際,我最牽掛的還是困難群眾,他們吃得怎麼樣、住得怎麼樣,能不能過好新年、過好春節。我也了解,部分群眾在就業、子女教育、就醫、住房等方面還面臨一些困難,不斷解決好這些問題是黨和政府義不容辭的責任。全黨全社會要繼續關心和幫助貧困人口和有困難的群眾,讓改革發展成果惠及更多群眾,讓人民生活更加幸福美滿。

上下同欲者勝。只要我們13億多人民和衷共濟,只要我們黨永遠同人民站在一起,大家擼起袖子加油幹,我們就一定能夠走好我們這一代人的長征路。

中國人歷來主張「世界大同,天下一家」。中國人民不僅希望自己過得好,也希望各國人民過得好。當前,戰亂和貧困依然困擾著部分國家和地區,疾病和災害也時時侵襲著眾多的人們。我真誠希望,國際社會攜起手來,秉持人類命運共同體的理念,把我們這個星球建設得更加和平、更加繁榮。

讓我們滿懷信心和期待,一起迎接新年的鐘聲!謝謝大家。
Posted in History 历史, National Security 安全, Politics 政治 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Liu Xia’s Poem Written for her imprisoned husband Liu Xiaobo : I Am Tired

Liu Xia’s poem dated September 2016 was addressed to her imprisoned husband Liu Xiaobo.  I saw the poem on the Facebook page of Chengdu writer Liao Yiwu who now lives in Berlin.

I Am Tired

I am tired
I am tired of my white pills
I am tired of the smiles I make at you
I am tired of the toilet on the train
I am tired of what they say about you
I am tired of being tired

I am tired
I am tired of only seeing roads that I cannot go on
I am tired of filthy skies
I am tired of crying
I am tired of the so-called spotlessly clean life
I am tired of phony words

I am tired of the plants dying
I am tired of sleepless nights
I am tired of empty letterboxes
I am tired of all the scoldings
I am tired of all the months and years that I cannot speak
I am tired of those eye-catching red characters on my body
I am tired of the cage
My love

I am tired

September 2016
我厭倦了

我厭倦了
我厭倦了 我的白色藥片
我厭倦了 我對你的笑
我厭倦了 火車上的廁所
我厭倦了 你的名聲
我厭倦了 我的心累

我厭倦了
我厭倦了 只能看不能走的路
我厭倦了 骯髒的天空
我厭倦了 哭泣
我厭倦了 所謂一塵不染的生活
我厭倦了 虛假的語言

我厭倦了 植物死去
我厭倦了 無眠的夜晚
我厭倦了 空空的信箱
我厭倦了 所有的責罵
我厭倦了 失語的年年月月
我厭倦了 身上醒目的紅字
我厭倦了 牢籠
我的愛

我厭倦了

2016,9

Posted in Literature 文学, Politics 政治, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

General Liu Yazhou: Great Critics are Often Great Patriots

The Chinese Elections website at the Carter Center, which collects many enlightening articles from the Chinese press on its website, shared this recent WeChat public account posting by PLA National Defense University political commissar Liu Yahou.  Liu Yazhou is a patriot who often speaks out for more openness and democracy for China.  I remember one of his articles several years ago that argued  along the lines of ‘China needs to be a much more democratic country — only then can it be a strong country that western powers will not dare try to push around.’

Liu Yazhou’s articles are surprisingly frank considering the overt restrictions and intimidation that Chinese writers and even web users must contend with.  Liu is the son-in-law of the former and now deceased Chinese President Li Xiannian.  This may be one of the reasons he can speak relatively freely.   A Wikipedia biography of Liu Yazhou is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liu_Yazhou

These days, with all the news about fake news and the fake news about news, General Liu’s words about China apply more to the U.S.A. as well than one might hope!

Liu Yazhou: Great Critics are Often Great Patriots

伟大的批评者往往是伟大的爱国者

by Liu Yazhou  刘亚洲

Introduction:

Today we very often are missing this medicine: truth! In an honest society, honesty itself is not something that people make a big thing of; it is in a dishonest society that honesty is particularly valuable.

You are all good writers. Why do people dislike military political study materials so much? Why are all those things that the newspapers and magazines write about can’t really be taken seriously?

