US caves, offers asylum to defacers of Mao’s portrait

As a commenter pointed out in the comments yesterday, the US has succumbed to pressure from bleeding hearts and will grant asylum to two convicted Chinese terrorists, one of whom served the longest sentence of anyone involved in the TAM incident.

Two men who spent years in jail for daring to throw paint at a portrait of Chairman Mao have been granted political asylum in the United States….

News of their flight emerged almost exactly 20 years after the two men, childhood friends, and a bus driver, Lu Decheng, hurled eggshells filled with paint at the 30ft (9m) portrait of Mao Zedong that gazes out from the Gate of Heavenly Peace….

They bought 30 eggs from a street food stall and filled the shells with paint. Mr Lu, who found asylum in Canada three years ago, has said that Yu Zhijian prevented people from walking through the gate under the portrait while he and Yu Dongyue hurled the eggs at it.

They were quickly seized by student protesters anxious to distance themselves from the act. The trio were handed over to the police.

….[Yu] served the longest-known political sentence after the Tiananmen Square crackdown.His treatment in prison, including two years in solitary confinement as well as subjection to electric shocks and beatings, took a toll on Yu Dongyue’s mental health.

I already explained years ago why Yu was a threat to us all. In honor of the impending 20th anniversary of China’s deliverance from the descent into Russian-like anarchy and uncontrollable corruption that would surely have ensued had the streets of Beijing not been soaked in blood, I am offering up the entire post again (and you may want to check out the comments to the original, among the trolliest this site ever experienced).

As the big date approaches I’ll be reposting other favorites of mine, written over the past seven years, on China’s liberation from the chaos and destruction the naive students would inevitably have wrought had they not been courageously brought to heel by our omnipotent government.

Do the crime, do the time
February 22, 2006

I was disappointed to see that China has allowed to go free a former journalist who committed the ultimate offense – defacing the image of Mao. This man poses a threat to all of us, and now that he is out, no one is safe.

A Chinese journalist was freed Wednesday after spending nearly 17 years in prison for splattering paint on a portrait of Mao during the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, a family member and a human rights advocate said.

The journalist, Yu Dongyue, now 38, and two friends hurled eggs filled with red paint at the famous painting of Mao, which still stares at Tiananmen Square from across the street, where it hangs above the entrance to the Forbidden City. Mr. Yu and his family are expected to reunite in Hunan Province on Thursday, but his younger brother said the family was deeply concerned about Mr. Yu’s mental health.

“He no longer recognizes me,” said Yu Xiyue, the brother, who made a prison visit last year. In 2004, Reporters Without Borders, the journalism advocacy group, said Mr. Yu had gone insane as a result of torture in prison.

Don’t be sentimental as you read the descriptions of this rightist going mad from years of torture and solitary confinement. He was 21 years old when he committed his treasonous act, he knew what he was doing. He sought to split apart the Chinese people and disrupt the harmony that binds us. One people, one party, one voice.

Especially be suspicious of the whinings of John Kamm, an enemy of China who seeks to protect those who would threaten the established order – the very order that has brought China unparalleled success and made it a great superpower. Kamm’s sniveling, maudlin attempts to pull at our heartstrings are despicable.

Mr. Kamm said Mr. Yu’s return to society would be tightly restricted, as is the case with all freed political prisoners. He will not have any political rights and will be forbidden to work at a university or any state-owned enterprise. He is also prohibited from speaking to news organizations.

“He will be, for the rest of his life, a targeted person,” Mr. Kamm said.

Mr. Yu had worked as a reporter and art critic for Liuyang News, a local paper in Hunan. In 2004, Lu Decheng, one of the two friends arrested with Mr. Yu, visited him in prison and told Radio Free Asia that he was “barely recognizable.”

Mr. Yu had “a totally dull look in his eyes, kept repeating words over and over as if he were chanting a mantra,” Mr. Lu said, adding: “He had a big scar on the right side of his head. A fellow prisoner said Yu had been tied to an electricity pole and left out in the hot sun for several days. He was also kept in solitary confinement for two years, and that was what broke him.”

Well, well, well, Mr. Kamm, why don’t you be good enough to tell us why Yu shouldn’t be a “targetted man” for the rest of his life? None of your mawkish claptrap, larded with bourgeois sentimentality, can alter the fact that he sought to deface an image of the man who gave China its backbone. He was given a fair trial and legal representation, and his too-lenient sentence was determined within the framework of the law. China is a nation of laws. Don’t sit there in your posh American office and tell us how to run our country.

