Dreaming About a Life Free of Lies

The liberal Southern Media Group held the “China Dreams” award ceremony to honor recipients who, according to the group’s statement, “represent our times, in which we dare to dream, can dream and are fulfilling our dreams.” The New York Times’ Didi Kirsten Tatlow attended the ceremony and found that many participants talking about “their longings for truth, morality and greater rights.”:

The prizewinners, seven individuals and one environmental group, included the writer Jia Pingwa, the scientist Yuan Longping (known as “the father of hybrid rice”), the TV news anchor Bai Yansong and the Society of Entrepreneurs and Ecology. Founded in 2004, the society works to reduce the sandstorms that plague the north by combating desertification in Inner Mongolia and consists of hundreds of businesspeople like the real estate developer Ren Zhiqiang, chairman of Huayuan Group, and Liu Xiaoguang, president of Beijing Capital Group. The combined wealth of its members and their companies may total around 2 trillion renminbi, or $314 billion, said Zhu Hongjun, the environment correspondent of Southern Weekly, the media group’s flagship publication. Mr. Zhu hosted a morning seminar titled “For the Public Good, For the Republic,” where Mr. Ren and Mr. Liu discussed the advantages of democratic, transparent decision-making, which they say they are pioneering in the society.

Addressing a packed auditorium at Sun Yat-sen University at the other seminar that morning, Yi Zhongtian, a literature professor at Xiamen University who moderated many of the day’s events, said: “People say you can’t tell the truth. People say it’ll get you into trouble.”

“My bottom line is: Don’t tell lies,” he said. “If you think you can’t tell the truth, then don’t say anything. And when you can say the truth, say it.”

His audience, mostly students, laughed and clapped wildly.