The Spring Breeze Will Surely Bring About Ripples
--A New Year's Message for 2022 from the Lawyers of Human Rights Lawyers Group of China
In 1925, at the age of 26, Mr. Wen Yiduo（闻一多）, a leading poet of the New Moon Poem School, published the poem "Dead Water".
This is a ditch of desperate stagnant water,
The blowing of the breeze cannot wrinkle it,
with even half of a single ripplet.
In 1946, Mr. Wen Yiduo, a celebrity turned into from the before young poet, was assassinated on a street of Kunming, in the midst of the despair like the stagnant water.
Since the Western powers knocked on the state gate first by trade and commerce then by guns, the central empire, which had been for over a thousand years fallen into a deep trance and stayed at a standstill like stagnant water, finally had to open its eyes to the western world and was forced to accept the cruel reality that it was inferior to the powers. Group and group of pioneers of prescience had and have to start the painful and inevitable steps of modernization, and generation after generation have been pushing forward China’s course of “Seeking Wealthiness and Becoming Strong”, a course of transformation, from newer perspectives or through higher visions. However, for China, the only aged empire with thousands of years of uninterrupted domestic royal ruling, the social transformation is really too tough to happen. Although the private individuals with aspirations have been eager to upgrade the society and transform the country, the path of change is always peremptorily blocked by those in power. Generations of pilots trying and exploring, with progresses achieved at some stages, they always have been kept their limbs fettered and been flinching at the start and outcome of the change, and eventually they cannot help but be pessimistic and desperate. The lessons of China's unfinished transformation over the past hundred years show that it is not the backwardness that invites the western bullying, but the stubborn stickiness to the backwardness and the closed-door lockdown, the resistance to advanced political civilization, and the rejection of universal values that invite the bullying.
The lines, “this is a ditch of desperate stagnant water, the breeze cannot bring about a single ripplet”, are the cry of Mr. Wen Yiduo against the boundless despair of the worsening state situation and the uncertain future of China in the 1920s. This cry is not a submission to despair, but an accusation of despair; it is not a lament of the times, but a strong voice of the times that tries to pierce the despair and uplift the people.
The same despair and cry did not only apply to Mr. Wen Yiduo's time. In his wake, despair continued to follow up like a trailing shadow, befalling his countrymen once, twice and numerous times ......
One hundred years later in 2021, desperate punishments and penalties come one after another.
In mid and late January 2021, well-known human rights lawyers Lu Siwei（卢思位） and Ren Quanniu（任全牛） had their practicing certificates revoked by the Sichuan and Henan Departments of Justice respectively; shorter than the instant of turning heels, in early February, days before the Chinese Spring Festival, lawyer Xi Xiangdong（袭祥栋） also had his practicing certificate revoked by the Shandong Department of Justice; in October, the Bureau of Justice of Beijing illegally cancelled the practicing certificate of well-known human rights lawyer Lin Qilei（蔺其磊）, while the Beijing Rui Kai Law Firm（瑞凯律师事务所）, of which Lin Qilei was the director, had already been forcely terminated on January 4.
On February 14, the third day of the Lunar New Year, Zhang Pancheng（张盼成）, a young man in his twenties, from rural Gansu and a former security guard at Beijing University, was arrested again shortly after his release from prison, and was rumored to have been sentenced to three years in prison for an unknown charge.
On May 18, Mr. Yang Shaozheng（杨绍政）, an economics professor who had been "expelled" from Guizhou University, was secretly detained, and kept in custody by residential surveillance under designated location（指定居所监视居住） and arrested for subversion of power; on May 28, Mr. Wang Aizhong（王爱忠） was detained and arrested for picking quarrels and provoking trouble; on June 4, Mr. Gao Heng（高恒）of Guangzhou was detained for his expression of speech and then arrested for the same charge as Wang Aizhong’s.
On July 20, Changsha Funeng’s （长沙“富能”）Cheng Yuan（程渊）, Liu Yongze (Liu Dazhi)（刘永泽、刘大志）and Wu Ge Jianxiong（吴葛健雄）were sentenced to different penalties for subversion of power.
On July 23, Mr. Li Huizhi(Li Liqun)（李悔之、李立群）, a reputed independent intellectual, committed suicide by drinking poison in the endless despair described by his last words "No one can see a clear future and hope! Never before had I been so desperate".