Mr. Hu, I urge you to re-imprison Mr. Yu. The sickness that motivated him is a thousand times more lethal than bird flu. Bird flu is a disease of the skin, Mr. Yu’s splittist treason is a disease of the heart. How sad, to see our leaders get weak at the knees due to foreign pressure and hooligans like John Kamm.

______________

Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 32 Comments

In all fairness, America treats its political prisoners in much the same way. José Padilla has suffered more than Yu for nothing more than a thought crime. Maybe China should start granting America’s political prisoners political asylum. Oh wait, they can’t. Padilla’s going to be in prison for another 15 years.

By the way, what do you think would happen to political activists who got into the National Archives in DC and threw paint at the Declaration of Independence?

May 24, 2009 @ 8:20 pm | Comment

You know, I was about to write a Charles Liu-style over-the-top comparison between the US and China as an attempt at parody, but, as ever, there is nothing better than the real thing . . .

May 24, 2009 @ 10:27 pm | Comment

Absolutely correct about Padilla’s treatment, and as I’ve said many times on this blog, George Bush has made it much more difficult for American’s to claim any moral high ground. But that was also an aberration and got huge coverage and condemnation, and I was very vocal about it as well. I don’t think it is a legitimate comparison, and it’s also a mistake to point to Padilla and conclude this is what America does as a matter of course. And don’t forget, while not being the “dirty bomber” as alleged, Padilla did appear to have connection with terrorist organizations during his travels to Pakistan and Afghanistan and I can at least sort of understand why the government might have suspected him. That’s in no way a rationalization of the malignant way he was treated, but I at least can understand the twisted reasoning, especially in the wake of 911. Nevertheless, he should probably never have been arrested, let alone tortured to the point of insanity. America’s shame, one of several I’m afraid.

I find your Declaration of Independence analogy weak. If someone did throw paint at it, I seriously doubt they would be tortured into insanity. I mean, people have done all sorts of insanely evil things in America, much worse, and went on to live long lives in prison, having regular interviews with the media, coming out and writing books and going on talk shows. Did you ever see the video clip of Richard Speck (the freak who murdered 8 nurses in Chicago back in the 60s)? One lunatic in Italy hit Michaelangelo’s Pieta with a sledgehammer and he was not tortured. James Earl Ray and Sirhan Sirhan and so many others – we don’t often put people on the rack or waterboard them. That’s a Dick Cheney gift. (And yes, I know there are examples of people being tortured by the US and every other country; but it only became institutionalized under Cheney.) So no, very few US prisoners go through the Padilla experience, which is why it became a national and global outrage, and to point to it as if it were status quo, a definition of what America is, is misleading.

Bottom line: I totally condemn the treatment of Padilla. HIs treatment in no way, shape or form let’s the treatment of Yu off the hook. The old “America does it too” argument – don’t forget the Indians and slaves – is one of the most tired of all, and using it you can justify almost anything.

May 24, 2009 @ 10:29 pm | Comment

If you can keep a straight face while describing throwing paint at a statue as terrorism, you are insane.

20 years in jail for that? China is apparently Hell on Earth, unless you are a groveling coward by choice.

Pathetic apologist, go away.

May 25, 2009 @ 12:06 am | Comment

The obvious difference between José Padilla and Yu Dongyue is, for those of you who do not or cannot understand…, is that Padilla did what he did for “religious” brainwash reasons, while Yu did it for “political” reasons and out of frustration. He was well aware of the punitive psyche and oppressive philosophy of his government.
edga

May 25, 2009 @ 12:20 am | Comment

I agree with Johann. Jeesh, I think Richard has gone around the bound…or I don’t know him…maybe he is already that way. Nothing but extremism and sensationalism for you, Richard. I think of prefer the humour of nanhey from now on. At least he doesn’t take himself so bloody seriously.

