March 30, 2006

Day 36: Hao’s sister is blogging.

Filed under: News, Nina's blog — Rebecca MacKinnon @ 3:49 pm

Hao’s sister Nina Wu has now started a blog on MSN Spaces. It includes a photo gallery of “Haozi” as the family calls him. Even if you don’t know Chinese, leave her a comment in English and let her know your support for Hao. Thanks to a volunteer who wishes to remain anonymous, we have a full translation of her first post, below. She includes an update on her latest visit to the police. It is a chilling account of what it’s like to be the family member of a Chinese person who has been detained without charge. I have put a few key paragraphs in bold:

Ever since I found “Where is Hu Jia?” ( on Google, Jinyan’s blog was a rest stop for my soul. I would often read her diary and the comments following it, sharing her joys and sorrows, as I too had experienced the pain and confusion after the disappearance of a loved one. Now, Hu Jia has returned. I am wholeheartedly happy for [Jinyan] and her family, and I will continue to search for my brother. With the support of my friends, I believe that I will also wait for the day when I can smile again.

I had never thought that I, after becoming an adult, would write anything besides research reports and investment records. In high school I experienced the embarrassment of someone secretly reading my diary, and I also read and heard many stories about diaries during the Cultural Revolution. After twenty, I stopped trusting the pen to record my own thoughts and feelings. Perhaps because work is so time-consuming, I only knew about the most popular blogs on the Internet, but I had never visited one myself. After my brother disappeared, I visited his blog, Beijing or Bust (, for the first time. Once I started I couldn’t control myself, and read his stories one after another.

My own writing has always been weak, and composition gave me even more of a headache. But now I believe that true feelings will leap onto the keyboard, as I type out the characters of my family and friends who miss Wu Hao. These feelings do not require eloquence or adornment. They just need to be faithfully recorded. I hope it can fill in for the “I love you, brother,” that is usually so hard for me to say.

Having always been proud of my enthusiasm for my job, I had hoped to remain as dedicated to my work as before, but I still left the Shenyin & Wanguo Spring Investment Strategy Conference early to drive to the petition office of the Beijing Public Security Bureau. I hoped that after Hu Jia had returned home I could get information about my brother.

This time they did not ask me to fill out paperwork. It was the same officer as last time. He and another one promised to get in touch with the officer in charge of the case. After coming in and out many times and waiting, I never met the officer in charge. I only received a message: Wu Hao has committed a crime (When I came on March 20, they only told me that Wu Hao had been arrested.) They still refused to inform me what crime he was suspected of, and also refused to allow our lawyer to see him. Threatening to go to the Ministry of Public Security was also useless.

Can these law enforcement organs really ignore his rights and those of his relatives, and after detaining him for five weeks not offer any explanation? Anger swelled in my chest.

When I heard that the repeated promises of a deadline for my brother’s release from the previous employee in-charge were just “one of the working techniques” I nearly burst with fury.

That dignified state employees would carelessly trample on someone’s dignity, that a promise to a family member could be torn to shreds like wastepaper—what powers did the law grant them? Thinking about it, the people I dealt with never showed police credentials (despite repeated requests), and never called each other by name. I only know that the lead officer is surnamed Sun. After graduating from police academy he spent some time as a teacher, and then moved to this job for (?) [sic] 15 years. Even this limited information might be false. I was angry at myself for my political naïveté, and angry at this place that displayed the police insignia but did not actually “Serve the People.”

Finally, I got in an argument with the guard over using the restroom.

It was all about regulations. It was all about protecting secrets.

Why didn’t they dare to write it down? I needed to vent my anger, but finally I just ran out sobbing. I couldn’t make trouble for the insignificant guard and staff. In vast Beijing, finding a place where people can talk sense and speak clearly is terribly difficult.

In the evening, while eating dinner with friends, I found out that a friend had a terrifying experience this afternoon. He tried calling me and J for a long time, but the call wouldn’t go through. He worried that we had had an accident. Thankfully, he persisted in dialing the number until the call went through. Only then was his mind at ease. It was strange, because at the time I was in XXXX’s [sic] hall, where the cell phone signal was excellent, but my phone didn’t ring. I checked the call record but there were no missed calls. Why didn’t it go through? I thought about it and realized that other friends also complained that I wasn’t answering my phone.

Very fishy. Finally, like a martyr saying her final words, I gave my friends contact information for my husband and my former employer. I felt disconnected from reality, like in a novel. Would anything really happen? I had thought that a person disappearing without a trace was something that only happened in novels, but hadn’t that already happened in real life too?

