Thursday, February 15, 2024

Translation: Xu Zhiyong's Statement in His Own Defense


China Digital Times: On April 10, 2023, Xu Zhiyong, a well-known human rights defender, and Ding Jiaxi, a human rights lawyer, who had been detained for more than three years, were sentenced by the authorities to 14 years and 12 years, respectively, for "subversion of state power." This article is Xu Zhiyong's self-defense statement, provided to Digital Times by human rights lawyer Teng Biao.

A Statement In My Own Defense

1. The Citizens Movement

You accuse me of subverting state power. The so-called criminal facts include: advocating citizens' movements, writing "Glorious China", having exchanges on the ideology of non-violence, and holding offline gatherings of citizens. I have no intention of defending myself, because it is not your judgment that determines when we will be free and when China will be free, but Haotian's will. But dawn is approaching, and for the sake of a better future for China it is necessary to once again elaborate on the Citizen Movement.

The Citizens Movement is an action that advocates citizens conducting themselves as true citizens, taking citizens' identities, rights, and responsibilities seriously, rationally promoting national and social progress, and ultimately realizing a glorious China of democracy, rule of law, freedom, justice, and love. We should take our status as citizens seriously. We are citizens, not subjects who bow before power, nor silent ants in a reincarnation of a dynasty. Citizens are the masters of the country who regularly vote to decide which party is in power and who is in power. We take citizens' rights seriously, including the freedoms of elections, speech, association, assembly, processions, demonstrations, etc. that are written in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and also in China's Constitution. We have freedom of speech, which we cannot be arbitrarily deprived of on the grounds of sensitivity or harmfulness. We have the right to vote and we cannot be deprived of it by manipulation through indirect elections or designated candidates to suppress competition. Taking the responsibilities of citizens seriously, China is a China of the people and all citizens, not a China of any family or political party. As citizens, we pursue democracy, defend freedom, and uphold fairness and justice.

Taking democracy seriously, taking freedom seriously, taking seriously the core values you hang on the wall, and taking seriously the banner of democracy and freedom held high by people with lofty ideals and benevolence for hundreds of years. Just taking these things seriously. Is that subverting your regime?!

The Citizens Movement advocates a modern civilized public lifestyle. We believe that politics is not about seizing power and doing whatever it takes to gain power, but rather about taking up a good cause for the benefit of the public. We set up a citizen logo with the blue background of the Republic of China and Mr. Sun Yat-sen's handwriting of "citizen." We also made citizen badges, cultural shirts, umbrellas, water cups, etc. to spread the concept of citizenship. We actively participated in public affairs, promoted the abolition of detention and deportation, ran for election as National People's Congress representatives, expressed opinions and made suggestions on major public events. We were enthusiastic about public welfare, helping earthquake victims, helping primary school students in Tibetan areas, and preventing the forced relocation of the Beijing Zoo. We are public interest lawyers, independent candidates for National People's Congress representatives, members of community property committees, environmental volunteers, opinion leaders, and Chinese people who pursue freedom and love democracy. Be citizens yourself, be citizens together, serve the society, cultivate civil society, and connect the country into a community of citizens.

The goal of the Citizens Movement is a glorious China of freedom, justice, and love. Freedom is human nature and the eternal purpose of the country and society. Without hindering others, follow your heart's desires; when others are hindered, find a balance. There are no restricted areas for thought and speech, and rights and responsibilities must be commensurate with each other. Justice is the reasonable boundaries of liberty, earthly equity, and fairness, with restraints for the strong and safeguards for the weak. Everyone performs their duties, everyone does what they can, and everyone gets what they deserve.

Love is the most glorious emotion in the world. Love yourself, practice spirituality in this world, and perfect your soul; love your relatives and friends, and be grateful for the love of life; love strangers, and smile warmly to each other; love your enemies, sympathize with those who are bound up by hatred and hostility. Love all living things, the spirit of all things, love the endless world. Freedom, justice, and love are our core values, the banner of this era, and the new national spirit of China.

Being a true citizen is both a strategy and a belief. The totalitarian system is extremely insecure, so it uses modern concepts such as democracy and freedom to package itself. It is like a villain wearing a cassock. Onlookers take it seriously, and they can thus force it to accept certain rules and precepts. Being a true citizen is more than just a matter of faith. The way of the world is that all that exists under heaven belongs to the people, and my lifelong quest is to become a true citizen, enjoying the  universal rights of freedom such as freedom of speech and the right to vote. When that day comes, then my country most certainly will have changed too.