May 25, 2009 @ 12:32 am | Comment

Oh, sorry, Richard, I had no idea you were being sarcastic. It is I who am going around the bend slightly. Err, as you know I am not a troll…however, considering how my usually pretty moderate and sensible comments get ignored by all and sundry, perhaps I am considered one.
I will now slink away and pretend you or I never existed in the same blogsphere…

May 25, 2009 @ 12:46 am | Comment

I have to agree for throwing paint at a picture and getting 17 years in prison is way out of line as far as western lines go, but china has to control all political avenues even if it was as bad as pissing next to the picture too, However it probly would of been better for them to sentence yu and his partner in this littering crime to clean all of red square with a tooth brush, that way the people of china could of come and seen for them selfs what happens to dogs that bite the hand of the one that feeds them and cares for them. The chinese government has come a long way in being more human in this new century ,because we are all human and make mistakes just as the party has but they are learning every second every day it is a good thing, so dont try to tear them down . After all china has been around alot longer than most of the rest of the world

May 25, 2009 @ 1:33 am | Comment

Every once in awhile in the United States some misguided and fear filled publically elected soul will try to make burning the American Flag a criminal ofense. Usually the attempt is a political ploy to gain favor amoung right wing conservatives. These ideas are quickly pushed to the side until the next political clown comes along trying to take the easy road to favor among some people by suggesting such foolishness because the strength of their ideas is not enough to motivate.

Why do these movements never gain speed or credibility in America?

Because they are a silly distraction from real issues and because even though the American Flag (like China’s depictions of Mao) is an almost sacred visual representation of the ideals Americans hold close to their hearts, we know the flag is only a picture, a representation of what is important to us — not what really is important.

My father fought in World War II and saw firsthand how dictators in Italy and Germany ravaged their societies. These kinds of societies could never and did never allow or endure dissent among their people. Any legitimate government will alow dissent because it knows dissent alone is no threat to legitimate ideals.

As I was growing up my father often repeated this phrase:

“I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it.”

When I was about 10 or 11 I finally gained the courage to ask why he would help people with whom he disagreed. He answered that unless he protected their right to say whatever they thought was correct his own freedom would not be protected. He thought that when we are not all free to speak up and to protest what we believe to be wrong then we open the doors to the evil among us who may use brute force to quiet the voices of a caring society and then create again the atrocities of the Holocaust or other similar atrocities.

A paint filled egg on the face of a picture of Mao or a burning American flag is a small price to pay to ensure enough voices are heard within a society that one evil voice cannot gain power over all voices.

Legitimate government is never truly threatened by dissent, only by its response to such dissent.

There are many difficult and challenging questions in life, and this discussion is certainly one of them. I wish you well with your continued debate and I can only hope you will stand with America as we work through our social challenges, as well. Good luck, friends.

May 25, 2009 @ 1:38 am | Comment

The United state, subject prisoner to torture, just like others rough state.

May 25, 2009 @ 1:50 am | Comment

Wam I so agree with what your father saidThe Us would not imprison someone for throwing anegg ata picture of our president Look at the far right and what i is doing do,The lies the, deceit the expecting everyone to folowwer like the Jim Jonrs people did and if not be treated like the Jim Jones people Long live our freedoms even if the patriot Act signed under the Bush administration and IMO pushed by Cheney takes away a lot of our freedom and the same people who did this are now complaining about it.

May 25, 2009 @ 1:51 am | Comment

I have written a very short philosophy that I hope the Peking Duck readers might consider. It is free, online. The section on Individual Rights pertains to this discussion. Here is an escerpt and link…

Individual Rights-
defining the sanctity of the body.

The most common and ancient form of rule for social interaction is,
‘Do not invade the space my body is in.’

It is the most common of common sense. All people and even animals, naturally
recognize this ‘natural law’. But governments and bureaucracies can easily trespass this
natural boundary in the name of what is ‘good’ for the individual and society.
It is not good for either to cross this path with social law.

The rule of thumb should be to restrain an individual
when they attack or threaten another and not otherwise.
Self defense is good, but don’t bother others, unless they bother you.

What we do to our bodies, that one might believe to be unhealthy, or that god doesn’t
want us to
do, cannot be policed by people, that is for god. To be ourselves and to live for god,
we need this freedom and we will always fight in self
defense for this natural right. It comes naturally.

Killing, except in self defense, is not for
us. The death penalty, is too monumental an act
and too complex to define as a value, for anyone but
god. And for us as a society, even by
accident, to join in with those who have committed
these abominations, is horrific.

Thankfully, there is great benefit to our society in the study of the worst among us. Most
often they have been treated as they treat others and even they have a story worth hearing
and a mind worth understanding, for the good of us all. There are many ways to stop
people from killing. For one thing, not many people who have a good, secure, standard of
living, kill people. And perhaps no one kills for pleasure who haven’t themselves been
treated inhumanely

Except in war.

