Your Guide to Charter 08

Charter ’08 is a manifesto signed by over three hundred prominent Chinese intellectuals that was released in December of 2008. It caused an immediate stir in the Western media, but didn’t seem to get much response from within China, at least initially. For the curious, we have collected links to relevant reading, news, and speculation.

Read Charter 08 (English translation by Perry Link. This translation has been criticized as being inaccurate, although it was officially authorized by the original drafters of Charter 08)
Read another translation of Charter 08 here (English translation by H.R.I.C.)
The document in Chinese (as well as Japanese and English translations–somehow this isn’t blocked yet in China, but the government has been blocking any site that contains this text so Chinese readers, don’t be surprised if this link doesn’t work by the time you see it.)

Initial Responses
Report that chief author Liu Xiaobo has been arrested (LA Times)
Report that 70+ other signatories have been summoned or interrogated by police (Financial Times)
Government bans signatories from contributing to state-run media outlets (UNHCR)
Charter 08 Worries China (Christian Science Monitor)
Internet cleanup shuts down “edgy” blog hosting site (AP)
Hu Jintao takes personal charge in fight against charter (Asia Sentinel)
Some Chinese Responses and H.K. Protest (Global Voices Online)

Early Western Commentary
Review of Charter 08 and aftermath with some commentary (Fool’s Mountain)
How Charter 08 is being received (EastSouthWestNorth)
Cai Yuanpei and Charter 08: Historical comparison and analysis (Jottings from the Granite Studio)
Early commentary on Charter 08 (The Useless Tree)
How can we know if Chinese people want democracy? (The Useless Tree)
A Leftist Critique of Charter 08 (Wang Xizhe via EastSouthWestNorth)

Future Predictions and Further Commentary
Charter 08 may foretell mass uprising, crackdown in 2009 (Daniel Drezner, Foreign Policy)
Charter 08 will not lead to mass unrest in 2009 (Mutant Palm)
Charter 08 Will Get Nowhere Because of George W. Bush (ESWN)

New Developments and Commentary
In China, A Grass-Roots Rebellion (Washington Post)
Charter 08 Lives? (The Peking Duck)
Western and Chinese Overreactions to Charter 08 (Mutant Palm)
A Universal Idea (Interview with a Charter 08 author) (Hungry Ghosts)

More links and stories will be added as they are posted and we find them, however, we’re attempting not to post links and news stories that are very similar to stories already posted for the sake of reducing clutter. Happy reading.

0 thoughts on “Your Guide to Charter 08”

  1. Um, it was not “written by over three hundred prominent Chinese intellectuals”. AFAIK it was mainly penned by Liu Xiaobo and Zhang Zuhua. The 303 were the initial signers of the Charter.
    Also, the accusation Hu led the fight against the Charter is dubious at best. Just scan the Chinese blogshpere for reaction on this allegation. This first appeared on HK’s Apple Daily citing an anonymous source.


  2. Yes, I’m aware Liu and Zhang did most of the writing, but since it seems many different people had a hand in discussing and editing the final draft, it would be inaccurate to say that it was only written by Liu and Zhang. My understanding is that most if not all of them were asked to agree on the draft’s wording before it was released; I would consider that sort of editing (and, potentially, revision) to be part of the “writing” process. However, I’m editing the post to read “written and signed by…” to make it more accurate.

    Re: whether or not Hu was actually personally involved, this post is just meant as a collection of relevant links for further reading on Charter 08 in English. Readers are free to read the story and decide for themselves whether they believe the information to be accurate or not, I’m merely providing it here because it’s relevant. If you can provide a link debunking it in English, I’ll post that too. (I’d also consider translating and posting a Chinese source if there’s a good enough one).


  3. See below for a summary of a talk by a person in charge of ideology for the Party. It confirms some of analyses that have been made.

    二、 普世价值问题为什么越炒越热?

