China: activist accused of “inciting subversion” —for distributing leaflets

The New York/Hong Kong-based Human Rights in China (HRIC) reports that You Minglei, a bank employee and independent activist in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, was taken into police custody last month on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power” after distributing political leaflets. He is apparently being held at Nanchang Municipal No. 2 Detention Center. Jiangxi-based independent election candidates Liu Ping and Li Sihua told HRIC that on April 27, You Minglei distributed the leaflets at Jiangxi Normal University, with the slogans, “Oppose communism and love our country; reinstate China; human rights are innate; freedom and democracy” (爱国反共、恢复中华、天赋人权、民主自由), as well as opposition figure Zhu Yufu’s poem “It’s Time.” Hangzhou dissident Zhu Yufu was sentenced to seven years in prison for this poem and other activities in 2012.

Liu Ping told HRIC, “I spoke with You Minglei on the telephone around 3:00 PM on May 4, 2012. He said that he was on his way to Nanchang [from Fujian]. His girlfriend was woken by public security officials in the middle of the night and summoned to be questioned. He was going to surrender and said, ‘This is all my doing. It has nothing to do with her. I need to take responsibility as a man. I need to take responsibility as a citizen.’ I was unable to reach him after 7 PM.”

Li Sihua has spoken several times with You Minglei’s father over the phone. According to Li, on May 5, You’s father received a phone call from the police informing him that his son had been taken into custody. Li said that officials told his father to go to the local police station in Fujian to obtain a notice of detention. However, upon arrival to the police station, officials told him that they had received only a call from Nanchang police, no formal notice. Li said that You’s father has yet to receive a formal notice as of May 9. Officials have also asked three of You’s close friends—a student, a taxi driver, and a hotel employee—to “tea” (chat) since You was detained, and have forbade them from disclosing anything.

You Minglei is a former soldier who works at a Nanchang branch office of Fujian Industrial Bank. He is active on social issues including supporting the rights of HIV/AIDS sufferers, and advocating political reform. He was previously administratively detained for a week for spray painting “Rehabilitate June Fourth” (presumably a reference to the Tiananmen Square massacre) on walls in Hefei, Anhui province in 2011. He also distributed pamphlets about Chen Guangcheng around Nanchang and assisted Liu Ping when she was “suppressed” by government officials. (HRIC, May 9)

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  1. Questions about You Minglei
    Our usual questions. When You Minglei calls for “opposing communism,” is he using this term as it is understood in the West—i.e., opposing the statist economic system (which barely exists in China anymore) and supporting “free markets”—or does he merely mean opposing the stifling rule of the Chinese Communist Party? And what exactly is meant by “independent election candidates”? Did Liu Ping and Li Sihua actually run in local races in Jiangxi, or just attempt to? What kind of “suppression” did they suffer? What are their politics?

    If anyone has any information, we’d sure like to know more…

    1. “Opposing Communism”
      “Opposing Communism”: Here I wouldn’t agree with HRIC’s translation. What he says is more of “patriotic opposition to the Communist Party”. (You is a democracy activist.)

      “Independent election candidates” means that Liu and Li ran for the local delegation to the national people’s congress without the backings of the official parties (almost all of which are basically the Communist Party) or the government. The excellent Caixin has a report on Liu Ping’s candidacy, “Why Liu Ping’s Candidacy Failed”:

      But after Liu announced her candidacy, election agency workers prevented her from claiming recommendation forms from the neighborhood committee, which screens potential candidates. Instead, they said, each of her supporters should go to the committee and fill out a form in person.

      Later, some of her supporters received phone calls from election officials, demanding they stop backing Liu.

      Liu’s name did not appear on the official candidate list. The elections office told her, “According to the party constitution and your previous behavior, we believe that you are not suitable to be a candidate for NPC delegate.”

      On May 14, Liu was again declared ineligible for a candidate’s slot by Yang Jianyun, director of the Elections Work Steering Group Office at Jiangxi Xinyu Iron and Steel Group.

