11-Year-Old Activist Honors Black Girls Whose Stories Never Make The News

By Jenna Amatulli                                      Mar 25,2018

While there were many incredible, poised speakers at Saturday’s March For Our Lives across the country, an 11-year-old from Alexandria, Virginia, named Naomi Wadler was arguably the most inspiring.

“I represent the African-American women who are victims of gun violence, who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls full of potential,” the preteen said in her speech to a massive crowd in Washington, D.C.

The fifth grader was chosen to speak at the march after she organized a walkout at her elementary school on March 14 to protest gun violence and honor the lives of those lost in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, Florida. She also honored Courtlin Arrington a 17-year-old high school senior from Alabama who was shot and killed in school, just weeks after the Florida shooting.

Naomi told a local Virginia news station that she thinks “it’s completely unacceptable that we are not exercising our rights to be safe at school.”

Children walk hand-in-hand as demonstrators protest the fatal shooting Sunday of an unarmed black man in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, March 22, 2018. Hundreds of people rallied for Stephon Clark, a 22-year-old who was shot in his grandparents’ backyard. Police say they feared he had a handgun when they confronted him after reports that he had been breaking windows, but he only had a cellphone. (AP Photo/Robert Petersen)


Change China Before it Changes Us

By Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of Reporters Without Borders (RSF)

China’s “New Helmsman” Jinping Xi is an enemy of constitutional democracy, universal human rights, civil society and media freedom. And how does he see journalism’s role? While visiting the state TV broadcaster’s headquarters in 2016, he urged journalists to relay “the party’s propaganda” and to “love the party, protect the party, and closely align themselves with the party leadership in thought, politics and action.”

In China – ranked 176th out of 180 countries in the 2017 Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) – dozens of journalists and bloggers are in prison for resisting orders from the party central committee’s propaganda department. A digital censorship system dubbed the “Great Firewall” keeps China’s 750 million Internet users apart from the rest of the world. Article 35 of the constitution vainly proclaims “freedom of expression and the press.” After demanding these freedoms, Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo paid with his life as result of a lack of medical care in prison.

The party’s goal is not just controlling news and information domestically. China wants to establish a “new world media order.” Li Congjun, who used to run the Chinese state news agency Xinhua and is now a member of the party central committee, explained the strategy in 2011. He said the goal was to overturn an obsolete world order in which information flowed solely “from West to East, North to South, and from developed to developing countries.” Citing a 1980 UNESCO recommendation, he called for the world’s media to become “an active force for promoting social progress.” Progress with “Chinese characteristics,” obviously.

In 2009, the Chinese government created the World Media Summit, sometimes dubbed the “Media Olympic Games,” an initiative entirely designed, organized and funded by Xinhua. In 2014, China also launched the World Internet Conference, to which thousands of businessmen from hundreds of countries flock every year. China even canvassed this year for the post of director-general of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), which is the UN agency responsible for media issues.

Beijing is succeeding in influencing the media world beyond its borders. The Communication University of China is working with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government to open a “journalism university” in India. China spends a lot of money on inviting journalists from Africa, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region to come to “develop their critical spirit” in Beijing. Economic pressure forces content providers all over the world to censor themselves in order to access the Chinese market. Even the Cambridge University Press almost got sucked in when it recently purged its China catalogue of around 100 articles that would offend Beijing. It backtracked after an outcry but other less prestigious publishers are not in position to do this.

China is stingy with the press visas it issues to foreign reporters but Xinhua plans to have opened 200 international bureaux by 2020. Xinhua is much appreciated by the world’s autocrats because of its policy of “non-interference” in the domestic policies of the countries it covers. Such leading international broadcast media as TV5, VOA and the BBC are unavailable in China outside of luxury hotels but the English, Spanish, French, Arabic and Russian-language broadcasts of China Global Television Network (the former CCTV) currently reach 85 million viewers in more than 100 countries.

Finally, China exports its censorship and surveillance tools. A Portuguese-language version of China’s leading search engine, Baidu, was launched in Brazil under the name of Busca. Content regarded by Beijing as “sensitive” was clearly blocked by Busca although, after protests, this censorship was apparently lifted. China is also trying to promote international adoption of its unencrypted instant messaging service, in which it can access all the data, including conversation detail. If the democracies do not resist, China will not only never be able to enjoy press freedom but will also gradually extend its own lid on free speech to the rest of the world. This is why it is important to change China before it changes us.