On August 31, the appeal trial of the case of the private company Dawu Group（大午集团）was decided, and the entire family of Mr. Sun Dawu（孙大午）was nearly totally imprisoned.
On October 29, the appeal trial for Mr. Zhang Baocheng（张宝成）, a well-know civil activist, affirmed the three and half years penalties of the first trial.
Mr. Shen Liangqing（沈良庆）, a former prosecutor, was sentenced to three years by the charge picking quarrels and provoking trouble, Ou Biaofeng’s case（欧彪峰） was repeatedly and maliciously returned for so-called supplementary investigations, Ms. Xu Qin（徐秦） was arrested for inciting subversion of power, and citizen journalists Ms. Huang Xueqin（黄雪琴） and Mr. Wang Jianbing（王建兵） were arrested also for inciting subversion of power.
On December 8, Mr. Chen Yunfei（陈云飞）, a well-known human rights activist and independent intellectual who was arrested on charges of picking quarrels and provoking trouble, was suddenly sentenced to four years for forced indecent assault and child molestation. Apparently, it was not Mr. Chen Yunfei who was guilty of molestation, but rather the law, the common sense and the human intelligence were molested.
On December 14, human rights lawyer Chen Jiahong（陈家鸿） was heavily sentenced to three years of imprisonment for inciting subversion of power.
This originally high-sounding charge has been applied so arbitrarily for many years and has been so disastrously flooded that it is viewed as a commendation and honor by Chinese civil society and the international community, and it is joked that “in these days it is not real jail time if one failed to manage to be charged by subversion”. Compared with many others who have been imposed with subversion charges, Chen Jiahong's reward for this charge seems to be somewhat “porcelain bumping” （碰瓷）and “clout-chasing”（蹭热度）, and it is also slightly "unfair" to those who were only sentenced for ordinary charges such as provocation or violation of social orders in the early years. Lawyer Chen Jiahong simply won too much reward by his sentence and deserves our congratulations!
On the same day, the Bureau of Justice of Beijing held a pig-killing style of hearing to revoke the practicing certificate of Liang Xiaojun（梁小军）, a well-known human rights lawyer; on the 16th, the Bureau decided to revoke the practicing certificate of Liang Xiaojun at a speed of lightning raid and in a manner like “the cat shuts its eyes when stealing”.
Also on December 14, a female college teacher, Song Geng Yi（宋庚一）, was reported by one of her students in secret for words of her classroom lecture and later on unemployed by the college, and what the teacher-student ethics should be was once again queried by public; on December 19, a female elementary school teacher, Li Tian Tian（李田田）, was forced into a psychiatric hospital by local officials merely because of her expression of solidarity with Song Geng Yi, and the whole cyberspace was in an uproar. The brutal tactics of forcefully diagnosing healthy persons as psychotic were repeatedly staged by local governments, and have long aroused indignations of God and human!
On December 15, the first instance trial for the case of the couple of Wang Zang (Wang Yuwen)（王藏，王玉文）, a well-known poet, and his wife Wang Liqin（王利芹）, charged for inciting subversion of power, opened at the Yunnan Chuxiong Intermediate Court, and Wang Zang delivered his poetic trial-closing statement, full of passion and romanticism, raisig the metaverse-level questioning of "I would be the plaintiff of the future" though "I am the defendant of the present time". The Husband and the wife are equally guilty of the same charge. It is unprecedented in human history and can really be called a legend!
The longest custody of the Xiamen case’s Xu Zhiyong（许志永）, Ding Jiaxi（丁家喜）, Chang Wei Ping（常玮平） and Ms. Li Qiaochu（李翘楚） have exceeded two years.
The cases of human rights lawyer Li Yuhan（李昱函）, Qin Yongpei（覃永沛）and public interest legal professional Hao Jinsong（郝劲松） have been dragging on and on, and the police(public security), the prosecutor and the court are scrambling to "innovate" in using up all possible procedural crafts such as supplementary investigation and adjournment of trial that seem "legal" in form but illegal in substance. On December 31, the year-end day , Qin Yongpei's case was scheduled to be heard. Qin Yongpei, the husband, was imposed the charge of inciting subversion of power, and his wife, Deng Xiaoyun（邓晓云）, acted as a defender for him. The husband and the wife team up with each other to duel with the police, the prosecutor and the court as a whole, which can truly be called a legal comedy of this absurd years.
