Minority report: Phone calls from Professor Cui Weiping

After Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison, professor Cui Weiping has contacted some famous public intellectuals by telephone, asking their opinions on Liuxiaobo’s jail. “I had no intention to ‘torture the conscience of intellectuals’, I just want to know how they response to this case”, she said, “There’s a great gap between public life and private life.” It is believed that this interview will become an important document in the history of Chinese democracy. For archive purpose, The China Times will follow her tweets on Twitter and put all responses from public intellectuals in this entry.

Blogger “Under the Jacaranda Tree” has already translated part of the interview on her blog. part of translation comes from her contribution.

Cui Weiping: What’s your opinion on the jail sentence of Liu Xiaobo?

1, 钱理群 Qian Liqun: “I don’t think Liu Xiaobo is guilty.” Qian said that Liu has become more rational than he used to be in the 1980s.

2, 童庆炳 Tong Qingbing ( He was Liu’s tutor in Beijing Normal University): “We had enduring tutor-student friendship, I wish him well and take care.”

3, 王富仁 Wang Furen: “human are free in mind and limited in action. Freedom of thought shall not be interfered. China has always had this problem unsolved.”

4, 唐晓渡 Tang Xiaodu: Liu Xiaobo has demonstrated the responsibility and rationality of intellectual in the context of Chinese society.

5, 芒克 Mang Ke: We are very good friend and I don’t think he had done anything wrong. I wish him well.

( Five intellectuals above were inverviewed on 24th of December, before the judgment.)

—– After the judgment. —–

6, 秦晖 Qin Hui: “It is very sad to see that in this day and age people are still being punished for their words. I am not a Charter 08 signatory. But I defend to death other people’s right to express their views, even though I may disagree with what they say. I therefore strongly oppose the conviction of Liu Xiaobo because of his writings.”

7, 徐友渔 Xu Youyu: “Liu Xiaobo is convicted on charges in relation to Charter 08. Charter 08 is written in the spirit of the United Nation’s Human Rights Declaration. Therefore, Liu’s conviction constitutes a challenge to the idea of civilisation as commonly accepted by humanities. It threatens the right to freedom of speech as enshrined in China’s constitution. Most importantly, it goes against the conscience, not only of Chinese citizens, but also of mankind.”

8, 徐贲 Xu Ben: “(With regards to Liu Xiaobo,) it is hard to believe that a Chinese citizen will be so severely punished for exercising his constitutional right to express his views. China is a signatory to the United Nations Covenant on Human Rights. If China wants its rise in power to be recognised internationally, she must establish a reputation as a nation that practises what she preaches. It is not hard to tell from news reports worldwide that the conviction has damaged China’s reputation.”

9, 章诒和 Zhang Yihe: “In 1968, I was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on counter-revolutionary charges. 41 years on, in 2009, Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years imprisonment on charges of inciting subversion. Both of us have been incriminated for speaking out. This makes me wonder: how far has our political system been improved? Has our society made any progress?”

10, 袁伟时 Yuan Weishi: “This is the 21st century. How can one still be punished for his words? This is a violation of civil rights and a desecration of civilisation. It is, once again, an utter disgrace for China. Liu Xiaobo, who has been branded a criminal by the authorities, is now a hero in the eyes of the public. How can the ruling regime bridge such an enormous gap it has created with the general public?”

11, 崔卫平 Cui Weiping: “1. Charter 08 is set within the framework of the constitution and the framework of Deng Xiaoping’s political reform; 2. It does not make sense when people are not afraid any more; 3. This is the judgement of inquisition, how can you condemn someone’s thought are guilty?”

12, 乐黛云 Yue Daiyun: “1. I have read Charter 08. In my opinion, it expresses a hope for improvements and does not constitute subversion of state power; 2. Charter 08 is a discussion paper. It is against the constitution to convict someone for conducting a discussion. It will be difficult to persuade the public to accept the verdict; 3. If no one is allowed to speak frankly, how can there be improvements in our country?”

13, 钱理群 Qian Liqun: “I don’t necessarily agree with what Liu Xiaobo said or what he did. But that’s beside the point. Liu Xiaobo is a peaceful and rational critic. It is an admission of weakness to send someone like him to jail. I find this difficult to accept …”

14, 汪晖 Wang Hui: “Thank you for your letter and your phone call. I don’t agree with many of Liu Xiaobo’s points of view. However, I also object to the use of any means to convict people for what they have said. I will continue to monitor how this case will develop and will give my views when I have a better understanding of the situation.”

15, 丁东 Ding Dong: “Since antiquity many essays have landed their authors in jail. So you may well add another 11 years to the toll. The pursuit for freedom has never ceased and will continue, beyond 08. – A Sage has been born in China.”

16, 莫言 Mo Yan: “I don’t quite understand the situation and so I don’t want to talk about it. I have guests at home and we are having a conversation.”

17, 胡杰 Hu Jie: “The society is so open that the freedom of speech has become the consensus of the entire society. I don’t understand why they treat Tan Zuoren (谭作人) and Liu Xiaobo in this way, it is absurd and perverse.”

18, 余英时 Yu Yingshi: Liu Xiaobo has been in jail for three times since 1989. This time he was sentenced to 11 years, but every time after he was put in jail, he became more glorious. This time (after been sentenced) is the most glorious time in his life. There was another example in history a thousand years ago — Respected Fan Zhongyan (范仲淹). He criticized the government fiercely and had been demoted for three times. Fan’s friends felt honorable for him, and today we have the same feeling on Liu Xiaobo’s case.

19, 贺卫方 He Weifang: I was interviewed by foreign media not long ago:

Q: What’s your opinion on Mr. Hsiao-po Liu’s jail?

A: I don’t want to say anything.

Q: Don’t you think the sentence of 11 years is far to unfair?

A: For innocent person, even one day in prison is “far to unfair”, sentence of one day in jail is miscarriage of justice as well. Besides, do you really think that he will spend 11 years in prison?

(To be continued, 109 people were interviewed so far. The full list of interview in Chinese is here.)