【 民主中国 】   Post Date: 10/21/2017
Cai Chu: The Liu Xiaobo I Knew
Author: Cai Chu
Xiaobo also suggested that members of the editorial team of Democratic China, without exception, should not receive payment for articles they publish in the journal. The Board of Directors approved this decision, and to this day, members of the editorial team still strictly observe this rule.  After Xiaobo was sentenced, the Democratic China Electronic Journal also launched humanitarian assistance activities for mainland prisoners of conscience and their families.  Zhang Zuhua often recommended some members of vulnerable and marginalized groups to receive assistance.

Translated by Andrea Worden

 

Xiaobo and I met online. In the forward he wrote at his home in Beijing on July 4, 2008, “Spanning Half a Century – Forward for the Selected Poems of Cai Chu,” for my collection of poetry Wherever there is freedom, that is my home, Liu Xiaobo wrote: “The last poem in Cai Chu’s collection, ‘Fluttering heart –for the Independent Chinese Pen Center (ICPC) Online Conference’, written on October 5, 2007, led me to recall my friend-ship with Cai Chu. Without the ICPC, we probably would not have had a chance to become friends.   From the time ICPC was established, through some bumpy times over almost seven years of ICPC’s history, all these years, all of my interactions with Cai Chu have been on the Internet. To this day, we still have not had the opportunity to meet in person.”

 

The Independent Chinese Pen Center (ICPC) was established in July of 2001.  In October of that same year, at the 67th World Congress of PEN International, ICPC was voted into PEN International with the majority of votes. Xiaobo and I were two of the 31 founding members of ICPC. It was remarkable that he lived in mainland China, but was not afraid of the CCP’s multiple crackdowns, he stepped forward bravely to spread the spirit of freedom, and protect writers’ right to write and the spiritual freedom of writers around the globe. I volunteered at ICPC in 2002 as editor of the website. Xiaobo and I worked together.  He wanted us to register ICPC as a non-profit in the U.S.  In 2004, ICPC volunteers Li Jie and Jennifer Salen were able to fulfill his wish. 

 

On February 8, 2003, Liu Xiaobo suggested some revisions to the letter I had drafted, titled “Greetings from ICPC Writer Friends’ to ICPC Chair Mr. Liu Binyan for His Speedy Recovery.” He thought that the ending of the letter was a little affected and unnatural, and wanted me to delete the verse of Shelley’s poetry I had included. After I made the change, Liu Xiaobo added his signature to the letter.  Altogether there were four ICPC members who signed: Liu Xiaobo, Cai Chu, Mo Li, Fu Zhengming.

 

 20171020liuxiaobo(4).jpg (575×343)
 

Greetings from ICPC Writer Friends’ to ICPC Chair Mr. Liu Binyan for His Speedy Recovery

liuxia@public.bta.net.cn 

Reply

2003/2/9 12:21

 

Hello both! Please sign my name to the letter. If you have Binyan’s telephone number, please give it to me. Moreover, the verse from Shelley at the end of the letter, I feel that it’s placement here is a little affected. This is just my own personal opinion; if everyone is okay with it, I won’t insist!

Liu Xiaobo

 

***

Dear Writer Friends: Hello!

I was shocked to learn that Mr. Liu Binyan is suffering from rectal cancer. I’ve drafted a letter for his speedy recovery, please would each of you edit the letter and email me back your edited version as soon as possible, so after I compile the edits I can mail the letter to Mr. Liu Binyan. In addition, please pass this on to others, and as to those writer friends who are willing to sign, please let me know. Thank you!

 

Happy New Year! 

