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China: A turmoil triggered by T-shirt

Lawyer Liu Shihui's T-shirt, on which a quote is printed, seems to have the power to attract police and disturb the social order. Below is a partial translation of Liu's blog entry about his experience in Guangzhou.

2009年5月12日下午5点多,我在广州市岗顶地铁站靠近C出口的地铁闸口外面等我女朋友….电话联系知道她已经快到了。

At 5 pm, 12 May, 2009, I was waiting for my girlfriend at a subway station in Guangzhou. Calling her, I knew she was on her way .

这时一个保安(胸牌号PT1776)径直向我走来,一双警觉的眼睛上下打量着我的衣服,一脸凶悍地问道:”你是干什么的?在这里干嘛?”我说我在这里等我女朋友。这个保安瞪着凶神恶煞的眼睛,指着我的T恤衫说:”你的衣服不对,这是什么意思?不能在我们这里穿!”

Right then, a security guard came up to me, staring at me vigilantly and questioned me with a threatening voice:‘What are you up to? What are you doing here?’ I told him that I was waiting for my girlfriend. But he opened up his terrifying eyes and pointed at my T-shirt, ‘Your dressing is wrong, what do you mean by that? You can't dress like this in here!’

我自制的T恤衫前面印了”一党独裁,遍地是灾。——《新华日报》”几个字,后面印了”共产党反对国民党的一党专政,绝不是要建立自己的一党专政。—-刘少奇”这样一句话。后面的字较小,现在被保安发现”不对”、引起阶级斗争警觉的是我恤衫的前面。

I was wearing a self-made T-shirt, with the remark in the front as this quote: ‘One-party dictation is a disaster – by Xinhua Daily’. On the back, there is a line by the former president Liu Shaoqi, ‘Communist Party opposes the one-party ruling by KMT, and absolutely wants no one-party dictation!’ The front side alarmed the guard, whose sense of ‘class struggle’ is triggered.

我反问道:”我的衣服怎么不对了?我穿什么衣服关你什么事?我在这里等人接人碍着谁了?”

I rebuked, ‘What's wrong with my clothes? What has it to do with you? Did I hurt anyone by waiting for people here?’

Unexpectedly, more attention was attracted.

这时,一个警察(警号是018464)来了,另一个保安(2409号)来了,地铁工作人员数人来了,其中地铁一人手持相机对我拍照。围观的人越来越多,人们以新奇和不解的目光注视着我的衣服和眼前突发的事情。在警、保、铁三方如临大敌、铜墙铁壁的包围中,在围观人群不明就里的注视中,我犹如汪洋中的一条独木舟。

At the time, a police came by with another security guard. So did a staff of subway, who held a camera shooting pictures of me. More people stopped by, circling us, watching curiously at my T-shirt and the situation. I felt life a canoe in the ocean with so many people looking at me and had the police, guards and staff surrounding me.

“你上面这句话(指”一党独裁,遍地是灾”)不对,要跟我们去调查。”保安满脸阶级斗争。

‘It is wrong to have such words (one-party dictation is a disaster) imprinted on the T-shirt. Go with us for further investigation.’ The guard said, in profusion of the class-struggle snetiment.

指着胸前的文字对保安解释:这是共产党自己说过的话,是新华日报的社论,如果你读过书的话,应该知道抗战时期有个《新华日报》,你可以自己去查,并且告知他我是律师,请你不要妨碍我的人身自由。1776号保安暴跳如雷,露出了十足地痞的面目,当着警察以及众多围观人群破口大骂:”你个傻逼,管你是什么师,我读书比你多得多。”并且当众对我讪笑道:”就你这个样子也有女朋友?”面对这个满嘴喷粪的人渣,我怒不可遏,一阵恶心。

I pointed to the quote, telling the guard, ‘This is said by the Communist Party itself. It is an editorial of Xin Hua Daily (the precedence of the present state media in China). If you have been to school, you should know Xinhua Daily was a newspaper during the war against Japan in 1940s. You can check it yourself.’ I also told him I am a lawyer and warned him not to infringe on my legal right. The security guard was outraged, behaving like a thug, chiding at me in front of the crowd, ‘You the idiot, I don't care what ‘-er’ are you. I have read much more books than you have.’ He then ridiculed me,'You such a person have a girlfriend?’ I was disgusted facing the man cursing on me.

