Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition News and Article Release Issue: A50-M9
Release Date: January 28, 2004
Topic: Adventure of "Stainless Steel Mouse" on the Internet (Liu Di)
Original Language Version: Chinese (Chinese version at the end)
I want to take this opportunity to thank the numerous anonymous volunteers and helpers. Your generous time and effort is not just helping Wei Jingsheng as an individual, or Wei Jingsheng Foundation as a NGO, but more for the cause of Chinese human rights and democracy. We thank you for your support.
At the request of our readers, we have Ms. Liu Di's article about herself ("Stainless Steel Mouse") translated for our English readers, by one of our anonymous volunteer. Liu Di is a college student who was detained for more than one year by the Chinese government for her Internet articles and activities. She was just recently released after a major International outcry.
I recommend this article to our readers, although its contents do not represent either Mr. WEI Jingsheng or the Wei Jingsheng Foundation's opinion or stand.
Adventure of "Stainless Steel Mouse" on the Internet (Liu Di)
I started to touch upon the Internet in the beginning of 2000. I firstly accessed to it from the BBS of several universities, and then from Internet cafes in communities and other places. During this period I only read posted articles, but never wrote my own. In the summer of 2002 I access to the "Forum of Thoughts" chaired by Yonggang Li. Because this forum was attached to "Xici Avenue" with the subtitle of "Society and Humane", I turned to this avenue later. To my amazement, I found the "Forum of democracy" (Renamed as "Democracy and Human Rights" later) over there. This is the precedent of the "Democracy and Freedom" forum. I registered in this forum using the ID of "Stainless Steel Mouse" to facilitate downloading articles, but seldom spoke out. What happened later was that "Forum of Thoughts" was closed, which caused some reactions among readers. Several more forums showed up to facilitate readers downloading the good articles. This forum in Xici was also kept until now, though no longer prominent as before. I felt so complicated when reading an article citing some points of Yonggang Li on democracy recently.
Then in the end of the spring season of 2001, which were one or two months to that sensitive and important Chinese Memorial Day, there was incitement in the Internet. Then news spread that four people, including Mr. Zili Yang, the manager of the "Garden of Thoughts" forum were detained. I often roamed "Garden of Thoughts" forum, because I had to use the represent over there to search the "unpopular" websites overseas. So I was very shocked at the detention of Mr. Yang. As the Memorial Day was closing in, the net-friends in Xici was increasingly incited, so was the situation. There were lots of articles in memorial of this special day posted in the "Forum of Freedom", which was more radical than "Forum of Democracy", until the forum was closed by manager of Xici website, several IDs of brave net-friends were also shut off. There were more and more rumors about Internet secret police at that time. All these incited me to make a decision, as said by Mr. Xiaobo Wang, let me speak out right now. If we kept silent, nobody would speak out in the future. This was the beginning of my writings.
The June was on the corner at last. The website manager declared that the Xici website would be closed from June 1 through 7 due to some "technical reasons". However, the server was still on, so the friends could still sneak in the web from different underground approaches. At that Memorial Day, the friends found all their mouths were shut off all in a sudden, because they could not post any articles. To handle this situation, some friends invented substitute formula to post articles. We had to sigh, what a feeling if our mouths were taped! My memorial article was published just at this time.
Xici website was closed for about one month due to "technical reasons". During this time, there was an article publishing in a newspaper in Nanjing City (the server of Xici website is in this city), which criticized some websites "claimed to follow the directives of officials, but left some outlets for these anti-revolution elements to sneak in". Then several forums like "Democracy and Human Rights" were closed, some other forums were downgraded as "confidential".
The veteran friends on Internet did not want to be timed out. They sought another server to establish the "Community of Smoke and Rain", whose theme was quite similar to Xici. The advantage of this new "Community" was that anybody could open up their own discussion forum, so I establish my own literature forum "Post several oranges". Quite new though, the "Democracy and Freedom" forum in this website was the lead forum in the whole community, and made up most of contents in this community. At the same time, the friends were not satisfied at just posting articles; we wanted to do some practical things. "Smoke and Rain" was the simplified version of Xici, so had many disadvantages, such as no confidential forums and no chatter rooms. So we retorted to the Xici website to open a confidential forum with a humble name "Let's come together". We called it forum 71138 because this was the register number of the forum. Through this new forum we discussed what we could do to help China's progress. We decided to hold Internet meetings at 8:00 pm of every Friday. I was not sure whether this was the first Internet meeting in China. Long time after this forum was cancelled, a friend posted a memorial article entitled "Attending conferences naked", which mean we did not need to dress up when attending Internet meetings, even did not need to dress anything. When I watched TV in detention facility two years later, which reported that the "new" Chinese government would use Internet conference to fight against corruption, I often recalled the date of "gathering" in Internet.
