Rashomon & Growing Pains at Tsinghua University

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Xu Zhangrun vs. Tsinghua University
Voices of Protest & Resistance (XX)

 

The following record of the 28 April 2019 protest by Tsinghua University alumni centred at the Wang Guowei Commemorative Stele on campus was written by Yan Huai 閻淮, one of the organisers of the 31 March petition that appealed for the reinstatement of Professor Xu Zhangrun 許章潤, who had been put under investigation by the university for unspecified reasons. Yan’s essay can be read both as an addition (and even as a corrective) to the account offered by Lin Hai 林海, published by China Heritage on 4 May, and as a thoughtful analysis by a writer familiar both with the inner workings of the Communist party-state and the tragic history of protests in China both past and present.

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For details about the Wang Guowei Stele 王國維紀念碑 at Tsinghua University, the epitaph engraved on the stele composed by Chen Yinque 陳寅恪 in 1929 and a photographic account of the events of 28 April 2019, see ‘The Two Scholars Who Haunt Tsinghua University’.

As ever, I am grateful to Reader #1 for spotting typographical errors and also for suggesting, with characteristic politesse, some elegant improvements to a rushed and clumsy translation.

— Geremie R. Barmé
Editor, China Heritage
10 May 2019

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Related Material:

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Yan Huai, Working in and Getting Out of the Central Organisation Department — the other life of a Second Generation Idealist and Member of the Party Gentry, with introductions by Li Rui and Yang Jisheng, Hong Kong: Mirror Publishers, 2017

The Positive Possibilities Revealed by
The Struggle at Tsinghua University

清華校慶抗爭事件的良性互動

Yan Huai 閻淮

 

On the Eve of the Tsinghua Commemoration:
Disquiet Occasioned by Xu Zhangrun’s ‘Speech Crime’

一、校慶前:許章潤因言獲罪引發不滿

 

25 March 2019: I learn that because of his writings Xu [Zhangrun] has been ‘suspended from all [university related] activities including teaching and research, and a formal investigation into his case has been launched [by the university].’ As this news circulates there is widespread disgruntlement among our group of Tsinghua alumni. To protest against the further punishment of Xu, on 31 March I get together with Sun Nutao, of the Tsinghua Class of 1960 [Sun was a former prominent Red Guard and author of the confessional work A Conscience Interrogated: the psychological odyssey of a Red Guard leader 《良知的拷問 ——  一個清華文革頭頭的心路歷程》 published in 2013], as well as with other Tsinghua alumni from the 1980s, along with friends outside the Tsinghua network to issue an ‘Open Letter Demanding Tsinghua University Reinstate Professor Xu Zhangrun Immediately’. Over the following two weeks some 1000 alumni and other supporters sign this petition. Not only do the authorities fail to correct their treatment of Xu, worse happens when he is prevented from seeking medical treatment overseas and pressure is brought to bear on those who are known to have signed our petition.

2019.3.25,我得知許因著文被「撤銷職務、禁止授課、停止科研,並立案調查。」隨即將消息群發,引起校友廣泛不滿。為制止對許的繼續迫害,3.31我與60級學長孫怒濤等老校友和80年代校友及外校朋友,聯名發出《要求清華大學立即恢復許章潤教授工作的公開信》。半月內各屆校友和各界人士近千人簽名。但對許的處理非但未得改正,還發生阻止他出境就醫事件,並對多位簽名者施壓。

14 April: Sun Nutao and I jointly release our ‘Open Letter to Tsinghua President Qiu Yong’ in which we ‘respectfully request that the esteemed president reinstate Xu Zhangrun and immediately bring to an end all attempts to pressure signatories [of the original petition to rescind].’ We could never have expected that our Letter, which we dispatched by express post, would be refused and returned unopened.

4.14,我與孫怒濤再發《致清華大學邱勇校長的公開信》,「懇請尊敬的邱校長恢復許的工作、停止施壓簽名者。」孰料快遞信件竟被拒收退回!