警察态度虽然没有保安恶劣,但是显然把我当嫌疑人看待,这让我很不舒服。我给他解释:这句话是1946年3月30日中共中央机关报《新华日报》的社论,并跟他说,我女朋友已经出站了,现在她找不见我,我要去接她。警察不许,并要对我“进行传唤”。我指出这是对我人身自由的非法限制,我接不到女朋友,她会很着急。这时警察人数已增为几人,有的强硬,有的和缓。他们和保安将我推拽到一处空地上,然后地铁人员迅速地在我周围竖起了屏风帷帐,将我圈在墙边,以隔阻围观人群探寻的目光和我恤衫文字的对接。

The police was not as mean as the guard, but evidently he viewed me as a suspect. I was so uncomfortable. I explained to him, ‘The line is an excerpt from the editorial issued by the Communist Party's paper, Xihua Daily, on 3 March, 1946.’ I also told him that my girlfriend had already get out of the station. I needed to pick her right now. But the police refused my request and was about to detain me. I pointed out it was an illegal restraint. At that time, more than a few police have gathered around, some of them appearing to be tough, while some polite. They dragged me to an open space and the staff immediately erected screens around me at the corner. It was to prevent passer-by to see the line on my T-shirt.

The police and guards later took Liu to a small room for investigation. A security guard, according to Liu, shouted ‘F**k you’ for several times and rushed to in an attempt to punch him. Fortunatelly, the irritated guard was stopped by the police. They then took pictures of Liu.

警察问我衣服上这句话的出处。我向他们作了详细说明,并且提出愿意帮助他们在网上搜索这句话,警察说这里上不了网。但是我相信他们通过一定的渠道验证了这句话的存在。

The police asked me where the quote is from. I explained to them in details and offered to help search it online. But They said they could not find any computer here. But I believed they must found out about the quote in some way soon.

During the process, Liu noted down their police numbers on the sneak with his cellphone.

我要求警方向我出具对我进行留置或者其他类别强制措施的法律手续,但是警方称没有。我要求做笔录,先是被拒绝,后来在变换了一个拘禁地点后,才应允我。我于晚上19时自书了一份《我被非法拘禁的经过》交给警方,要求对方“赔礼道歉,赔偿损失。”我告诉警方:这是非法拘禁,我作为律师日后将会告你们,并且会把这件荒唐的事情传上网。

I asked for documents that permited them to detain me, but was refused. I required them to help make a statement, but was first refused and then promised only after I was taken to another place. I later wrote a statement about my experience, asking for apology and compensation. I told them, ‘ This is illegal constraint. I, as a lawyer, would charge you and spread the word online.’

一位警察态度明显和缓,要和我“交流思想”,称:“抗战的时候,国民党很独裁,那个时候共产党反对国民党的一党独裁,所以发表了那篇遍地是灾的社论。但是这句话放到现在,就很敏感……”云云。

我回应道:我是一个律师,做的是法律工作,我判断是非的第一尺度是法律,符合法律规定的事情没有人能够阻止我去做,违反法律的事情我压根不会去做。“依法治国”不是已经入宪了吗,是依法治国,不是依“敏感”治国。

The police's attitude was apparently softened. He tried to persuade me, ‘During the anti-Japan war Communist Party was opposed to the authoritarian KMT, so it published the editorial. But the quote will be quite politically sensitive today…etc’.

I replied, ‘ I am a lawyer. The yardstick I use to judge about right and wrong is law. No one can stop me from doing anything that is not prohibited by the law. Isn't ‘ruling the country by law’ written into the constitution? It doesn't say ‘ruling the country by considering whether it is sensitive or not’.

一警员经过较长时间的伏案工作,终于敲出了一份针对我的“讯问笔录”。我粗略地看了一下:上面关于涉嫌违法的事由是“制造谣言和扰乱社会秩序”。我讥笑着对张副所长说:“你不觉得这太侮辱公众常识了吗?如果把它放到网上去,你不怕这个东西会气死躲猫猫?”张副所长无言。鉴于笔录中多处与事实不符,并且警方不同意我复印该笔录的要求,所以我顺理成章地拒绝在那份笔录上签字。

A police finally made out a ‘note of investigation’. I took a rough look. It stated that I ‘made up rumors and disturbed social order’. I ridiculed, ‘ Don't you think this is a violation of common sense? Do you think this is more absurd than the ‘eluding the cat’ incident’? He remained speechless. Since the note distorted the fact and I was not allowed to get a photocopy, I refused to sign my name.

