Blogger Tang Xiaozhao (唐小昭) was born in Chongqing. She studied cosmetology in Beijing and is currently working in a not-for-profit agency in Shanghai. In the Chinese blogosphere, she is also known as Persian Xiaozhao (波斯小昭). Her blog on sohu.com is entitled “Returning to Persia” (回到波斯), opened in November, 2006. She once explained this pseudonym on her blog:
Of course I am Han Chinese. My family tree can be traced at least to the end of Ming Dynasty. ….
I made up a story that my ancestors were from Persia in the Tang dynasty.
Many people think I was saying that I came from Iran. Wrong! — I am Xiaozhao from Persia.
In today’s world there is only Iran. Persia has forever disappeared, just like the Tang dynasty has forever disappeared. Now the only existence is the People’s Republic of China.
… I chose a non-existent country as my motherland. It is not a real entity, it is like a dream.
Like many prolific bloggers in Chinese cyberspace, Xiaozhao also has multiple blogs. She wrote on her Netease blog about the shutdown of bullog on Jan. 9, 2009, in a post titled “If you want to meet me, it has to be in another country”:
I am able to find “resurrection” places for almost all my censored articles. But here is one article that I can never find a place within China to resurrect anymore. This is the article “I Signed My Name After a Good Cry!” 《大哭一场，签上我名!》
This article was published four times on Sohu and was censored four times; published seven times in three different Sohu social networks and was censored seven times; published once in Sina and censored one time; published once in Netease and censored once; finally I published it on Bullog, and today it was censored together with bullog one more time. All together it has been censored fourteen times. — God, you remember this number for me.
I was thankful to Bullog for keeping that article because it is relatively more lenient. But now, Bullog is gone, so is my article.
Gone! Forever gone! Without a trace!
Most of my readers have read that article, so I should not have too much regret. It is just that, China is so vast, but has no place for my tiny article. This “reality” disgusted me so much.
Today, someone in QQ group asked for my blog address, I gave her the one on sohu.com. She clicked on it and then asked me: “Are you Persian?” I said: “No. I am a Chinese who is denying my blood heritage. I am a Chinese who does not accept my nationality.”
Xiaozhao may not have known it at the time she wrote the above blog post, but her article is far from “forever gone without a trace.” Actually, this article “I Signed My Name After a Good Cry!” is spreading through the Chinese blogosphere like wild fire, in and outside of the Great Firewall. Here it is, translated by CDT:
Before I shut down my computer late at night on December 14, I logged into my Sohu blog for the last time and was surprised to find out that the post titled “Chinese from all sectors jointly released Charter 08” had been hidden (by the webmaster). It was a long-expected result.
I grinned. You guys acted too late. The post had already received more than 400 hits before it got hidden. Those who wanted to read it had read it, and those who hadn’t could still find it with Google search. Can you really exterminate all traces of it? Can you really exterminate all traces of it? Can you really exterminate all traces of it?
When I first saw Shamofengsheng (沙漠之风) [“The sound of desert wind”, a blogger’s online name] re-post the Charter, I moved to re-post it as well. Both posts were eventually “beheaded.” Sohu became an accomplice of those mouth shutters and throat chokers by deleting my article. But on the other hand it looked quite lenient because it allowed my article to be intact for two days and to be read by hundreds of people. Think about Sina and Netease – I didn’t even post the full text (of the Charter) and just gave a link. It disappeared almost as soon as I hit the “post” button. It’s not that Sohu isn’t bad. It’s just a little less bad in comparison. So I can’t help having an ambivalent feeling toward Sohu.
Let it be. Let it be. What else can I do? So I shut off my computer and was about to go to bed.
I was hit by an abrupt outburst of sadness.
I completely agreed with what the Charter advocated at my first sight of the text, but I did not intend to sign my name to it. No one forced me to sign my name. It’s utterly a personal choice whether or not to sign it. I certainly had legitimate concerns to not to sign and everybody would understand that. I wouldn’t have owed anybody anything. But I was extremely conflicted. If I was not going to sign my name with my hands, I had already done it hundreds of times in my heart – I agree! I agree! I agree! It took me an awful lot of energy to hold my hands from writing down that signature.
Beifeng (北风) posted a very brief article on Bullog. It was titled “I confess I am a coward.”