Our situation today is that “the common people don’t believe anything, the experts don’t understand anything, the media doesn’t say anything and political education is useless.” It is because you are being phony that people can’t take you seriously. You are writing things that you don’t believe yourself but want other people to believe them. How strange is that? First of all, do you believe what you are writing? Would you want your son to read it? That is a kind of dishonesty.

Writing dishonest articles and being a dishonest person are the same thing. A pen weighs a thousand pounds. Articles must be truthful. The fundamenal content of an honest article is truth. Only truthful articles are lively and vigorous. The ancients said that people must be upright and that writing should be unconventional. “Unconventional” here means be actively thinking for ourselves. People should be honest but articles should be beautiful and brilliant. The “unconventional” along with beauty and brilliance are built on foundation of truthfulness. An article that is not honest cannot be beautiful and brilliant. Simply preaching at people cannot win their hearts. Preaching in itself does not have vitality. Future generation will not benefit from important things that are not said. The problem remains a problem of the system and a problem of education. We of our generation started lying from the moment we started writing. I lied too. We have all written that kind of essay. For example, “I found a penny and gave it to Uncle Policeman, Uncle Policemen asked me my name and I said my name is Red Scarf”. We all wrote “I helped an old man cross the street, then I looked at the sun and it shined even brighter”; “After I swept the classroom, I wiped off the perspiration and laughed seeing how my red scarf shined even brighter”. I escaped from there.

After I told lies, I felt how evil it was. These days we don’t want for anything, but what we are most short of is truth! In 1958 during the Great Leap Forward in Anhui Province there were people dying of starvation. When they went to the hospital for medical care, the physician, after taking their pulse, the physician said you lack a certain kind of medicine. One word: food. The man was starving.

Today we very often are missing this medicine: truth! In an honest society, honesty itself is not something that people make a big thing of; it is in a dishonest society that honesty is particularly valuable. Truthtellers are often critics. Critics are often patriots. Great critics are often great patriots.

After reform and opening began, we made a film. The film was called “Bloody Taierzhuang” [ 電影 《血戰台兒莊》 – 1986 Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZp9FEK0vQU ]. After that film was made it could not be shown anywhere because it showed Nationalist Party contributions to the War of Resistance Against Japan. Finally, Comrade Xi Zhongxun [note: the father of PRC Party Secretary Xi Jinping] said let’s take it to Hong Kong and get it shown there. We had never imagined what a great sensation that movie made in Hong Kong. After Jiang Jingguo heard the news, he had the movie brought to Taiwan to see. After Jiang Jingguo saw it, he said: “So it turns out that the Communist Party is seeking truth from facts.”

That movie led directly to Jiang Jingguo allowing old soldiers to return to the mainland to visit their relatives. A new page was turned in relations across the Taiwan Strait. Comrades, the power of seeking truth from facts is very great indeed!

We should learn how to write from Lu Xun. Lu Xun greatly raised the power of the Chinese language to inflict casualties. This is how the writer Zhu Dake put it. Zhu Dake also said “The Chinese language is the kind of language that is well suited for writing imperial edicts, for writing praise for someone’s accomplishments and virtue on monuments, or for letters of condolence.”

After Lu Xun, the Chinese language became a dagger and a pistol. Lu Xun opposes all towering buildings, I think that he is against bigness. After the publication of “The True Story of Ah Q” many Chinese people wanted to sue Lu Xun for slander. This was because the Ah Q that Lu Xun wrote about was so much like them. I think Lu Xun was a very powerful writer. Lu Xun once made a celebrated comment, “I considered it but I will not forgive any of them.” He was a man of great hatreds. But he first of all had a great deal of love. It was only because of his great love for the Chinese nation that he was able to hate so much. It was just because of his great love and his great hatred that made him more willing to stand up and tell the truth. He used his pen to write great truths about all kinds of people and all kinds of social phenomena.

I have been thinking a lot about this. Chinese people today really do lack “truth” more and more. From news reports to eating, drinking and all other aspects of daily life there is just so much that is fake and counterfeit. We can’t but doubt just what is true? No matter what this society becomes, what we need to do now at least, is to seek the truth. A man without faith cannot stand. It would be a very sad thing indeed if we can’t even be honest. Chinese people, Chinese society, and we as individuals all need to be honest

We Chinese people often lack this medicine: truth.

