Previously in my thread 'Blogging the Blog', I mentioned how I had heard about Chinese people using blogs as a way to get the truth about what was going on in China out to other people both within and outside China. A particular example, Hu Jia, came to my attention this week and shows the risks that Chinese bloggers can face in producing blogs. Hu Jia used blogs including one he posted on daily, webcasting and online videos to focus on human rights abuses in China. He was arrested on 27th December 2007 and his wife, Zeng Jinyan and their 2-month old daughter have been placed under house arrest. Last year Jia and Jinyan were under house arrest for over 7 months. Chinese officials can deny him access to a lawyer and he can be held for up to 7 months before a trial is called (Mr. Brown, do we really want to start resembling China? Stop your plans to extend the period of detention without charge!). In theory Hu was not breaking laws by sending out information about China but clearly it is embarrassing to the government. The Foreign Ministry of China has told foreigners that they should keep out of China's human rights affairs and look to their own countries' behaviour instead. Such attitudes go back to what I have posted earlier about defending liberal humanism in an age of fundamentalism (which effectively the Maoist-Marxism pursued in China is a form of). There are certain baseline principles such as freedom of speech and civil liberties that everyone has the right to protest about no matter where they are challenged, whether in your own street or right across the world. Hu Jia is a hero of such liberal humanism.
In 1936 when Berlin was to host the Olympics, the German authorities released a number of political prisoners in the hope that it would calm criticism from journalists coming to the games. In contrast in 2008 when the Olympics are going to Beijing, the Chinese authorities seem set on showing up what kind of regime they run, to the full. Other dissidents such as Yang Chunlin and Liu Jie have also suffered in the current repression. I imagine my blog is now one of those China will block access too, but I am grateful that is the most they can do for me. Us residents of the blogging community should send our support to a fellow blogger punished for doing what we love and something that he has put to use for such a good cause.