I had to give my daughter a call. When she said “Mommy” over the phone, my tears began to flow again. As she, completely unaware of what was happening, excitedly reported her dancing achievements and progress in class, I was silently apologizing to her. Mom has been missing too often. Mom really wants to hold your little body, share every little thing that happens at school, and read to you. I hope that everything ends quickly, and your uncle can come back soon. Then Mom can hold your little hand again.

Thank you, Huang. I did not want what happened in my life to disrupt the lives of my friends, but you still learned that information from the World Journal Even if you can’t help, your phone call let me feel the warmth of friendship in the cold Beijing spring.

I hope that friends can use this blog to enter my life, searching for my brother in 2006.

Thanks to Geoffrey Fowler of the Wall Street Journal for his story today: China’s Detention of Filmmaker Rouses Fears over Curbs on Media. (The story is accessible without a subscription.) Key excerpt (emphasis added):

Mr. Wu’s sister, Nina Wu, said the Beijing Public Security Bureau’s petition office confirmed Mr. Wu had been detained but won’t specify any charges against him. “His dream is in China,” she said. “His dream is for speaking out freely, and for making films….He knows there are some problems here, but he loves China and thinks things are getting better and better.”

In response to questions from The Wall Street Journal about why Mr. Wu was detained, the Public Security Ministry and the State Council Information Office said they are looking into the matter.

A half-dozen friends and colleagues who have known Mr. Wu for about 20 years, both in China and the U.S., describe him as outgoing and principled and said he hasn’t had problems with drugs or the law. What might have spurred the arrest, they said, is the film Mr. Wu had been working on for several months about underground churches. They said that on Feb. 24 Mr. Wu’s editing equipment and several videotapes were removed from his apartment.

The Chinese government really shoots itself in the foot by detaining people like Hao.


  1. […] Hao Wu’s sister, Wu Na, has begun blogging about her brother’s detention. It’s clear how difficult this is for her, reading a translation of her first post - she’s a quiet, private person who’s been forced to become an advocate by the government’s detention of her brother: My own writing has always been weak, and composition gave me even more of a headache. But now I believe that true feelings will leap onto the keyboard, as I type out the characters of my family and friends who miss Wu Hao. These feelings do not require eloquence or adornment. They just need to be faithfully recorded. I hope it can fill in for the “I love you, brother,” that is usually so hard for me to say. […]

    Pingback by …My heart’s in Accra » Wu Na writes about her brother, Hao Wu — March 30, 2006 @ 4:57 pm

  2. Andrew Sullivan blogged about Hao Wu yesterday:

    Comment by jim — March 30, 2006 @ 6:30 pm

  3. How “sensational”! Imagine how the Moms, Dads and Sisters of the Guantanamo Prisioners are feeling? The SHAMELESS US is torturing and detaining innocent people, including children, merely for their religion. Shame on the US.

    Comment by jessica copeland — March 30, 2006 @ 6:48 pm

  4. Hao Wu’s sister is blogging…

    Read about it here. I applaud what Rebecca and Ethan are doing. I also want to urge them to delete the comments posted on their site by one “Jessica Copeland.” There is a time to delete, and this is clearly……

    Trackback by The Peking Duck — March 31, 2006 @ 12:50 am

  5. Update on Hao Wu…

    Filmmaker Hao Wu, still detained in China, has evidently been accused of committing a crime, but police won’t say what the crime was, or allow him to speak with his lawyer. This updated information is based on a blog post……

    Trackback by Weblogsky — March 31, 2006 @ 2:48 am

  6. Thanks Richard. I’m wondering what Hao would want us to do. I’m not convinced he would favor banning even such a ridiculous commenter. But I’m open to counter-arguments from people who know him better than I do.

    Comment by Rebecca MacKinnon — March 31, 2006 @ 4:49 am

  7. I don’t claim to know how Hao would react to “Jessica”. But I think he would let “Jessica” have her say. He would listen, ask a few questions, try to get at what this person is really about and present him/her honestly and without a lot of filtering. He always tries to see the big picture and different sides of any situation.

    But I think “jessica” has had ample opportunity to speak by now, and enough is enough. As Will points out below, disrupting threads is habitual behavior for this person.

    Comment by Other Lisa — March 31, 2006 @ 5:25 am

  8. Jessica is brave. You should not censor anyone you don’t believe in. That way you are just as bad as the people you are accusing of. Remember all points deserve a hearing, even those you disagree with. How can you talk democracy when you can’t even tolerate people whom you don’t agree with???

    Comment by Jessica Copeland is a Brave Person — March 31, 2006 @ 6:32 am

  9. Then, would “Jessica” care to discuss Hao Wu, since that’s what this blog is about? Have you read Hao Wu’s work? Since you’ve just said that people should not be censored for holding different points of view, what do you think about his situation?