The Citizens Movement is not the name of an organization. At present, citizens' groups are not organizations. One day, when China needs them, citizens will form an organization. Not a gang-like organization of strict personal attachments, but a modern civilized political organization based on individual freedom and democratic rules. Its name is the Citizens Union.

2. Glorious China

The first draft of "Glorious China" was written in 1993, when it was called "Free China." In October 2020, I completed the final revision of the article in a detention center without pen and paper. There are 24 articles in total, divided into 3 parts. The first part has 10 articles, and the themes are the citizen rights protection movement, including the 20th century, life as a dream, in the name of citizens, etc. The second part has 9 articles, and the themes are the citizen movement, including China's path, citizen movements, non-violence, etc. The third part contains 5 articles, and the themes are the future of China, including constitutional China, good politics, glorious China, the rebirth of civilization, and my beliefs.

In the spring of 2003, we submitted a citizens' proposal to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, demanding a constitutional review of the Custody and Repatriation System. We signed the proposal with the word "citizen" in front of our names. Everyone worked together, causing a sensation in the government and the public, and the system was quickly abolished. Afterwards, a group of professional lawyers entered the public eye, using law as a weapon to defend citizens' rights and promote the process of democracy and the rule of law. In academic circles this was called the citizens' rights protection movement.

Over the past ten years, we have fought unjust cases of innocent people sentenced to death, fought for compensation for the kidney stone babies and the people enslaved to work in black brick kilns, we have exposed black jails, rescued illegally detained petitioners, and fought side-by-side with parents for the rights of tens of millions of left-behind children to go to school and take college entrance examinations. We have run for election as a deputy to the National People's Congress, promoted the improvement of the electoral system, and provided many suggestions to the National People's Congress, including abolishing reeducation through labor and changing the family planning policy. We once held high hopes that grassroots democracy would gradually advance upwards and the rule of law would gradually improve, that China could achieve a modern civilization of democracy, and that the rule of law would be achieved through gradual reforms.

In a society where the people have long been subjected, we burned our own weak light and worked hard to awaken the people to join together as citizens, for only by working together can we change China. In May 2012, we launched the New Citizens Movement, which was later renamed the Citizens Movement.

Dictatorships must fall and democracies must arise. I hope that China's constitutional civilization transformation will find its own path, and the people will pay the minimum price to reform the old economic system, grow a market economy, change the old political system, and grow a community of citizens. No matter whether the interaction between the government and the opposition completes the transformation, or the dictatorship suddenly collapses, China will not fall into turmoil, but will have a better future. This is the path for China and the original intention of the Citizens Movement.

Soviet Russia was unprepared economically and socially for its political transformation, leading to turmoil and disorder, and the return of authoritarianism. China is different. We have had a market economy for forty years and a civil society that has already taken root. China has been preparing for forty years, and we will continue to work hard to cultivate a strong and rational force of modern civilization outside of the old system. China's revolution will not follow the old path of the Soviet Union, because we citizens are here.

We know that China will have a bright future. That is a democratic China, a free China, a just China, a China full of love, a China with civilization reborn, and a China that the world admires.

3. The Rebirth of Civilization

The mission of the Chinese people is not national rejuvenation but the rebirth of civilization. National rejuvenation, as the name suggests, represents a prosperous era. What era is it? The Western Han Dynasty can be said to have been powerful, but at the same time, the Roman Empire's military, technological, and cultural influence on later generations was even more profound. The culture of the Tang Dynasty was prosperous, but at the same time the Islamic Empire emerged, and "One Thousand and One Nights" and Arabic numerals became more widely circulated. The Qin Dynasty was short-lived, the Song Dynasty's army was weak, the dynasties of the Mongol Yuan, Han Chinese, and Southern peoples are not worth recalling, and the scientific culture of the Ming and Qing Dynasties were characterized by constant decline.

For more than two thousand years, the haze of the Qin system has shrouded China. Although there was a revival in the Tang and Song Dynasties, backwardness in modern times was inevitable. The Qin system was barbaric and tyrannical, and it took the world for its own selfish interests. Its system has dominated the political landscape with dynastic reincarnation. The tree of Chinese civilization never grew, but gradually withered. Our modern ancestors introduced science and tried hard to introduce democracy, but in the end they introduced communism, and the evil fire of Marxist-Leninist fetishism has raged ever since, leaving behind this spiritual wilderness.

