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Today in History

June 18, 2015

See Chinese original.

On June 18, 2004, I was in Xian when I heard about the poetry lecture courses that were being held by the Shanxi College of Literature, and Mr. Song Lin was invited to attend. Song Lin, who had lived in France, was my poetry mentor, and I hadn’t seen him in 14 years. I was extremely excited as I rushed to board the bus headed back to Taiyuan. I came straight to the lecture hall, and met Song Lin in the last row of seats. We then each went up to the podium and recited our own poems. Afterwards, the organizers of the event arranged a banquet for several tables of people. At that moment, I got wind that special agents of the Communist Party were searching everywhere for my materials, and my heart was filled with fear. That night, I saw Song Lin off at the train station, reluctant to part with him. Song Lin comforted me and told me there was no need to be afraid of “them,” and encouraged me to read more poems by Walt Whitman.

On November 24, 2004 in Taiyuan, I was picked up by a group of plainclothes individuals. One of them said to me, “On June 18, while you were eating at such-and-such restaurant, I was just outside your banquet room starving.”

Eleven years have passed since. I had optimistically thought that the space for speech in China had improved a great deal. I never imagined that my Wechat “moments” would all be blocked. Isn’t this a return to those so-called supervision sites of the Reform-Through-Labor camps where you had to watch your captors before you took a single step?

I cannot accept or adjust to this kind of absurd society, which has continued the lowlife ideology and management tactics long despised and abandoned by human society. I can only use different methods to express my own extreme dissatisfaction and severe condemnation. History has countless “todays.” The question is: why is our today still caught in the continuous loop of our dark history of feudal autocracy? Why, in this so-called great era, has the most basic freedom of speech turned into the weightiest topic?