Dispatches from the Chinese Bloggers Conference

The following are dispatches from bloggers who attended the recently concluded Chinese Bloggers Conference in Guangzhou. Attendees at the conference included a broad range of bloggers who write on technology, business, culture, and a variety of other topics. CN Reviews blogged the conference and the presentations by many of the participants. Most of the discussions centered around technology, the Internet, culture and business. But inevitably a few bloggers turn their thoughts to more political topics, as these posts show:

In the concluding speech of the conference, Chinese blogger Yang Hengjun reflected on how the Internet has played a significant role in informing the public in China, and how blogging has renewed his life (excerpts translated by CDT’s Linjun Fan)
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… I started writing my first blog in April 2007 when my mother was struggling with a severe illness and when my mind was deeply troubled. I haven’t been able to stop blogging since then. I’ve published a total of more than 700,000 words on the Internet in the past year and a half.

Some may say that I am crazy. I reply that I would have gone crazy if I didn’t write down what’s on my mind. I’ve been to many places and taken on various jobs. My jobs are mostly related to public administration, public service, and to the search for truth…I can’t emphasize more the significance of blogging to my life. It is a bridge that connects my past with my present, and with my future. It’s a bridge that connects me with my mother and my offspring. It’s a spiritual home I built for myself.

…Why do I say that blogging connects us with our mothers and our future? Just think about it for a moment: without blogging, how could we know where Yang Jia’s mother was? We would have no way to know her whereabouts because not a single newspaper would publish stories on her.

Without the help of the Internet, how could the mothers of the enslaved child laborers in the brick kilns of Shanxi find their children?

Without the Internet, the state-controlled mainstream media would fool us. They might make us believe that the more people died in the earthquake, the better it was, since “a nation would become stronger after the test of disasters.” They might have made us expect that the devastating earthquake would bring about a new China. Because of the Internet, we are able to tell that a new China has not been born out of the earthquake. Mothers who had lost their children to the earthquake were weeping alone at the school backpacks left behind by their kids

Without the Internet, how would the mother in Shenzhen expose the high-ranking official who harassed her 12-year-old daughter and reviled the family?

Without the Internet, we could never have believed that thousands of loving mothers had fed their babies with poisonous milk power, and helplessly watched their darlings struggling in pain, till they eventually left this world.

Thanks to the Internet, the suffering of the mothers aroused sympathy. Their outcry was echoed. And their tears were wiped away by us with the help of the connected computers. Because of the Internet, and because of blogging, we see a ray of hope, and we can’t help dreaming.

Dr. Martin Luther King claimed 45 years ago that “I have a dream.” His dream was simply that his children could go to school together and play together with white children. He sacrificed his life for this dream. But it’s worthwhile, for his dream has been realized in the United States today.

At the time that Dr. King’s dream came true, we suddenly realized that we once had dreams as well. In the year of 2009, will we remember our old dreams? Sixty years ago, we dreamed that “the Chinese people have finally stood up”; twenty years ago, we dreamed that…. Let’s rekindle our dreams again!

Dr. King had only one dream, but I have many. Some of them might sound laughable. Some might make people feel like crying … So I won’t tell you about them today. But I know that many friends share the same dreams with me.

Although I don’t talk about them today, it doesn’t mean that I have given up on the dreams. We can never make dreams come true if we don’t have any. As long as we have dreams, we won’t lose hope. With hope we can say, Yes, we can make a difference.

Yes, we can!

Our ancestors had various dreams of their own in the long history of the Chinese people. They could only bury them deep in their heart, however. Now the Internet and blogging have come to us. I will continue to talk about my dreams on my blog, carefully nurture them, and share them with you……

That’s all I want to say to you today. I hope I will see you again next year at the conference, or on the Internet, or in the blogosphere. I hope we can meet again in our dreams, meet again in the future, a future we create together.

Yes, we can!
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Hecaitou is very prominent among Chinese bloggers and is well-known for his wit. This was his first time attending the blogger conference. This is an excerpt of his impressions of the first day of the conference, translated by CDT’s Lucy Lin
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The annual conference is basically an anniversary for bloggers. Almost all the active bloggers on the Chinese Internet showed up, and more than fifty business cards were exchanged. Participants shook hands, nodded to each other, smiled, took photos, and talked enthusiastically. A person wearing a poor-quality suit standing at the side constantly took pictures of the participants of the conference. No one knew who he was or why he was there. About 20% of the participants were foreigners, and another significant subgroup was media personnel. The shutter sounds from cell phones and cameras could be heard offstage at the slightest movement. During the Chinese Bloggers Conference, the shutter sound is the basic language for human interaction.

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The person “wearing a poor-quality suit” in Hecaitou’s post refers to what appears to be a plainclothes officer, who is also described in the post below, by Liu Xiaoyuan, a lawyer and blogger, translated by CDT’s Lucy Lin:

On the morning of November 15, the Fourth Annual Chinese Bloggers Conference was being held at the Xing Fang 60 at the Guangzhou Xinghai Institute. When I arrived there at around 9:00am, lots of people were already lining up outside the convention waiting to be registered. At that moment, suddenly a police vehicle came and a policeman stepped out. He told the staff, “Someone reported that there is an assembly here with lots of people. Go find the person in charge and have him explain the situation.”

Seeing that the police had come, the young staff members quickly went to find the organizer of the conference.

The police asked, “Why didn’t you report this? A conference with so many people must get approval first.”

When I heard that the conference must receive approval from the police, I was very surprised. According to this logic, must we obtain approval from the police for the National People’s Congress and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference?!

I really wanted to retort, but someone persuaded me not to, in case the police made a fuss out of it and found fault with me.

Mr. Mao, the organizer of the conference, explained the situation to the police, and the police finally left after reviewing the conference agenda.

Because there wasn’t enough space at the convention site, one of the panel discussions had to be moved to another school. After the announcement was posted, the school suddenly received a notice from the upper department in charge, saying that the panel could not be held there. The host of the conference was forced to cancel the panel in order not to cause any trouble for the school.

On the afternoon of November 16, someone noticed that there was an uninvited stranger at the conference. Therefore, some reporters purposely sought to talk to the stranger and asked for an exchange of business cards. This man did not want to exchange business cards and was indifferent. He was even more afraid of having his picture taken.

A genuine participant would politely exchange business cards with others upon request at such a gathering. Even if he had no business card, he would still be willing to leave his contact telephone number and converse with people at the same time, for we were all bloggers or internet technology innovators, who share the same hobby and interests.

I also went to see this uninvited stranger when I heard about him, and I felt that this person definitely wasn’t a conference participant.

This was the fourth Annual Chinese Bloggers Conference, with the primary subject being technological innovations, a generally moderate topic, seldom touching on sensitive subjects. Why were the police interested in such an annual conference? Was it because that there were foreigners in attendance?

This time I participated in the conference as an honored guest. Since I did not have to go on the stage and participate in the discussion as I did last year, I was much more relaxed without any real tasks to complete.