We are doomed to defeat if we use Western communist totalitarianism to fight against Western democracy and freedom, use Western Marxist-Leninist fetishism to fight against Western Christian civilization, and use Western dross to counter Western essence. The true self-confidence of a nation does not lie in digging up its ancestral graves in order to discover Marxist-Leninist cults, much less in the oracle bones and bamboo slips found in ancestral graveyards, nor at the craters of volcanoes where people speak uniformly, whitewash peace, and fake a prosperous age. True self-confidence is rooted in the faith and culture of our ancestors and based on the democracy and freedom of the world, where 1.4 billion people burst out with passion and vitality to create the most advanced technology, the most prosperous economy, and the most splendid culture in the world, expelling Marxism-Leninism and returning to the roots of Huaxia, a civilization reborn, a glorious China.

When the Sanxingdui Golden Mask was unearthed I saw the glory that once illuminated China, that our people had also had such a pious history, that like all major civilizations of that time sacrifice played an important role. King Tang of the Shang Dynasty opened the net on three sides, showing his virtue was universal, and boldly vowed "Where the Xia Dynasty was unjust, we who fear God dare not be unjust." That is a Huaxia with a soul, a China with faith.

Integration into the trend of modern scientific democracy caused Japanese civilization to be reborn, is causing Indian civilization to be reborn, and Chinese civilization will also be reborn. God has left this spiritual wilderness where no new civilization has grown, and we need to understand nature, ourselves, and God at a higher level. New philosophy, new religion, new technology, and new culture will dissolve the conflicts of civilizations and lead a new era of human civilization.

The root of the rebirth of Chinese civilization lies in ancient times, where there is the God Haotian, the rich spiritual world of our ancestors, and the China where spring flowers bloom. The majestic power of the rebirth of Chinese civilization is blooming in this world. If everyone is free from authoritarian oppression and everyone is free to create, China will surely regain its glory.

Staring at the eternal moonlight outside the iron window, I pray with my ancestors to Haotian. You who created the universe, galaxies, life and mankind, inspired wisdom, science, major religions, and led major civilizations. Just like your children, one of them is lost and has been alone for three thousand years. Now that you are finally coming home, you are watching our generation of Chinese sons and daughters end the long night of dictatorship with struggle and commitment, ushering in the glorious rebirth of Eastern civilization, freedom, justice, and love. A Huaxia with a soul, a China with faith.

4. Dawn is Coming

A century ago, the Qing Dynasty was overthrown and the Republic of China was established. However, the specter of autocracy was unwilling to withdraw from the stage of history. After decades of internal and external troubles, the Republic of China fell and autocracy returned.

In the name of communism, thousands of years of autocracy have returned to glory, and the cry of "long live" has choked the sky and the earth. The immature democracy, rule of law, and market economy of the Republic of China have been blown away by the rain and wind. The Chinese people, who had just stood up but were still unsteady on their feet, have once again fallen to their knees. This is a historical counter-current that shows no self-confidence, and as a result everywhere there is mendacity. In the guise of the people and under the banner of democracy and freedom, their mendacity is sustained by violence and terror. When the government was first established there was  massive suppression, and the anti-rightist movement broke the backbone of the scholars. During the Great Leap Forward, tens of millions of people starved to death. During the insanity of the Cultural Revolution Emperor Yan's mausoleum was destroyed, the tomb of Confucius was violated, and the tombs of our ancestors were dug up. In times of trouble for China, the Mongols, the Manchus, and the Japanese came, but the foreign occupiers still showed respect to Confucius and our ancestors. Only the specter of Soviet-Russian communism could destroy our Chinese culture in such an unprecedented and cruel way, with a multitude of crimes that are too numerous to describe.

The pendulum eventually swings back. The totalitarian madness gradually dissipated, and the people were able to enjoy a little sunshine of freedom, breathe a little free air, and enjoy prosperity and progress for more than thirty years. However, the specter of totalitarian ghost cannot change its nature so easily. In its death throes it puts the gears in reverse and starts backing up against current. Looking at China today, there are already “four comprehensives”:

Comprehensive Economic Crises. A totalitarian system may be able to promote economic development in the short term, but it distorts the market, depletes people's power, suppresses society, and ultimately becomes an obstacle to economic development. High oil prices, high housing prices, high taxes and fees, monopolization of the national economy and people's livelihoods, eventually these all become tools to suck out blood. People are heavily in debt and unable to consume. When the people are poor, the country is also poor. A swarm of rats steal wealth and store it abroad. They squander money and make random investments that empty out the national treasury. The stability maintenance system expands and exhausts the State's power. After the epidemic, while the world economy is booming, only China's industries are in decline and people are struggling to make ends meet. In response to the debilitating economic crisis, they have worked ever harder to suck out the blood and throw away money, and quench their thirst with poison.