In China, Women’s Day Marches On Despite Decline

Today is International Women’s Day, a holiday that celebrates the achievements of women around the world. In China, the day has been observed since March 1924, and its significance has been invoked by generations of Chinese women who, by giving speeches, organizing marches, or going on strike, have both furthered women’s liberation and the struggle for national independence and liberation.

The first public celebration of International Women’s Day in China took place in March 1924 in the southern city of Guangzhou, when 2,000 people gathered for a mass meeting in what is known today as People’s Park. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and their nationalist rivals, the Kuomintang (KMT), had just formed the First United Front to counter imperialist expansion and regional militarism in China, and female Communist Party and Communist Youth League members were permitted to join the KMT on an individual basis.

At the time, the head of the KMT’s Central Women’s Department was He Xiangning, who had heard about International Women’s Day from the wife of the influential Soviet advisor Mikhail Borodin. He Xiangning persuaded the Women’s Department to organize the Guangzhou rally, and gave a speech explaining the oppression faced by women and encouraging female attendees to unite behind the struggle against imperialism and feudalism in the name of personal and national liberation.

Word of the event spread throughout China and it has been commemorated ever since. The following year, female representatives from around the country gathered in Beijing to protest against the government’s refusal to grant women the right to vote. In 1927 the central city of Wuhan was the site of a CCP-organized march that drew 100,000 women. Unverified reports of the event claim that certain radical women’s groups marched either fully or partially naked, although this move is only remembered in unofficial histories of the movement.

In the 1920s, China was a hotchpotch of competing territories run by military warlords. In Jiangxi, the eastern Chinese province that housed the CCP’s remote base areas, a pioneering Chinese soviet first celebrated the holiday in 1932 with a March 8 commemorative meeting. Tens of thousands of people participated, and Mao Zedong gave a speech and reviewed the ranks of female Red Guards. From the late 1930s, CCP central authorities would use International Women’s Day as an opportunity to give an annual update on the rights, privileges, and social status of women, as part of a larger plan to mobilize women behind the broader Communist movement.

Even after the collapse of the First United Front, the day continued to be used as an important means to mobilize women. In 1931, a range of Nanjing-based women’s groups petitioned the KMT headquarters demanding a quota be established for women’s participation in the National Assembly. This indirectly led to the successful election of female delegates during the 1936 election, a major step forward in the history of women’s participation in modern Chinese politics. Even during the Second Sino-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945, International Women’s Day continued to be celebrated around the country with the goal of mobilizing women to take part in the war effort.

As the French philosopher and sociologist Maurice Halbwachs noted, holiday celebrations are an important means of constructing what he termed “collective memory” — the shared knowledge present in the memories of members of a social group. Annual Women’s Day celebrations helped Chinese women to reinforce bonds of identity and construct a collective memory of women’s liberation. Prior to Women’s Day, there had never been such an overtly political holiday for Chinese women, and many gratefully seized opportunities to gather and march — although such events were predominantly an urban phenomenon prior to the CCP’s reunification of China in 1949.

After 1949, Women’s Day was still invoked as a means of establishing and reinforcing the country’s changing gender relations. While Chinese women are still fighting for full equality with their male counterparts, the early years of the People’s Republic often saw the state treat women in remarkably progressive ways. For example, on Women’s Day 1951, more than 100,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Beijing and Shanghai to protest the post-war American occupation of Japan. When some people heckled a number of former prostitutes among the marchers, the government singled out the hecklers for punishment. In a country where known sex workers were historically seen as social outcasts, the state’s willingness to protect their legal rights signaled a sharp break from the past.

Alongside women’s rising status was the concept of the “new Chinese woman,” a state-sanctioned female ideal that cast women as tireless model workers, nurturing mothers, and brave pioneers of Chinese socialism. This image was widely propagated at the behest of the Women’s Federation from 1960, when the organization started using March 8 to annually honor Chinese women who had made exceptional contributions to socialist advancement. Images of new Chinese women now appear quaint at best and problematic at worst, considering that many of them lauded women most able to demonstrate traits traditionally viewed as masculine. But they stood largely in contrast with the demure, chaste, and submissive female ideals that had preceded them.

Women’s Day celebrations often took the form of strikes and demonstrations. Since the 1990s, however, we have gradually begun to forget this revolutionary tradition. In recent years, college campuses have witnessed the rise of “Girl’s Day” celebrations, held on March 7. Many universities hold events for female students and hang red banners encouraging fellow students to appreciate the contribution women make to campus life. At the same time, companies like Alibaba, China’s e-commerce behemoth, now promote large-scale sales on March 8 that encourage female consumers to treat themselves to typically “feminine” discounted products — often calling the event “Goddess Day” or “Queen’s Day.”