Liu Yazhou WeChat Public Account December 16, 2016

来源:中国社会学公共微信 20161216

Posted in Ideology 思想, Military 军事, Society 社会 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zhang Feng’s South China Sea Policy Suggestions

In the Chinese edition of the Financial Times, suggestions for Chinese policy from Zhang Feng  张锋   who is a researcher in the international relations department of the Australian National University.  Zhang’s discussion, written for a Chinese audience, examines how how mistrust arising from the South China Sea dispute is harming China politically and economically and what China might do about it — including accepting the unhappy fact that the issue is already internationalized.

Zhang argues that China’s economic one belt one road project has suffered badly because of South China Sea tensions, China’s imports from (and with it influence) on ASEAN member states has declined the past two years.   In 2014, Chinese imports from ASEAN increase only by 4.4%, fell by 6.5% during 2015 and during the first nine months of 2016 fell again by 5.3%.  Distrust sowed by the South China Sea dispute has severely harmed Chinese relations with ASEAN. As researcher Li Guoqiang of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has said, China needs to study the fundamental problem: because of this dispute, there is no strong desire among the public in the various ASEAN countries to increase their cooperation with China.

正如中国社会科学院边疆所李国强研究员所说的,中国应该研究这些消极反应的深层根源:是因为这些国家本身就缺少与中国合作的内部需求,还是因为南海争端让它们在政治和安全层面有所顾忌?学术界的研究应该避免对中国与东盟整体经贸发展进行大而化之的叙述,而应深入到具体东盟国家,探究这些国家对“一带一路”的需求所在。如此,方能对症下药,有针对性地推进“海丝”合作。

其实,中国与东盟的经贸关系不容盲目乐观。中国是东盟最大的贸易伙伴,但值得注意的是,中国对东盟的贸易顺差正在逐渐增长之中,并在2015年达到了784亿美元。也就是说,中国对东盟的出口额越来越超过进口额。2014年,中国从东盟的进口只增加了4.4%,2015年反而下降了6.5%,2016年前九个月又减少了5.3%。

In this difficult situation, Chinese investment in southeast Asia is particularly important.  US investment in SE Asian countries exceeds the combined investments of China, South Korean and Japan in the region.

While China has made progress in relations with Malaysia, Indonesia is much more important strategically and improving and building confidence in Indonesia – China relations has to be a priority.

但从战略角度而言,国内普遍认为印尼对中国的重要性要超过马来西亚,与印尼搞战略性的港口项目对中国的意义更大,但这需要在政治和安全层面加强与印尼的关系,塑造两国之间的政治互信。

In the quiet interval before the new Trump Administration has defined its policy for the area, China should take the initiative in rebuilding trust with ASEAN which has been damaged by South China Sea tensions.

不管怎么样,中国应该主动引导南海局势的发展,抓住目前局势缓和的有利时机,争取在特朗普新政府政策出台前能有所作为,占据一些战略主动,加大美国出台强硬政策的难度,为推进“一带一路”创造更好的周边环境。

A good initiative would be cooperation on environment and fisheries matters. China should avoid stationing offensive weapons on the coral islands it has been building on and consider something like the transforming the area into a peaceful cooperation zone.

就现在争议比较大的南沙的一些岛礁而言,这些岛礁应该成为海洋科学研究、环境保护与生态旅游的海洋保护园区,而不是军事化、巡航甚至对抗的对象。中国需要抑制把已经建好的南沙七个岛礁军事化的冲动,特别是抑制部署进攻性武器的冲动,而把更多的精力放在建设民用设施上。有学者提出,可以围绕相关岛礁设立“和平公园”,值得研究。

The US – China interplay in the region has been complicated by the US determination to maintain full sea access in the area so that it will have maritime capability to intervene at will in the affairs of the countries of the region while China wants to gain some control of the sea in the region.

