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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Nobel Peace Prize Winner Liu Xiaobo

October 11th, 2010 | 8 comments | Posted by Jen

Name: Liu Xiaobo

Age: 54

Occupation: Literature professor and jailed Chinese dissident

Known for: Returning to China from the U.S. during the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and saving hundreds of lives by persuading students to leave the square as army tanks were rolling in; being imprisoned for most of the last 20 years for his peaceful protest of the Chinese government; helping to draft Charter 08, a manifesto calling for freedom of expression, free elections, and human rights in China.

First the good news: On Friday of last week, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for “his long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Liu is the first Chinese citizen still living in mainland China to ever win a Nobel.

Now the bad: In advance of his winning, 14 overseas Chinese dissidents wrote a letter to the Nobel committee declaring Liu an “unsuitable” laureate for, among other reasons, being soft on the Chinese government. Then, when the award was announced, China censored any mention of Liu and the prize. And now Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, is apparently under house arrest.

A peace prize has been given, yes, but still, no peace.

[TIME: Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo Wins the Nobel Peace Prize]
[NY Times: Unusual Opposition to a Favorite for Nobel]

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7 Chinese Schoolchildren “Hacked To Death” In 5th Attack In Less Than 2 Months

May 12th, 2010 | 5 comments | Posted by Jen

For the fifth time since March 23, young children have been attacked at school in China, this time leaving 7 children and 2 adults dead.  The attack occurred Wednesday in northern Shaanxi Province, and the perpetrator, Wu Huanming, 48–who killed his victims with a kitchen cleaver before killing himself–was, like the other assailants, a middle-aged man acting alone.  This rampage is the deadliest one of the five to date; eight children were left dead after the first attack in Fujian Province, but all 33 children who were either stabbed or beaten with a hammer in the other attacks, which took place over three consecutive days in late April, survived.

The site of the May 12 attack

People in China are trying to make sense of these horrific copycat crimes, with experts citing everything from rampant untreated mental illness to rapid social change to anger at the government, the NY Times reports.  Well, some people in China are trying to make sense of this, anyway.  Huang Hung, a columnist for China Daily who also blogs on sina.com and for The Daily Beast, wrote after the fourth attack that there has also been a great deal of silence on the subject.  While supporting the government’s tightened control of the reporting on the attacks in order to prevent more copycat crimes, Ms. Huang was critical of what she perceived to be a general desire to sweep these events under the rug:

A lot of people agree with the government that incidents like these should be swept under the rug and forgotten; they believe in a kind of selective memory that only allows the past to be remembered in a glorious way. The fact that we do not publicly light a candle to remember the children who were murdered is not just wrong for moral reasons; it is a fundamental denial of the problems in our society.

But can you really have it both ways? That is, how can you expect the Chinese people to begin to understand why this is happening and deal if the government is restricting the flow of information on the attacks? That’s a little bit too much like the “Do as I say, not as I do” parenting model, which has been proven to never work. And when there’s a trend of mass murder of schoolchildren–attempted and otherwise–going on in your country, the government is, in essence, the parent, and it has to take the lead–by shunning shame and silence on the matter–in order to protect its children.

[NY Times: 9 Killed in School Attack in China]

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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Liu “The Invisible Man” Bolin

March 8th, 2010 | 2 comments | Posted by Diana

"Individual rights often disappear amid the roaring sound of the government's will."

Name: Liu Bolin

Age: 38

Hails from: Beijing, China

Occupation: Visual Artist

Known for: Appearing to disappear. China Daily just did a feature on Liu, a Chinese performance artist who camouflages himself into everyday surroundings for photographs using an awe-inspiring combination of paint and patience. Liu has created over 80 “invisible” works since 2006 and has been featured in museums across Europe and the US–one of the few modern Chinese artists to be recognized by the worldwide art market.

Continue reading AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Liu “The Invisible Man” Bolin

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We Found Our Chinese Haunt: The Dali Gay Bar

December 1st, 2009 | 7 comments | Posted by Diana

In an attempt to counter a rapidly rising AIDS rate, the Chinese government has actually done something cool: opened a government-funded gay bar in Dali, one of the ten Chinese cities most affected by the disease.


Let's drink!

Let's drink!




The bar will offer free condoms, sex ed and a proper watering hole for the area’s gays, many of whom are from rural villages, and “used to gather in a patch of woods near the historic town.” Not to linger on the past, but hanging out in a patch of woods without mushrooms or a cooler/tent/bonfire or elf leader just makes us sad.

Anyway, this is awesome progress and we’re psyched! But enough jibber-jabber. When do we drink???

[via AMERICAblog Gay]
[Reuters: China City Government Opens Gay Bar To Fight AIDS]

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Thanks, Jasmine!

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AMAZIAN OF THE WEEK! Woeser

April 27th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Diana


Name: Woeser

Age: 42

Occupation: Poet, Essayist, Blogger

Known for: quietly fighting the good fight. Woeser, who was profiled last weekend in the New York Times, is the daughter of a Tibetan mother and half-Han Chinese army general (schooled in Mandarin, she is one of the few Tibetan writers to speak in Chinese).

The Chinese government condemns her books, four of Woeser’s blogs have been blocked or hacked by authorities, and her family and friends have experienced detainment and questioning for disseminating her information–yet still she continues to blog. Her site, “Invisible Tibet,” has become a reliable source of Tibetan news for those who can scale The Great Firewall, and she recently published the book “Forbidden Memory” in Taiwan, which shares her father’s photos of the Cultural Revolution.

Despite the level of danger she faces on a daily basis, Woeser keeps on speaking, hoping enough people will eventually hear.

[NYT: A Tibetan Blogger, Always Under Close Watch, Struggles for Visibility]
[Invisible Tibet]

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Thanks, Dave!

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DISGRASIAN OF THE WEAK! Pierre Berge

March 6th, 2009 | 0 comments | Posted by Diana
Rabbit and Head bronze statues, stolen from a Chinese
palace by British and French troops during the second Opium
War in 1860, and auctioned by Christie’s last week

Media outlets swirled this week with the story of a Chinese art dealer’s phony $40-million bid for two Chinese zodiac status, included in Christie’s recent auction of the late Yves Saint Laurent’s art collection.

The dealer, Cai Mingchao, placed an anonymous phone bid for the bronze rabbit and head sculptures and later refused to pay–as an act of patriotism. The pieces were originally part of a 12-statue set–all abducted by British and French troops in 1860–and millions of dollars have already been spent by Chinese philanthropists to bring five of them back to the country.

These actions were not sanctioned by the Chinese government, according to both Cai and Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

In the aftermath of this scandal, the statues’ owner, Pierre Berge, has decided to hold on to the statues.

From the LA Times:

Saint Laurent’s former business partner and life companion, Pierre Berge, was quoted in French newspapers Tuesday as saying he would keep the heads and put them on either side of a Picasso that also did not sell at last week’s auction.

“The heads were with me and they will return and we will continue to live together,” said Berge, a longtime critic of the Chinese government’s human rights policy. “If this was a maneuver so that the Chinese government could buy them back at a cheaper price, it won’t work.”

We’re obviously no fans of the Chinese government’s human rights policy. But China’s people are more than their government, and punishing the people of China–by withholding their country’s looted history–seems like a most unfortunate instance of wire-crossing to us.

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