Late April: Dissatisfied with this development a group of Tsinghua alumni who had graduated from the university half a was century ago discussed the matter via our WeChat group chat and we collectively decided that on the day of this year’s University Commemoration, slated for 28 April, we would visit the Wang Guowei Commemorative Stele (hereafter simply referred to as ‘the Wang Stele’] on the Tsinghua campus, pay our respects to Wang and recite out loud the encomium written for him by Chen Yinque which is carved as an epitaph on the stele. Through this act we would be carrying on the tradition of extolling ‘an Independent Spirit and a Mind Unfettered’. In concert friends recommended that I officiate at that occasion following which I should hand over our Open Letter with a List of Signatories to the university authorities in person. The consensus was that this would be ‘a peaceful and rational act that would avoid confrontation and, if it did result in people being detained, no resistance would be offered’. On 25 April, I undertook an operation to ‘reconnoitre’ the Wang Stele and the location of the Tsinghua President’s office where I would be handing over our letter.

4月下旬,對此不滿的畢業半世紀的一些老校友,在微信群討論決定:4.28校慶日到清華園的王國維紀念碑前(以下簡稱王碑),紀念王、朗讀陳寅恪碑文、傳承「獨立之精神、自由之思想」,推舉我主持活動並隨後由我當面向校領導遞交兩封公開信和簽名名單。4.25和4.26兩天四個上下午,我分別與四批老校友商討4.28具體計劃,共識是「平和、理性、不衝突、被抓不反抗。」4.25我還「踩點」王碑和遞交公開信的校長辦公室。

26 April: On this day, a large barrier encircling the Wang Stele [and grove] is erected in the name of ‘undertaking repairs’.

27 April: I print out three copies of the agreed material and gave two of those copies to other alumni with instructions that if, on the day, I am prevented from carrying out my task then they would act in my stead. That evening a group of outraged alumni decide that our ‘commemorative activity’ should be elevated to become an ‘act of resistance’. We will, nonetheless, maintain our approach as being one that is both pacifist and rational. The recommendation that we spray paint a slogan on the wall [erected around the Wang Stele] is abandoned. However, on the basis of the university motto — ‘Self-Discipline and Social Commitment’ — and in light of the fact that the 108th anniversary of the founding of the university was the 108th such occasion [茶壽 chá shòu: an elegant interpretation of the make-up of the character ‘茶’ chá argues that it can be interpreted as representing a series of numbers the total of which is 108], we put our heads together and come up with our own slogan: ‘Tsinghua at 108 Years: A Self-made Barrier Against Any Independent Spirit; So Thick That No Mind Remains Unfettered’ [自牆不吸獨立精神,厚得再無自由思想, a satirical recasting of the Tsinghua University motto: 自強不息,厚德載物]. Because I have no printer in my rented accommodation, I appeal to someone in our WeChat group to undertake that task. (This leads to the incident described below.)

4.26,王碑四周竪起兩米高的圍牆,名曰「維修」。

4.27我打印了三套所需資料,並分發給兩位校友,囑託若我被阻,代行我職。當晚氣憤填膺的校友,商議將次日的「紀念活動」升級為「抗爭行動」,但仍秉持平和理性態度,欲用油漆噴塗標語者主動放棄這一提議。我們依據清華校訓「自強不息、厚德載物」和108年的茶壽,集思廣益撰寫對聯「自牆不吸獨立精神,厚得再無自由思想;茶壽清華。」我因租房中無打印設備,在微信群中請能者代勞。(引起下節事件)

 

A Day of Commemoration:
Reasoned Resistance, Positive Reinforcement

二、校慶日:理性抗爭、良性互動

 

10:00 am, 28 April 2019: I arrange to join Lin [Hai] and Jiang [Nanfeng] and purchase flowers at the Tsinghua florist.

10:15: As we were walking in the direction of the Wang Stele we unexpectedly received an urgent phone call from Sun Nutao, who was in Hangzhou, appealing for help. It turns out that Classmate Fan, an alumnus of Peking University, had given Classmate Gao [Xueyun] printed copies of the Couplet which Gao has proceeded to stick up on the Blue Wall when she was detained by plainclothes security men and taken to Lecture Hall #1. At this juncture, we encounter Classmate Sun and asked him to help.

10:25: When I reached the Wang Stele I caught sight of Sun Zhe, who was in the same year and class as me. (He stayed on at Tsinghua after graduating and, over the years, had risen to become the deputy head of the propaganda department of the university Party Committee. Former classmates spoke of him highly.) So I ask him to give me a hand in rescuing Gao and shortly thereafter he returns with Classmate Gao who has been released as a result of the good offices of Classmate Sun. Concerned that Sun Zhe might be caught up in all of this I suggest that he leave, but he replies that he’d rather stay to lend me a hand in keeping the peace. I’m taken aback.

2019.4.28,10時,我與林、蔣兩位校友如約到清華花店買花,10:15我們走向王碑,突然接到孫怒濤從杭州打來的緊急呼救電話。原來北大樊校友打印了對聯,已交給高校友,高在藍牆上貼對聯時被便衣警察抓到王碑附近的「一教」樓里。此時我們正好路遇孫校友,請他去營救。10:25我到王碑,突然看到同系同級好友孫哲(畢業留校,官至黨委宣傳部副部長,在同學中口碑極佳。)請他也去救高。片刻孫哲與已被孫校友救出的高校友一起回來,我怕連累孫哲勸他離開,他說幫我維持秩序。我恍然!

10:30 am: A few dozen alumni and non-Tsinghua members of the Tsinghua Chat Group start turning up. They go over to greet professors Xu Zhangrun and Guo Yuhua [who are the first to be there]. The Men in Black guarding the small opening in the Blue Wall (there are indeed workers using compactors to ram the earth [prior to paving] inside the enclosure, but the fencing had an opening for easy access) withdraw to a safe distance and they take up a position with a dozen or so of their comrades who have cameras and other equipment. They are now replaced by a few Student Volunteers who seem unsure of how and why they are to guard the opening in the Blue Wall.

After getting Sun Zhe to negotiate with the Student Volunteers we form a queue and in an orderly fashion we enter the enclosed area via that small opening. Inside we bow, pay our respects and leave our floral tributes at a place where, long before there were Grand Buildings at Tsinghua, there was Grand Master Wang — to whom that stele was dedicated — and Grand Master Chen, whose epitaph for Wang was inscribed on the stele. Along with the flowers we offer our homage. At this point we ask Sun Zhe to secure an agreement from the workers to stop their earth-ramming work so that we can do all of this in a quiet and solemn environment.

10:30數十校友和清華微信群中的外校友人陸續到來,與先到的許章潤、郭於華二教授會師。守衛藍牆小門(牆內確有工人開著打夯機工作,為工人上下水而進出,牆中開了小門)的幾個黑衣人撤到遠處,與他們的十餘位手持攝像機、照相機的同事會合,換上幾位莫名其妙的學生志願者守衛小門。我請孫哲與守門學生交涉後,我們排成一隊,井然有序地穿過小門進入大牆內,向當時沒有大樓、只有大師的王大師紀念碑、陳大師紀念文鞠躬致敬,把鮮花和敬意一並留下。同時,我請孫哲讓工人關停轟鳴的打夯機,給我們寧靜肅穆的環境。

10:40 am: After we reemerge [from the Blue Wall enclosing the Wang Stele] I distribute the printed copies of the saying [from Chen Yinque’s epitaph for Wang] ‘An Independent Spirit and a Mind Unfettered’ as well as the Poetic Couplet so they can affix them to all sides of the Big Wall with sticky tape. For my part, I put up copies of our two Open Letters at the small opening to the enclosure.

At this point a young fellow dressed in red pulls down the Open Letters and, when I go to remonstrate with him he claims that he just wanted to read them. I respond that he could just as well read them on the wall, but he ignores me. I ask Sun Zhe to get him to stick the Letters back up on the wall. While all of this is going on professors Xu and Guo are giving short media interviews [See, for example, Xu Zhangrun and Guo Yuhua speaking to Voice of America 美國之音 about ‘The Death of the Tsinghua Spirit’, YouTube, 29 April 2019]. After this we take a group photograph (Sun Zhe is on the extreme right-hand side of the first row of people). I read out Chen Yinque’s epitaph (we had originally arranged for a male-female team to do this, but they had been unable to make it) [for the Chinese text of the epitaph, and a translation, see here]. After that we all recite in full voice the words ‘An Independent Spirit and a Mind Unfettered’ and thereby peacefully conclude our act of resistance.

10:40出來後,我把匯總的對聯、「獨立之精神自由之思想」的標語分發校友,用膠帶紙粘貼在大牆四周,我則把兩封公開信貼在小門旁。這時一位紅衣青年,把公開信揭下;我阻止,他說要看,我說貼在牆上更易看,他不聽;我讓孫哲叫他重新貼上。其間許、郭二教授還現場接受各方簡短採訪。隨後我們全體合影留念(前排最右是孫哲),我朗讀陳寅恪的碑文(原定男女二朗讀者因故臨時未到),最後大家齊聲高誦「獨立之精神、自由之思想」,抗爭圓滿平和落幕。

The gathered host outside the barriers erected at the Wang Guowei Stele, 28 April 2019

 

Dialogue: Objecting in Person
Presenting Our Petitions

三、會談:當面反映意見、順利遞交信件

 

10:55 am: I ask Sun Zhe to deliver the envelop containing our two Open Letters and the list of 1000 signatories to the office of Tsinghua’s president. I tell him that I have arranged to meet other university leaders at the Tsinghua Alumni Association at exactly 11:00am and that I would also be handing them a copy of the same material. Sun Zhe tells me that he’ll accompany me to the Alumni Association and ensure that they will deliver the material to [Tsinghua president] Qiu Yong.

10:55我請孫哲把內裝兩封公開信和千人簽名的大信封送到校長辦公室,我要如約11點準時到校友會與其領導座談,交另一個大信封。孫說不用送了,我陪你去校友會,他們肯定能轉交邱勇!

11:00 am: Sun Zhe takes me and Lin Hai — a canny and fearless fellow — to the Alumni Association where we are offered tea by Tang Jie, the association’s secretary. Sun Zhe shakes hands and bids us farewell (I telephone him the following day to express my thanks). Shortly thereafter, Sun Zongkai, deputy head of the Alumni Association, makes an appearance. In the first place, I formally protest the university’s unfair treatment of Xu, following which I speak out over the refusal by the university leaders to accept our letters and also in regard to the forced closure of our alumni website. Finally, I voice my criticism of the foolishness of the decision taken by the university to erect a security wall blocking off access to the Wang Stele. (I jokingly observe that I would have celebrated such a wall if it had appeared at our old enemy campus — Peking University, but for it to have occurred at my alma mater has occasioned profound anguish!)

Deputy Secretary Shi (I furtively checked his title online and learn that he was also the Deputy Secretary of the Tsinghua Party Committee) listens to me attentively and, although he occasionally offers some words of explanation, he makes no attempt to dispute what I am saying. Gradually, the atmosphere becomes somewhat more relaxed, amicable even. I present Shi with the large envelop containing our two Open Letters and the list of 1000 Signatories and he undertakes to hand it directly to President Qiu Yong. Shi then asks me to pass on a message to our fellow alumni:

  1. The university will listen to our opinions with all due humility;
  2. Teachers and students, as well as alumni, will be vouchsafed to the degreee permitted by regulations; and,
  3. All alumni are welcome to visit the university to continue these exchanges.

In response to requests, I established a private conduit between me, Lin and them.

13:00: We are given a frugal boxed lunch. I’m quite a slow eater, but having finished their meal Lin and Tang Jie continue chatting, advancing their disparate political views in the process. By 14:00 the exchange has lasted for some three hours and, just before we finish up, I reiterate our demands: reinstate Professor Xu as soon as possible and cease and desist from harassing signatories to the petition. Following that, Tang Jie accompanies me to my car to fetch three copies of my humble book Working in and Getting Out of the Central Organisation Department, copies of which they have specifically requested. I tell Tang that the inscription in the copy intended for Qiu Yong will be ‘A Book to Be Denounced’ but, just as I am putting pen to paper he suggests that it might be more appropriate for me to write simply ‘For you to critique and keep’.

