Ma Shiwen Released

Thanks to a link from Adam, I see that the imprisoned AIDS activist Ma Shiwen has been let out of jail. I said earlier that this was inevitable (in my comments) and I am happy to see it happen.

An act of compassion or political expediency? You decide:

Ma was released several says before US Health Secretary Tommy Thompson was scheduled to arrive in Beijing.

Check out the rest of the site, too. It’s superb.

The Discussion: 6 Comments

The western media seem to have made it a habit to comment on the timing of every event in China as if everything was carefully scripted to achieve some hideous objective. The problem is, there are enough anniversaries, official visits, etc on the calendar that anything occurring in any time of the year can be construed as carefully timed for something. If Ma’s release was a week earlier, they would have said it was timed for the APEC meeting, a few weeks later, it would be for some other official visit.

October 24, 2003 @ 8:46 pm | Comment

Not sure what you mean by “hideous objective,” and am also not sure what the CCP’s record is when it comes to tying in good deeds with visits from diplomats, anniversaries, etc. (I know lots of countries do this; if it helps get good guys out of prison I’m all for it, even if the government’s objectives are political as opposed to compassionate.)

Why do you think they freed him?

October 24, 2003 @ 9:42 pm | Comment

“hideous” may be the wrong word in this case, where the article is simply implying China is trying to make itself look good for the visiting Thompson. I’m thinking more about the recent cases of the Japanese prostitution scandal, the Shenzhou launch, and the Japanese chemical weapon incident. In all of these cases, the Western media stated that China timed the events to coincide with special anniversaries to fan nationalist fervor or embarrass the Japanese. In cases of the release of political prisoners, the western media almost always attribute the timing to some meeting or visit that’s coming up. But the assumption in all of these cases is that there is some all powerful and all controlling central authority with a master plan, when in fact the CCP center’s control of the provinces is a lot looser than what most people in the west assume (Ma was arrested by local authorities who were embarrassed by the document he leaked), and I doubt Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, or Jiang Zemin spend their days planning the timing of the release of sensitive prisoners.

October 25, 2003 @ 9:53 am | Comment

Also I doubt a visit by the US Secretary of Health carries enough weight to cause something like this to happen. I think a possible reason for Ma’s release is that the recent coverage of him by the western media brought his case to the attention of the central government, which then intervened with the provincial authorities for his release. This is a pretty common pattern in China. When problems and injustices are known to the higher authorities, they’ll more likely than not deal with it in a more reasonable way than local officials whose personal gains/losses are involved, but often times the higher authorities have no idea what really is going on in the lower levels, leading to unchecked abuses of power by local officials.

October 25, 2003 @ 10:13 am | Comment

The Guardian today has a report about AIDS in China:

‘Hidden from the world, a village dies of Aids while China refuses to face a growing crisis’,7369,1070800,00.html

October 25, 2003 @ 11:02 pm | Comment

David, I saw that artice and will post about it on Monday (travel in a few minutes). Thanks!

HNJZ I realize many fail to distinguish between China’s local and national governments. But it is the system, established and blessed by the national government, that encourages corruption in the local governments. Must go, more later.

October 26, 2003 @ 12:12 am | Comment

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