中美争的是海洋战略的主动权:中国要在海洋权益的基础之上扩展海上影响力,并在南海实现一定程度的控制权;美国则不希望其长期以来在南海畅通无阻的军事介入权受到中国的限制。

China should work to build a south seas system that the surrounding countries can accept. The south sea issue has already become multi-regionalized, multilateralized and internationalized. What China needs to  do is to find a way to take the initiative within this trend and not try to oppose this trend.

从更深层次讲,2009年以来这一轮的南海争端已经演变为一个地区秩序的问题,而秩序问题必然是一个多边的问题。目前南海地区缺乏一个塑造秩序的多边机制,中国应努力营造一个可以让周边国家接受的致力于塑造南海秩序的机制,而不是徒然忧惧于多边化和地区化带来的复杂性。南海问题已经多边化、地区化和国际化,现在的要务是如何在这一大趋势下抓住战略主动,而不是去回避或否认这一趋势。这需要相当的战略勇气和能力。

 

“一带一路”与中国在南海的战略平衡

张锋:中国应抓住目前南海局势缓和的有利时机,争取在特朗普新政府政策出台前能有所作为,占据一些战略主动。
收藏

按照中国政府的规划,“21世纪海上丝绸之路”(以下简称“海丝”)经过南海向西到印度洋和地中海,向南到南太平洋。它的目的是要贯通欧洲和亚太经济圈,但重点是面向东南亚国家。显然,南海是扼守海上丝绸之路的要冲。南海是否风平浪静,关系到推进“海丝”的进程和速度。

从地缘战略的角度来看,南海是扼守西太平洋和印度洋的“咽喉”,是战略地位愈发重要的印度-太平洋地区国际航道的交汇区。南海也是印太经济圈的“心脏”,每年全球货运的一半和所有海运的三分之一要通过南海的四大海峡:马六甲、巽他、龙目及望加锡海峡。从印度洋经过南海运到东亚的原油总量,是经过苏伊士运河的三倍和巴拿马运河的15倍。中国原油进口的80%、韩国能源进口的三分之二、日本能源进口的60%需要经过南海。

所以,南海在“海丝”战略中无疑具有核心地位。南海的和平与稳定是推进“海丝”的必要保障。南海领土主权和海洋权益争端的持续僵持甚至恶化是推进“海丝”的一个不容忽视的障碍。反观陆上的“丝绸之路经济带”,似乎很难找出一块区域,能有南海在“海丝”中的这样关键的战略地位。也许只有几大经济走廊,特别是中巴经济走廊和孟中印缅经济走廊,加在一起,才能与南海在“海丝”中的地位相媲美。而“一带”与“一路”相比,作为“一路”的“海丝”,要比“一带”在中国整体战略中的重要性更高。

“海丝”建设难以与南海争端相隔离

现在的问题是,“一带一路”的倡议是在2013年正式提出的,“一带一路”愿景与行动规划的文件是在2015年3月发布的。而这两年正是2009年以来的最新一轮南海争端的高峰期。中国政府的立场是“海丝”侧重经济与人文合作,原则上不涉及争议问题。但实际上,把“海丝”建设与南海争端完全隔离开来很难做到。

 

Read the rest of the original Financial Times Chinese edition article at the URL above.

 

 

Posted in Economy 经济, Foreign Relations 外交, National Security 安全, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Poem by Late Qing Chinese Patriot Tan Sitong

While reading Kong Linping’s 孔令平  memoir Bloody Chronicles  血纪 of his long imprisonment after the Great Leap Forward, I came across Kong’s quote of  executed poet-statesman Tan Sitong‘s 1896 poem “My Feelings”.   My translation below.

My Feelings

Nothing in this world can withstand the longing for Spring,
These longings join together until they reach the shadowy netherworld.
The tears of 400 million people combine,
Where o where on this earth can we find our divine China?