The reason why Beifeng was being a coward is probably the fact that Xiaobo had been put in detention. I have a different reason for being a coward. But after all, those who wanted to but did not eventually sign their names to the Charter share one common reason: fear. I am also willing to confess my cowardice. We all grew up by feeding on “political melamine.” Fear has been consolidated into stones in our bodies, causing pain from time to time. We are lucky to be still living. Beifeng was a coward, but he still posted a link (of the Charter). Xiaozhao was a coward, but she still posted the full text. Apparently, these people were not suffering from such a high degree of cowardice that they even couldn’t stand up with a straight back. We could stop short of signing our names, but we couldn’t shut our own mouths.
I can reasonably infer that many many people have helped rapidly spread the message of Charter 08 and what happened to Xiaobo to all corners of the world with blogs, links, QQ, MSN and emails, even though they haven’t signed their names to it. I just re-posted the charter on my blog and did not send it to others by email, but I did receive a copy of it in my email account. I laughed badly at the idea at the time because I thought they shouldn’t have bothered to send it by email when the text could be found easily with a simple search on the Internet.
I was not too impressed by Charter 08. It’s just a small shabby piece that repeats what the Chinese people have been saying over the past 100 years. Freedom, democracy and the recently included human rights – these are dreamed of by numerous Chinese, but the dreams have not been realized after more than 100 years. Even one article has to be deleted and the author has to been put in detention. Is criminal justice supposed to be used to mute the people? Is the law supposed to be used to suffocate people’s minds? Why don’t you move to safeguard the interests and rights of the hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens? Why do you torture the law-abiding, innocent people? Shameful, detestable, abhorrent!
But what else can I do? I could only shut off my computer and go to bed.
I was brushing teeth in the bathroom when I thought of my deleted post with the full text of the Charter. My eyes became wet suddenly and I burst into tears.
What the fuck is this country! Others have adopted democracy for hundreds of years. They can breathe the air of freedom. They can speak and write. Their government officials have to seek permission from taxpayers before they use any tax money. Their farmers can rely on social security when they become aged and don’t have to live the rest of their lives by begging in the cities. Their babies won’t be aborted by family planning officials……We have nothing! Nothing! We can’t enjoy democracy and freedom. Fine. But why aren’t we allowed to speak out? Why do the posts have to be deleted and we go to jail when we speak out? Is there any justice in this world?
Where is heaven? Where is earth? If there really are heaven and earth, I’d like to fall with you. Sea tide, please rise and engulf 1.3 billion people to the bottom of the ocean! Snow, please come down and bury this evil country! May the heavens collapse and the earth overturn! I don’t want to live in this shameful place.
God Aloyi (阿洛依神), please listen to my curse!
I am like Queen Malina (玛琳娜皇后) in Tashkent a thousand years ago and I say my curse to the air. It has only three words – go to hell!*
The little match girl was standing outside the window of the restaurant, looking miserably at the hot and tasty roasted goose served inside. At least, she could say “I also want that”….But for us, we can only envy other countries that are able to enjoy the “geese of democracy” and cannot even say “I also want that.” If we say that, we’ll get Xiaobo’s treatment.
All of a sudden, I was overwhelmed by anger and disgust again. I finally understand why so many people have cheered Yang Jia’s act of slaying six police officers. People like me who are well educated and law-abiding are angry. It’s easy to imagine how outraged those who have a worse temper and living conditions would feel after being oppressed for so long.
We are deprived of the rights that we are supposed to enjoy. Those who hold public power are supposed to change all this, but they are not going to. They are obsessed with torturing some people and intimidating some others and the result is an eerily silent burial ground that used to be a great land.
We just want to discuss the future of this country. We want to live a better life than what we have now. We want to live more freely without having to listen to crap like “demolition in any place will lead to deaths” and “China’s human rights record is five times better then that of the U.S.” We don’t want to witness tragedies year after year and to write elegies for the victims day after day. Charter 08 is our future. We can already see it, but we are not able to touch it yet. I am anxiously and whole-heartedly looking forward to the advent of democracy. But they even deleted such a post of mine and didn’t allow any mention of democracy, human rights and freedom. Those in power are not serving the people but using the police to deal with scholars that are concerned about the country’s future.
