In Brief: Things Going Crazy in Linyi

First off, apologies for the lack of posts recently. As you might imagine, I’ve been busy with this and the guest posts and other features associated with that.

But, I’ve also been following the Chen Guangcheng case, which I wrote about somewhat recently here. Since then, there have been three major developments in Chen’s case: one positive, one negative, and one weird.

First, the good news: thanks to increasing pressure from netizens and “adventure tourists” (more on that in a moment), Chen’s daughter is now being allowed to attend school, although she will be trailed by guards at all times. That’s understandable, I suppose. If she were to attend school unsupervised, she might cause all sorts of trouble for the establishment. After all, she’s a full six years old now, and kindergartens have always been the fertile bed in which the seeds of revolution are sewn….OK, I’ll stop. At least the poor girl will get an education of some sort. That’s a victory, albeit a small one.

Second, the bad news: as netizens have ramped up the pressure on Chen’s case, local officials in Linyi seem to have doubled down. Chen’s village is full of thugs who beat anyone trying to enter it, and even the local police are smacking people around (and telling them the thugs who beat them and rob them are just in their imagination). More and more people have been attempting to visit Chen in what netizens are cheekily calling “Adventure tourism to Shandong,” but thusfar they’re not getting much more than bruises for their troubles. See this post for photographic evidence that some of these “adventure tourists” have received harsh beatings.

Finally, the weird: Amidst all this madness, the folks at Relativity Media (an American film company) have decided now’s a great time to film a raucous buddy comedy in Linyi. Seriously, you couldn’t make this up. Here’s Tom Lasseter of McClatchy on his blog:

Hollywood Reporter has an item that caught me by … surprise. Apparently, the U.S. film company Relativity Media is shooting part of a movie in Linyi under a partnership called Sky Land.

This is the Linyi in Shandong Province. The same place where blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng is being held under extra-judicial house arrest in a local village. He was placed under detention after being released from prison — the consequence of his trying to lead a class action lawsuit against local officials’ campaign of forced sterilization and abortions. Chen and his wife were reportedly badly beaten at the behest of local officials earlier this year.

You can read more about the film here.

In a fit of quasi-journalism, we’ve reached out to Relativity Media and a couple of the film’s stars for comment. I expect we’ll hear back roughly never, but in the event we do, I’ll certainly post whatever we get. In the interim, we have the comments thread.

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0 thoughts on “In Brief: Things Going Crazy in Linyi”

  1. Liked the quasi-journalism bit. If you were a real paper, you could even say “Relativity Media did not respond to a request for comment by press time”.

    The “good” is good, for what it’s worth. Sort of like being the tallest person at a midget convention. But hey, at least the authorities can say that the guards for the little girl being posted by the authorities will protect her against being beaten up by thugs hired by the authorities. These authorities have got it covered.

    The “bad” seems par for course, for China. But at least petitioners can now take solace in the fact that they aren’t the only ones being singled out for punishment without doing anything wrong. Misery loves company.

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  2. Yeah. But American policemen beat people as well. And they have a blind man under arrest and are following his six-year-old daughter to school. OK, I made that last part up, but it feels true and my anger is genuine!

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  3. Oh, and nothing represents the compromising nature of doing business in China more than a US film studio shooting a bromance movie in partnership with the same people who have a town in lock-down, and have been keeping a blind man prisoner in a blatant human rights abuse. Seriously, how do these schmucks sleep at night?

    Yes, I know, there’s plenty of ways of doing business in China that keep you hands (relatively) clean, although a degree of compromise is always necessary. But there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed, and these guys are either on or over it.

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  4. Last I heard there were 300+ thugs guarding the village. How can they even manage to keep them out of the shot while filming? When it comes out we’ll have to make a drinking game out of spotting goons staring suspiciously from the distant background.

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  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_brutality_%28United_States%29#Incidence

    FOARP, I get your point about wanting to snark on the 五十步笑百步 attitude of some of the PRC’s, shall we say, more enthusiastic defenders. But let’s be clear: a.) police brutality can (and does) happen everywhere; b.) it is wrong no matter which country it takes place in; and c.) it’s no laughing matter, particularly given the recent experience of the OWS protesters.

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  6. How can “Index on Censorship” be a reliable news source? It is made up of a dozen activists and they don’t have any pictures to show for it? Give me a break.

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  7. pug_ster’s right. If Xinhua didn’t report it, it never happened. Ignorance is always bliss and that’s why pug is such a happy camper.

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  8. Putzster now requires photgraphic evidence of everything. Except the all-encompassing anti-China plot, that is.

    @MFC – I also do a good line in criticism of the 老外 who 总是 use 汉语 to 表达 their 意思 on EN-language CN forums. 对我来说 I think it’s very 可笑 and not at all 酷. Particularly people who feel the need to bust their 成语 skills all over the place need to chill back a little and not 拔苗助长.