Cai Chu

03-02-08

_________  

In August 2003, I started an ICPC group on MSN, and we began to discuss, and then subsequently passed the charter of ICPC. We also held the first congress of the ICPC Membership Assembly, elected and established a Board of Directors, and adopted the by-laws which lay the foundation for ICPC to become registered as a non-profit organization in the U.S., and then soon obtained the support of the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED). In October 2003, Xiaobo was elected president of ICPC, Wan Zhi and myself were elected vice presidents.  Xiaobo served two terms as president, until October 2007.  During the period when Xiaobo was president, the ICPC Freedom to Write Award Ceremony was held twice in Beijing ––first on October 30, 2004 and then again on January 2, 2006.  During the second event in 2006, ICPC also presented the inaugural Lin Zhao Memorial Award.  Moreover, ICPC held a symposium in Chengdu on the afternoon of April 23, 2005, to pay tribute to Mr. Liu Binyan and all those who were in exile over-seas. At that time, ICPC members in Beijing, Chengdu, Nanjing, Guiyang and elsewhere in China, under the guise of “Book Reading Groups,” promoted constitutionalism, human rights and revealed the lies of the Chinese Communist Party. These activities caused serious concern among the Beijing authorities. Consequently, the Beijing police not only monitored Xiaobo, but also summoned him and took him into custody many times.

 

20171020liuxiaobo(2).jpg (534×400)

The Second Assembly of ICPC (2004) to Issue the Freedom to Write Award: Mr. Liu Xiaobo delivering remarks  

 

 20171020liuxiaobo(5).jpg (128×233)

ICPC Vice President Discusses the Detention of Liu Xiaobo and Yu Jie http://blog.boxun.com/hero/caichu/142_1.shtml

 

Also worth mentioning is on September 19, 2005, Xiaobo received a phone call from the wife of ICPC member Yang Chunguang. His wife, Ms. Cai, called from Panjin City, Liaoning Province, and said Yang Chunguang had suffered a sudden cerebral hemorrhage and died at three o’clock that morning. Because I was responsible for the collect-ed works of Yang Chunguang, I knew about him.   Xiaobo and I discussed on Skype what we should do.  I suggested that ICPC should announce his death and commemorate Mr. Yang Chunguang. It never occurred to me that on that same day Xiaobo would take the train to Panjin City to visit Yang Chunguang’s family. Because Xiaobo was not familiar with the area, it was very late at night before Xiaobo finally located Yang Chunguang’s home. After Xiaobo bid farewell to Yang Chunguang’s body and offered condolences to his family, Ms. Cai mentioned that they had some financial difficulties. Xiaobo immediately took some money from his pocket and gave it to Ms. Cai, and then quickly left.  Later, I called Ms. Cai from the U.S. and she told me that Xiaobo privately gave her 1,000 RMB.  And Xiaobo never mentioned this to anyone, which illustrates the sincerity and generosity with which he treated others. 

 

20171020liuxiaobo(6).jpg (575×33)

 

民主中国网刊:http://minzhuzhongguo.org/

 

In October 2006, Mr. Su Xiaokang retired as editor-in-chief of Democratic China. Liu Xiaobo, Zhang Zuhua and I registered Democratic China as a non-profit organization to continue the Democratic China Electronic Journal in Alabama, U.S. The journal is devoted to the democratic forces who will participate in the future process of democratic transition in China. This includes negotiations and drawing up a constitution - to provide them with necessary knowledge, theory and talent reserves–– with a view to accumulating citizen power, and toppling the autocratic iron wall, so that in the future China will become a free and democratic country with a constitutional government. At that time, Liu Xiaobo served as president and editor-in-chief of Democratic China Electronic Journal; I served as executive director and editor, and Mr. Zhang Zuhua served as a China managing director and editor.  Democratic China Electronic Journal is the only periodical in China or abroad that exclusively researches and explores China's democratic transition.  Since the journal’s inception, it has adhered to the founding purpose of the journal which is captured in 10 characters: "Freedom, Democracy, Human Rights, Rule of Law, [and] Constitutionalism," and has devoted itself to the in-depth exploration of how to advance and realize China’s democratic transition, foster civil society, and promote the establishment of rule of law. In addition, it serves as a platform for the study and discussion of democratic theory, focuses on changes in the current political situation, sums up democratic practice and the experience of the citizens’ rights defense movement, all with the purpose of making theoretical and experiential contributions to promote China's democratic transition.

