China’s miraculous recent efforts to reform people into “socialist new men”!

Photo: Voice of America, January 2016

Photo: Voice of America, January 2016

Lee Bo, one of the Hong Kong Publishing Five whose disappearances last year have been widely reported, now says he will never publish banned books again.

Let’s try to look at the possible bright side to the PRC’s recent successful attempts to insult our intelligence and challenge our credulity. One of the more idealistic aspects of the Bolshevik Revolution was the honest aspiration of Lenin’s first Minister of Justice to create a new, truly revolutionary system of punishment that would transform criminals into “new socialist men”. Chairman Mao’s first decade in national power prominently featured a similar goal, one that gradually, almost imperceptibly, yielded to the reality that it is easier for governments to kill people than transform them.

But is it now possible that Xi Jinping has outdone his much-admired Helmsman by miraculously transforming, in jig time, the Hong Kong Publishing Five and other alleged offenders who have recently confessed their sins in public, even without being prosecuted, not to mention convicted? By the time we mark the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution next year, will there be further evidence that it has belatedly achieved one of its most ambitious goals?  

Johannes Chan appointment rejected by Hong Kong University Council: A Scandal

Originally posted on September 29, 2015 (reposted on September 30 due to technical issues)

by Jerome Cohen

The Hong Kong University Council has voted to veto the appointment of pro-democracy scholar Johannes Chan Man-mun as pro-vice-chancellor. This is very sad news for Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedom. “Zhengzhi guashuai (政治掛帥)” is a slogan frequently invoked in the Mainland, but it is tragic to see “Politics in Command” in Hong Kong’s educational sphere. The Council is hiding behind the fig leaf of confidentiality and privacy because it cannot afford to be transparent and give the reasons for its decision. This is a scandal!

Threats to academic freedom in Hong Kong

Jerome Cohen

Here is an article by David Matthew today on how Hong Kong academics critical of Beijing have been put under pressures, subtle or flagrant. It reports, “Press attacks and council control…have been the weapons of choice against the most prominent academic figures in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. But some believe that the highly politicised environment in Hong Kong is also beginning to affect the climate for day-to-day teaching and research.”

Johannes Chan Man-mun (Photo by Voice of America Tang Huiyun, 美國之音湯惠芸)

Johannes Chan Man-mun (Photo by Voice of America Tang Huiyun, 美國之音湯惠芸)

This further development is disturbing. The current struggle over the appointment of former law school dean Johannes Chan as pro-vice chancellor at University of Hong Kong is a more visible litmus test. HK is no longer a safe haven for holding conferences or even informal exchanges with scholars and lawyers from China, as again illustrated by today’s news that five Mainland human rights lawyers have just been stopped from leaving for HK.

On his impending visits to the US and UK, Xi Jinping should be questioned on every occasion about this as well as his vicious repression of human rights lawyers, IF any of his hosts – official or unofficial – have the wit and guts to insist on allowing unscripted questions.

Today’s very moving BBC interview with the wife of LI Heping, a genuinely great human rights lawyer and friend, only adds fuel to what may become a bonfire. Xi Jinping is evidently putting into practice his belief that China should be guided by the ancient dictatorial philosophy of its notoriously repressive Legalists rather than by the “universal” legal values reflected in the 25 international human rights documents to which his predecessors voluntarily committed the PRC. Beijing’s new slogan for governance might be “Leninist Legalism”. Or should it be “Legalist Leninism”?