    2008年还有一件不能掉以轻心的事情就是“08_宪_章”的出台,12月10号公布,挑选的日子是联合国世界 人_权日。1977年,捷克斯洛伐克一些反政府人士以争取人_权的名义形成“ 宪_章 运 动”,发表宣言,即“七七(年)宪_章“,先后签名者一千多人,1979年被禁止公开活动。1989年11月后,反对派以“七七宪_章”为首,联合成立了“公民论坛”,直到1990年6月组织政府,捷共交出政权。“08宪_章”就是仿效这个“七七宪_章”。“七七宪_章”把捷克斯洛伐克搞垮了并一分为二,现在有人也想把社会主义中国搞乱、搞散、搞垮。“08宪_章”是什么内容?它的基本理念是自_由、人_权、平等、共和、民_主、宪_政。基本主张是修改宪法,要把那些普世价值弄到宪法里面去。再就是搞分权制衡,司法独立,撤销党_的政法委,实现军队国家化,共_产_党退出军队,公务员保持政_治中立,设立人_权委员会,保障人_权,开放党禁,政党活动自_由,搞多党制等等。还要把刑法里面的“煽动颠_覆_国_家政权罪”条款废除。除此,还提出确立和保护私有财产权利,推进土地私有化,建立中华联邦共和国等。说到底,“08 宪_章”把这些年来他们鼓吹的西方普世价值,政_治制度和私有制,通通集中起来成为对抗共_产_党和社会主义的政_治宣言和行动纲领。“08宪_章”是海外反华敌对势力和国内资产阶级自_由化分子,甚至体制内某些人相互勾结的产物。“08宪_章”出笼后的12月下旬,胡_锦_涛同志在军队一次重要的会议上提出当代革_命军人核心价值观是:“忠诚于党,热爱人民、报效祖国、献身使命、崇尚荣誉”。强调忠诚于党就是要自觉坚持党对军队的绝对领导,任何时候任何情况下都要坚决听党指挥。


  4. Charles: I was the first one who accused the Charter in English of differences with the Chinese one. Actually, it is not an accusation, it is the simple truth, you can see for yourself that the documents have important differences.

    Now you can consider this relevant or not, that is a different question. I think it was relevant at the time, because it showed that Mr. Link was pushing for some things that the Chinense party didnt want to wite, for obvious reasons that I explained in my post (see link). It is possible that if Liu had followed the English version, he would have got more than 11 years.

    I just wanted to clarify this point, which you can easily check by yourself since you read Chinese. I wrote quite a lot about this, but then my blog was down with the keyword charter 08 and I had to change all refs to chrter08, destroyed all my googles. Here’s the links:

    Bad Translation:

    I would add finally that, as you know, I am not against this kind of initiative. My comment on the translation, and discussion on wikipedia and on some blogs, was taken by some as an excuse to criticize Ch08. That, however is not my fault, and however you support the Ch08 there is no point in hiding obvious things in the charter. I can understand if you don’t mention it (as its not so relevant anymore) but do not doubt it openly or you will make a fool of yourself.


  5. @ Uln: Where did I ever doubt it openly? This post is just a compilation of information about the Charter for readers, and so included two facts about Mr. Link’s translation, (1) that it was criticize for being inaccurate and (2) that it was officially authorized by the authors of Charter 08. Both of those things are true. Including the second one doesn’t imply the first one is incorrect, they’re just two pieces of information.


  6. Yes, on second read I realize you didn’t say it. I just somehow felt I was alluded, because at the time, as far as I can remember I was the only blog that discussed that, and I got some silly comments in the lines of “you are against democracy, etc”

    There was certainly something weird going on there, I have never heard of an important political document is approved with different contents in different languages, its implementation would be complicated … 🙂

    The authors didn’t worry about this because obviously they didn’t even dream it was going to be implemented, the objective was rather to try to mobilize some support in and out of China and put pressure on the CPC. That is why each version was adapted to what each public (Western and Chinese) would find more attractive.

    And I think Li was very brave to do all that, I think he knew from the start that he was certain be imprisoned. What I found surprising at the time is that even the Western media didn’t cover this so much, I mean considering the importance of the event.


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