Wang Zang and Wang Liqin, and Qin Yongpei and Deng Xiaoyun, the two couples from southern part of China, will be recorded into Chinese legal history together!
From the beginning, through the mid-year, and to the end of this year, Mr. Guo Feixiong (Yang Maodong)（郭飞雄、杨茂东）, a well-known human rights activist, and Mr. Tang Jitian（唐吉田）, a well-known human rights lawyer, were both banned from leaving the country for no credible reason to accompany their critically ill wife or daughter in US or Japan, and were both suddenly disappeared early December, suspiciously under the control of police.
In 2021, Ms. Zhang Zhan（张展）, a human rights lawyer and a citizen journalist, continues to attract the attention of Chinese people worldwide and the world at large. She has been determined to be a jade broken（宁为玉碎）, and has been on successive hunger strike to protest against her sentencing. Her resoluteness, her calmness, her ethereality and her loftiness of spirit are all worthy of highly praising and shedding tears for!
In 2021, the COVID-19 epidemic has been raging for two full years and spanning to third year, and the use of health codes, trip codes, and big data for excessive control of individuals, and the public spying on personal privacy, are all rampantly practiced in the name of epidemic prevention and control. The voluntary vaccination at the national level is cascaded into mandatory vaccination at the local level, and adverse vaccination incidents are being heard from time to time.
On January 28, 2021, the 16th day of the twelfth lunar month, Liu Jinxing(online name “soul-chaser”)（刘进兴，网名“追魂”）, a well-known artist and creator of the "Voicing" series of art works, was released from prison.
On August 4, 2021, we welcomed back Mr. Ge Jueping（戈觉平）, the benchmark figure of Suzhou right-defending citizens. Mr. Ge Jue Ping had survived the four and a half years’ jail life while
ill with cancer, and his health was severely damaged.
In 2021, the enforced disappearance of Mr. Gao Zhisheng（高智晟）, one of the pioneers of human rights lawyers, entered its fifth year; the whereabouts of Fang Bin（方斌）, a citizen of Wuhan and a citizen journalist, continued to be unknown.
In 2021, we witnessed the fall of Fu Zhenghua（傅政华）, one of the kings of legal authorities. His fall was previously expected by the legal profession, including lawyers, but the day of his fall on October 2 was quite unexpected, but it is not unusual for a curel as well as corrupt official like Fu to fall on any and each day. The lawyer community has been suffering Fu for too long a time! We cannot hide our happiness with this guy’s fall, and we have reason to gloat about it, because we cannot understand and cannot forgive him for his inexplicable hatred and persecution of lawyers. Meanwhile, as lawyers, our professional vision reminds us that we should not be overjoyed, because his fall, just like the falls of Zhou Yongkang（周永康）, Wang Lijun（王立军） and a lot other evil officials, can not eradicate the inroooted legal chaos. We are still deeply worried about the prospect of the rule of law.
In 2021, the situation in Hong Kong is heart-wrenching. Just three days earlier, on December 29, six people, including Ms. He Yunshi（何韵诗）, were suddenly arrested; the situation across the Taiwan Strait and the relationship between China and the West are also cloudy and gloomy.
Too many other absurd cases and events as well as a lot of names of persons oppressed are not necessarily be listed one after another.
In facing of all the above-mentioned, how can we not be in deep despair? How can we not feel as if our thoughts have blasted to ash? How can our heart not be like dead water?
Despair begins with awakening, and awakening derives from the rejuvenation of rationality. One must make his rationality rejuvenated, then awakening, despair and extinction of thoughts follow up, and finally one may seclude from or abandon the world, like Zou Rong（邹容） who jumped into the sea, like Wen Yiduo who shouted the "dead water" cry, like Wang Guowei（王国维） who left his last words "morally refuse to suffer more humiliation", like Lao She（老舍） who resolutely cut off from the earthly world and killed himself by sinking in Taiping Lake（太平湖） without leaving a single word, like Li Huizhi who commited suicide by drinking poison......
Despair must go to its extreme and then hope is born.
