As part of its Olympic run-up coverage, The Guardian interviews six of China’s most prominent activists and dissidents: novelist Ma Jian, AIDS activist Wan Yanhai, human rights lawyer Li Fangping, environmentalist Dai Qing, economist Dean Peng, and blogger Woeser. From the first of the six, Ma Jian, who’s been on a tear recently promoting his new book “Beijing Coma“:
I divide my time between London and Beijing. I am trying to persuade my family to spend more time in China. It’s no fun to be in exile. I can’t even figure out the basic 26 letters, let along operate in English. I often feel that although I’ve found the sky of freedom above my head, I’ve lost the soil I stand on. I need to be back in my motherland, where I can find inspirations.
I am concerned as to whether the government will let me back in after the publication of Beijing Coma in China later this year. But I have to speak the truth. My next book is a novel about the cost of the inhuman family-planning policy. But it is not just books. I openly criticise this dictatorial regime in my articles and interviews or whenever I can. If we don’t, it will never change. And I want to remind people; when a country forgets its past, it will have no future.