Tan Sitong’s poem My Feelings 有感 http://baike.baidu.com/view/6123746.htm

有感

世间无物抵春愁,合向苍冥一哭休。
四万万人齐下泪,天涯何处是神州。

Posted in Literature 文学 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review of Wen Hai’s “The Gaze of Exile – The Testimony of China ‘s Independent Documentaries” in Hong Kong’s Ming Pao Weekly

Book review  by Janice entitled “The Truth that Cannot be Suppressed” of Wen Hai’s  “The Gaze of Exile – The Testimony of China ‘s Independent Documentaries” in Hong Kong’s Ming Pao Weekly  November 9, 2016

书评:禁不住的真實/Janice :文海 《放逐的凝視─見證中國獨立紀錄片》 2016年11月9日 香港明报周刊

chinese-documentary-bookWhen I saw, leafing through a book about the survival of Chinese independent films, these words on the copyright page the words “dedicated to Hong Kong as it holds on tightly to liberty amidst the wind and the rain”, I immediately wanted to read it. Living in Hong Kong, one still hears some news about how the directors of Chinese independent films get into trouble after their films are shown. In some places, whether a film is considered to be “independent” or not depends upon still depends upon the sources of its funding and the scale of the production. In China, “independent” means that the business world deliberately rejected it, the censor system opposes it and sometimes even the person safety of some people is at risk. In Hong Kong, where the storm clouds are getting thicker and darker with each passing day, are there people willing to evade eyes that would inspect and control their work, and seek the high moral ground of being a witness to history? Are they willing to disregard both the subtle and overt threats of those in power and as intellectuals, as Zeng Jinyan wrote in her preface called the responsibility of the intellectual class?

This book aims to  construct a system of values for Chinese independent films begins with what is seen in China as the taboo year of 1989. The book begins with not just what is in front of the lens but even more importantly with what lies behind the scenes to put into order the story of and reflections upon the ups and downs that face Chinese independent films these days. Directors pick up their video recorders, outline the dark side of the regime, and walk into the minefield to draw a map of the placement of the mines in the minefield. What they keep in mind is their dialogue with their audience, how they distribute their film, and how to continue their work. People working on Chinese independent films have had a great many experiences and discoveries in China that are directly connected to the root and decay that the regime is trying to hide. We can get a good idea of the methods they used to intervene from the thoughts and troubles of Chinese directors themselves. In addition to differences in style and attitude that distinguish one generation from another, the author in examining the phenomenon of post 1989 Chinese independent films directly confronts the goals and responsibilities of the intellectual class.

Tempted by big markets and big profits, many people “in all kinds of organizations, quasi-organizations and circles, there are many people who believing that they can hoodwink the censors, themselves in fact fall into the censors’ trap and, without realizing it, begin self-consciously filtering their own creative work, and imprisoning their own thinking and artistic representations in an invisible iron lock box.” This is the current state of the Chinese independent films that were mainstreamed without being even aware of it. Naturally some among them who are more sensitive and sharp witted. Directors of Chinese independent films who operate outside the system must piercing eyes and, going beyond the camera shots of a mere bystander, stride right into the eye of the storm and capture truths that are inaccessible to the people.

Some people question whether Chinese films that win prizes in foreign film exhibitions actually have artistic and aesthetic merit. However, for those works that emerge after repeated repression, their aesthetic is in the quest of those people in them who are taking action. Just as Zeng Jinyan said, “Beauty is the respect people have for other human beings as human beings.” In Hong Kong, independent films about the umbrella movement such as “Notes on a Troubled Time” are coming out one after another. Although these films are not shown in regular theaters they do find spaces where they are shown. Just in these spaces, the situation of independent films which come out in this chaotic environment outside the constraints of the official system, needs to considered.

mingpaoweekly_2016-11-09_18-44-49

“The Gaze of Exile — The Testimony of China’s Independent Documentaries” by Wen Hai  文海 Publisher Qingxiang 倾向(Taiwan) Price: NT 399

mingpaoweekly_2016-11-09_18-46-36

Brief introduction of the author:  Wen Hai, ancestral home Hunan Province, member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center.  Wen Hai formerly made documentary films for Chinese Central Television which brought him in contact with people living on the lowest rungs of Chinese society.  In 2000 he started to make films independently.  His films include “The Story of a Military Training Camp”,  “Uproar in the Dust” and “We”. He has interviewed Liu Xiabo and other dissidents. He wrote this book in 2013 – 2014 based on his work as a director and his own personal experiences. In his book, Wen Hai testifies to how Chinese independent films served both to bear witness and as a tool of resistance since 1989.

 

 

 

Posted in Literature 文学, Society 社会 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment