Sunday, March 13, 2022

Wu Gan's Self-Defense and Examples of His "Subversive" Writings

In the pantheon of China's early 21st century activist community, Wu Gan (吴淦) certainly ranks as amongst the most colorful. He dubbed himself the "super-vulgar butcher" (超级低俗屠夫) and described his protest activities as "performance art." 

Photo of Wu Gan shooting a "leg gun" from his Instagram account. For context, see p. 210 of "State Trials of Speech in the PRC."

Additional background on Wu Gan's case can be found on this blog:

On December 21, 2017, Wu Gan was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for committing the crime of subversion of state power. 

Below is translation of a document that was posted online on August 9, shortly before his trial commenced on August 14, purporting to be his statement in self-defense. The original Chinese version can be found at the end of this blog post.

Wu Gan: Statement Before Trial

The rights of speech, publication, religious belief, procession, assembly, supervision of the government and officials, and expression of dissatisfaction are all human rights endowed by nature. In addition, the "Constitution" (assuming it's real), grants and guarantees civil rights. Furthermore, these are universal values recognized and followed by all countries in the world. If someone is convicted for exercising these rights, it will be a disgrace to this country and this era, and it will surely be ridiculed and spurned by the world. To ask a person to defend whether or not they are guilty of exercising these rights is, I think, an insult to any normal person.

In mainland China, if one's ideology and beliefs do not comport with those in power, it is easy to end up persecuted by getting framed through "trumped-up" charges. Since the establishment of the Communist Party of China in 1949, during the Cultural Revolution and previous political campaigns, intellectuals, the 1989 and 1990s, democrats, Falun Gong practitioners, etc. have been persecuted. In recent years, citizens and human rights lawyers have been persecuted for defending their legitimate rights, and thousands of innocent people who have been retaliated against. Who among them is guilty? For decades it has been old wine in new bottles, and the essential nature has not changed.

The accusations they made against me have all been publicly visible over the past few years. They are nothing more than some remarks, writing the Three Classics, solidarity and assistance for innocent victims, and exposés and performance art expression targeting public power and government officials run amok. These are the legitimate rights of a citizen. At the same time, these civil rights should be defended by everyone.

I will be convicted, not because I am really guilty, but because I refuse to accept a government appointed lawyer, because I will not plead guilty and cooperate with the media propaganda, because I insist upon exposing their torture, abuse, and other atrocities against me; because I expose the procuratorate's cover-ups and derelictions of duty.

The task force once told me that in this case the leadership is calling the tune, and the procuratorate and the judiciary are just going through the motions. I will not defend what I have said or done under circumstances where I know that the trial is merely a farcical performance where I will be found guilty. The innocent need not defend themselves.

In addition, a trial is meaningless when the police procedures employed various illegal procedures, torture, abuse, embezzling my property, forcing me to accept their questions, and forcing me to give up my right to hire a lawyer, and none of these illegal acts were investigated and dealt with.

I know there will be a heavy sentence, but I will never regret what I did and the choices I made today. I only feel guilt and remorse at having involved my family and have done too little. The voice and support of the people, and the persistence and dedication of the lawyers are the best "verdict" for me. Right and wrong will not be reversed, and justice will eventually triumph over evil. The wheel of history rolls forward and will not stop when some people try to block it. Those who try to obstruct the progress of human civilization will eventually be nailed to history's pillar of shame.

Under the brutal rule of "The Great, The Glorious, The Correct,"1 it is embarrassing not to be "criminalized." If we don't keep getting "criminalized" we'll all grow old. It is a great honor for me to be convicted of subverting the CCP regime. On the journey to fight for democracy and freedom and defend the rights of citizens, a guilty verdict from an autocratic dictatorship is a golden trophy awarded to a fighter for democracy and freedom.

I refuse to make a defense, and merely take this opportunity to thank you for this award! Thank you!

Declarant: Wu Gan

[Month and Date Missing from Source Material], 2017

Wu Gan's Pre-Trial Statement

In the judgment (see "State Trials of Speech in the PRC" pp. 192-229) the court cited 13 examples of Wu Gan's conduct that it determined formed the basis of his subversion. The first example the court gave in the judgment was "Utilizing Information Networks to Attack the State Regime and the Socialist System." (see State Trials of Speech in the PRC" pp. 197-200) According to the court "part of the content that Wu Gan posted on his Twitter account was: "The Butcher's Three Classics: 1: The Classic on Butchering Pigs for Petitioners. 2: The Classic on Drinking Tea. 3: The Classic on Petitioning Against Forced Demolitions and Land Appropriations." The court found that his publication of Three Classics were not protected speech under the PRC's Constitution:

Our country's Constitution grants citizens freedom of speech and the rights to criticize, suggest, and bring suit against State agencies and their staff. At the same time, it stipulates that when exercising their rights and freedoms citizens shall not harm the national, social, or collective interests and other legal freedoms of citizens. Wu Gan published articles and statements such as "Three Great Classics" on information networks that sensationalized hot-button case incidents, took advantage of issues to amplify contradictions, and fabricated rumors and distorted facts. This not only severely harmed the reputation of others, it also seriously disrupted social order and severely endangered state security. What purported to be reflecting complaints and demands was in reality subversion of state power that exceeded the legal limit of the legitimate exercise of rights and freedoms, and was the commission of an offense under relevant provisions of the criminal law.

Below is translation of "The Classic on 'Drinking Tea'" that Wu Gan posted on his Instagram on July 9, 2014. The original Chinese version can be found at the end of this blog post.

The Classic on "Drinking Tea"

Wu Gan

In a nation without democracy and freedom, "drinking tea" is the only way to truly become a citizen. "Drinking tea" usually refers to being interviewed by public security or state security officials because of your speech or your civic actions. In fact, most of the time there is no tea to drink, not even plain boiled water. I believe it is necessary to overcome the fear of "drinking tea," and learn to how to handle dealings with the machinery of dictatorship. After my initial experience of terror at "drinking tea," I have subsequently grown accustomed to it. Of course, this "Classic on Tea Drinking" is merely my personal opinion, and I am just sharing my experience with everyone who will be "drinking tea." The situation will vary depending on the person and the environment.

When "drinking tea" one is usually faced with two types of people, the State Defense Department of the Public Security Bureau (domestic security defense) and the Security Office of the State Security Bureau. One will be "invited to tea" by the Security Office only if matters are related to foreign countries, while the State Defense Department is responsible for domestic affairs. State Defense is the one generally making an appearance, while the Security Office remains relatively low-key and rarely makes an appearance. Because they are human beings, they are also divided into several categories, but they are all people who perform the tasks of the machinery of dictatorship, so they can be mainly divided into 3 categories:

  1. Brutal Type: This kind of person is of low quality and generally has psychological problems. He regards power as a tool of violence, has no humanity, and enjoys persecution and violence. He proves his authority and existence by deriving pleasure and satisfaction from perpetrating evil and violence.

  2. Understanding Type: This person knows that what they are doing is disgraceful work, and also clearly understands the nature of the machinery of dictatorship. He understands that the regime has no future, and so he will not take the initiative to commit violence and evil. He takes his job as a way to earn a living, and undertakes those duties that are required of him.

  3. Mechanical Type: This person has been deeply brainwashed, and their thinking conforms to the machinery of dictatorship. He treats what is wrong as what is right, and believes he is doing a very honorable job.

"Drinking tea" usually involves them coming to you or letting you go to them. Usually, it mostly means a warning. They uses warnings, instilling fear, and creating burdens to make you retreat and give up fighting for civil rights. They will also teach you political lessons, imbuing viewpoints that they think are correct, such as:

  • "You have a good life, why do you care about those things?"

  • "Now that the country has been making progress, you must also believe in the government and the Party. In the reform process, there will be such and such problems, It's normal, I believe the Party can solve it."

  • "So-and-so is a hostile element, a bad person, you have to be vigilant and don't associate with him."

  • "There is a deep water behind the so-and-so incident, and there are foreign forces involved, you have to be careful not to be used. ."

  • "If you don't obey, we'll be welcome next time."

  • "You have to think more about your family."

"Drinking tea" sometimes involves taking notes, investigations of the ins and outs of a certain event, and occasionally and demand for asks for a Letter of Assurance.

The foregoing are the types of people one must face when "drinking tea," as well as the main content of "drinking tea." What follows is my discussion about what to pay attention to when "drinking tea."

Since you can't escape the machinery of dictatorship, you can only choose to dance with wolves, so "drinking tea" sometimes requires wisdom and preparation. Before becoming a true citizen, you must do the following three things before "drinking tea":

  1. Confirm that what you can bear the consequences for what you have done, and whether you are prepared to be harassed and intimidated, be placed under house arrest, be "invited to tea," be re-educated through labor, or even be sentenced to prison.

  2. When you fight for civil rights, you must act honorably, openly, and justly.

  3. Have you prepared for the loss of of your freedom with information release channels, lawyers' assistance, family members and outside contact information, etc., because often you will be taken away and locked up after "drinking tea."

Points to note when "drinking tea":

  1. Be neither humble nor arrogant, don't let your terror and fear show, and try not to be deceived and provoked in the face of violence or insults.

  2. When you are asked something, only discuss your own part, try not to talk about others, try to pretend to be confused. The best way to plead your case is to say "I can't remember," "I forget", "I don't understand", and "I don't follow."

  3. Tell them that what you are doing is upright, honorable, and just, and that you have made various arrangements.

  4. Do your utmost not to have personal grievances with them, and tell them clearly that if you decide to something, you will bear the consequences yourself. Also ask them not to turn public affairs into personal animus. The spirit of contract remains a necessity.

  5. Do your utmost not to insult their person, try not to be antagonistic, and try not to humiliate the people you deal with on the Internet unless they humiliate you.

  6. If an individual holds a personal grudge, it is recommended to investigate them privately. As you well know, I personally have no objection to exacting justice and revenge through original blood relatives.

