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 18. Read previous installments here.
November 20, 2009
Yesterday evening I wiped my upper body clean in the bathroom, and changed into a fresh white undershirt sent by a compatriot in China. Since I couldn’t wash the dirty tank top that I’ve been wearing and throwing it out would just be wasteful, I decided I to make it into a protest shirt. The packaging for the undershirt included a piece of white cardstock for support, which I also couldn’t bear to throw out since I could use it to make a protest sign.
This morning, I took out the cardstock and wrote in English, “Chinese citizen has been refused to return to China for eight times,” and included my Twitter address. I propped this card up on the window sill so that Americans and other English-speaking travellers who were passing by could understand my situation in a single glance.
On the tank top I wrote in simplified Chinese characters, “By not letting a Shanghai resident return home, the Shanghai government is breaking the law and committing a crime. I‘ve got a country but it’s hard to get back, so I’ve been spending my nights in Japan. China’s shame is its people’s sorrow.” At the top and the bottom of the tank top, I added the two words, “national shame.” When Chinese travellers see this they’ll understand right away. It’s also a chance for Chinese visitors to Japan to witness this sorrowful truth first hand. They will take this story back to China with them to tell their friends, to tell the central government. If my fellow Chinese know their own nation’s shame, then they can courageously go out and eliminate this ugly phenomenon. Knowledge of one’s own weaknesses is a form of bravery.
In the afternoon, Ai Weiwei, his assistant, a Beijing-based journalist at a German television station named Ms. Wang, a grad student at Taiwan’s Chung Hua University named Lin Yushan who came on behalf of several Taiwanese citizens, and a Radio Free Asia journalist named He Shan all came to visit me. They brought me underwear, a sports jacket, socks, a pillow, face lotion, soap, books, and other articles for daily use. They also left me drinks, Taiwanese fruit cookies, moon cakes, vitamins, and chocolate. Teacher Ai’s assistant had told him that I am very carnivorous, so he brought me a huge bag of meat products.
At around 3:00 in the afternoon, I went to Gate 31 of the Terminal 4 immigration passage, the officially designated area for my interviews with reporters. I had agreed to grant an interview to a German television station, but I didn’t know that all major Japanese new stations and other reporters were also going to be waiting for me there. As soon as I arrived, more than ten reporters surrounded me, and all of the TV and film cameras were pointed at me. After doing my interview with the German station, various Japanese television stations interviewed me. It was around 5:00 by the time we finished. I recounted my story of going home, and then made my appeal as a patriotic Chinese, calling for the Chinese government to respect and safeguard the basic human rights of its citizens. A friend in the media sent me a copy of the English-language report she did on her interview with me, which I reposted on Twitter, so non-Chinese speaking supporters could know my story.
That evening, Desai Gongyuan (a domestic Chinese blog) sent someone to meet with me. They brought me several undershirts and other items, including a special delivery: a can of Yanjing beer. I was extremely grateful for everyone’s concern, and thanks to them I already had more than enough food. With Chinese from the mainland, Hong Kong, and Taiwan all coming together to support my repatriation, it shows that this is the will of the Chinese people. [Chinese]
Translated by Nick.