AIDS activist Hu Jia and documentarian/Beijing or Bust blogger Wu Hao were both arrested in Beijing earlier this year on charges that have yet to be specified. While Hu—who went missing on February 16th—was released last week, Global Voices Online editor Wu nears his seventh week in detention.
What's significant about both these two separate incidents is the role blogs have played. Hu's wife Zeng Jin Yan, immediately following Hu's disappearance, began using her blog—started late last year to document her husband's activism—as a means to communicate not only her feelings, but her accounts of her dealings with state authorities and media as well.
She says she doesn't know, that this is beyond her control, that she's not sure, she says I….as if a mother would go and lose one of her kids and when asked where it is say she doesn't know and that she's okay with that, just go on as though everything were okay? As if she can just pretend she's a 3 year-old who doesn't need to take responsibility for her mistakes? As if she can let every department play dumb and refuse to grow up as if that were okay?
Other Chinese bloggers quickly took notice and as the number of links grew, so too did the number of comments left behind.
When Zeng posted last week that Hu had been released and returned home, the number of comments shot through the roof, cheers and encouragement in both Chinese and English. On March 30, Wu's sister Nina began recording her struggles in a blog of her own, with the first post congratulating Zeng on her happy news:
Translations of Nina's posts can be found here.
As can be seen, Hu has a large and vocal support base from within the Chinese blogging community, something Wu, as an English-language blogger, does not. A search of popular mainland blogs and online forums comes back empty-handed. Most bloggers have never heard of him. Even a Google search from here on the mainland on Wu's Chinese name produces an error message and renders the search engine unreachable for thirty minutes.
Could it be said that vocal international condemnation of Hu's arrest didn't ruin his chances of being released? In regards to Wu, if English-language blogs and media hadn't picked up and jumped on his story, how long would it have been before anyone outside China finally noticed? Hard to say. As solidarity between Chinese bloggers and their peers around the world grows, so, quite thankfully, does the relevancy of this question.
Comments left behind Wu's most recent post:
“This blogger is a great friend of ours. He has mysteriously disappeared for more than 3 days now. No body knows where he went. There is many speculations. One thing is for sure that he didn't leave by his own will. Does anyone know where he could be? Does anyone know his family members? Can someone contact his family? His family should definily know and make decisions on what to do. [21:26 February 26]”
“We are worried that this blogger's life could be in serious danger. Someone who knows his family members please contact his family. Only his family members can make decisions on what to do next right now. Please, help us find him. help us contact his family. [21:31 February 26]”