      Yang issued a public statement saying Liu had been left off the list because the number of people recommending her did not meet Election Law requirements.

      Reportedly, officials also harassed Liu by cutting off the power to her home. In addition, local reports said, police searched her home and seized campaign materials, banners and a mobile phone.

      Liu also claimed police summoned her for questioning twice in recent weeks on grounds that she may have been “sabotaging an election.”

      1. Liu Ping
        Many thanks for information. However, all the Caixin account tells us about Liu Ping’s politics is this:

        Liu Ping wanted to be an everyman’s candidate in a race for a local delegate to the National People’s Congress. She wanted to represent her neighbors in the Yushu District of Xinyu, a city in Jiangxi Province. She gave it her all.

        But the high-school educated woman who retired in 2009 from Yuanxingang Equipment and Materials Co., a branch of Xinyu Iron and Steel Group, found all roads blocked.

        One apparent reason was that Liu had tried to stand up for worker rights by bringing a local grievance petition to the central government in Beijing. For her activist stance, she was detained by authorities and later released.

        Which sounds good, for a start.

        As for the translation of You Minglei’s slogan—Sorry, but I put the first phrase (爱国反共) through Babelfish, Google Translate and Free Translation, and they all came back as “patriotic anti-communist.” No reference to any “party.” Do you know Chinese?

        (Weirdly the third phrase, 天赋人权, which is supposed to be “human rights are innate,” comes back on Babelfish as “sports lotteries.” Huh? Google Translate renders it more logically as “natural rights.”)

        BTW, we have an approval queue, and I have to go to sleep now. So if you post again and it doesn’t appear, just relax—I’ll approve it as soon as I wake up.

        Xie xie.

        1. Yes, I do know Chinese.
          Yes, I do know Chinese. Chinese slogans are themselves shorted. 爱国反共 would be short for 爱国(patriotic, love of the country)反对共产党(oppose CPC). A Chinese speaker would understand innately what the meaning is. This is because Chinese has “four character phrases” used as one might use a cliche or idiom in English, so to make things more catchy, people shorten lengthy ideas down to four syllables.

          Other Chinese that you raised: 天赋(innate, a natural gift)人权(human rights). Don’t know how Babelfish got “sports lotteries”. Google Translate is about the best one can get in machine translation, though — it won awards a few years back, and rightfully so.

            1. I would suggest actually consulting a proper dictionary
              I would suggest actually consulting a proper dictionary rather than relying on machine translation, which is often inaccurate. in this case means a political party. Of course, if you remove the “oppose” (反对) from the very thread that you linked in Google Translate and only try to translate 共产党, it indeed gives the result of “Communist Party”. I do not know why you continue to question my ability to read and interpret Chinese, when I am giving every indication that I not only know what I am talking about, but am also making a very good effort to help you immensely to understand the slogans written.

              1. Yes, you are helping understand the slogans
                Not questioning your ability. Just trying to understand. I do have a proper Chinese dictionary, but it doesn’t help me translate the characters into English—only the reverse. Now that you’ve identified the character for dǎng, I see that it does in fact mean “party.” Thank you.

                As in Kuomintang, or Guomindang by the contemporary spelling—a word which has made it into widespread English usage. If you will indulge my curiosity a little more, I see that on Wikipedia, Guomindang (Nationalist Party of China) is rendered in Chinese as 中國國民黨—seemingly without the character you identified as meaning “party” (dǎng), 党. Can you shed some more light? The dictionary you linked to shows the character 黨 appearing in parenthesis after 党. Are they the same character in the old and simplified systems? (Just a guess.)

                1. Exactly right: 黨 (trad)
                  Exactly right: 黨 (trad) and 党 (simp) are the same character, just in different writing styles. Many here in Hong Kong are not well versed in simplified characters, whereas those in the mainland can read traditional characters rather fluently.