Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A779-W497

魏京生基金会新闻与文章发布号: A779-W497


Release Date: September 22, 2013



Topic: The Boundaries of Free Speech in China -- Wei Jingsheng

标题:言论自由的界限 -- 魏京生


Original Language Version: Chinese (Chinese version at the end)



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The Boundaries of Free Speech in China

-- Wei Jingsheng



Recently, in response to the call by the Communist leader Xi Jinping, the Chinese government launched an Internet clean-up campaign.  It has just begun, yet its scale is almost the same as the Cultural Revolution.  However, even at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, there were no cases when the police grabbed people and put them in jail.  At that time, what they did was to use the guise of sophistry to cover up their unreasonableness, and then gradually developed into being fully unreasonable.  It was so shy to be unreasonable then, so they had to use the excuse of "people seize the bad guys and turn them in" to be lawless.  It was not like now, where they break the law in the open. 


Xi Jinping's action of turning the clock back has received sudden attention not just within China, but even the world.  Various foreign media have given him bad reviews, even including some media that are pretty pro-Communist.  Why is this?  Probably it could be described by the old Chinese proverb: "When the rabbits get killed, even the foxes are sad and scared."  Besides a few hawks working for the Communist regime, the people who work in the media industry and others active in the media, have an instinctive antipathy against incrimination due to speech.


Why this instinctive antipathy?  We can put ourselves in their shoes as media persons or writers.  When they cannot write articles or make comments on the Internet freely, when they have to examine their own words carefully and make sure their writings will not offend someone, even to result in jail time, would not they feel awkward?  Would not they feel disgusted?  How could people to write about truth?  How could they write good articles?


So these writers will instinctively dislike censorship, while these officials do it.  This newly relaunched censorship movement by Xi Jinping is the strengthening of the Communist autocracy in China.  This is also the instinct of all authoritarian rulers, and is not just limited to a cultural tyranny movement.


Looking back in history, we will find that not only the notorious dictators such as Mao Zedong and Adolf Hitler, but even bullies of small potatoes will find some grounds that look quite reasonable when they do evil.  This time the cultural tyranny movement began with a cleansing of the Internet, even though the reasons seem to be reasonable.  Since ancient times for thousands of years now, starting rumors have been the most sinister means, but also an evil act that the people hate most.


However, a lot of people in this world are afraid of this "however".  However, is this cleansing of Internet rumors by the Communist regime really safeguarding the public interest?  When we look at it closely, it just does not look so.  To talk about "rumors", we know that the Communist Party itself has been making them for decades, without worrying that it could make the sky fall.  Why doesn't the regime start its cleansing with these biggest and most evil rumors first, rather than charge some middle school students as guilty?


To be more arrogant than Mao Zedong then, now the Communist regime also made "spreading the rumors" into a crime.  The people who spread stories would think these "rumors" to be real, and do so just out of curiosity.  An Old Chinese saying goes as: "For those who do not know, it is not a crime."  However, now, even these who do not know become criminals.  Which kind of logic is this?  This suppression of speech is much more severe than the scale of the Cultural Revolution era, and could be compared with the way of incriminated people of rumors by King Zhou You more than two thousand years ago.


In all the societies of ancient and modern times there have been many laws and institutions to guard against rumors in an effort to stop them.  The challenge is how to define what is rumor.  The original meaning of the word "rumor" in Chinese was the information and argument spread among the folks.  Some of this information and argument could be accurate, while others might not be.  Some could be justified, while other might be baseless.  Some could be harmful to the people, while others are trivial.  If all the "rumors" could be used to punish, then people have to seal their mouths with tape.


Many countries already have a lot of relevant laws, such as the laws regarding reputation infringement, invasion of privacy, and so on that are clearly defined to protect people's rights.  And in accordance with the practice in most countries, government officials and celebrities get relatively low degrees of protection.  This is because they are too close to the powerful and are the least likely to be violated, rather than the average person who is more likely to be easily violated.


I remember one time that a group of reporters surrounded Dr. Henry Kissinger and me while we had conversations in a public place.  While he was expelling these reporters, Dr. Kissinger said: "We are just ordinary people and this is a private conversation.  If you do not leave, I will sue you."  There was also a similar event during a conversation between President Chen Shui-bian of Taiwan and me.  These left me deep impressions about the officials' protection.


However, the Internet rumor cleanup movement by Xi Jinping does not have the intention of protecting the people from the very beginning.  Further, the Communist media clearly stated that the target of this movement is to punish any rumors against the government and officials.  And the use of the charges was not for clearly defined offenses, but the vague concept of "rumors".  By now we should also understand that this is an ulterior motive.


It was not for the protection of people's human rights.  This is unmistakably protecting officials' rights while violating civil rights.  The regime is quietly swapping the concept to mislead people that it is protecting human rights and to avoid the harm of malicious rumors.  In fact it is clearly protecting the officials, and their illegal rights to avoid their corruptions being exposed.


The Communist Party proposed a ridiculous reason, saying that the Internet rumor is like the big posters during the Cultural Revolution.  That tune made these big posters to be false.  This is really cheating the middle aged and young generations of Chinese who did not experience the Cultural Revolution and do not know the truth.  The big posters back then were just as the free speech now on the Internet - it was impossible for all the writings with every word to tell the truth.


But most of the posters at that time had indeed revealed corruption and lawlessness of bureaucrats.  This was also the reason that Mao Zedong was able to overthrow the bureaucratic class successfully by the big poster movement.  The bureaucratic class that was restored in the 1980's of course extremely hated these posters.  That was because indeed the posters violated their lawless authoritarian official rights, and indeed violated their "privacy" of lawlessness and suppression against the average people.  They did not yet have the guts to say that the whistleblowers from these posters were all false.


This generation of Xi Jinping does indeed have more guts and more shamelessness than their parents.  They dare to assume that the posters from the Cultural Revolution were all false, all rumors.  Then they used this assumption as a basis to alluding online speech as rumors and lies against the government and officials.  This purpose of protecting the bureaucratic bourgeoisie is too obvious.  The posture of protecting one-party dictatorship, instead of protecting the human rights of the people is too clever.  Their approach of deceiving first and then substitution could be rated as perfection.


When Xi Jinping just took power, he hypocritically said that he would lock the power into a cage.  I guess it was the reporters made it wrong: what he meant was to lock people's basic rights into a cage.  Only this way, the Communist bureaucratic bourgeoisie is protected.



To hear Mr. Wei Jingsheng's related commentary, please visit:



(Written and recorded on September 20, 2013.  Broadcasted by Radio Free Asia.)



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Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A779-W497

魏京生基金会新闻与文章发布号: A779-W497


Release Date: September 22, 2013



Topic: The Boundaries of Free Speech in China -- Wei Jingsheng

标题:言论自由的界限 -- 魏京生


Original Language Version: Chinese (Chinese version at the end)









-- 魏京生














































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