July 31, 2006

Nina’s thoughts on rule of law & morality in China

Filed under: Uncategorized — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 2:28 pm

While her brother Hao was detained, Nina wrote often in her blog about how his detention had heightened her awareness of the extent to which China does and doesn’t have a functioning legal system capable of protecting the rights of its citizens. Now that Hao is free, she has re-named the blog: “The past, present, and future of Haozi and other family members.” Living and working in Hong Kong, she continues to ponder China’s system and the fate of its people in a post titled Speechless:

At lunch, I was chatting with my Hong Kong colleagues and we unintentionally came to a discussion of the differences between mainland and Hong Kong people. On the matter of making money, her conclusion was an acute observation which left me speechless: mainlanders will make any kind of money, but Hong Kong people will only make money legally.

Although the economic development in mainland China is admired, Hong Kong people are proud of their legal system. While you can see that materialism is rampant in Hong Kong, it is also very orderly underneath. Perhaps Hong Kong people think mainlanders are too aggressive while mainlanders think Hong Kong people are too cautious. But the caution occurs because the Hong Kong people are always considering whether they have gone beyond the legal system or moral standards.

In mainland China, development is the firm logic. Perhaps, the brave are overextended while the meek are starved. The Chinese people have been poor for so long. Today, when the gap between rich and poor is increasing daily, people can only see the aura brought about by wealth and ignore the social moral level.

One must say that it is sad to see that people would scorn at the poor and not at the prostitutes. The northern girls come down south and their attractive figures and numb expressions appear again and again in the photographs of their detention. These photographs appear in Hong Kong television and newspaper news. I am speechless. I have heard too many stories of business “sucesses” and I have met too many “successful” business persons. When I hear these people tell me unabashedly about their money-making stories, I choose to be silent and speechless.

One or two of these stories are just personal tragedies. But when the number becomes one or two bunches, or even a common phenomenon, then this must be said to be a social tragedy.

July 25, 2006

Brother released, Sister gets her life back

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 2:28 pm

On Sunday Hao’s sister Nina posted on her blog about resuming a somewhat more normal life now that Hao has been released:

Our family finally managed to get together, but in a few days we scattered again to the ends of the earth. My younger brother will be in Beijing, my husband in Shanghai, my parents returning to Chengdu and I will begin my new job in a new city. My family has never been separated in this way. When I think about the uncertain future, my heart felt grayish.

When I woke up in the morning, it was drizzling outside and the skies were
as gray as my mood. The Shanghai weather is rarely so crisp. My daughter wore the new skirt that her uncle bought and she flew around the departure hall in the airport and drew a small and beautiful picture in the dim crowd.

The airplane had an abundant supply of newspapers, magazines, television
programs, food and drinks. The meal even included a serving of Haagen-Dazs ice cream. This small present brightened me up eventually. The gentle smile of the stewardess was as beautiful as the rainbow after the rain.

When I got off the airplane, the language that entered my ears were completely different from what I was hearing three hours ago. Although the street lights were as brilliant as Shanghai’s, the different clothes and expressions of the people reminded me that I am in a new world. I stood in the bustling streets like Alice exploring the world in a fairy tale. My heart was filled with perlexity about the uncertain future and yearning for the new life. When I thought about being able to do what I like once more, that I will make new friends and that I can enjoy the fun of exploration, I could not wait to think about starting my new life.

Nina, you truly deserve to enjoy life now. All brothers should be so lucky to have a sister like you.

July 13, 2006

Message of thanks & request from Nina

Filed under: News, Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 7:21 am

Hao is now resting at home in Beijing. While there are many unanswered questions about the cirumstances of his release, his family is asking the media and other well-wishers to keep their distance in these early days after his release. Today Nina wrote this post titled “Birthday Wish and Thanks:”

July 10th is my birthday, but I wasn’t with family. New friends took me out for a birthday lunch, and in the afternoon we sang “happy birthday” and had cake. Amid the clamor and noise I quietly made a wish about something else. Old friends and family kept calling and sending text messages to wish me happy birthday, and my husband agreed to support a Tibetan school child as my birthday present. But I still greedily regretted that my main birthday wish was not granted that day.

The next afternoon, I received a phone call from the family that Haozi had come out. My greatest wish had been fulfiled, but it was hard to completely believe. I could only pretend to be calm as I tried to take care of things.