或许是警方已经查证了那句“敏感”话的出处,或许是与我对程序的熟知和严谨苛责有关,或许是警方觉得凭一件文化衫就拉一个人太过意不去(特别是那个喷粪保安的行为太过出格),或许是受我要告他们和上网的声言所影响,最后警方人员摆出了要和解的姿态,问我有什么要求。

Perhaps the police had found out where the quote was from, perhaps I was so familiar with the due process of investigation, or perhaps they didn't think it proper to detain someone just for his T-shirt, perhaps they were alerted by my warning that I will put my experience online, they compromised, asking what I wanted.

Finally, the guard that cursed and shoved Liu apologized to him.

晚上8点10分,我离开岗顶地铁派出所。从开始在地铁闸口被盘查,直到被放走,前后历时近3小时。

在和女友回家的路上,我满脸疲惫,感慨万千。今天的环球已然大不同于抗战时期,星星不再是那颗星星,月亮也不再是那个月亮。我不知道,在人类近三分之二的国家已经采用民主制度的今天,因为将某一政党昔日曾经揭示了客观规律的一句历史名言印在恤衫上,而受到后世同一政党(政府)如临大敌之生猛对待的,在当今世界扳着指头数,究竟还能扳倒几个指头?

At 8:10 pm I left the police station. 3 hours has passed since I was caught at the subway station.
On my way home with my girlfriend I was exhausted. Today the world is no more like the one during the anti-Japan war. 2/3 states in the world have adopted democratic system. I simply printed a quote by the party on my T-shirt, a quote that told the truth. But now I was so treated like a state enemy, exactly by the same party that printed the quote decades ago. How many fingers can I raise if I want to count how many such countries still remain?

7 comments

  • kailing

    Mmmm nice, may I have one? It is good to remember the good quotations from the old days!

  • Allemagne

    Why?Why are the foreigners always curious about such a tiny incident in China?Do they have the special personality or something else?What’s more,In my opinion,call such a little nail “a turmoil” is nonsence.

  • Bob

    If being detained because of wearing a T-shirt is not anything at all, then a citizen can be arrested in any excuse. No turmoil will happen. They are all wiped out.

  • wgj

    Actually, wearing a T-shirt that says “Jews are pigs!” will most certainly get you arrested (and convicted) in pretty much all European countries – as it should be.

    The extreme sanctity of the freedom of expression that exist in the US doesn’t exist in Europe. Various categories of expression are considered unlawful – which obviously doesn’t hurt Europe’s prestige as exemplary democracies at all.

  • Calling Jews pigs is totally different from pulling a quote from state media which is non offensive. The guy obviously believes in justice and believes that China would be better if not under one party dictatorship. How’s that offensive? In China you’re not allowed to have an opinion about this because the one party is terrified of the people’s actual thoughts, so they repress them using threats.

    Protecting Jews from insults is not at all the same thing.

  • On the day China is mourning the one year anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake (May 12) this smart lawyer decides to wear his own personally designed political statement T-shirt in downtown Guangzhou. What a genius!

    I’m going to design a T-shirt with one Chinese word, “豆腐”, and wear it on one of those earthquake tourism tours next year on the second anniversary of the Sichuan quake. If the local police hassle me, I’ll just tell them that I love tofu! “我爱吃豆腐:麻婆豆腐, 红烧豆腐,… 日本豆腐!”

  • wgj

    @carryanne:

    I didn’t – and wouldn’t – say they were the same thing. I was only countering Bob’s argument that “being detained because of wearing a T-shirt” is by itself proof of the dictatorial nature of a state.

    By the way, it’s also a crime in many European countries to wear a T-shirt saying “KZ gas chambers are a myth!” Of course you could argue that this is still “offensive” to all the Nazi victims, but then you must accept that the “disaster” statement may be considered politically offensive as well.

    The fact that it comes from a CCP publication doesn’t matter, since it’s obviously quoted out of context – you can find many offensive and even vulgar words and phrases in the Bible, too.

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