Xiao Shu: Thoughts On My Online Annihilation
“These past few years I’ve been driven into exile, hunted down and attacked from all sides.”
NOTE: The following post by veteran journalist and former Southern Weekly commentator Xiao Shu (Chen Min) was posted to his Facebook account on December 17, 2013. Xiao Shu is an important figure in the New Citizens Movement launched by lawyer and social justice advocate Xu Zhiyong. He has called repeatedly this year for the release of Xu Zhiyong, Wang Gongquan, and other leaders of the movement.
Yesterday, my writings from more than eighteen months ago were dragged out again by Phoenix Online — and once again they started making the rounds. For more than a year I’ve been blocked out entirely on China’s internet, and I suppose there must be readers who have missed me.
I remember those few days over a year ago when they started to force me out, shutting my accounts down and blocking anything I wrote or had written. I watched from the sidelines as internet users shared their comments. It was like watching my own funeral. I was so deeply moved — it’s something that’s hard even to describe.
These past few years I’ve been driven into exile, hunted down and attacked from all sides. And now I feel quite certain it’s all been worth it.
In early August this year I was abducted by state security police. Under orders to bring me in for questioning, state security from Guangzhou detained me in Beijing. They said in no uncertain terms: There’s no sense in arguing — we fully intend to marginalize you all.
At the time I responded: So, you think marginalization is really going to work? And today I think I can repeat that question to those who would silence me. They blocked me entirely on China’s internet. They blocked so many of my friends as well. But have they succeeded in winning back public opinion? Have they won the will and support of the people?
Today, more and more of my friends suffer the same fate, having their internet lives entirely annihilated. Even the most moderate voices, like that of Zhang Qianfan, are not spared.
But we should not despair. Today is not yesterday. Being blocked is not something terrible. It is, in fact, a kind of honour. It is a testament to your strength and to your contributions. Last year they snuffed me out, and no doubt in the future they will seek to restrain my voice in every aspect possible. But life goes on, and in fact I enjoy perhaps even more space than I did before. Those who have real strength have nothing to fear from their obstruction.
The truth is, those who restrain us are the ones whose hearts are burdened by fear.
We cannot give up simply because we are curtailed. Nor should we allow ourselves to be provoked by their actions. We must be cool-headed and resolute, neither haughty nor humble, pushing ahead on our own terms, traveling the path we must travel even as attacks rain from all sides. We must trust in time. We must trust in the human heart. We must trust in our own discipline.