Later, when I saw the message from little brother saying “happy belated birthday,” I cried tears of happiness. During this fairly long period of time I have learned how to persevere and hold back my tears. But now in the tumble of emotion I couldn’t prevent the tears from flowing out. Little brother has really returned into our lives! I just want to tell every family on this earth going through similar experinces: all the waiting is worth it.

I have received a lot of requests to pass on well wishes to Haozi. Once again I’d like to thank everybody on his behalf for all the support for us over the past five months. Friends, I hope that in the future there will be a chance to thank all of you in person.

Finally, I’d like to thank some news media and organizations for their profesionalism and understanding. But as for the conduct of others I have nothing to say. We still have a lot of things we have to do. If you can please give us some space and some time, we would be very grateful.

Thank you.

July 12, 2006

Welcome home Hao!

Filed under: News — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 1:37 am


(photo of Hao at Yosemite in happier times)

People around the world have been rejoicing since Hao’s sister Nina announced on her blog that Hao has been released from wherever the police were holding him. He is now at home in Beijing with his family. We hope he will rest and take care of himself… and that people will leave him in peace to recover from his ordeal.

It’s impossible to know right now what will happen next, what caused his release at this time, or whether the story is completely over. Doubtless Nina’s hard work and suffering have paid off.

There is also no doubt that all the expressions of support around the world - from media, politicians, bloggers, and other citizens writing letters and signing petitions - have had an impact. We have made it clear to the Chinese government that their treatment of Hao was a cause for national shame. We have given Hao’s family and loved ones moral support in the face of a lot of nastiness and negativity as they worked to get him released. But most importantly, the global show of support will no doubt be a great source of strength as Hao recovers from his ordeal and copes with its aftermath.

Thanks to everybody who has helped.

July 11, 2006

China: Wu Hao released

Filed under: About Hao Wu, News, Nina's blog — Feng @ 1:05 pm

Following nearly five months in prison, blogger, documentary maker and American permanent resident Wu Hao has been released, as noted in a July 11 post on his sister Nina’s blog:

刚刚得到家里电话, 被告知皓子出来了.谢谢大家的关心,但他需要清静一阵子.

Just got a call at home and informed that Wu Hao is out. Thank you everyone for your concern, but he needs some silence for now. If there is any new information it will be posted on this blog.

Set up soon after her little brother’s arrest by Chinese authorities, Nina’s blog has served as the centerpoint in the campaign to have Hao released. English translations of each of her posts recounted the hostility Nina received in repeated unsuccesful attempts to gain any information on her brother’s whereabouts. Frustrated and fearing how the news would affect her parents’ health, in late May she wrote that her brother had been denied access to a lawyer.

Support was strong across the blogsphere, with hundreds of fellow bloggers posting on Nina and Hao’s story, as well as putting up Free Hao Wu tags. Support was there from some mainstream media, with the Wall Street Journal chipping in just a week ago, and a piece written in The Washington Post by Global Voices co-founder Rebecca MacKinnon coinciding with Chinese president Hu Jintao’s visit to America:

“Hao turned 34 this week. He personifies a generation of urban Chinese who have flourished thanks to the Communist Party’s embrace of market-style capitalism and greater cultural openness. He got his MBA from the University of Michigan and worked for EarthLink before returning to China to pursue his dream of becoming a documentary filmmaker. He and his sister, Nina Wu, who works in finance and lives a comfortable middle-class life in Shanghai, have enjoyed freedoms of expression, travel, lifestyle and career choice that their parents could never have dreamed of. They are proof of how U.S. economic engagement with China has been overwhelmingly good for many Chinese.”

Several members of the U.S. Congress wrote letters of concern on Hao’s behalf. We are also grateful for some diplomacy - both quiet and open - conducted elsewhere. Late last week free speech group Reporters Without Borders announced a successful lobbying attempt aimed at the European Parliament, which ratified a resolution on freedom of expression on the internet. Included in the resolution is a list of nine imprisoned bloggers and cyberdissidents, including Hao.

July 4, 2006

Day 133: Wall Street Journal front page story

Filed under: About Hao Wu, News — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 3:17 am

The WSJ’s Geoffrey Fowler has an in-depth story titled Gray Zone: An Arrest in China Spotlights Limits to Artistic Freedom in China, detailing Hao’s detention and the context in which it happened. Here’s how it begins:

Gray Zone
An Arrest in China
Spotlights Limits
To Artistic Freedom
Hao Wu Set Out to Make Film
On Unofficial Churches,
Then Vanished From Sight
Blog Advice: ‘Be Careful, Man’
July 3, 2006; Page A1

After 12 years in the U.S., filmmaker Hao Wu returned to his homeland two years ago to document the changes shaping Chinese society. He fell in with a crowd of artists and writers and often wrote on his blog about balancing American ideals of civil liberty with the practical realities he found in China.