At that time, we set up a chat group on Skype, in order to convene the Board of Directors and discuss editorial matters. Xiaobo was responsible for planning and external outreach; Zhang Zuhua was responsible for the initial review of manuscripts and for composing work summaries.  I was responsible for finalizing and uploading manuscripts, as well as issuing payments for articles, contacting the writers, and other daily affairs. From the time Democratic China Electronic Journal was first established, Li Jie has al-ways served as a volunteer for the journal, providing long-term assistance on many different matters, including the application for the journal to be registered as a non-profit organization, and translate documents, among other tasks.

 

In the course of handling daily matters, Xiaobo contacted me almost daily. From deciding which topics to solicit articles on for the year, to modifying the layout of columns, to contacting authors and adjusting the table of contents–– no matter how small the task, he took responsibility.  One thing especially worth mentioning is that because of the time difference, in order to communicate with me during the daytime in the U.S., he pro-actively adjusted his working hours to the middle of the night so that I was able to work during the day, and sleep at night.  His spirit of putting others before himself moved me deeply.

 

From the inception of the new Democratic China Electronic Journal, in order not to jeopardize the safety of Xiaobo, Zhang Zuhua and other mainland authors, we decided not to use Xiaobo and Zhang Zuhua’s names on the masthead of the journal, and in-stead used “He Lu” (i.e., Where is China headed?) as a penname for them. Later, Charter 08 stated: "Where is China headed in the 21st century? Will it continue with “modernization" under authoritarian rule, or will it embrace universal human values, join the main-stream of civilized nations, and build a democratic system? There can be no avoiding these questions.”  [Editor’s Note:  This and other quotations from Charter 08 are taken from Perry Link’s translation, which first appeared in the New York Review of Books, vol. 56, no.1, January 15, 2009.]  

 

Xiaobo also suggested that members of the editorial team of Democratic China, without exception, should not receive payment for articles they publish in the journal. The Board of Directors approved this decision, and to this day, members of the editorial team still strictly observe this rule.  After Xiaobo was sentenced, the Democratic China Electronic Journal also launched humanitarian assistance activities for mainland prisoners of conscience and their families.  Zhang Zuhua often recommended some members of vulnerable and marginalized groups to receive assistance.

 

Xiaobo acted authentically, according to his own nature: generous, frank, and emotional. Although his essays coldly expressed his views on freedom, as a person, he was courageous, with deep feelings and aesthetic sense, and was constant, loyal and loving.  His disposition manifested itself in his poetry.  Xiaobo's poetry reminds people to squarely face June 4.  An excerpt from one of Liu Xiabo’s poems reads:

“Fifteen years ago / Massacre / Completed before a dawn / I died / And was re-born . . . . Fifteen years ago / Every nightmare I have contains the spirits of the dead / I see / Everything is blood-stained/ The things I write/ Every sentence / Every pen / Are subsequent / Talks with the graves....”

 

He wrote in the poem What One Can Bear: For My Suffering Wife: “Before you go to your grave / Do not forget to write me a letter/ with your ashes / Do not for-get to leave your address in the netherworld.”

 

Xiaobo first was a writer, poet and literary critic. He was compelled by the suppression he suffered at the hands of the Chinese regime to become a political commentator; this was his method of resistance–– to use his pen against the gun.  On June 4, 2008, he told me on Skype that he felt he had let down the dead spirits of June 4.  If the June 4 issue were resolved, he would emigrate to the United States. At that time, many friends who were gathered at my home heard his sobbing, and they were all moved by the man who could not forget the dead souls of June 4.  Later, upon receiving the news of his No-bel Peace Prize award, I felt very sorry for him, and felt that the desire he had his entire life, his thirst for freedom, would likely not be realized. I have a poem as proof!