11時,孫哲帶我和智勇雙全的林海到校友會,唐傑秘書長茶水招待,孫哲與我握手告別(次日我電話致謝孫)。稍後副會長史宗愷到來,我首先抗議對許的不公處理,隨後反對拒收我們快遞信件、反對關閉校友網網站,最後指責築牆關閉王碑的蠢行。(我玩笑說,此事若發生在敵校北大,我幸災樂禍;在媽校,痛心疾首!)其間,史副書記(我偷偷百度發現他是校黨委副書記)一直耐心認真傾聽,偶爾解釋但不反駁,談話氣氛逐漸緩和融洽。我把裝有兩封公開信和千人簽名名單的大信封交史,他答應一定交給邱勇校長。史請我轉告校友們,1、學校願意虛心聽取意見;2、紀律容許下,保護師生和校友;3、歡迎校友回校交流。應二位要求,我與林和他們建立私信。13時送來簡單盒飯,我吃飯慢,林海與唐傑飯後聊天,宣傳他的政治理念。談話三小時,14時結束前,我重申要求:盡快恢復許教授工作,停止騷擾簽名校友。隨後,唐傑隨我到我車里,拿去他們想要的三本拙作《進出中組部》。贈送邱勇的,我說題詞「批判用書」,剛寫了「批」字,唐說不合適,我遂改寫「批評、惠存」。

 

After the Event:
Amicable Exchanges, Thoughtful Re-evaluation?
四、校慶後:善意交流、深刻反思?

 

4:30 am: In the dead of night Lin Hai sends me through a copy of his ‘Account of the Resistance of Graduates of Tsinghua University’ which, since I had been utterly exhausted over the previous few days due to an approach by friends at Peking University requesting that I help locate the Marxist Students who had gone missing at PKU, I only manage to look over quickly, in particular noting the section that touches on me. He’d originally co-signed the piece ‘Yan Huai and Lin Hai’, but I suggest that he remove my name, though he adds ‘This document has been read and approved by Yan Huai’ at the end.

After reading Lin Hai’s account Tang Jie privately observes to me that:

  1. He had not accompanied me to the Alumni Association;
  2. The Alumni Website had been taken out by hackers, and not closed down by Tsinghua; and,
  3. He had gone with me to get the books from my car, not Shi Zongkai.

After realising this I send Tang a message via WeChat to apologise: ‘You’re right’, I tell him. ‘You can let everyone know about your corrections and my apology to you so as to clear up any misunderstandings.’ Tang responds: ‘Both you and Elder Lin Hai are busy men so you can’t be faulted for getting a few details wrong. Please don’t apologise; I certainly wouldn’t  presume to correct my elders in public!’

Lin Hai’s account is not particularly forgiving of the Tsinghua administration and I feel that they could easily make a big fuss over such minor factual errors. Instead, they take a course of action that allows things to settle down, very much as had the events  that had unfolded on the day of 28 April itself, allowing thereby greater latitude for well-intentioned dialogue.

4.30深夜林海發表《清華校慶老校友們抗爭記》。林發表前傳我,因近日太累,北大朋友傳來馬會同學失聯,讓我想辦法。故我只粗略看與我有關部分,提出原署名「閻淮林海」,去掉我,可在最後注明「閻淮閱後同意」。

唐傑看後私下指出:1、不是他陪我到校友會;2、校友網被黑客攻擊,不是校方關閉;3、他到我車取書,非史宗愷。我得知後,微信唐:「抱歉!您對!可以把我的道歉和更正,廣為傳播,以正視聽。」唐回復:「您和林學長事多很忙,記不清細節正常,可以理解。您太客氣!太認真,晚輩豈敢傳播啊!」

林海文對清華校方不甚有利,他們可以抓住上述硬傷大做文章,但卻寬容地息事寧人,繼續4.28良性互動的趨勢,擴大對話的善意。

In the run up to the Tsinghua commemoration it was [as the Tang-dynasty poet Xu Hun 許渾 famously put it], ‘As though the halls were buffeted before a storm breaking overhead’, and over ten people who had signed the petition had ‘enjoyed the solicitations’ of the authorities (I had them ‘express concern’ in my direction no less than twice), while some people outside Beijing were even ‘invited to have tea’! Dozens of other alumni directly or privately expressed the hope that I’d be careful and take care of myself. With that in mind, I prepared myself by having my naturally long and curly hair cut off so that, should I wind up in a place where you sweat a lot, I would not be prey to lice; I even made preparations in case I was blocked from proceeding with my original plan. (As Lin Hai put it, ‘On the eve of the mission, they met up with old classmates who toasted them ceremoniously and bid them farewell.’)

