Travelers Welcome

Travelers Welcome

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Emperor is Afraid of Zhu Yufu

gathered by The Camel Saloon

Media sources report that Zhu Yufu, 58, a Chinese writer and democracy advocate, was charged with subversion in Hangzhou earlier this week for writing a poem urging citizens to gather in public squares and create a Jasmine Revolution.
The poem, titled “It’s Time” appears here and in translation by A. E.  Clark:



It’s time, people of China! It’s time.
The Square belongs to everyone.
With your own two feet
It’s time to head to the Square and make your choice.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.
A song belongs to everyone.
From your own throat
It’s time to voice the song in your heart.

It’s time, people of China! It’s time.
China belongs to everyone.
Of your own will
It’s time to choose what China shall be.

The Camel urges all of its readers to learn more on the repression of Chinese poets. For starters, see:

Sources for literature and news of dissident China include Ragged Banner Press at and the Transparent Chinese Translator at

Poem and translation used by the generous permission of Andrew E. Clark.

1 comment:

  1. While this harsh sentence is worthy of unequivocal denunciation, I think it's very important for readers and followers of contemporary Chinese politics to understand the source of the response. Annually there are thousands of protests around the whole of China, mainly focusing on land theft for mega-projects (that people never receive their promised compensation for losing their land), excessive pollution and toxic waste, lax safety laws in food safety, household products, medications and toys, plus the stiff penalties for reporting viral infections in agriculture from invasive species and public health disasters. Every couple of years a show trial results in a rival politician or business person receiving a life-time sentence or execution).

    But what is overlooked is the main reason that the Chinese authorities are afraid of overtly political criticism: collapse of control over the political system by the Communist party. This is especially so after the collapse of the Communist regimes in the former Soviet Union and now the Arab Spring.

    During the 1989 Tianaman Democracy movement, there were heated debates over the correct and most pragmatic government response. Some like Hu wwho were sympathetic towards the students lost their power and were quietly retired. (lack of economic opportubities for university graduates during a period when lack of political freedom was emerging elsewhere was too much for students to accept. Plus they thought that with global coverage of their plight the government wouldn't dare respond violently. Students received less brutal punishment despite its severity --fewer fatalities -- than did workers, however since their education meant that they would be needed in China's future development).

    Mao Zedong darkly intimated in the mid-1950s: that if the ruling party in a socialist country engages in self-reform, it will result in the total collapse of political power, and all individuals who benefit from this power will vanish as well. It was precisely because everyone in the top levels of the government understood the strength of this threat that we heard machine gun fire in the early hours of 3 June 1989, when tanks rumbled toward the student tents on Tiananmen Square.

    China now has first-rate, world-class writers and intellectuals whose work is translated into English and other European languages, is taught in universities offering classes on East Asian literature and culture. (For the past decade --maybe longer -- interest in Chinese language, history and literature has surpassed Japanese studies in terms of student enrollments and majors).

    With the ubiquity and global reach of the internet, this is major cause of concern for the Chinese authorities. o be completely fair, the scale of the chaos that would emerge if China's political system suddenly collapsed as it did with the Communist countries from 1989-1992, would be indescribable. (The same fear also applies to North Korea).

    Just as the domino theory dominated the (idiotic minds) of U.S. defense intellectuals during the Vietnam War, there is fear in China that with greater political freedoms --especially free speech erupted during an intense 6 week period when the Hundred Flowers Movement(百花运动)in China occurred during the early summer of 1954. The intensity and enthusiasm of the responses by intellectuals overwhelmed Mao and China's top leadership that they punished the very people they had encouraged.

    Anyway, it's a very depressing situation with no easy solutions. Jailing anyone, especially leading writers and activists will prove to be counter-productive. And frankly, Western and Asia countries rely on China economically and so will ultimately offer only minor official criticism of China's authoritarian tendencies. I just want readers to have a greater appreciation for why dissidents are so feared and so severely punished in China.