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.
如果还有什么消息,将更新在这个BLOG.

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’
By GEOFFREY A. FOWLER
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.

March 20, 2006

It is nearly one month since Hao Wu was detained without charge.

Filed under: About Hao Wu, News — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 12:00 pm

We appeal to the Chinese government for Hao Wu’s immediate release!

What happened to Hao?

Hao Wu (Chinese name: 吴皓), a Chinese documentary filmmaker who lived in the U.S. between 1992 and 2004, was detained by the Beijing division of China’s State Security Bureau on the afternoon of Wednesday, Febuary 22, 2006. On that afternoon, Hao had met in Beijing with a congregation of a Christian church not recognized by the Chinese government, as part of the filming of his next documentary.

Hao had also been in phone contact with Gao Zhisheng, a lawyer specializing in human rights cases. Gao confirmed to one of Hao’s friends that the two had been in phone contact and planned to meet on Feb. 22, but that their meeting never took place after Gao advised against it. On Friday, Feb. 24, Hao’s editing equipment and several videotapes were removed from the apartment where he had been staying. Hao has been in touch his family since Feb. 22, but judging from the tone of the conversations, he wasn’t able to speak freely. One of Hao’s friends has been interrogated twice since his detention. Beijing’s Public Security Bureau (the police) has confirmed that Hao has been detained, but have declined to specify the charges against him.

The reason for Hao’s detention is unknown. One of the possibilities is that the authorities who detained Hao want to use him and his video footage to prosecute members of China’s underground Churches. Hao is an extremely principled individual, who his friends and family believe will resist such a plan. Therefore, we are very concerned about his mental and physical well-being.

More about Hao: From Scientist to Computer Guy to Filmmaker.

Hao began his filmmaking career in 2004, when he gave up his job as a senior product manager at Atlanta-based Earthlink Inc. and returned to China to film Beijing or Bust, a collage of interviews with U.S.-born ethnic Chinese who now live in China’s capital city. Before working for Earthlink, Hao worked as a product manager for Internet portal Excite from 2000 to 2001 in Redwood City, CA Before that, Hao had also worked as a strategic planning and product development director for Merchant Internet Group, an intern for American Express Co. and a molecular biologist with UCB Research Inc.

Hao earned an MBA degree from University of Michigan Business School in May 2000 and a Master of Science in molecular and cell biology in July, 1995 from Brandeis University, where he was awarded a full merit-based scholarship. Before studying in the U.S., Hao earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the China University of Science and Technology in Hefei, Anhui province in June, 1992.

Hao the Blogger.

Hao has also been an active blogger, writing as “Beijing Loafer” on his personal blog, Beijing or Bust, named after his film. Due to Chinese government internet blocking of his blog hosting service Blogger.com, he also has a mirror version of the site on MSN Spaces. In early February Hao began contributing as Northeast Asia Editor to Global Voices Online, an international bloggers’ network hosted at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Writing under the pen name Tian Yi, Hao’s contributions aimed to bring citizens’ online voices from China and the rest of North East Asia to readers in the English-speaking world.

Why didn’t we speak out about his detention earlier?

Hao’s family and friends in China have deflected questions about his detention for the past month, as authorities in contact with people close to Hao have urged them not to publicize the case. There had been hope that his detention was only for a short period of time, in which case publicity would not have been helpful.

For more information…

Hao’s family and friends inside China do not want to be interviewed directly by the media at this time, and thus we will not provide journalists with their contact information. This website will be updated regularly with new information that emerges about Hao’s situation.

All further queries can be e-mailed to: freehaowu@gmail.com.