Feng Zhenghu: Winning Official Respect (17)
After he was denied re-entry to China eight times, Feng Zhenghu lived in Tokyo’s Narita Airport for 92 days in 2009-2010. Now Feng is telling the story of his airport odyssey on his blog, and CDT is translating his account.
This is part 17. Read previous installments here.
November 19, 2009
This morning while reading through new text messages on my phone, I was very moved by everyone’s encouragement and support. My Japanese cell phone can display English, Japanese, and pinyin, so I have no trouble understanding those messages. As for messages written in Chinese, there are some characters the phone can’t display. But it’s no matter, as I can still basically understand their overall meaning. Thank you, everyone, for your encouragement and concern. Using my computer, I’m able to download longer Chinese-language letters and articles sent to me as email attachments, which sidesteps any character encoding issues. Those I can read quite smoothly.
I am unable to download text messages from my cell phone onto my computer, but I can download messages sent as email attachments. I’ll share one of those letters here with everyone:
I admire you greatly for making your voice heard on behalf of your own rights and on behalf of the countless citizens being trampled down by this corrupt country. If they can bar a Chinese citizen with a valid passport from entering his own country without so much as giving a reason why, then who’s to say they won’t exile or even execute some unlucky citizen without due legal process tomorrow?
But when the rights of the people are being continuously trampled upon, step by step, it is rare that someone stands up and yells “No.” The foundation of civil society in China has undergone sixty years of devastation, leaving it in ruins.
Most of the people who didn’t become lackies or accomplices of the perpetrators have instead become slaves, getting down on their knees and proclaiming “[May the Party prosper for] ten thousand years!”–or else they became self-deceiving cynics. Those few people who remain standing tall, who wish to inspire other people to stand up with them, are either in prison or on their way there. Either that or they have been exiled.
Perhaps I was once one of those people on their knees. I tried to stand up, and when I did I was surrounded by hands wanting to pull me back down. I experienced the hardship of standing upright. Perhaps I am too shaky in my stance, or perhaps I do not stand up tall or straight enough. However, now that I know what it means to stand, I can never go back down. I want to express to you my deepest respect, as this is all I can do.
Perhaps all I can do is follow you more closely on Twitter, looking forward to the good news of your return home. Please take care–for yourself, your family, and for the catastrophe of a country you still love. May you soon be together again with your family at home in Shanghai.
Around 11 a.m., a customs official came and sat beside me. We chatted for a moment before he took out a cup of hot milk tea and gave it to me. “Drink up while it’s hot. All you’ve been drinking is cold water. I know about that you refused to apply for United Nations refugee status last night.” I thanked him and took the drink.
This was the second hot beverage I’d had during the 16 days I’ve been here. The first was on the evening of November 13, when the head of the Management Department of the Narita International Port Company made sure to include a bottle of hot Japanese tea among the food he brought me. They all know that I’ve only had cold tap water to drink here.
On a personal level, Japanese are kind-hearted people. They regard you with great respect, especially when they recognize you as a Chinese person of character. Of course, as an official, sometimes one has no choice but to carry out bad orders. It is at times like these when human nature shows its cruel side. Actually, the situation is the same in China.
I suffered from hunger ever since the lawyer in Shanghai had food delivered to me on November 8. Since then, Japanese authorities’ strategy to starve me into crossing the border into Japan has failed. By now, it seems the Japanese authorities have a clear understanding of just how resolute I am in my determination to return to my country. They must also feel the power behind my support from the Chinese people. Surely they recognize that there is no need to cause trouble for themselves and add to the negative impact this ordeal is having on Japan.
Around 11:30, I received a phone call from a Hong Kong media producer who invited me to take part in a documentary news program, which would broadcast my situation daily by voice recording. Today, the first time I participated, I talked for over 20 minutes. Then, members of the audience called in to speak with me, including a Dr. Teng Biao from Beijing, a doctoral student at Harvard Law School, and a Chinese-Canadian. The Chinese-Canadian told me about a health regimen he kept while going through his own desperate situation. This included some easy ways to maintain physical and mental health with meditation and breathing techniques. He even said that he told Gao Zhisheng about these methods in three phone calls with him during his ordeal, and that perhaps the distressed Mr. Gao did not take his advice. Very interested, I thanked him for his concern. Quiet meditation is definitely relaxing for the mind and body. Back when I was in prison, I often used similar methods to regulate my physical and mental health.
At about 3:00 in the afternoon, the Taiwanese stewardess who gave me food yesterday came back through my area to give me another package. The package included an apple, a large bottle of spring water and a Taiwanese rice roll that was about 21 centimeters long. Another stewardess—her colleague—gave me a bag with a toothbrush and toothpaste inside. Taiwanese rice rolls are much more suited to the tastes of Chinese people than are Japanese sushi rolls. The outside was wrapped by a big sheet of seaweed, and inside was a mix of dried pork floss, corn, and vegetables. It was absolutely delicious. It had already been over 10 days since I had eaten rice. I am so thankful to this beautiful, kind-hearted stewardess for making it possible to eat some rice and taste the flavor of China.
At about 3:30, Director Yoneda of the Narita Immigration Bureau and a customs official came to my temporary residence for a formal discussion with me. This was the first time I had met Mr. Yoneda. He informed me that he would be in charge of all direct communication with me in the future. He knew that I had yesterday declined to apply for UN refugee status. He said he’d also read numerous articles and news reports about me. He asked about my plans for returning home, and about the response from the Chinese authorities. He expressed that he hoped the Chinese government would allow me to return home as soon as possible. He said, “You’re very quiet here, only expressing your wishes, not impeding anything.” He also informed me, “From today on, our staff will not be here overnight. From midnight to 5:30am, there will be no one here, and we’ll turn off the lights in the large hall. But the light in the office will remain on, so you’ll have some light where you will be sleeping.” The customs official added, “Do not go in and out of the Immigration Bureau door during the night, because area is only for customs officials.” I said, “Don’t worry. At night I’m asleep. I don’t even go to the restroom.”
It seems they’ve started to trust me, and recognize the fact that I’ll be living here for a while. Jokingly, I said, “Why don’t I just work as a temp for you guys here? I’ll watch over the door at night.” Really though, my protest shirts don’t need anyone to watch over them as they hanging up there. When I get up to move around, I could help interpret for Chinese tourists or direct them through immigration procedures. Seeing me in good humor, Mr. Yoneda and his compatriot laughed. He said, “Take care of yourself. If you aren’t feeling well during the night, you can call the emergency number. If you run into any problems or need to speak with me, you can let one of the employees here know, and they’ll call me over. I work in the offices of the Narita Immigration Bureau in Port 2.” I expressed my thanks. I’ve already been living here for 16 days. By now, I’m relatively familiar with those in charge. For the most part I try not to go bother the Japanese officials. They are allowing me to stay here temporarily with peace of mind, and for that I am extremely grateful. Plus, recently I’ve been receiving support from my fellow countrymen as well. It is my hope that I can return home sooner than later, putting an end to this national disgrace.
In the evening, the head of the Management Department of the Narita International Port Company came to visit me once again. This time, he gave me a notice detailing the times and locations which reporters would be allowed to interview me. Excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays, reporters could come to Narita Airport to interview me between 10am and 3pm. When it comes to conducting business, the Japanese are incredibly gifted planners. These designated times are scheduled through til the end of November. [Chinese]
Translated by Little Bluegill.