“Change has to happen,” he wrote in a Feb. 17 posting. “But the Chinese have to figure it out themselves.”

Five days later, Mr. Wu was arrested and he has been in detention ever since. His alleged crime remains a mystery to his friends, his family and even the lawyer his sister hired to help. These people believe he was detained over his work on a documentary film about Christian churches that aren’t recognized by the Chinese government. The lawyer, Wu Yigang, says the Beijing police told him the detention is related to “state secrets,” which limits the possibility of a defense. The Public Security Ministry didn’t respond to questions.

After describing the contradictory and often confusing cultural and political situation in China, Fowler continues:

In 2004, he moved to Beijing and worked as a filmmaker. His film “Beijing or Bust” featured American-born Chinese who moved to China’s capital and, like Mr. Wu were pursuing a future there. The film showed last September at a film festival held by the San Diego Asian Film Foundation.

Mr. Wu holds a green card but hasn’t yet received U.S. citizenship, according to his friends. “His dream is for speaking out freely, and for making films…to let people in other countries see what was really happening in China,” says his sister Nina Wu, in a March interview. Ms. Wu, a mutual-fund manager in Shanghai, quit her job recently to pursue her brother’s release full time. “He knows there are some problems here but he loves China and thinks things are getting better and better.”

Click here to read the rest.

It has been nearly a month since Nina last wrote on her blog. I’ve confirmed that she’s ok. However her health is not great and she’s under a lot of pressure. Please hit the comments section and share some supportive words with her, and please go over to her Chinese blog and let her know that you are rooting for her, and for Hao.

Also don’t forget to sign the petition and write letters to your elected representatives and local media. If you have a website or blog click here for “Free Hao Wu” badges you can put on your site.

June 10, 2006

Day 110: Nina Returns to Beijing

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 4:16 pm

On June 10th Hao’s sister Nina wrote a post, “Returning to Beijing Again:”

Back to Beijing again. I missed my brother when staring at his books and things. Hard to believe that their owner has been gone for so long. Looking at the note folded in the book on which my brother wrote down the address of a restaurant, I can’t help crying out. I saw his clean and fresh handwriting, and imagined his state of mind when writing down these notes. He is always my brother. A person with such simplicity and passion for life does not deserve such winding complications. No matter what others might say about him, our firm belief and trust in him will not change.

I went to cinema for the first time in a long time. The movie “Poseidon” is still a typical Hollywood blockbuster about catastrophe. After September 11, America needs heroism to promote hope and boost confidence among its people. Although I know the plot is artificial, written by a screenplay writer, my heart still rose and fell with the story. In the last scene, when all the six men are in a canoe, waiting for helicopter to pick them up, a happy ending proves to be worth all their efforts. There is a line taken from the movie: “Life is transient; life and death are uncertain.” I may adapt the line into “Life is transient; Happiness and misfortune are uncertain.” The character of Josh Lucas , a retired navy officer and veteran gambler, led the last remaining hopeful survivors from death to life. I believe that time will bring out the truth of everything, and reward our faithful waiting. Eventually one day the hope that we hold in our hearts will blossom and flourish.

May 31, 2006

Day 99: Nina comes out of hospital, resumes blogging

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 5:23 pm

On May 31st, after 14 days of silence and a stint in the hospital due to ill health and exhaustion, Hao’s sister Nina Wu wrote an entry on her blog titled “Dragon Boat Festival:”

With respect to the many caring inquiries from friends, I know that further silence will create more speculations and worries. So I am sitting in front of the computer to type up these words. I thank everybody for their concerns.

Due to reasons such as turning over my work responsibilities and also ill health, I have left Beijing for Shanghai. I have visited the doctor, entered the hospital and stayed a few days. I am still physically weak, so I did not go back to my blog.

Please believe me that in spite of all the various hardships in my life, I am not shaken in my resolution to strive for the freedom of Hao. I and my family believe that we will go past the threshold of 2006.

Today is the Dragon Boat Festival. Those who know and those who don’t know the news have sent in festive SMS. Following tradition, my parents bought the wrapped rice dumplings and artemsia plants. In his blog, my younger brother described the scene of wrapping rice dumplings in his youth at home during the Chinese New Year. Food preparation is one of the happiest moments in family life each year.

