The 28th January 2023 marks the Seventh Day of the First Lunar Month of the guimao Year of the Rabbit. In China, ‘The Seventh of the First’ 正月初七 is celebrated as ‘The Festival of Humanity’ 人日節 rén rì jié.
According to popular Chinese tradition, on the seventh day of creation Nüwa 女媧, having fashioned a zoomorphic menagerie, created human beings.
China Heritage marks this day by noting the fate of some of the peaceful protesters involved in the Blank Page Movement 白紙運動 of November 2022. Following a report on the subject from China Digital Times, we feature Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare recited by Xin Shang 辛賞, a film student, during the protests at Liangmahe in Beijing on 27 November 2022.
On 28 January 2023, it was reported that Xin, who had previously studied photojournalism at the University of Westminster in England, had been arrested on the 7th of January.
‘To catch the reflection of the moon in water’ 水中撈月 shuǐ zhōng lāo yuè, which is the rubric of this appendix to Xi Jinping’s Empire of Tedium, is an ancient Buddhist expression used to mock futile and vainglorious efforts.
— Geremie R. Barmé
Editor, China Heritage
28 January 2023
Seventh Day of the First Month of the
Guimao Year of the Rabbit
Festival of Humankind
Related Material in Xi Jinping’s Empire of Tedium:
- Chapter Twenty-one 醒 — Awakenings — a Voice from Young China on the Duty to Rebel, 14 November 2022
- Chapter Twenty-two 官逼民反 — Fear, Fury & Protest — three years of viral alarm, 27 November 2022 (see also Appendix XXIII 空白 — How to Read a Blank Sheet of Paper, 30 November 2022; Appendix XXIV 職責— It’s My Duty, 1 December 2022; and, Appendix XXV 贖 — ‘Ironic Points of Light’ — acts of redemption on the blank pages of history, 4 December 2022)
- Appendix XXXI 人礦 — Xi Jinping’s Harvest — from reaping Garlic Chives to exploiting Huminerals, 6 January 2023 (annexure: Xi Jinping’s Harvest — an anthem for China’s disaffected Huminerals, 7 January 2023)
- Appendix XXXII 虎頭蛇尾 — The Tail-end of Tiger Tyranny, 20 January 2023
- Appendix XXXIII 卯兔 — Now What? — Greeting the Guimao Year of the Rabbit 癸卯兔年, 21 January 2023
- Cate Cadell and Christian Shepherd, Tracked, detained, vilified: How China throttled anti-covid protests, The Washington Post, 4 January 2023
- In China, Woman Recorded Video About Crackdown Ahead of Her Arrest, Wall Street Journal, 24 January 2023
- Shen Lu and Liyan Qi, In China, Young Women Become Accidental Symbols of Defiance, Wall Street Journal, 25 January 2023
- Vivian Wang, Zixu Wang, In China’s Crackdown on Protesters, a Familiar Effort to Blame Foreign Powers, The New York Times, 26 January 2023
- 亮馬橋下「十四行詩」 青年電影人辛賞因白紙運動被捕，亞洲自由電台，2023年1月29日
- Shen Lu, China’s Accidental Dissidents, Wall Street Journal podcast, 3 February 2023
Picking Quarrels, Provoking Trouble
On 27 January 2023, Cindy Carter of China Digital Times reported that:
Two months after the spontaneous nationwide protests that broke out in response to a deadly fire in Urumqi and draconian pandemic controls, an unknown number of peaceful protesters remain in detention on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” or “gathering a crowd to disrupt public order.” Human rights groups and others have called for the release of the “A4” or “blank paper” detainees (so called because of the blank sheets of A4 paper used as protest signs during the gatherings), some of whom have been threatened, physically abused, or denied access to legal representation while in detention.
Chinese Human Rights Defenders has compiled a list of known detainees and issued a call to release all of the “blank paper” protesters:
At the time of this press release, there are names of 30+ people who were taken into custody; we estimate that at least 100+ people have been detained, and some of them have been simply released or released on “bail pending trial” (取保候审). Under Chinese law, defendants released on “bail pending trial” can see the charges against them dropped if they do not commit further violations of the law, but often remain under close police surveillance for one year. In other cases, involving unknown names or other details, family members are reluctant to go public out of the fears for retaliation from the Chinese government. [Source]
Several of those arrested for attending the peaceful protest held in late November at Beijing’s Liangmahe Bridge are current or former journalists. “By arresting and detaining four reporters for the simple fact of being present at the place of the protests, the Chinese regime has sent one more chilling message to those who believe that factual information should be reported even when it contradicts the official narrative,” noted RSF East Asia bureau head Cédric Alviani. “The regime should release [the remaining] two reporters as well as all other journalists and press freedom defenders detained in China, and to drop all charges against them.”
Particularly worrying is the fact that security forces seem to have zeroed in on young female protesters, interrogating them about their involvement with feminism, LGBTQ+ issues, NGOs, book clubs, and foreign study or travel. A recent report by CNN details this concerning trend:
People who know [the detained women] echoed a sense of confusion over the detentions in interviews with CNN, describing them as young female professionals working in publishing, journalism and education, that were engaged and socially-minded, not dissidents or organizers.
One of those people suggested that the police may have been suspicious of young, politically aware women. Chinese authorities have a long and well-documented history of targeting feminists, and at least one of the women detained was questioned during her initial interrogation in November about whether she had any involvement in feminist groups or social activism, especially during time spent overseas, a source said.
All felt the detentions indicated an ever-tightening space for free expression in China. [Source]
— from Cindy Carter, Increasing Calls to Release Detained “A4” Protesters, China Digital Times, 27 January 2023
Xin Shang’s Shakespearean Protest
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.