Off-Screen
During the Cultural Revolution, people were sentenced to death or outright murdered because of one wrong sentence. In China today writers do not lose their lives over their poems or articles; however, they are jailed for years. My friend Liu Xiaobo for example will stay in prison till 2020; even winning the Nobel Peace Prize could not help him. In prison those lucky enough not to be sentenced to hard labor play “blind chess” to kill time AND TO TRAIN THE BRAIN NOT TO RUST. Freedom of expression is still a luxury in China. The firewall is everywhere, yet words can fly above it and so can our thoughts. My column, like the blind chess played by prisoners, is an exercise to keep our brains from rusting and the situation in China from indifference.
Tienchi Martin-Liao is the president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center. Previously she worked at the Institute for Asian Affairs in Hamburg, Germany, and lectured at the Ruhr-University Bochum from 1985 to 1991. She became head of the Richard-Wilhelm Research Center for Translation in 1991 until she took a job in 2001 as director of the Laogai Research Foundation (LRF) to work on human rights issues. She was at LRF until 2009. Martin-Liao has served as deputy director of the affiliated China Information Center and was responsible for updating the Laogai Handbook and working on the Black Series, autobiographies of Chinese political prisoners and other human rights books. She was elected president of the Independent Chinese PEN Center in October 2009 and has daily contact with online journalists in China.
  • Umbrella Revolution
    Hong Kong! Hong Kong!

    The temporary return to daily rhythm and social order in Hong Kong does not mean that the movement is over, but may show Hong Kong’s pragmatic nature, and demonstrate that the protesters may have learned something from March’s Sunflower Student Movement in Taipei.

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  • Thomas Yan speaking in Hamburg. Photo provided by the author.
    Tasteless Chicken Ribs

    Beijing wants to turn Hong Kong into a little China and put it under the central government’s direct control. It broke its promise to allow citizens suffrage in Hong Kong’s first general election. The 2017 general election will be like chicken ribs: flavorless, but not bad enough to throw out.

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Fearless, Ink.