  7. Under no circumstances believe their words, let alone try to persuade them. Never believe that there is anything they won't do.

  8. Whether or not to write a Letter of Assurance is dependent on your own situation. Sometimes you can write one in order to end an unnecessary entanglement,. The Letter of Assurance is generally used by them show their leadership that they have completed a task. The Letter of Assurance you write when you are under duress does not bind you, and there is no need to abide by it.

  9. When getting involved in public affairs it is best to do so from an external location in order to avoid unnecessary troubles caused by local interests.

  10. They will sometimes find your employer, family, and friends to create pressure and put burdens in your lap. Dealing with this kind of burden is the most difficult, but also the most necessary. So try to let the people around you know what you're doing. Let them know you're doing the right thing, not something shady. It is difficult to get their support, but by striving for their understanding and respect it can reduce stress and misunderstandings.

On the road to becoming a citizen, you are either "drinking tea" or on the way to "drinking tea." When everyone no longer fears "drinking tea," but regards "drinking tea" as a kind of honor, then society will progress.

Example No. Seven in the court judgment was "Sensationalizing the Case of Yu Shiwen and Others Disturbing the Peace" (see State Trials of Speech in the PRC" pp. 209-211), which involved Wu Gan traveling to the city of Zhengzhou to protest the detention of Yu Shiwen (于世文) and several others (referred to online collectively as the "Ten Gentlemen") who had themselves been in Zhengzhou protesting the wrongful convictions of four individuals for murder (the four would indeed eventually be exonerated by a PRC court, see Killer Linked with Notorious Jiangxi Murder gets Death Penalty, China Daily). One of the targets of Wu Gan's "performance art" was Huang Baowei (黄保卫), who testified that while he was serving as the Director of the Public Security Bureau of Zhengzhou, Wu Gan "denigrated and cast aspersions about him on the Internet for no reason. He successively produced 'citations' on the Internet, and mobilized Internet users to engage in the 'performance art' of shooting leg guns at [him]." 

Below is translation of a "citation" that Wu Gan posted on his Instagram on July 9, 2014. The original Chinese version can be found at the end of this blog post.

Instagram Text: Seeing the warriors from all walks of life who came to support the ten gentlemen, I admire their bravery and determination! They are ready to be here. If the ten gentlemen are not freed, they will not give up. This time, I mainly commend the leaders of the Zhengzhou Public Security Bureau. One of the citations:


Zhengzhou Public Security Bureau [TEXT OBSCURED IN ORIGINAL]

In view of the outstanding performance of you and your bureau in protecting the Zhengzhou Royal No. 1 Club, I hereby confer upon you the honorary title of "Guardian of the Dark Evil Forces of the Universe." I hope you will continue to work hard and continue to escort the evil forces in Zhengzhou and generate more income and protection fees.

Pig Slaughtering Office of the Super Vulgar Butcher 

July 10, 2014

Wu Gan's Citation for Huang Baowei as posted on Wu Gan's Instagram account.

Coincidentally, on May 7, 2020, the website of the Supreme People's Procuratorate published an article titled "Henan Procuratorate Prosecutes Huang Baowei's Suspected Bribery and Corruption Cases" (河南检察机关依法对黄保卫涉嫌受贿、贪污案提起公诉). According to that article:

A few days ago, the People's Procuratorate of Anyang filed a public prosecution with the Intermediate People's Court of Anyang in accordance with the law regarding the case of former Party Secretary and Chairman of the Zhengzhou Municipal Political Consultative Conference in Henan, Huang Baowei (at the department level), being suspected of bribery and corruption.
During the review and prosecution stage, the procuratorate informed defendant Huang Baowei of his procedural rights, interrogated the defendant in accordance with the law, and heard the opinions of defense counsel. The People's Procuratorate of Anyang charged:

Defendant Huang Baowei took advantage of his positions as Secretary and Director of the Party Committee of Public Security Bureau of Sanmenxia, Secretary and Director of the Party Committee of the Public Security Bureau of Zhengzhou, Member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Zhengzhou Municipal Committee, and Secretary of the Political and Legal Committee of the Communist Party of China, to seek benefits for others, ask for and illegally accept other people's property, The amounts involved are particularly large.
He took advantage of his positions as the Party Secretary and Director of the Public Security Bureau of Sanmenxia, the Party Secretary and Director of the Public Security Bureau of Zhengzhou, to take illegal possession of public property. The amounts involved were large.
He should be charged with the crime of accepting bribes and embezzlement and bear criminal liability in accordance with the law.

Procuratorate's Announcement that Huang Baowei is Under Investigation

Wu Gan's Self Defense Statement Before Trial

吴淦:开庭前声明(附 影印件)












Wu Gan's Classic on Drinking Tea


























Wu Gan's Citation to Huang Baowei







Government Statement: Henan Procuratorate Prosecutes Huang Baowei's Suspected Bribery and Corruption Cases




Translation: Xu Zhiyong's Statement in His Own Defense

 Source: China Digital Times: On April 10, 2023, Xu Zhiyong, a well-known human rights de...