Comprehensive Political Regression. In the 1980s, it was proposed that the Party and the State be separated. Now the Party must lead everything: the economy, private enterprises, primary and secondary schools, football, and the yin and yang of churches and temples. What kind of spectacle of a "prosperous age" is it when the crosses on top of churches are burned and monks are paraded out to raise the national flag. For forty years village-level democracy has not advanced but retreated. Hong Kong's century-old freedom and rule of law have been undermined. Those within the Party have invented the crime of "making indiscriminate remarks," and we can all see where that road leads. What's more, they risked universal condemnation by openly tampering with the Constitution and presumptuously and seeking to grant immortality to a corpse. Is it possible that the sons and daughters of Huaxia will tolerate this?

Comprehensive Cultural Decay. A big country with a population of 1.4 billion, yet its cultural influence is far less than that of Japan and South Korea. Confucius Institutes are running into obstacles all over the world, and the once grand Spring Festival has become dull because it lacks a soul. Layers of censorship and castration have left the Internet in a state of desolation. Movies, TV, literature, and art are bereft of any tune beyond the Main Theme. Since the Cultural Revolution, which revolutionized Chinese culture, the spiritual world of the Chinese people has been a desert. How can a Western evil spirit that digs up the graves of China's ancestors lead the rejuvenation of China?

Comprehensive Diplomatic Failure. After World War II, the Olympics have never faced such a large-scale boycott, and the Chinese have never faced such widespread discrimination. The big money along the Belt and Road has only sown but not reaped, measuring China's material resources to please the czar, becoming an enemy of democracy and freedom, in the company of tyrants and thieves. How was a majestic China brought so low?

Clearly tens of millions of people live below the international poverty line, but it is claimed we are moderately prosperous in all respects. Clearly it is nothing but a rubber stamp, but it is claimed that it is the highest authority in the country. Clearly it is a one-party dictatorship, but it is claimed we have full-process democracy. Clearly the emperor has no clothes, but it is claimed he is wearing the most magnificent new clothes in the world.

He led all the forces to restrain, and worried about the world, the six qi were not in harmony, the four seasons were not seasonal, the epidemic of the century, the floods in the Central Plains, the sky's alarm bells thundered in the mountains and rivers, and the emperor could not wake up the old man's dream. Two years ago, I wrote a letter to persuade him to quit, but now I no longer persuade him. The sun and the moon have risen, and their energy has been exhausted. God wants to destroy it, but who can stop it from going crazy?

Forces are deployed to restrain the power of the people, all in the world is confusion and worry, the natural balance has been disrupted, the four seasons are in turmoil, epidemics roil the land, floods scour the plains, but Haotian's alarm bells thundering over the mountains and rivers cannot rouse the emperor from the remnants of his old man's earthly dreams. Two years ago, I wrote a letter to persuade him to step down, but to this day he remains immune to counsel. The sun and the moon have risen, and their energy is spent. It is God's will that it be destroyed, but who can bring an end to his insanity?

5. We Citizens

Citizens, the dawn is approaching. The long night of three thousand years of autocracy began to brighten in 1840, and the darkness before the dawn of more than seventy years will finally come to an end. Communist totalitarianism is a dead end, and such retrograde behavior cannot long survive. The collapse of autocracy and the rebirth of China will represent a transition centuries in the making, and a three thousand year sea change. This is the final battle between freedom and slavery, democracy and tyranny, light and darkness. Fortunate are we who have been born at the right time to take up this great mission.

We are China's future. What kind of China we will give future generations depends on our beliefs and our actions. It breaks ones heart to witness the loss of national faith, the depression of spirit, the corruption of conscience, and the withering of culture in this land that has been polluted by dictatorships for thousands of years. A new civilization needs a cornerstone, and we citizens are that cornerstone. A new civilization needs soil, and we citizens are duty-bound to it.

It has been twenty years since I visited AIDS villages in Hubei and Henan in the summer after I was awarded my Ph.D. and embarked on that rocky road of public service. I was knocked to the ground in front of the National Bureau of Letters and Calls. I was beaten and kicked in the Youth Hotel Black Prison and in Yinan County. I was illegally detained in many places, arrested for tax evasion, imprisoned as a thief, and imprisoned in the prisons of Tianhe, Liulin, and Kenhua. Who is there that can take what he himself has in excess and offer this to the Empire? Think of Paul’s letter: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Ah, what kind of generation is this? I still have the opportunity to share in the glory of the Lord.

I never feel that this world is desolate. There is a starry sky above the ruins, and Haotian's love sits atop that starry sky. I would never complain about the people. The silence before dawn is just because our singing is not loud enough. Passion burns for freedom; swords are unsheathed for the public welfare; and there is compassion for all living things because of love.

