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 41. Read previous installments here.
December 13, 2009
Today is December 13, my 40th day camped outside the gate to Japan.
At 12:30 p.m., today’s on-duty chief examiner came back to give me the 11th official notice, the same as yesterday except for the date, and to take a photo with me. I also sent the “Feng Zhenghu Presents the December 13 Official Letter (No. 11) from the Government of Japan to the Government of China” to online media outlets for publication, and attached a photo of the document.
This morning, aside from receiving a few phone greetings, I’ve been working on my writing.
I thank everyone for their concern. Tomorrow night a friend is bringing me a little keyboard with a USB port. At the moment, I’m using the keyboard on the screen, which is very slow. It's fine once in a while, but using it for actual writing is miserable.
At about 4:20 p.m., a Kyodo News reporter stopped to see me on his way back from Beijing. We chatted for a while.
In the evening, I finished my article, “Welcome to Japan, Mr. Xi Jinping,” and asked someone to send it via express mail to the Chinese embassy in Japan.
Welcome to Japan, Mr. Xi Jinping
Esteemed Mr. Xi Jinping,
Welcome to Japan.
Even though I have been lawlessly and cruelly denied my right to return to China by Chinese officials, and have been camped outside Japan for 40 days, I still wish you a smooth and pleasant visit to Japan. If you feel that my situation causes you embarrassment, and that it brings shame on all Chinese people, this shows that there is hope for China, because those who have a sense of shame are near to bravery.
I legally departed the country on April 1, but on June 7, I was refused re-entry in Shanghai. Shanghai authorities denied re-entry to me, a Chinese citizen, eight consecutive times, in the end resorting to violence to force me back to Japan. This is a bizarre occurrence, so how could it not attract the interest of media and people around the globe? Of course, when Chinese people hear about it, they simply feel grieved and indignant. I protested the illegal kidnapping, refused to enter Japan, and held fast to my dignity as a Chinese person, and up to the present, have been camped at the gate to Japan. While I’ve found myself in the unfortunate predicament of being unable to return home, I’ve received direct care and assistance from the Chinese public, as well as support from numerous foreigners. But the Chinese government, which should be protecting its citizens, is unconcerned. To date, the Chinese embassy in Japan has not sent a single employee to express concern or initiate communication with me.
The Japanese government’s response may have pleased the Chinese government, but it did not please the Chinese people. For the sake of friendship with China, Japan can be quite unfriendly to an ordinary Chinese citizen, abandoning their own nation’s founding principles and legal system. The newly elected Japanese government is desperate for the support of China. Because there is no expectation that in the next few years the American economy will recover, they need the Chinese market to put the wind in Japan’s sails. In order to contend with the U.S., the East Asian Community needs to get some leverage. Everyone knows that world politics is a matter of taking advantage of one another. This trip of yours will certainly be impressive, but whether or not you will make good on any of agreements you sign remains to be seen.
Japanese politicians are aware that they are signing an agreement with a country that cannot even make good on its own laws, but right now they need to save face. As China’s top leader, you must certainly also be aware that as you receive an audience with the Japanese emperor, your compatriot is still suffering humiliation and physical discomfort. Why are these Japanese politicians trying so hard to curry favor with you? The guy camped outside Japan’s gate is also the one who, 15 years ago, introduced China to the ideals inIchiro Ozawa's “Blueprint for a New Japan,” who back then was in the opposition party and is now in the most powerful position. (The Chinese edition was published by Shanghai Yuandong Publishing House in 1995, Translators: Feng Zhenghu, Wang Shaopu.)
When you visit Japan on December 14, it will coincidentally be the 41st day that I’ve been camped here. And that’s not all. On February 15 of this year, I was kidnapped by Shanghai government workers and taken from Beijing to Shanghai, where I was illegally detained in the Shanghai Donghu Guest House, Room 508. I was released on March 25, also after 41 days. This was illegal and unjustified, done based just on a few words from upper-level leadership. I’ve submitted a complaint to the Shanghai Municipal People’s Procuratorate and put forth an administrative action through the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court, but as of yet, no case has been established. If the regional government officials who hold our civil rights have the audacity to disregard the law, this nation will spin out of control, and no one will have a sense of safety, including you. I don’t advocate hunger strikes, but last time I was kidnapped and taken into custody, I carried out a three-day hunger strike to alert people to the disasters that could result from China’s constitution being trampled, as well as my fear that Hu Jintao and the other leaders in Beijing could be kidnapped by powerful regional leaders.
