A Change in the Situation and My Unchanged Position РZhang Yihe (章诒和)

Since banned author Zhang Yihe published her “My Statement and Position” on January 19, 2007, her charged words directly challenging the government official Wu Shulin (ÈǨ‰π¶Êûó), who is responsible for announcing the censorship decision, won enormous attention and support in China. Many intellectuals and ordinary citizens have publicly expressed their support for Ms. Zhang, and media outside of China has been following this event. The following statement was written by Zhang Yihe on Jan. 28, published on her lawyer Pu Zhiqiang’s blog (the Chinese text is here). Her latest statement is entitled: A Change in the Situation and My Unchanged Position — a warning to Mr. Wu Shulin, translated by CDT:

At about 2pm on Jan. 26, 2007, I got a call from one colleague, who said (roughly) that comrade Wu Shulin is a good man. There is a misunderstanding between you and him And at that meeting, he didn’t mention your name.

In fact, they didn’t have to let someone pass this message to me. I already knew what kind of person Mr. Wu is early on.

In 2006, Mr. Wu said the following words at a training meeting of editors-in-chief from publishing houses: “I have friends in both worlds, law abiding and not. (ÊàëÊòØȪëÁôΩ‰∏§ÈÅìÈÉΩÊúâ‰∫∫). I just got a call and it’s from XXX ” He continued: “If you want to make me uncomfortable, I will make you uncomfortable first.”

Well, right now I am suffering, and I do feel uncomfortable. But you are not necessarily comfortable. As for “friends in both worlds, law abiding and not”, please don’t forget that I spent ten years in jail. You can scare those editors-in-chief of publishing houses, but it won’t work on me.

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“I didn’t mention your name” is the key point of Mr. Wu’s words that he wanted to pass to me. It seems that I need to repeat your speech (some words and sentences have been added since my Jan 20th “statement”): “This person’s ideology is problematic. We have repeatedly said that her books are not allowed to be published. Her script was passed to many presses, no others dare to publish it. And you (Hunan Literature and Art Press) dared to do it. How bold you are We banned this book precisely because of the author.” And then the press was punished (revoked the title of “Outstanding Press,” and decreased their publishing quota by 20 percent). On such an occasion, using such words, and aimed at such a press, who is “this person” you were talking about if it’s not me? What is that book if it’s not Past Stories of Some Famous Beijing Opera Stars? To interpret it using special terms of Beijing opera, on which I am doing research, this is called “the designated role in a designated scenario and designated context.” As soon as the drum and gang starts, and the erhu is played, the audience in the theater will know exactly what kind of opera it is, and who are the roles. You are a senior government official, and you have taken the stage. Just don’t deny it.

Mr. Wu may wonder how I knew his words. “Emperor’s court is small and the country is large ” was an old saying; “small government, big society” is the current reality. “Inside the government office you are officials, outside of it you are ordinary citizens.” This is the behavior character of many contemporary officials. You ought to know this. Officials will talk about what happened in government offices as information, as gossip, and as chats. Their own feeling and judgment will also be involved in their conversation. This is common sense. It’s also humanity. You have to understand, the time has gone when you could act against the law, screwing others in order to get promoted and get rich, while at the same time you could still strictly hide the truth from the people.

You also said, “this person’s ideology is problematic.” May I ask: do you want to advocate literary inquisition and imprisonment (ÊñáÂ≠óÁã±)? What does it have to do with you that my ideology is problematic? If I break the law, the country’s law and courts will take over. If I make mistakes, my work unit will interfere. It’s none of your business. What constitutional right do you have to supervise my ideology? This is a violation of my basic human rights. So you must apologize publicly, and take the legal responsibility.

Finally, let me talk about “book banning”. According to my personal experience, book banning nowadays has two ways, speed banning and slow banning. My second book (“A Gust of Wind”) was banned in warehouses right after printing. This is speed banning. My first book (“The Past”) was banned slowly. That is to say, the book was “not allowed to be re-printed after it’s sold out.” In fact, when it was slowly banned, it was also speedily banned. I myself have a receipt for the banning in a city in Zhejiang province.

As for the third book (“Famous Beijing Opera Stars”), the authority issued a special notice, saying (roughly) that it’s totally inconsistent with the facts that eight books were banned, which is spreading online. But just a moment ago (6:30 pm, Jan. 28), Mr. Dai from Zhangjiagang city called me. He told me a private book store in the city received a notice that a few books will be banned. One of them is “Famous Beijing Opera Stars”. A senior reporter in Hong Kong sent an article on Jan. 17 to a major newspaper in Shanghai. In the article, the reporter mentioned two speeches I made in December of last year in Singapore and Malaysia. Soon after, the newspaper called the reporter and said (roughly) “Famous Beijing Opera Stars” has just been banned and “the name of Zhang Yihe can’t be in the newspaper.” It seems that not only my books have been banned, but my name has also been banned. The higher authority released a notice and said the book is not banned, but you are banning the book. Aren’t you slapping the higher authority?

Everything is very clear. It is you who take me for an ideological criminal, deprive me of the rights to free speech and publication that as a citizen I should have, and blatantly disregard the Constitution. Otherwise, why don’t you abide by the law? Why are you doing such dirty things? And why don’t you have the courage to admit what you have said? Let me repeat my words in the “statement”: if you want to ban my books, you have to do it in an open, fair and independent legal process. I have hired a special legal advisory group. Chief adviser is Mr. Zhang Sizhi. Also there are Mr. Pu Zhiqiang and Mr. Fu Kexin. I will not name the other lawyers. They will make every effort to protect my rights according to the law.

Mr. Wu, I have talked a lot. Is there a misunderstanding between us? Based on my understanding of you, the situation will still possibly change, but my position will not change.

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