I love this world so much. I love every shy flower and every innocent bud in spring. I love freedom so much. However, in order to fight for more people's freedom and China's freedom, I have been deprived of my freedom again and again.

Born on the old course of the Yellow River in the hinterland of the Central Plains, three thousand years ago it was named China. But everywhere there is a twentieth-century name, civil rights. I love the Republic of China so deeply. Love the fleeting light of hope for our nation. I was a latecomer and spent my life fighting for civil rights. I know that the great era has begun. I hear the footsteps of history rolling in. I hear it say, go ahead and walk through this final valley of the shadow of death. Because of my faith, I carried the cross; because of my faith, I traveled through the long dark years; because of my faith, I embraced with my life the rising sun of the rebirth of Eastern civilization.

Ten years of the Citizens Movement. How many citizens are there standing up in the land of China? This nation has been on its knees for too long. We still have a long way to go. But neither should we be pessimistic. Democracy and freedom cannot be achieved only when everyone wakes up. As long as one percent of the people wake up and more than 10 million brave citizens wake up, it will be enough to change China. Do not think that the night is all-powerful, for the relentless dawn will give it no place to hide. Do not think that silence is so terrible, for one word of truth can make it fly away. Do not think that we will despair because they hold the guns, for once the consciousness of freedom awakens, the ghosts and monsters will disappear, and the guns and armor will be returned to the people. Our strength lies not in guns, but in the human heart; not in lies, but in truth; not in schemes, but in piety; not in hatred, but in love.

Remember to speak the truth. The truth is powerful. Even if there is no response at the time, the seeds of truth will surely sprout one day. If you tell the truth, you may be banned or imprisoned, but this just reflects the value of telling the truth. Speak the truth bravely, speak the truth wisely, say that I am a "citizen," say "glorious China," and say "Arise! Ye who would not be slaves." Tell the truth on the Internet, tell the truth on T-shirts, tell the truth on buses and subways, tell the truth in mountains and rivers, and tell the truth in places where Chinese people live.

Remember to observe fasting days. Observe a day of fasting every June 4th and state so publicly on the Internet. This is an irrepressible memorial that can be held on to even if freedom is lost. This is a more powerful memorial. Although the body is weak, the spirit is strong. This is a commemoration of the opening up of the future. We commemorate the sacrifices of our ancestors with small sacrifices, and build a new Chinese national spirit with our piety and humility.

Remember Citizenship Day. Citizen's Day is celebrated every Sunday, and citizens everywhere can also choose their own day. It is a day for citizens to meet, to care for the country, to exchange ideas, and to serve the community. It is a day to wear a civic badge, use a civic symbol, and spread the idea of citizenship.

Remember "Glorious China." This is the ideal struggle and responsibility of a group of citizens. There is China's future and its path. When ten million people read it carefully, democracy will come to this magical land.

Remember love. Courage is most valuable before the dawn. Courageous citizens are to be cherished. Do not malign one another on the Internet, do not speak without love, and criticize with a kind heart. We should understand each other, encourage each other, tolerate those of different organizations and religions, and support those of different social statuses and interests. Love this vast land with all its vicissitudes, long civilization, and industrious people. It is our common destiny to put an end to the long night of autocracy and usher in the glorious rebirth of Eastern civilization. We must not be blinded by hatred at any time, and we must have love in our hearts in order to have the strength to move forward with courage.

When that day comes, when the people take to the streets, the citizens with the ones who lead the way. We already have a strong community of citizens. We know how to resolve ethnic issues on the border and dissolve historical grievances. We know how to get out of the economic crisis and give our citizens confidence and hope. We know how to heal the wounds of history with truth and justice. We know the future of China: a scientific constitutional government, a rebirth of civilization, and a glorious China.

We are ready.
It’s really not appropriate for you to say that we are subverting your regime, because it is by the people that you will be subverted. Since the glory must be given to us, I accept it gracefully, and then return it to the motherland and people, to history, and ultimately to Haotian, for it is by him that all of this has been arranged.

Citizen Xu Zhiyong, April 2022

CDT 编者按:4月10日,已被关押三年多的中国知名人权捍卫者许志永和维权律师丁家喜,被当局以“颠覆国家政权罪”分别重判14年和12年。本文是许志永的自辩词,由人权律师滕彪提供给中国数字时代发表。
















































Translation: Huang Xuqin and Wang Jianbing Inciting Subversion Indictment

On June 14, 2024, the Twitter account "Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing 释放雪饼" (@FreeXueBing)  posted a copy of the last two p...