War, other than in formal self defense, of people’s
individual rights, is the most incorrigible act
imaginable. It smites the face of god. Defense against
attack is not war, it is an effort to stop war.
War is insanity, in the sense that we can always see,
in retrospect, a better way. Why not take it?

http://apurposetolife.com/

May 25, 2009 @ 1:55 am | Comment

Individual Rights
defining the sanctity of the body.

The most common and ancient form of rule for social interaction is,
‘Do not invade the space my body is in.’

It is the most common of common sense. All people and even animals, naturally
recognize this ‘natural law’. But governments and bureaucracies can easily trespass this
natural boundary in the name of what is ‘good’ for the individual and society.
It is not good for either to cross this path with social law.

The rule of thumb should be to restrain an individual
when they attack or threaten another and not otherwise.
Self defense is good, but don’t bother others, unless they bother you.

What we do to our bodies, that one might believe to be unhealthy, or that god doesn’t
want us to
do, cannot be policed by people, that is for god. To be ourselves and to live for god,
we need this freedom and we will always fight in self
defense for this natural right. It comes naturally.

Killing, except in self defense, is not for
us. The death penalty, is too monumental an act
and too complex to define as a value, for anyone but
god. And for us as a society, even by
accident, to join in with those who have committed
these abominations, is horrific.

Thankfully, there is great benefit to our society in the study of the worst among us. Most
often they have been treated as they treat others and even they have a story worth hearing
and a mind worth understanding, for the good of us all. There are many ways to stop
people from killing. For one thing, not many people who have a good, secure, standard of
living, kill people. And perhaps no one kills for pleasure who haven’t themselves been
treated inhumanely

Except in war.

War, other than in formal self defense, of people’s
individual rights, is the most incorrigible act
imaginable. It smites the face of god. Defense against
attack is not war, it is an effort to stop war.
War is insanity, in the sense that we can always see,
in retrospect, a better way. Why not take it?

May 25, 2009 @ 2:19 am | Comment

They were just misguided youths who were a bit mischievous. Apart from spray painting graffiti they really should not have been egg throwing vandals. Do the crime do the time. So sad it is is too bad, as for Padilla he was probably only going to let of some Dollar Store party poppers, but got caught lying that he didn’t know they were out of season or something like that. Padilla really did have other motives beside his misguided party popper escapade. He is a wet back and dumb one at that, do the crime do the time. Padilla got 3 hots and a cot and is in a better place.

May 25, 2009 @ 2:30 am | Comment

Learn a lesson, do not throw paint at Chinese pictures and do not smuggle dirty bombs into the U.S.

May 25, 2009 @ 2:33 am | Comment

damn communists!

May 25, 2009 @ 3:03 am | Comment

Damn capitalists? Or Americans? No Priya no.We should not abuse or blame each other; or each other’s system. Both have some good and some bad points. There is a strong belief that world without discrimination, suppression, domination and exploitation of haves against have-nots would bring peace, tolerance and sanity. Anybody fighting against such evils in any society cannot be labeled as Terrorist.

Secondly, I have a firm belief that if today US and and her allies instead of wasting on wars start spending the same on infrastructure, education, health, creation of job opportunities for those so called terrorists , they will have no time left for throwing paints or offering them for suicidal bombing. But if the intoxicated Super powers really mean business – PEACE ON THIS PLANET!

May 25, 2009 @ 4:36 am | Comment

You “Peking Duck” people must be a brainwashed propaganda tool of your corrupt and oppressive government. Too bad you don’t know the taste of freedom. Launching paint onto a photograph is terrorism? Get a grip man! Until you have the ashes of burning buildings falling into your eyes, you have no clue about terrorism.

Freedom!

May 25, 2009 @ 5:17 am | Comment

If you think the murder of innocent civilians is equivalent to eggs defacing a portrait, Id ask to imagine yourself in a situation where yould be the victim of Padilla’s act of terrorism, say a tenant in one of the buildings he intended to blow up, and then ask yourself why you have such a death wish.

China is not a democracy, but an authoritarian state where the authorities treat their citizens like sheep; hence the 20 year punishment for this act of protest. Grow up, read a history book not published in China and retract your comments unless you want to think youre a complete idiot. There’s still hope for you yet.