When you visit Japan today, trade places with me for a moment. Imagine if, when you return to the Beijing airport, dozens of policeman surround you, and one of them announces, “Mr. Xi Jinping, this time you cannot enter the country. This is the decision of upper-level leadership.” And then, on the basis on some law--not on any actual grounds--they force you to return to Japan. If you resist, they will force you back to Japan. If you don’t surrender, and you hold fast to your dignity as a Chinese person, then you’ll set up camp outside the gate to Japan, suffering from hunger, as you voice your fundamental appeal to the world and to the Chinese government for the right of a Chinese citizen to return to his own country. If this happened to me, it can happen to any Chinese citizen, including you. Because when this misfortune presents itself to you, the “upper-level leadership” the policemen refer to definitely won’t be you, and they won’t recognize your position. They will merely obey whoever gives them their salary. Absurd things like this have already happened in our country, and what’s more, these illegal activities have already become common practice. Don’t you find this disturbing?
You transferred from Shanghai to Beijing for work. Although your time in Shanghai was short, you probably noticed the conflict and tension between officials and the public there. When you came to work in Shanghai, we had high expectations for you. On the front of the second issue of Inspection Brief, which I sent to you, was my article, “Shanghai Problems Worth Xi Jinping’s Attention—Unfair Legislation at Root of Shanghai Society’s Lack of Harmony” (July 15, 2007). Inspection Brief is now on its 30th issue, and the majority of its articles expose and criticize Shanghai government issues. City leaders are afraid of the public. They’re always entertaining imaginary fears and making crises out of nothing. The moment a meeting is called, it becomes a “sensitive time,” and the police are instructed to do as they see fit, placing illegal restrictions on the personal freedom of Shanghai residents. Some officers will even abet and hire idlers to carry out their illegal work, and actually make some citizens with no law enforcement authority deprive other citizens of their personal freedom. They’re recreating Cultural Revolution terrorism, using the masses to denounce the masses, resulting in a toxic atmosphere and an anxious public in Shanghai. In the 14th issue of Inspection Brief (October 31, 2008), I wrote in “Defending the Chinese Constitution and Civil Rights to the Death”:
Pandora’s box has been opened, and the misfortune of the residents of Shanghai has begun. A handful of plainclothes policemen and a big group of idle security personnel are kidnapping whomever they please, detaining whomever they please, showing up at any doorstep they please, without warrants or any legal basis whatsoever. They proclaim, “We don’t know about the law. This is what our leaders told us to do.” When the victims demand legal documentation, they become bullies, and even turn the question back at the victim: “Why should I bother with you, and not someone else?” If this reason for infringing on someone’s rights can stand, then society won’t need laws. It will be devoid of justice or security, and the people’s courts will exist in name only. A murderer could also say, “Why should I kill you, and not someone else?” A robber could also say, “Why should I rob you, and not someone else?” A petty thief could also say, “why should I mug you, and not someone else?” According to this gangster logic, murder, robbery, and mugging are all legitimate, and the victims deserve this hardship.
In the past, I’ve seen and heard about thousands of Shanghai residents suffering this kind of persecution. Today I’m experiencing it personally, and tomorrow other residents, including policemen, public prosecutors, judges, and even more public servants will, too. In the near future, the homes of Yu Zhengsheng, Han Zheng, Liu Yungeng, and Wu Zhiming will also face this kind of harassment from “Red Guard veterans.” Now the influential people, young and old, who are commanding the “Red Guard veterans,” are lurking in the dark, pleased with themselves, enjoying the victims’ struggle. But in the end, they will face retribution and a similar tragic death in the hands of the devils that sent them out. Is it possible that Chinese people have actually forgotten the painful lessons of the Cultural Revolution? Is it possible that we’ve forgotten how wretched the death of Chairman Liu Shaoqi was? Hu Jintao should remember, and Yu Zhengsheng should remember even more clearly. Among your relatives are those who also endured this suffering.