    However, please feel free to assume that my objections are based on my being rubbish at languages, 私は本当に上手じゃありません。

    RE: police brutality – well, having, like a lot of young men in London, had my own experiences of the Metropolitan police, I certainly do know that China doesn’t have a monopoly on rough-and-ready police tactics. That said, what we’re looking at in Linyi is not just heavy-handed cops. What we’re looking at is a state-sanction attempt to silence a vulnerable critics through what amounts to a campaign of intimidation and cruel emotional blackmail, all whilst trying to keep it from the public eye through thuggish violence.

    Question: how do you say “pissing match” in Chinese?

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  9. No Slim. If some of these activists want to record what is going on, they would be like these OWS protesters getting pictures and footage of the events. Otherwise, this story is as ‘factual’ as Falun Gong organ harvesting thing.

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  10. @ pug_ster….there are photos…are you blind, or you just don’t know how to operate a slideshare embed? There are photos.

    There is no footage of the beatings because their cameras and phones get taken when they’re beaten, and either smashed or just straight up stolen. Plus, it’s kind of hard to take video while you’re being attacked, and there aren’t hundreds of onlookers like there are at OWS, it’s just a few people going at a time. That’s why some of them went back to the police station later, to try to get their cameras and other stuff back. But of course, they didn’t, and the police slapped one woman in the face.

    This was witnessed by at least one foreign correspondent in addition to the “activists” themselves, but I know how you feel about them, so I’m sure you’ll say he’s just making it up, and the activists just brutally beat themselves to create those bruises in the photos. And the pictures of the thugs that other foreign correspondents have taken are just random men standing on the side of a country street eye-fucking cars for no reason, I’m sure.

    Let me know the next time you’re in China; we’ll take a trip to Linyi to visit Chen and you can clear up all this misunderstanding for me. Even if there are people there, I’m sure you can just explain to them that this whole “hiring thugs” and “imprisoning a man and his family without charges or a trial” thing is just something foreigners made up. I bet they’ll go right home after you tell them!

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  11. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/25/world/asia/attempted-visits-to-chen-guangcheng-surge.html

    Here’s a more renowned news source commenting on what happens to people trying to “visit” Chen.

    Da pug is being more “selective” in what he will and will not accept as fact. But come to think of it, he has always been rather “selective” in his media consumption. Just as he is when it comes to being “selective” with reading, and comprehension. I guess Pug is just one “selective” dude, a select member of his kind.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Police overstep their bounds in many places. This has gone on before, and will unfortunately continue. There is no implied suggestion that this is unique to China. However, as FOARP says, the extra-judicial harassment after the guy has done his time and paid his debt to society is somewhat unique to China. Like people say, China is an emerging world leader…in this case, for putting people and their families under house arrest without cause.

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  12. Pictures of one guy beaten up, could be from anywhere. We all know about the pictures of people holding signs wearing sunglasses. I mean if you want to take videos or pictures, try using hidden devices like in videocams devices concealed in pens and watches.

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  13. Dear Pug,
    listen, you like to believe whatever it is that you believe anyhow, without regard for facts, logic, or common sense. Why change now? You should go do whatever it is that people like you have got to do.

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  14. Meanwhile, back to the point of the thread…

    If the local authorities are up to these shenanigans, and everybody including the CCP knows about it, i wonder why nothing is being done about it. Law and order, CCP style, i guess.

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  15. “After all, she’s a full six years old now, and kindergartens have always been the fertile bed in which the seeds of revolution are sewn….”

    Dear Custer,

    Your blatant Western bias shows a complete lack of understanding of China’s unique nature.

    Just because in failed Western capitalist “democracies”, kindergartens are where the seeds of revolution are sown, don’t say that about China.

    In China, it is the complete opposite. If it weren’t for your failed prejudice, you would have known that in China kindergartens have always been the fertile bed in which the seeds of ***COUNTER***revolution are sown…

    Fortunately brave defenders of the proletariat are putting their lives on the line to keep the Revolution safe from 6-year-old reactionary thugs and running dogs of the West like Chen Kesi. The people of China can rest assured of the safety of their socialist paradise by remembering that leather-jacketed grown men are hanging around the entrances to their kindergartens…

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  16. “the guy has done his time and paid his debt to society”

    I’ve never been convinced that there was any such thing as “repaying your debt to society” as it implies that there was some consent in the original loan. In Chen’s case it is doubly incorrect, since he was the victim of gross injustice.

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  17. “videocams devices concealed in pens and watches”

    Right. Meantime, back in the real world where the vast majority of people do not have access to sophisticated spy technology, you’re obviously an idiot.

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  18. “There is no footage of the beatings because their cameras and phones get taken when they’re beaten, and either smashed or just straight up stolen.”

