Local Official to Independent Mayoral Candidate: “The First Bird that Takes Wing Is the First Bird to Get Shot”

Since April 2011, the “independent candidates” movement has been gathering steam in Chinese cyberspace and in real society. Over 100 people have announced they will run for local elections this year. Among them, Cao Tian(曹天), a real estate businessman, author and former 1989 political prisoner, announced on his blog last month that he will run for Zhengzhou Mayor. The following account is from Cao Tian’s blog, translated by CDT. Dialogue Between a Local Official and Cao Tian, Independent Mayoral Candidate for Zhengzhou Introduction: After it was revealed on the internet that I had made a one-hundred million dollar “clean government” guarantee in the mayoral election for Zhengzhou, I have heard from supporters and detractors alike. Worried friends have urged me against [my clean government pledge]. Friends with whom I have butted heads in the past have mocked and ridiculed me behind my back. Yesterday evening, my cell phone started going off. (I had only recently gotten a new number.) Half awake, half dreaming, I finally made out that the voice I heard was my bunkmate from twenty years ago. He is now a big official in the provincial Commission on Legislative Affairs. Below is the content of our conversation for all to see. I hope it elicits further thought. At the same time, I ask my old friend, who is now an official, to forgive my use of his words without permission. [I share our conversation] because [free] dialogue is like free thought—it is better shared in the open than kept to oneself. (As used below, “Cao” refers to Cao Tian, “Official” refers to my old friend who is now an official.) Official: Are you crazy!? Do you think someone like you—a businessman, and a man who turns phrases for a living—can compete in the Zhengzhou mayoral race? When I ...
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