You may not currently be having bad luck like me, but there is no guarantee that you won’t suffer later, because we live in the same country. I love my motherland, uphold China’s constitutional law, and support the Chinese Communist Party’s credo that “people are the priority, the government serves the people, and the country is run by rule of law.” On these basic points, you, myself, Chairman Hu Jintao, and many cadres in the Party are unanimous. The difference is that you are Party members, and I’m not. You are China’s top leaders, and I’m an average citizen. Of course, if I had not in good conscience opposed the armed suppression of the student democracy movement in 1989, perhaps I would be a Central Committee membertoday. Thus, Party membership and official positions can all change, and do not make up an umbrella of protection that provides a lifetime of personal security. Back in the day, your father’s generation was composed of illustrious officials, but they couldn’t escape the calamities of the Cultural Revolution. When a country is governed not on the basis of laws supporting the equality of all people, but rather on the whims of leadership, how can that country not be in chaos? If we all steal, no one is safe. In China, hundreds of thousands of leaders, young and old, operate like feudal lords. They can all call on the police and state organs when they wish, and in the eyes of foreigners, their behavior represents the Chinese government. So when it comes to the Chinese government, “failure to educate the child is the fault of the father.”
As for the Chinese citizen who was kidnapped by Shanghai police and taken to Japan, where he has been camped outside Japan for 40 days, major media outlets around the world are constantly reporting on his story, and the Chinese public, as well as Chinese people abroad, are all condemning the situation and voicing their support for me. But the Chinese government, up to now, has not given any response. The outside world criticizes the Chinese government as a rogue, for acting as if it has nothing to lose. I think this assessment is mistaken. China is not an extremely powerful country, so it does not have enough actual influence to go rogue. It’s also a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, so it still hasn’t sunk as low as North Korea. So it isn’t rogue, but rather incompetent. When faced with sudden international incidents, it doesn’t know how to react, and can’t do anything other than destroy its own reputation. The system is rigid, and the officials aren't top-notch. That makes the Chinese government’s ability to predict, manage, and resolve sudden crises very poor. To take someone who is only helping a few people seek resolution of their complaints, in keeping with their rights under the law, and who does not remotely constitute a threat to the national regime, and force that person out of the country, creates a sensational international incident—an absurd national humiliation. This is the masterpiece of Shanghai officials’ stupidity, heavy-handedness, and incompetence. At present, the Chinese government is aware of the Chinese public’s determination and persistence in protecting the right of return, and is also aware of global public opinion, as well as the attitude of the Chinese people and overseas Chinese.
Not allowing a citizen to return not only violates the charter of the United Nations and international human rights regulations, but it also violates the Chinese constitution, and goes against Chinese principles of morality and behavioral norms. The Chinese government should abolish the illegal procedures that deprive Chinese citizens of their right of return. The CCP has been in power for 60 years, and the constitutional laws are determined through Party leadership. The vast majority of the staff of the legislative, judicial, and government organizations are Party members. As the party in power, it should be a bit bolder and more self-confident. There is no need to spend all day entertaining imaginary fears, much less to turn civil rights into tools of punishment and reward, destroying the fundamental laws of the country. Let all Chinese people, including overseas Chinese, come and go freely from their motherland. Remove the terror felt by every Chinese person upon returning to and departing the country. Make the motherland better, warmer.
At present, my residence is the immigration hall outside the gate to Japan. A Chinese vagrant who can’t return home, I’ve grown accustomed to life here, waiting patiently for you leaders to talk it out. However, the Japanese officials are running out of patience. Starting December 3, they have been issuing a letter in Chinese and Japanese to me every day. The content is always the same, they just change the date. Delivering it to me has become routine. They even take a photo with me as evidence. They know that there’s no real use in sending me this letter. Perhaps it’s to have me forward it to the Chinese government. If the Chinese government would let me return, I wouldn’t be here troubling them. Now it’s becoming comical. The Japanese government has not protested to the Chinese government or the Chinese embassy. Instead, they deliver an official document directly to me. Maybe this is the new model for Sino-Japanese relations. Every day, I forward the letter to the Chinese government via the media, a total of 11 copies to date. Continuing to send this document every day is truly bizarre. I hope you will pay attention to this, and not put the Japanese government in an unpleasant position.
Chinese Citizen Feng Zhenghu
December 13, 2009
Note: This letter was sent by Japan Post express mail (serial number: 9975-5400-1124) to the Chinese embassy in Japan. [Chinese]
Translation by Heidi.