    Comment by Other Lisa — March 31, 2006 @ 7:30 am

  10. Hao would not object to the Guantanamo Bay comment. He loves opinions, whether he agrees with them or not. And, while we’re talking about “Gitmo,'’ we should recognize that it undercuts the U.S. government’s efforts to help political dissidents elsewhere. Issues and concerns raised by U.S. media would get more attention if the Bush administration’s reaction to 9/11 had been smarter.

    Comment by A concerned friend — March 31, 2006 @ 8:18 am

  11. Concerned Friend, I could not agree with you more about “Gitmo” and about the Bush administration’s policies in general. What the Bush administration has done makes every utterance from the US government concerning democracy and human rights seem hollow and hypocritical. They have squandered the good will of the world and done damage here and abroad that will take decades to heal.

    But I don’t think any of us are speaking here as representatives of the US government. I’m speaking as a private citizen, as a person who would prefer to be a citizen of the world, who believes that there are certain universal human values that should be celebrated and supported.

    I believe that Hao has the right to speak his mind and do his creative work, that his work enriches China and does not threaten it, that his detention is unjust and ulitimately is damaging to China and to the rest of the world that benefits from his voice.

    And I think that the Bush Administration’s many sins should not be used to excuse this particular injustice.

    Comment by Other Lisa — March 31, 2006 @ 9:04 am

  12. I don’t think Jessica Copeland’s comments should be censored. They’re irrelevant to Hao Wu’s case, but that’s all that’s wrong with them. The US doing terrible things in Guantanamo doesn’t mean we shouldn’t condemn the detention of Hao Wu.

    What would be the point of a comments section if dissenting voices are silenced?

    Comment by zuiweng — March 31, 2006 @ 9:27 am

  13. In Guantanamo there are no political dissidents, there are terrorists and talibans. I hope you all won’t miss the difference.


    Comment by e.r. — March 31, 2006 @ 2:03 pm

  14. e.r.: do you think the world agree with you? Clearly not.

    Fine, let’s talk about Wu. My problem with Other Lisa is his fatal brainwashed color glasses. Without elementary Chinese culture and language skills, Lisa concluded that Hao is in jail because his work as a film worker. I remember Christian Science Monitor used to report a Baptist preacher sentenced to death for his Christian faith in China. It turned out he raped 5 women in church and murdered an angry husband. Ignorant American Christians jump on the story passionately without knowing the basic truth. Lisa shows us that the west has no tolerance for speech freedom. It is not just a problem of the Bush administration. Mr. Lisa is beautifying the picture. The problem is deeply rooted in the current US congress and house reflecting the dominating Christian white majority.

    Comment by jessica copeland — March 31, 2006 @ 3:16 pm

  15. So why do you think Hao is in jail, “Jessica”?

    Please do tell.

    Comment by Other Lisa — March 31, 2006 @ 5:17 pm

  16. The issue here is the Chinese government has held WuHao incommunicado for over a month without bringing any charges against him. The police did not even bother to offer an explanation to his sister. That is outrageous. Whatever US government did at Guantanamo does not exonerate the CCP’s tyranny.

    Comment by CLC — March 31, 2006 @ 6:33 pm

  17. I am not with the CPC government. I don’t know why I am considered “brave”. I have no link to any government. I speak for myself. I speak out of my own honesty. Chinese police is MUCH more benevolent than their US counterpart. Chinese police do not arrest people without a reason. Remember, although the US has a much smaller population than China, it put more of its citizens in Prison.

    China is a very suffisticated and corrupted society. For example, you have to give bribe to all the people involved if you need a surgery. What’s more, if the surgery fails, they return the money. Think about it. Things in China simply are beyound your ability to understand. Western views are usually childish and uncouth simplification of what really happened. After all, the English level of most westerners are less than a When such views are fataly hi-jacked a religious fear and hatred out of Christian faith, the problem is not resolvable.

    Comment by jessica copeland — March 31, 2006 @ 7:44 pm

  18. Nina - if you are reading this - it is only though people like you that we learn the truth of what is happening in these places so distant to some of us, and I’m very grateful to you for that.

    I sincerely hope that your brother is returned to you soon. The internet is the perfect medium to publicise your plight. It’s starting to receive a great deal of attention. I don’t know if this will affect the outcome in any way, but it can only do good.

    To ‘jessica copeland’: maybe the english level of most westerners (under which title I assume you include your good self) is less that ‘A’, but are you familiar with the term ‘non-sequitur’? If you feel so strongly about an unrelated subject like Guantanamo Bay perhaps you should create your own blog, or at least post somewhere more appropriate.