Back before I had returned to China following the publication of my book I prepared myself for the worst, so now I found that I was without fear. As an organiser of the protest my particular concern was for the safety of the other participants. Although we repeatedly emphasised the importance of this being a peaceful and rational protest, things are quite unpredictable and [only recently] the police had engaged in violence at nearby Peking University [when dealing with Marxist students]. Most of the alumni involved in our action graduated from Tsinghua half a century ago and were now in their sixties. Who knows what could have happened if, by some chance, things got out of hand?

校慶前已是「山雨欲來風滿樓」,十餘位簽名者被校方「關懷」(我被關心兩次),更有外地人被喝茶!幾十位校友或公信或私信讓我注意安全、千萬保重。我剃掉自來卷長髮,若進去多汗者不生蝨子,也作了被阻不能前往的準備。(林海「前一天向本班同學把酒話別」。)我出書回國已作最壞準備,無所畏懼。作為組織者的我,最擔心的是參與者的安危。儘管事先一再強調和平理性,但是形勢千變萬化,北大曾發生警察進校的暴力事件。大部分校友都是畢業半世紀的古稀之人,萬一有個閃失,後果不堪設想!

On the spot on the day of the commemoration the situation was, again [to quote a famous line from the Tang-dynasty poet Li He 李賀], ‘Like dark clouds amassed pressing down as if to crush us’! The superficially peaceful high enclosure was in fact surrounded by Men in Black who, despite it being a warm day, were in hoodies and caps, so they must have been particularly hot. Ms. Gao was dragged off unceremoniously to Lecture Hall #1 and kept there against her will by a group of five or six fellows in plain clothes (although one of them had shown her his police ID). It brought to mind the April Fifth Incident in 1976 and that small red building in the south-east corner of Tiananmen Square — the joint operations center of the army, police and militia — that had been burned down by the masses. On this occasion Lecture Hall #1 was the temporary HQ of the ubiquitous plain clothes police. If anything untoward occurred or if there was a clash between the police and the public, the losses could have been considerable.

校慶當天當場,已是「黑雲壓城城欲摧」!表面平靜的高牆周圍布滿黑衣人,挺熱天還有穿連帽衣者帶著帽子,使六面體的頭,只露一面的耐熱人。高女士被四五名便衣(一名出示了警官證)粗暴地抓進「一教」關押。我想到:1976年四五事件,天安門廣場東南角的被民眾火燒的小紅樓就是軍、警、民兵的聯合指揮部。一教就應是那天「漫坡遍野」便衣警察的臨時指揮部。萬一有個風吹草動、警民衝突,損失慘重!

I was grateful to the university for dispatching the well-disposed Sun Zhe. He arranged for that break in the Blue Wall to be opened up for us; he called for the earth-compacting equipment to be turned off; and he allowed us to stick up our slogans and prevented those plainclothes fellows from tearing them down. All of these things helped defuse the situation and avoid direct confrontation. I was also grateful to the police for releasing Ms. Gao and for allowing us to put up printouts of our petitions after originally having taken them down from the wall. Their timely and self-aware actions meant that things did not get out of hand and we were all able to avoid any overt clashes.

感謝校方派來好友孫哲,開門進牆、關停吵鬧機、容許貼標語、不讓便衣撕等等,避免了可能的衝突和意外。也感謝警方,先抓後放高女士、先揭後貼公開信,及時糾錯未讓事態擴大、避免惡性衝突。

Thirty years ago it was, like this time around, spring verging on summer. Like now there had been a conflict between the authorities and the masses. On both sides back then the moderates had found themselves sidelined while hard-liners took the lead, each move that either side made was worse than the last. Finally, they ended up in same place; the result was a horrifying tragedy.

