Whatever China Wants: Another Stifling Story

Posted on August 21, 2012 in GlobeScope

By Nikhil Ravishankar:

“I’m sorry. If you’re Chinese, you have no rights!”

In yet another case of activist suppression, Chinese authorities have framed charges against Zhu Chengzhi, a human rights activist, for investigating the in-police-custody death of labour activist, Li Wangyang. The police have charged Zhu with inciting the subversion of state power, a very serious charge which could lead up to 10 years of imprisonment.

Zhu exposed the ‘staged-suicide’ of Li Wangyang on Twitter following which he was detained by Hunan police for 10 days. According to members of Zhu’s family, he was charged with inciting subversion of state power after he did not sign a document promising not to pursue further investigations into the death of Li Wangyang.

There is widespread outrage over his arrest. An online campaign, ‘Free Chengzhi’ has been launched to protest against his arrest and charges. People who knew him closely call him a calm and very wise man.

Zhu Chengzhi’s arrest is outrageous and it is high time these incidents should stop. Right from the Tiananmen Square massacre to the killing of Li Wangyang to the arrest of Zhu Chengzhi, China’s attitude towards human rights has been criticised world over. Obsessed with becoming a global superpower, China has, over the years, grown afraid of the possibility of a revolution. As a result, the human rights situation is pathetic where the people having almost no right to speech.

Amnesty International interestingly notes that China has the highest number of journalist and bloggers in jail, or as the Chinese authorities would put it, ‘cyber-dissidents’. Four of the world’s most popular websites, Facebook, Google, Youtube and Wikipedia are blocked in China, an indication of China’s policy towards ‘open platforms’. The media is independent only on paper and they have to follow guidelines issued by the government and not cover any controversial issues.

In 2007, a French economic observation website was banned in China for publishing an article on the risks of trading with China. Most foreign films that contain the remotest of references to China are usually banned or censored to extreme levels. When activist Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his peaceful campaign for human rights, the government prohibited the media from mentioning it. Basically, what the Chinese are trying to say is, “If you have a problem with us, I’m sorry, you can’t express it.

Be it film, music, literature, media, television or the internet, everything is censored and ultimately, what you see, read or hear is what the government wants you to.

This article would be immediately banned in China if published and if I were Chinese, I would have probably even been arrested. Thankfully, I’m Indian and can criticise the government, its policies and its members to my heart’s content without any fear.