    In my experience, the people of China are in general very warm and welcoming, and incredibly helpful to foreign travellers, so the current establishment must have some merit, but flagrant examples of state-sponsored kidnapping like this are a disgrace, and something should be done.

    Comment by Mr Bill — March 31, 2006 @ 11:48 pm

  19. As an American college student who taught English and studied in China (at Beijing University) for more than seven months, I consider myself somebody who has come to truly love the Chinese culture: the food, the language, the rich history, the Chinese spiritual and philosophical orientation, the people, etc. I’m not sure why you are so defensive on this issue though Jessica. I have already talked about Hao Wu’s detainment with a couple of my closest Chinese friends, neither of whom are suprised that the CCP government would imprison somebody who willfully went around censorship guidelines and posted a mirror website on MSN which was (at times) critical of the Chinese government, and which laid out his other controversial activities (such as his documentary work on underground, illegal Christian churches). Perhaps you are right, and this story is more complex then meets the eye. But at its core this seems to be an issue of freedom of speech and censorship. Artists especially, as one of my Chinese friends is studying film, by their very nature test the acceptable bounds of their societies, by bringing to light unsavory aspects of their own governments and cultures. As somebody who strongly opposed and protested against the War with Iraq, and as someone who opposes the torture and abuses going on at Guantanamo Bay; I must also oppose a Chinese policy that would detain a Chinese citizen without access to a lawyer, without notification to his family, and without declared warrant or reason for arrest. For the very same reasons Jessica. They’re one.

    Although I feel a loyalty towards China, perhaps not as strongly as you, we must both accept the fact that this sort of detainment, in China’s closed political/media system, would be much harder to sustain in the U.S. Instead of attacking one another, we should remember that behind every story there is a face, a family, a human life which deserves our respect. Their human rights are worth fighting for; especially when all they seems to have done is dare to differ. While historically foreign countries have used human rights issues as a wedge to bully or pressure China for ulterior motives, I hope you come to believe (as I do) Jessica, that most of the people here are genuinely interested in the welfare of Hao Wu. Not to use to attack China, not to diminish our own (American) moral failings and mistakes, but because we are all citizens of the same planet. If you will join with me in caring and inquiring as to Hao Wu’s welfare, I will join with you in condemning American imperialism and America’s own abuses of human rights. Thank you Jessica. Peace.

    Comment by Steven Bielinski — April 1, 2006 @ 12:44 am

  20. I agree with CLC: “The issue here is the Chinese government has held WuHao incommunicado for over a month without bringing any charges against him. The police did not even bother to offer an explanation to his sister.'’

    I will add that Securitiy Bureau officials continue to mislead Hao’s sister, who has put her life on hold to try to help Hao, about when she might be able to contact him.

    Ms. Copeland: I don’t think anyone here would deny that the U.S. has shortcomings. We could debate Guantanamo Bay for years. But to use U.S. shortcomings as the basis for your apparent argument that Hao’s family isn’t entitled to some basic information or to provide legal defense is wrong.

    I have studied and worked in China for more than 10 years. I’ve spent more of my adult life in China than anywhere else. I have written thousands of news reports from here without any objections from the authorities. I also don’t believe that Christianity is what China needs as this country has an incredibly rich Buddhist and Taoist tradition. I am not a Christian activist. I am not Christian. I am also not the “childish'’ Westerner you describe. I am simply a friend of Hao, who is worried about his physical and mental health, just as his sister and many other of his friends here are. Any response from you?

    Comment by Concerned friend — April 1, 2006 @ 9:01 am

  21. In Guantanamo there are no political dissidents, there are terrorists and talibans. I hope you all won’t miss the difference.


    Comment by e.r. — April 2, 2006 @ 9:00 pm

  22. In Guantanamo, it’s not clear who are the terrorists and who are innocents turned into the US forces by bounty hunters. That’s part the problem. One which could be resolved by following normal US legal procedures.

    But I digress.

    Comment by Other Lisa — April 2, 2006 @ 9:41 pm

  23. You,re right in legal terms. But in political terms they’re war prisoners (Talibans) held in war time, not political dissidents held in peace time. This is the difference (one of many) that comments here didn’t get and I wanted to fix. Unless you want to compare Hao and Mullah Omar fellows, but I’m sure you won’t.

    Comment by e.r. — April 3, 2006 @ 1:11 pm

  24. […] UPDATE: Rebecca informs us that Hao Wu’s sister is now blogging on MySpace. Unfortunately she writes in Chinese but you can leave a comment in english to show your support. The Hao Wu website has an english translation of her first entry. […]

    Pingback by Free Hao Wu! - Total Tactics — April 4, 2006 @ 3:08 pm

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