In the discussion, some friends were not satisfied with the Internet gatherings, but wanted to set up a disciplined organization. I opposed this proposal in one of my articles. I was not opposed to leaving the Internet, but I was opposed to the creation of any organizations, because I did not want to suffer the same fate as "The New Youth Association" (of ZiLi Yang, etc.), sort of close-knit organization. What I wanted is just "Let's come together". We could exchange ideas and support each other in this platform of Internet, and had the feeling of homecoming in this increasingly aliened world. With this idea, several friends in Beijing and I threw parties---"Let's climb the mountain and watch movies", as commented by one of them.
During one discussion, a friend contacted Mrs. Li Zeng, the wife of Mr. Qi Huang, who was the manager of "Sky" website and detained in June of 2000. We discussed how to give help to Mr. Huang. At last we donated some money to Ms. Zeng since she was in deep financial difficulty. At this time, I wrote an article "The worms of Xici Freedom Party collectively scramble to Chinese Communist Party and government". This article was the idea of a friend. We also discussed some other proposals, but did not achieve anything.
"The Forum of Smoke and Rain" survived for only 2 months before it was forced to be closed. After that the "Democracy and Freedom" discussions were on the fugitive in over thirty forums. The confidential forum in Xici was still alive through today, but no longer so attracting. Some friends open another confidential forum entitled "Fan Club of People's Daily". The title was changed to "Group of People's Daily's Readers" later. There were some jokes simulating the inner Communist Party struggles. I mentioned about it in a previous article. This forum has also forced to be closed for a long time now.
During the one week long October holiday of 2001, Internet friends decided to organize an inter- provincial gathering. The people would be from provinces and cities like Jiangsu, Shanghai, Anhui, Guangdong and Liaoning. It was a pity the friends from Beijing could not attend it. To memorize this event, I wrote a report entitled "The first general convention of Freedom Party is held in Nanjing City" as a kidding (In fact, this is a duplicate of the document of first general convention of Chinese Communist Party). I posted my "report" on the confidential forum of Xici. This report was cancelled soon afterwards by the website manager. At that time I complained of the over sensitivity and coward of the manager. However, I started to understand how sensitive CCP was to party organization one year later when I was on pre-trial. During the trail, I had to explain it was just a kidding.
Half a year later after this gathering, the discussion on confidential forum waned. "Freedom and Freedom" forum was opened but closed again and again. So we could imagine how big the pressure it was facing in China. I wrote some articles and knew some friends during this period. Besides on democracy forum, I also posted articles on other forums, such as "Problems and Doctrines" (renamed as "Learn and Mediate" and "No sleep", respectively, later). My ID "Stainless Steel Mouse" also became prominent, and I served as the manager of "Democracy" and "Learn and Mediate" forums for a while. The weeklong holiday in May of 2002 was on the corner soon. The forum friends planned to throw a gathering again. However, we ran into trouble this time. Just before the May Day, several active friends in Xici and democracy forums were called upon by secret police, so the gathering had to be cancelled. As said by a friend "interviewed" by police, some of my articles have attracted the attention of secret police, so they were especially interested to extract message about me and several other friends in northern China. Now some friends criticized that one people made up information about me to cheat secret police. For example, he claimed that I was over 40 or 50 years old or even older, and I used to be labeled as a "rightist". However, I understand his motive was to protect me. Maybe he seemed to be a bit irresponsible, or even a bit ridiculous, but he did not mean to hurt me. I should be grateful to him. I believe friends should not criticize him.
I was scared to death when I learnt that. I kept silent for a while. However, I felt this was ridiculous after a while. So I wrote three-step self-autobiography "The self picturing of Stainless Steel Mouse". With the formats of playwright, movie and novel, I depicted the ridiculousness of these whole events and shed lights on my true ideas. I started to write articles and post them on Internet again. Then on September of 2002, after the centennial celebration of Beijing Normal University, the faculty in charge of student affairs in Physiology Department called upon me. He claimed that I have been posting some very bad articles on Internet. The Chinese Security Department officials have contacted the university agency for several times about it. And moreover, I had the idea of organizing a party with political agenda. I was also a member of an illegal organization. He warned me not to write these articles any more in the future. At that moment I knew "The real wolf does come at last". Since then, besides an article about loose weight, I did not write anything, even did not follow up the articles of others. Then on November 7, 2002, police agency of Beijing City detained me.