Despair from the bottom of the heart is the greatest sorrow. My heart has died numerous times, but this time it’s thoroughly dead. I don’t want to live. I don’t want to live as a walking dead person in this shameless country where the right to speak has been deprived. I don’t want to live. I don’t want to live on this dirty land without dignity and freedom. I don’t want to live. I don’t want to live in the terrifying atmosphere that has been all over me ever since my birth into this world.
Looking ahead, I want to see light. I want to see the torch held up high in the hand of the Goddess of Liberty. I want to see the scales held up high in the hand of Lady Justice – But I can’t see them now!
Why was I born in China? I look down on this country. I hate my pre-determined birthplace. I can’t shake off the shameful Chinese mark on me no matter how far I go, to the edge of the world or in the furthest possible foreign country. I hate, I don’t want to be a “Chinese.” In this country, all citizens are prostrating on the ground. If you do not prostrate, your backbone will be broken. Does this country deserve to be my motherland? No, it doesn’t.
I am dead. My heart is thoroughly dead.
I cried over and over again. I cried uncontrollably. I lost my voice and my stomach was wrenching. Tears flowed down my face. Flowers and birds would have been saddened if they could hear me. On this lonely and cold night, it was all silent except the occasional and distant noise of cars passing by on the streets. My cry sounded particularly absurd against the quiet background. If some of my neighbors heard a woman’s sad nightly cry, he or she would certainly have been horrified, recalling ghost stories. I didn’t want to scare anybody, but I just couldn’t help myself.
You may find it laughable that I cried because a post I re-published was deleted. Yes, I cried, for my own fate, for the entire country’s fate. The candlelight of hope has been ruthlessly extinguished. So I cried. There is no freedom of speech. So I cried.
Among the many freedoms we are entitled to, freedom of speech is of ultimate importance to me, because I love writing. I want to express what’s going on in my head. I am dead if I am not allowed to express. Have you ever seen a Xiaozhao that does not think or write? No. Xiaozhao must be a ghost who loves writing if she dies. I can compromise on other things, but I’ll die for this (freedom of speech).
On the late night of December 14, 2008, I had a good cry and after that I made a decision with a calm mind – I was going to sign my name to Charter 08.
Signature is an expression. I completely agree with what Charter 08 advocates. I hope the democratic system can be set up as soon as possible so that people can live freely. Yes, I want that kind of bright future. I don’t want a life like this now. In a democratic society, we’ll become outstanding columnists, reporters or lawyers. In the current society, I have to worry about being incriminated because of my words all the time. I don’t know what will happen to me by the end of the day. I don’t want to live like this, so I am going to sign my name to it.
I was once afraid, but now I am dead. Who has seen a dead and afraid person?
I am not going to fear anything anymore. All the shameful consequences that’ll face those who speak out are no longer intimidating to me. I didn’t expect to totally break free of fear after an inexplicable cry.
I had a busy day on December 15. I came home in the evening and sat in front the computer. I first checked if there were any new signatures and then opened my email account to send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s that simple, with no extra words. I was calm and in a normal mental state when I signed my name. There was no one coercing or instigating me and I did it completely on my own accord. It’s a true reflection of what I think. It’s my right to express an opinion for or against something with a signature. I am not going to waive that right. My action hasn’t violated any Chinese laws. If this signature is going to bring me any illegal trouble, I’ll calmly face it.
* Queen Malina is a fictional character in a famous story by writer Bo Yang. Bo Yang, one of the best known Chinese writers who has lived in Taiwan since the fifties, was known for his criticisms of Chinese autocratic cultural heritage and his advocacy for democracy in Taiwan. He was a political prisoner in Taiwan under the KMT for nine years. He once wrote a fictional historical story: In the Tang dynasty 750 AD, an army of the Tang Empire came to a peaceful neighboring kingdom, Tashkent. The King of Tashkent welcomed the Tang general with a banquet, before the general ordered his troops to invade and massacre all in the city and took the King’s wife, Queen Malina. Queen Malina then cast a curse over all Chinese, the general’s descendants, that they would lose their souls and glory and make each other suffer forever, until they understood the meaning of the curse.
UPDATE: Xiaozhao found her Returning to Persia blog was censored on the evening of Jan. 13, 2009. She immediately opened a new one here. The first post of her new blog is entitled: “If I am killed, I will be resurrected!” In her new blog, Persian Xiaozhao continues to write about Charter 08.