    This is always worth bearing in mind. Even happens to accredited foreign journalists and has happened even to Xinhua photographers at the hands of local hugs.

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  19. Extreme I know, but if a few xinhua reporters and/or western scribblers who draw a paycheck from that organisation were beaten to the point of extinction, poetic justice and I would applaud.

    Walk like a duck ……….

    In fact, every loawai who has ever been paid by CCTV/xinhua etc for their words of wisdom or big nose on tv should be given the blogospheres perp walk.

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  20. To CI:
    “leather-jacketed grown men are hanging around the entrances to their kindergartens…”
    —LOL. Not only would they be thugs, but creeps as well. That’s a good one.

    To FOARP:
    you’re right. I’m not saying his original conviction was legitimate or justified. Just saying that whatever it was, he did his time for it. Regardless of whether his conviction was actually justified, there’s certainly no justification for his current treatment.

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  21. I mean if you want to take videos or pictures, try using hidden devices like in videocams devices concealed in pens and watches.

    Well, aside from the fact that that sort of stuff is expensive, hard to find, and still likely to be confiscated, it’s also not particularly easy to operate. A month or two ago I met the guy who was in charge of all the spy-tech cinematography for Petition (which I’m sure you’d say was all faked if you saw it), and he was telling me they spent 13 years shooting that film partially because the “spy” tech is so finicky and there’s no way to monitor what it’s shooting until after the fact.

    So if the pen/button/whatever gets jostled slightly as you walk (or whatever) you end up with two hours of close-up footage of your own shirt. This was a documentary being shot by a crew of professionals and he said they often had to go back over and over to get shots because some minor bump or hiccup made all the footage from their spy cams completely useless.

    So I’m not sure it’s super realistic to expect random net users to have access to and be able to operate that kind of technology with an effectiveness.

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  22. Great, my comment got censored yesterday. In any case, FOARSE, you can buy a spy pen and watch for about $40-50 each at focalprice, shipped from China, idiot.

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  23. I also do a good line in criticism of the 老外 who 总是 use 汉语 to 表达 their 意思 on EN-language CN forums. 对我来说 I think it’s very 可笑 and not at all 酷. Particularly people who feel the need to bust their 成语 skills all over the place need to chill back a little and not 拔苗助长.

    However, please feel free to assume that my objections are based on my being rubbish at languages, 私は本当に上手じゃありません。

    Wow. Just, wow. I use one little idiom as well-known as well-known gets, and this is the fothermucking response? And people here complain about HHers getting pissy!

    That said, what we’re looking at in Linyi is not just heavy-handed cops. What we’re looking at is a state-sanction attempt to silence a vulnerable critics through what amounts to a campaign of intimidation and cruel emotional blackmail, all whilst trying to keep it from the public eye through thuggish violence.

    Must… restrain… inner… grammar-Nazi…

    Anyway, you’re preaching to the choir here, dude.

    But let’s not make a false dichotomy here between China and, say, Israel, which does all kinds of worse shit to intimidate its domestic critics. In comparison with said state, the law enforcement of the PRC often comes off as the very model of restraint – not that such is an excuse in the case of Xinjiang, Ningxia, Gansu or any number of other areas where outside developers are every bit as rapacious.

    I guess my point, insofar as I had one, was that the original violation of a schoolchild’s capacity to attend freaking school was more offensive to me than an altogether predictable (not for China, but for anywhere) police crackdown.

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  24. Poor Pug. Apparently got “censored” yesterday. I don’t even think the dumb dufus even knows what getting “censored” really means…seeing as he doesn’t even live in China. The logical come-back (just to help pug out) is that I don’t know what getting “censored” really means either, since I also don’t live in China. And that is something I would readily acknowledge.

    I guess if Chen’s would-be “visitors” weren’t carrying spy-pens and pin-hole cameras, then the beatings they took were merely figments of their imagination. Must be comfy under that rock where Pug lives.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    To MFC:
    I agree the most egregious aspect is preventing a 6 year old from going to school. I would imagine even the most in-bred of CCP apologists (excepting the true icons like Pug) would find that reprehensible. And I agree police do “crackdown” in different places at different times for different reasons. However, I would surmise that usually there is at least some facade of upholding the law. There can be no semblance of that here. Chen has served his time, yet remains under house arrest for no reason whatsoever. His “visitors” are merely traveling to a city within China, and are getting worked over for their troubles. And they aren’t even getting bounced around by police, but by a bunch of extra-judicial knuckle-draggers while the police do nothing. All of that makes this a bit more gauche than the garden-variety police crackdown.

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  25. Sorry, O/T. But a 65 year Shanghai woman was just sentenced to 3 and a half years in jail for organizing a series of peaceful protests regarding pensions for Shanghai seniors who were sent to rural China in their youth. In her case, she was sent to Xinjiang. Anyway, the CCP really has a great system going. I can’t imagine anything being better.

    Like

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