I noticed a few weeks ago that traffic from China was low — single digits low instead of being in the top three countries for visitors. Even then I was fairly certain the cause. Today I was again reminded of this anomaly, so sent a message to a 广州人 who replied almost immediately, “yes, blocked on my end”.
A pity, really. I liked that supernaut was read in China, that all my writings on living there, on culture, politics, artists, dancers, places had some small (tiny) return.
There is no other single website and group of people who have so profoundly shaped my reading habits over the last few years, and many of the blogs I read I came across directly from one of their writers. Also, much, if not most of my ability to understand the technical aspects of internet anonymity, computer security, getting around annoying things, all comes from people whom I have in some way found on or via Global Voices.
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.
Beijing’s Dashanzi Art District which I always think of as embodying contemporary Chinese art as so much of it comes from there, has lately been receiving the kind of attention only art seems to engender in governments, an apoplectic, insane hatred born of a class of people whose sole aim in life is promulgating a dictatorship of smallness, meanness, and a spiteful programme to rid the world of colour and life. Whatever freedom artists in China (and elsewhere) have to make the sort of work that would probably see them in prison in some other countries (like Xiaoyu’s Ruan), it always exists at the pleasure of knee-jerk morality and whims of the government and other ruling classes.
Since the start of this month, police and propaganda officials in China have launched their biggest crackdown on Beijing’s counterculture hothouse – Dashanzi art district – where at least three galleries have been ordered to remove politically sensitive works, such as: a painting by Gao Qiang depicting Mao Zedong bathing in a Yangtze river the colour of blood; a child-like depiction of the 1989 Beijing massacre by Wu Wenjian; Huang Rui‘s cultural revolution slogan made up of banknotes bearing Mao’s portrait.
China’s censors may not fully understand contemporary art, but they know what they don’t like. Since the start of this month, police and propaganda officials have launched their biggest crackdown on Beijing’s counterculture hothouse – Dashanzi art district – where at least three galleries have been ordered to remove politically sensitive works.
On their orders, down has come an oil painting by Gao Qiang depicting a sickly yellow Mao Zedong bathing in a Yangtze river the colour of blood. Out has gone a child-like depiction of the 1989 Beijing massacre by Wu Wenjian, who uses stick figures to illustrate tanks and soldiers shooting at people. And back to storage has gone the centrepiece of the celebrated artist Huang Rui’s first solo exhibition on the Chinese mainland: a cultural revolution slogan made up of of banknotes bearing Mao’s portrait.
I started reading Feng 37 a few weeks ago for his endless translations of contemporary Chinese poetry, and being another Guangzhou blogger, he pretty quickly became one of those blogs I’d hope had something new for me to read every day. Early last week, I got an email from him about another blogger who wrote Beijing or Bust, 吴皓 Hao Wu, also on my avalanche of rss feeds, but I didn’t really know much about him, like he’s a documentary filmmaker, and the North East Asia Editor for Global Voices Online among other things.
He’s not writing there at the moment, and if you’re outside China, you can read why at Free Haowu, which you probably can’t even access with anonymous proxies in China, though the mirror hosted here is still open. I don’t usually write about political prisoners, so many other China bloggers do, and I usually don’t think I can add anything, and there’s just so many getting hauled in all the time, I’d have to change my blog name to “supernaut … i whore for dissident of the day”, but one of my closest friends is a filmmaker, a documentary filmmaker like Hao Wu, and I keep thinking it’s only a quirk of geography and arbitrary politics that separates the two.
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.
For a while I go so into playing Halo, and I mean so into it in the end I had to delete the thing from my hard drive. But that didn’t turn me into a xenophobic, steroid-pumped weapons-crazy psychopathic Master Chief, blasting my way across Melbourne … though everything was a bit pixelated after a 16 hour stint …
So now that the Australian Government Classification Review Board has banned Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, not that I’d probably be able to play it anyway on my old PowerBook, I feel unequivocally compelled to download it illegally, and then go around Melbourne tagging stuff.
Ms Maureen Shelley, when questioned on her decision by the ABC’s Lateline, said she didn’t need proof that video games encourage crime—only that she thought they could.