The history of despair in the last two centuries can be traced back to even much earlier. Guo Songtao（郭嵩焘）, the very substantially first person to see the western world with awake eyes, was falsely accused of being a traitor by the old guards only because he defied slander and became China's first ever minister to foreign countries (Britain), and repatriated two years later in big defeat. In his later years, he expressed his extreme sense of desolation and despair by the poem “By sea I bounded to foreign countries for my office, the waves soared and the slanders roared into the sky; on the same ship around me were the stubborn subordinates. With no means to pull the sail down, letting the wild wind blowing wilder; even a mere pillow was not allowed, for me to have a deep sleep alone”.
This kind of despair is not just the despair of individuals, but the despair of the nation as a whole. This despair stems from the collision of reason, ideals and the status quo, from the difficulty and even impossibility of social transformation. It is the millennial cycle and stagnation characteristic of the central empire, just as Hegel asserted, "China's history is essentially without history".
We despair, and we share this despair with Guo Songtao and Wen Yiduo! Our despair, and the despairs of Guo Songtao and Wen Yiduo, are of same essence and derived from the same origin, though separated by time and space.
We can despair, and we have reasons to despair, because this despair is a historical, cellective and inevitable one in a period of transformation.
We are in a time of prosperity at first glance, but also a time of moral collapse and a time that everyone is at uncertainty; a time of highlight when many "high-end people" are over-complacent, but also a time of worst despair when many middle- and lower-classes people are struggling to make a living, unable to afford to give birth, to get sick and to die; a time when legislation has been quit inclusiv and there exist laws basically covering and to be followed by every area of society, also a time when the laws on paper are hard to be followed in reality and governmental violatios of laws are omnipresent ......
What to do? How to do? Should we let despair consume us and merely go from despair to bigger despair, or should we lift our spirits to drive away, get rid of and overcome despair?
We are sure that "this is a ditch of desperate stagnant water" is not an expression of helplessness to despair, but a deep expectation of overcoming despair; " and what “the breeze cannot bring about a single ripplet" conveys is that not just having our hands tied and taking no action in face of despair,but a strong longing for the wind to rise from above the green weeds.
On January 1, 1925, a little before Mr. Wen Yiduo's "Dead Water," Mr. Lu Xun（鲁迅） wrote his essay "Hope" since he was "astonished at the sinking of the youth," calling out “Hope, hope, use this shield of hope to resist the onslaught of the dark night in emptiness”.
Every age and every generation have their own despair. Likewise, every age and every generation have their own hope. This is the ironclad path of human progress.
Despair is like a bottomless abyss that makes the bad even worse. We should not keep ourselves addicted to despair, and we should not let the abyss of despair swallow us up; we must keep hope in our hearts, since hope are like a lofty mountain, like the boundless sea, like the immense cloudy sky that gives us inspiration, imagination and guidance to overcome despair and move forward towards our ideal and future.
As legal professionals, our hope and ideal is the rule of law and constitutionalism which is the common hope and ideal of all human legal community.
We hope that the chaotic situation of non-compliance with the law and arbitrariness of power will finally change; our professional mission is to restrain power and safeguard rights by law and the underlying principles of law. In order to fulfill this mission we have encountered too muchfrustrations. We are still obsessed with this mission, no regrets, no repentances. Though bruised and battered, and suffered and lost, we still proceed regardless of all those repeated defeats, like the moths flying onto fire. We are sure that the rule of law and constitutionalism will take root in the entire territory of China, and that the Chinese people will learn and enjoy the rule of law like all other rule of law pioneer nations, and will be among the rule of law countries and respected as a peer nation by all other rule of law countries worldwide.
In 2022, we will welcome the return of lawyers Yu Wensheng（余文生）and Zhou Shifeng（周世锋）.
In 2022, we hope that the epidemic that has plagued humanity for three years will subside and economic activities and daily life will return to normal.
We, all Chinese people, lift our spirits, shake off the despair of 2021, the despair of the epidemic, the despair of the legal chaos, and the despair of the hardship of livelihood, and enter 2022 with hope full in our hearts. Let us console Mr. Wen Yiduo with this very hope of ours: we will by no means sink in despair.
On the upcoming moment of the year of 2022, let us recite in unison:
Waiting for the spring sunshine to fall and the rule of law to bear buds and bloom.
Waiting for the spring moon to hang high, holding together up till the dawn.
Waiting for the spring thunder to suddenly ring, the mountains and rivers and grasses freshened.
Waiting for the spring breeze to blow, even the dead water rippling!