More and more young Chinese women are shunning International Women’s Day, a problem that is partially due to nomenclature. Women’s Day is translated as funüjie, a word that contains a term that youngsters increasingly use to refer to older, married women and that connotes a certain frumpiness and a lack of sophistication. Meanwhile, nüshengjie — the Chinese word for “Girl’s Day” — conveys more positive notions of youth, beauty, and vivaciousness.

After nearly a century of International Women’s Day in China, the meaning of the holiday is slowly being lost. Today, as women both in China and abroad continue to face significant gender inequality, we must work to convince younger generations that the cause of emancipation is still something worth fighting for.

Translator: Kilian O’Donnell; editors: Lu Hua and Matthew Walsh.


Response Liu Xia Liao Yiwu “Appeal “

Liao Yiwu: Writer in exile, recipient of the 2012 German Book Industry Peace Prize

Today is the ninth anniversary of “Charter ‘08”. At eleven o’clock at night on the 8th of December 2008, a hoard of police officers flocked towards the home of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia. As the pounding on the door resounded through their home, Xiaobo got to his feet in front of his computer and shouted to Liu Xia: “Quick, make the call!” But Liu Xia normally didn’t use a phone…. There was no time. Liu Xia said: “Open the door, Xiaobo.”

She’d long had a premonition. And warned him often….

Xiaobo was led off with a black cloth over his eyes. Over a month later, a disoriented Liu Xia was taken to a hotel where they met again in a sealed room. Xiaobo was brought there from a place he did not know.

My dear friend, you’ve gone. In a darkness so black I can’t see the fingers of my extended hand, you could yet see a trace of light. You always insisted in a stammer: “I see, see, see it.” We didn’t see. Liu Xia says she also did not see. Her most recent group of photographs is called “Solitary Planets”, you, me, us, her, all solitary planets.

On the verge of departure, your two legs were moving up and down, ceaselessly, ceaselessly walking. Up until an hour or so later, till your breath and pulse abruptly halt.

You’re on that solitary planet. And the books Liu Xia bought you these last few years still lie in the bookcase. Your greatest regret was that Liu Xia was unable to leave the country, could not find the freedom that was properly hers. And so I write these words and publicly appeal for her freedom once more.

I hope the government of China, out of basic human decency and in accordance with the law, will release a person suffering deeply from depression who has never broken a law. I hope that Germany, the United States, France, Great Britain and other Western governments, human rights organizations and activists would continue to negotiate with the government of China for the freedom of the widow of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Liu Xia’s original handwriting.

Dear Herta
I curl into a ball
As somebody knocks at the door
My neck starts to stiffen
But I can not leave
I speak to myself
I’m going mad
Too solitary
I have not the right to speech
To speak loudly
I live like a plant
I lie like a corpse


Launch of Collected Writings in Commemoration of Liu Xiaobo & Dialogue on Liu Xiaobo’s Legacy

Video clips by WRIC

             Democratic China and Institute for China’s Democratic Transition cordially invite you to join us in an event devoted to Dr. Liu Xiaobo, China’s Nobel Peace Prize Laureate: the Launch of a Collection of Essays in Commemoration of Liu Xiaobo, followed by a discussion on his life and legacy. The collection is edited by Mr. Cai Chu, prefaced by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Essay contributions are from Chinese study scholars and Chinese human rights and democracy activists, Dr. Liu’s friends and colleagues, and foreign China experts. Several contributors will participate in the discussion following the release of the book.

            The book is jointly published by Democratic China and the Institute for China’s Democratic Transition. Democratic China is a NGO once led by Dr. Liu Xiaobo. Liu Xiaobo served as Democratic China’s president and Editor-In-Chief of Democratic China Electronic Journal. Democratic China’s editorial team has played a crucial role in the Charter 08 Movement. Its website: http://minzhuzhongguo.org/
            The Institute for China’s Democratic Transition is a non-profit think tank and educational organization based in the United States working to prepare for and facilitate the transformation of China into a democracy with free market economy. Its website: http://chinademocrat.org/.

December 9, 2017 (Saturday)
2:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel
Conference Room, 6th Floor
135-20 39th Ave, Flushing, NY 11354

Please RSVP to wangtiancheng2009@gmail.com or caichu@hotmail.com. If you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact either of us.

Cai Chu
President and Editor-in-Chief,  Democratic China
Phone: +1 251 510 4788
Email: caichu@hotmail.com

Wang Tiancheng
President, Institute for China’s Democratic Transition
Phone: +1 646 763 5887
Email: wangtiancheng2009@gmail.com