Actually, apart from that, there is another major family event as our parents will solemnly wrap the rice dumplings for the Dragon Boat Festival. The Spring Festival and the Dragon Boat Festival are the most fresh memories inside my head.

Today, my parents are aged and no longer have the energy to prepare everything. But they still follow the tradition and tell us to buy or personally prepare the various items. For this Dragon Boat Festival, we miss my younger brother’s contribution. I am silent. I am afraid that I will open up my mother’s wound and cause her to cry in pain just like last weekend. Sigh! The children will always be the gentle tear at the parents’ hearts.

Did my younger brother eat rice dumplings today? Did he share our common memories? It is such a plain but tremendous happiness to have one’s family around! I hope that this happiness will never leave us.

May 17, 2006

Day 85: Hao is denied access to lawyer

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 9:23 pm

On May 17 Hao’s sister Nina Wu wrote on her blog that she has received a response to her repeated appeals that Hao be granted access to a lawyer, but the news is not good:

This afternoon, I suddenly received a call from Officer Zhang, who I met last time, asking me to go to the city bureau Office of Petitions for a meeting and a response to our request to retain an attorney. It was in the same small room as last time, with the same two officers. Officer Zhang gave me the “Beijing Public Security Bureau Secrets-Related Case Attorney Request Decision Letter, Beijing PSB Inquest (2006) #1” At the top it said, “…according to the Clause 1 of Article 96 of the “Code of Criminal Procedure of the People’s Republic of China”, after review, it is decided to deny the request to retain an attorney.” Even though this response was not unexpected, I was completely at a loss. After working hard for a time, it appears that all efforts to seek legal help have reached a dead end.

Haozi has now moved from detention to living under surveillance. Due to legal regulations, living under surveillance is limited to six months. The police have promised to make a statement to the family before August. What kind of statement will it be? Finally finding a crime and beginning the administration of justice? The family can only wait passively. Can the law help groups that are so weak before the “People’s Institutions”?

Locking someone up for so long, without any explanation, and not allowing lawyers to take part. I am furious about this current plight of powerlessness. Lately, many friends have also expressed their concern. Surely, everyone is busy working for Haozi, but it is scattered across many places. Even I don’t have a “big map.” How can everyone know about each other and get organized? We can certainly find a way.

May 15, 2006

Day 83: Bureaucratic red tape - nightmare continues

Filed under: Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 2:23 pm

On May 15, Hao’s sister Nina Wu wrote a blog post titled Another Step in the Long, Long March:

Today, in keeping with the agreement between our lawyers and the police, I went to the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau Office of Inquiry at 2 o’clock to fill in the approval form for the hiring of lawyers. After I arrived, the officers at the Office of Inquiry claimed to not know anything about the matter; while they were calling others, I was also busy contacting our lawyers. After a while, a young officer came in from the outside to greet me. After being seated in the small room, this Officer Liu said that the form that was sent to them the last time did not fulfill the requirements, and that a correct application needs to be filled out. Without a second’s hesitation, I took out my pen and started filling out the form, then realized that aside from the applicant’s information, the only content that needed to be added was basically this: in accordance with Number XX provision of the law, I now hire Lawyer XXXX of XXX Law Firm to be the attorney of XXX….

Isn’t that the same as what I had written on the nationally-standardized Power of Attorney form, back when I was hiring lawyers at the law firm? Lawyers Yan Ruyu and Wu Yigang, whom we hired from Beijing’s Wu, Luan, Zhao & Yan Law Firm, had already handed my signed Power of Attorney form requesting for legal aid as well as the law firm letter to the Bureau’s legal department as early as March 22nd of 2006. I voiced my thoughts right then and there to Officer Liu and the other officers present at the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau Office of Inquiry; none of them expressed any opinion on the matter. Really, this form is quite mysterious; it’s impossible for one to find it on any website, and our lawyers, in all their years of employment, have never seen it before. Such a simple form made us busy ourselves with the hiring of lawyers from March to May.

Walking out of the room, the light from the broiling sun made me dizzy. I still remember the first time I came to Beijing for little’s brother’s affair, freezing to the point of shivering despite wearing an overcoat. Now, it’s already the sizzling summer season, and the police still hasn’t found evidence of little brother committing a crime, but I have yet to see the light of little brother’s freedom. When will this long, long march finally reach its end?