Thirty long years: I am not foolhardy enough to think that things might be reassessed and justice prevail this year, but I do earnestly wish that people might have the good sense to mull over that history and learn its lessons so that they can in full, or at least in part, avoid repeating those mistakes.

I’m a Constitutionalist [that is, someone who believes in the adherence of the power-holders to an independent constitutional and legal order], or what in the vernacular is dubbed ‘a Rightist’. But, at the same time, I support The JASIC Worker’s Movement [of Huizhou, Guangdong province] as well as the Peking University Marxist Society. I have lots of ‘leftie’ friends and I’ve been dragged into many ‘leftie groups’, though I draw the line at taking part in street agitation, and I know lots of brave ‘Warriors on the Left’ who have been arrested and jailed. To my mind, bad laws are laws nonetheless and I believe that popular agitation and political movements should take place within the parameters allowed by the existing legal system. It is, however, even more incumbent upon the authorities to deploy the law on the basis of what is actually legally permissible and they should do so in a civil manner. During the incident described herein the police had no right to detain or confine Ms. Gao, nor did they have any right to take down our petitions. We should commend them for being able to rectify their errors of judgement in a timely fashion. However, I remain appalled by the outrageous treatment of my online friend Qiu Zhanxuan, head of the Marxist Society of Peking University [Qiu was ‘disappeared’ on 28 April].

三十年前同樣的春夏之交,類似的官民衝突,雙方溫和派出局、強硬派主導,皆出最臭棋。結果「同途殊歸」、釀成悲劇慘劇!三十年啦,我不敢奢望今年平反,但我乞望反思歷史、汲取教訓,避免全局或局部重蹈覆轍。我是憲政派、即俗稱的右派,但我支持佳士工會和北大馬會,有眾多「左派」朋友,被拉進許多「左派群」,可是我拒絕街頭運動,我知道許多勇敢的「左派鬥士」被捕入獄。惡法也是法,民間人士應在現行法律框架內活動和運動。官方更應該依法執法、文明執法。此次警方無權綁架拘禁高女士、不該揭掉公開信,但及時改正,應該點贊!而對北大「真馬會」負責人我私信朋友邱佔萱駭人聽聞的迫害更令人發指。

Prior to the university commemoration the heads of Tsinghua University refused to take receipt of my letter, demonstrating thereby their arrogance and lack of basic courtesy. On the eve of the commemoration they ‘Built High a Wall to Barricade Wang [Guowei]’ an act that was nothing less than an insult to the [2019 commemorative slogan celebrating] a ‘Confident Tsinghua That is More Open Than Ever’. Their gormless moves merely served to exacerbate the situation, so much so that our alumni commemoration was forced by circumstance to escalate into an act of public resistance. However, at the moment when the university was celebrating its founding the administration had the good sense not to treat members of the alumni as ‘fodder for stability maintenance’ [that is, they didn’t repress us]. We, for our part, were measured in our behaviour and we appreciated the good will of the university authorities. Such positive reinforcement on both sides led to the incident achieving a satisfactory conclusion. As a case study this incident should form part of Tsinghua history; it also offers those in more senior positions of power a way to think about and apply these lessons in resolving clashes between the authorities and the people in a rational and civilised manner.

校慶前,清華校方拒收我的信件,盡顯傲慢,沒有起碼的禮儀。臨校慶匆匆「高築牆、圍困王」,更是對「自信的清華更開放」的莫大諷刺。昏招迭出,激化矛盾,迫使校友的紀念活動升級為抗爭行動。但校慶之時,校方理性,不把老校友作為維穩對象。校友克制,充分理解校方的善意。雙方良性互動,事件圓滿結束。這個案例應會載入清華史冊,同時也為更高當局提供理性文明解決官民衝突的思路和借鑒。

For these reasons, I am grateful to the leadership of our alma mater. I only hope you can bring a similar level of wisdom and decency to bear when dealing with Professor Xu Zhangrun, a man of indomitable will yet frail constitution.

為此,我衷心感謝母校領導!也期望您們用這種智慧和良知,善待生理虛弱、心理堅強的許章潤教授!

7 May 2019

2019.5.7

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