May 25, 2009 @ 5:48 am | Comment

got to love irony

May 25, 2009 @ 6:48 am | Comment

Prison for defacing the image of the butcher who slaughtered 10 millions of his countrymen? Meanwhile holding fancy dress western style ballroom dancing parties at his palace? Don’t make me laugh. He should be pulled from his grave and hauled to the Beijing city dump to be consumed by rats and crows. He singlehandedly set China back 20 years. anybody who believes that Mao should be revered instead of reviled is a simpleton and a tool of the party.

May 25, 2009 @ 7:26 am | Comment

I’m not sure where all these new commenters are coming here from, but nice to see you. I just want to say, you have to be real careful any time you try to be ironic. An email from a reader today:

Greetings.

Do you honestly feel that 17 years in prison is not enough punishment for people who put some paint on a picture? Its paint. On another picture. Who cares? Give them a week in jail for vandalism, because they defaced something they didn’t own. Make them pay for clean up.

China imprisons people for a crime of disrespect? Doesn’t your country have anything better to do, say, imprison murderers and rapists and thieves? When will the PRC learn that expression and thought are human rights, not privileges?

Do you also feel the tanks in Tienanmen Square were justified in running over protesters?

Wasn’t it kind of clear that this post was a parody? Should I say in the headline, Irony Alert, Prepare for Parody?

[On another topic, this post drew nearly 2,000 readers over three hours last night, but I can't find any incoming link to explain it. How did you find it?]

May 25, 2009 @ 8:22 am | Comment

Richard the link to your post ran on Yahoo news in the sidebar showing what blogs were saying.

May 25, 2009 @ 10:54 am | Comment

I think it must be the title that confuses people about the sarcasm in this post. I admit to being confused (and shocked) for a second myself! I was relieved after I read a little more closely…

May 25, 2009 @ 12:29 pm | Comment

Yeah, I meant it to shock at first glance, but I figured the irony would be very quickly apparent.

May 25, 2009 @ 12:51 pm | Comment

…but I figured the irony would be very quickly apparent.

Welcome to the Internet, Richard — I take it you’re new here.

May 25, 2009 @ 1:03 pm | Comment

Hah hah!

Toth, you’ve been around here for years – do you really think I could be serious about endorsing 20 years in prison for splattering paint on someone’s portrait, let alone the portrait of the “helmsman” who brought us the GLF and the CR?? Yeah, I’d better start putting up Irony Alerts.

May 25, 2009 @ 1:25 pm | Comment

Richard,

I share your outage about admitting the Mao defacers. However all is not lost. We are still resiting the 17 Gitmo Uighurs. Our beloved Dick, Newt, and the folks at Fox are working hard to keep these terrorists out of US. House Representative Frank Wolf from Northern Virginia, who in the past has criticized China’s human rights records and supported Uighur freedom fighters, now sees the true face of the evil Uighurs. They will not come to Farifax county. Not on Mr Wolf’s watch.

Long live Gitmo!

May 25, 2009 @ 1:44 pm | Comment

Oh dear, Richard, it appears that some people think you are serious…anyway, I agree with your commented response, except for the assertion that Padilla’s case was an aberration. “Precedent” is a more accurate description.

May 25, 2009 @ 2:07 pm | Comment

Well, it was an aberration at the time; and I hope it hasn’t become a precedent. If it has, we’ll surely hear about it.

I’m going to be more cautious about humor in the future. I can’t believe anyone could possibly think it was serious, especially if they’d made it to the last lines with the “disease of the skin” metaphor, borrowed from Chiang Kai Shek.

May 25, 2009 @ 2:21 pm | Comment

Kudos for caring and sharing, whether people get the message or not.

The problem with irony is that it requires people to pay attention and consider the source. It’s just easier to throw eggs.

May 27, 2009 @ 6:45 pm | Comment

I am wondering on what ground those guys were convicted in the first place. Is it written in China’s criminal code that throwing paint on a deceased leader’s portrait is a form of high treason? I don’t think so — after all, China is not a medieval theocracy, or so we believe. And by the way, obviously it is not fair to compare those guys to Jose Padila as their act would be understood as simply within the freedom of expression, not much unlike burning of national flag, an act that in most of civilized countries is not a felony at all, however the good citizens may despise.

May 28, 2009 @ 2:34 am | Comment

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