On November 28, 2003, I was bailed out and put under home arrest. I realized so many things have happened during my one-year's detention, such as "Hu and Wen new politics", SARS and Doctor Yanyong Jiang, and events of Wenli Xu, Bingzhang Wang and Jue Fang. What moved me most deeply was the rising "Safeguarding rights movement" on Internet. I was especially moved by the attention, appeal and support from friends, from all news media and from Human Rights Organizations. I am so grateful to all those participating. Some friends like Daobin Du, Yongzhong Luo and Changfu Lou are paying such high price for it. I felt unspeakable sorrow for them. I am also very pitiful for those who are responsible for this tragedy. I also knew the cases of Zhigang Sun, Dawu Sun and Enchong Zheng. Among all these cases, the voices on Internet have been showing their flag, and thus becoming an important pushing force.
Another event, thought not so visible, also attracted my attention. This is the regular gatherings of Internet friends in various cities---Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Wuhan, to name just a few. In many cases, there is an online beforehand notice like this, "Please extend this notice to comrades in other provinces. The responsible officials are all welcome to supervise, self-responsible for expenses". I knew the last sentence is not kidding. It demonstrates the difficulty in throwing these gatherings before. However, these gatherings are held everywhere in China. The friends in Beijing even have fixed time, place and agendas, as well as fixed "Bylaws for meetings". All these remind me the hard work and setbacks we suffered in democracy forum previously---partially due to the heavy pressure from government, partially due to waning vigor and our errors in strategy. The inter-provincial gatherings and confidential forum discussions failed, but "Democracy and Freedom" survived, and is increasingly influential. At the same time, Internet friends are holding more and more gatherings and meetings now.
Now I take the liberty to reflect and mediate my "adventure on the internet": What can Internet bring to us? Let's come back to the prior topic, some friends regard the Internet community as too fictitious and too loose, so they hope to create a close organization to fulfill the agendas. I was opposed to this idea from the very beginning, and I am still opposed to this idea now. From the point of economics, all forms of organizations, including government, enterprises and NGOs are created to reduce the transaction costs, so as to stimulate social and economic progress. One of the necessary conditions to achieve this cost efficiency is the free movement of information, which is the functions of newspapers, broadcasts, TVs and Internets. Are "originations" surely more cost efficient than Internets and medias? Not necessary. From my case, the contrary conclusion showed up. Yesterday (January 15, 2004), the police station close to my home knew that I was released on home arrest from my own mouth. However, on that day of December 25, 2003, when I was released of home arrest, several news media called me for interviews. Moreover, my case demonstrates the splitting status of this government. Some members of this group do not know what others are doing. Their words, behaviors and totally self-conflict which is full of inner wasting and uncertainty. On the contrary, though not perfect, the Internet friends have setup effective approaches in communicating, throwing parties, collecting signatures and calling for donations. Our work is more transparent and more democratic. Internet has replaced the functions of "organization" in many respects, which stimulate the integrity of Chinese society, and provides the space for the nurture of citizenship society in China. Some people have discussed that widespread use of TV and the cost saving in communication associated with TV led to the disintegration of former Soviet Union. Nowadays, the Internet is playing a similar role in simulating the progress of China.
I want to give an advice to friends after being released now: We can throw parties in China now, but cannot organize parties with political agendas. Many Chinese think this English word "party" has several meanings. However, all these meanings are quite similar as a fact. I believe compared to the "parties" thrown today, what Zili Yang did in the past was not a big deal. The Chinese government is adapting to the new situation. For example, we all know how sensitive this term "Human Rights" used to be in China. However, this term has been written into Constitution now. Another example is the communication freedom in Internet and the freedom for Internet friends to meet; this freedom is gained by hard struggles. The more we speak, the more we do, the Chinese government will be more tolerant, thus safer we are.
Publishing date: 01/16/2004.
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Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition News and Article Release Issue: A50-M9
Release Date: January 28, 2004
Topic: Adventure of "Stainless Steel Mouse" on the Internet (Liu Di)
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