For Liu Xiaobo by Cai Chu/ I heard the news of your award in the autumn rain, and my tears flowed like rain/ Like hearing once again the big stutter we were accustomed to––/ Every June 4, you say on Skype that you apologize to the dead souls of June 4/ Crying intermittently like this autumn rain stretching out our concern/ Some people say you are soft like rain and not strong enough / Some people say that your persistent efforts have already transformed/ I said not to raise you up on an altar/ Liu Xia is calling you home / October 2010.

      

On December 10, 2008, Liu Xiaobo, Zhang Zuhua and 303 people from all walks of life in mainland China jointly issued Charter 08.  Subsequently, many signatures from people in China and abroad were added; to date, there are 35 groups of signatories, totaling more than 14,000 people.  Charter 08 states: “The Chinese people, who have endured human rights disasters and uncountable struggles [over a long period of time], now include many who see clearly that freedom, equality, and human rights are universal values of humankind and that democracy and constitutional government are the fundamental framework for protecting these values. By departing from these values, the Chinese government’s approach to “modernization” has proven disastrous. It has stripped people of their rights, destroyed their dignity, and corrupted normal human intercourse. So we ask: Where is China headed in the 21st century? Will it continue with “modernization" under authoritarian rule, or will it embrace universal human values, join the main-stream of civilized nations, and build a democratic system? There can be no avoiding these questions . . . . . Accordingly, we dare to put civic spirit into practice by announcing Charter 08. We hope that our fellow citizens who feel a similar sense of crisis, responsibility, and mission, whether they are inside the government or not, and regardless of their social status, will set aside small differences to embrace the broad goals of this citizens’ movement. Together we can work for major changes in Chinese society and for the rapid establishment of a free, democratic, and constitutional country. We can bring to reality the goals and ideals that our people have incessantly been seeking for more than a hundred years, and can bring a brilliant new chapter to Chinese civilization.”

 [Perry Link’s translation]

 

Combing through the history of China's democracy movements, those of the largest scale and greatest impact include 1989 Democracy Movement and the Charter 08 Constitutionalism movement.  Charter 08 positions the demands of the democracy movement onto the foundation of a “resistance struggle, citizens’ movement” and “building a country that is free and democratic, with a constitutional government.”  The Charter 08 Constitutionalism movement is not past tense, but is progressive present tense.  The Charter 08 movement will not cease until a free, constitutional government has been realized and perfected.


 20171020liuxiaobo(1).jpg (318×436)
 

《晓波致意:下周稿子,收到回音!》图片

“Greetings from Xiaobo: next week’s manuscript, reply upon receipt!” (Photo)

 

Reply

Saturday 2008/12/6, 10:16

Downloaded, saved to OneDrive – Personal

 

Before Charter 08 was made public, on December 6, 2008 at 10:16 am, Xiaobo sent the document to me via email: “Greetings from Xiaobo: next week’s manuscript, reply upon receipt!” That evening, via Skype, he sent me the first batch of names of 300 people who signed Charter 08, and wanted me to publish it on December 10, World Human Rights Day. The next night, he also chatted with me via video on Skype; because he could not go abroad, he wanted to meet me in the mainland.  Innocent Xiaobo did not foresee that the next day he would be taken into custody by Beijing public security officers (guobao). That night, Zhang Zuhua was also taken away and his home searched. Fortunately, Zuhua had already sent the final version of “Chinese Individuals From All Walks of Life Jointly Issue Charter 08” with the first batch of 303 signatories, to an overseas organization for release, so there was no delay in publishing Charter 08 one day ahead of schedule. To this day, the Democratic China Electronic Journal website retains signature information for all who signed Charter 08 after it was first published.  The “Charter 08 Forum” also publishes this information, and there is also a link to the “Charter 08 Information Network” on the Democratic China website –– these three websites have become the platform for discussing and revising Charter 08.

