Laudatio for Li Chengpeng
Winner of the Best Blog award at
The Bobs 2013
June 18, 2013
I am very pleased and honored to give the
laudatio for Li Chengpeng on his winning the Best Blog award at
The Bobs 2013.
Chengpeng grew up in China’s remote Xinjiang
region, where his father is a team leader of the so-called Mao Zedong Thought
Performance teams. Under the banner “arts must serve the masses” and
“arts must serve the politics,” these teams were formed by both
professional and amateur artists to deliver songs, dances, music, and
minidramas of pure propaganda value to the masses, including workers, peasants,
So Chengpeng is very familiar with the
installed ideology even in his childhood. Perhaps ever since he has been
fascinated by the Chinese ways of speaking, or, most of the times, not speaking.
In a talk at Peking University named “SPEAK”
last year, Chengpeng traced that during the Great Famine in the late 50s and
early 60s, the whole nation lost its language. Not only did they lie to their
family and friends in political struggles, but they also lied to their own
can’t say “I’m hungry,” and you can’t say “I love you,” and you definitely
can’t speak the truth… Speaking, as an animal instinct, a way of thinking, a
right…it was taken away… Having lost the ability to speak the truth, we will
tell many lies.
people that have produced the world’s most beautiful language, “speaking” has
now become a great problem. Everyone is bored to death, living in this sterile
plastic land of official discourse, repeating lies, deceptions, and ridiculous
claims that everyone knows to be false.
What does Chengpeng do? No other than
helping the Chinese regain their ability to speak. Chenpeng began his career as
a journalist and first rose to prominence for covering on corruption within
China's professional soccer establishment. This coverage prompted persistent and
anonymous threats against him and his family.
Then, in 2008, Chengpeng engaged in the investigation
of collapsed schools after the big Sichuan earthquake. It is this earthquake
that turned Chengpeng into an activist, not only joining rescue efforts, but
also criticizing the shoddy construction of school buildings in which untold
numbers of children died.
In 2011, Chengpeng announced that he would
seek political office as an independent candidate in his hometown of Chengdu,
Sichuan province. While not technically illegal, the decision represented a
rare and bold move in a country where candidates for political office are
typically appointed by the Party.
Chengpeng went to the office first thing on
election day, only to be informed by a guard that the election had already
taken place – at 2.30am. Needless to say, Chengpeng was not elected.
While doing a lot of activism, Chengpeng never
stops writing. He becomes one of the most famous Chinese social commentator,
best-selling author, and popular blogger as well as microblogger. Chengpeng’s
new book “The whole world knows” was published this year and he was forbidden
to talk at all book-signing events. The picture of him with a black mask and
words written on his T-Shirt “I love you all” becomes a symbol for young
Chinese who are fighting for their freedom of speech because “there is no other
Through brave individuals like Li Chengpeng,
the Chinese will regain the ability to speak. The whole world knows.
I offer Chengpeng my congratulations on his
outstanding achievement in winning the Best Blog award at The Bobs 2013!