 

 20171020liuxiaobo(9).jpg (284×430)

晓波最喜欢刘霞给他拍摄的照片

Of the photographs that Liu Xia took of Xiaobo, this one was his favorite 

 

In November 2008, Xiaobo sent me some photographs; he said his favorite photo that Liu Xia took of him was one taken in Ding Zilin’s home, which had as a background, Liu Xia’s photograph “Cloth Dolls.” After Xiaobo was imprisoned, I continued to report information and news, and every year, I traveled around to participate in meetings to express support for, and help prisoners of conscience in the mainland.  The following are five examples:

Dr. Liu Xiaobo Criminally Detained by Beijing Police (Photo) http://blog.boxun.com/hero/200812/caichu/1_1.shtml

Ding Zilin, Jiang Peikun: Calling on all Quarters to Rescue Liu Xiaobo http://blog.boxun.com/hero/200906/caichu/2_1.shtml

Strongly Condemn Beijing Police for Illegally Restricting the Personal Liberty of Liu Xiaand Calling On the Public to Pay Attention to Liu Xia’s Situation http://blog.boxun.com/hero/200906/caichu/3_1.shtml

On the First Anniversary of Charter 08, Liu Xiaobo Faces Serious Punishmenthttp://blog.boxun.com/hero/201001/caichu/1_1.shtml

Liu Xiaobo:  My self-defense and final statement http://blog.boxun.com/hero/201001/caichu/6_1.shtml

 

I have maintained contact with Liu Xia. But Liu Xia's phone is difficult to get through to, sometimes even if I dialed her number several times, it still wouldn’t work. In late April of this year, I managed to speak with Liu Xia, and asked her the status of Xiaobo’s health. She told me his health was better than hers. She also said, however, that the authorities gave Xiaobo a physical examination, but afterwards did not tell Xiaobo and her the results. Consequently, she was still worried. I asked her to convey my good wishes to him when she visited him in prison. She said that with a window separating them, and police surveillance, there was no way she could mention the names of other people. If she did there would be no more visits. However, according to recent media reports, the authorities already knew the status of Xiaobo’s actual health condition in April, but did not disclose it, and instead delayed. This political delay was the slow murder of Liu Xiaobo.

 

In June of this year, Chinese authorities disclosed that Xiaobo already had late-stage liver cancer. On the night of July 5, I again saw a photo of Liu Xiaobo and his wife, and heard that Xiaobo was critically ill; I could not help but let the tears flow freely from my aged eyes. Amid grief and indignation, I wrote: the husband and wife who are mere skin and bones use the ashes of the dead to express their love:

 

Tonight there is brighter light in this place, 
The clear moon, less than full, not yet worn away. 
The candles are shedding tears when departing. 
Thousands of joss sticks and candles light up the galaxy.

 
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Over the years, Xiaobo had always insisted that he would rather sit in prison for the rest of his life than go abroad. But this time, he told the doctors from Germany and the U.S. who had come to China to consult about his case that he was willing to go to the West for medical treatment, and that if was going to die, he would prefer to die in the West. He also wanted Liu Xia and her younger brother, Liu Hui, to accompany him abroad. Liu Xiaobo long ago gave his life to the souls of June 4, and thereby achieved redemption for his own soul. This time, he used his last breath to fight for freedom for Liu Xia. This kind of love truly is “rare to hear of in the world of mortals.”

 

Liu Xiaobo did three big things in his life: he became a “black hand” for supporting the students on June 4; he founded ICPC and strengthened Democratic China Electronic Journal; and he used his own imprisonment to promote Charter 08.  He wanted to live as a free man, and die as a free soul:  his love was moved by passion, passion from his soul. This was Xiaobo’s lifelong pursuit.

 

July 11, 2017 First draft
July 12, 2017 Final 

 
Originally published in Democratic China

 

 

Key Words: Liu Xiaobo,Nobel Prize,Death,Cai Chu
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