Thursday, November 17, 2011
Qiao Mu (乔木), an associate professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University and the director of its Center for International Communications Studies, recently ran (maybe "attempted to run" would be more accurate) as an independent candidate for the Haidian district people's congress. This is the only level of people's congress where candidates are directly elected; delegates to higher-level congresses are selected by lower-level congresses. And this is of course all done under the guidance of the Party. The election was on Nov. 8th. Here's his account:
As an independent candidate, I did not win the election, but got the second largest votes (1300 ballots) after one month campaign with my voluntary supporters, which shaped democracy in my university-community and brought many positive changes in the campus management and people’s mind.
I had NO intention to challenge the ruling party and the political system in the grassroots election. What I cared was the voter’s (faculty and students) opinion, livelihood and rights. However, I encountered increasingly enormous pressure and oppression from the very beginning. My voluntary students were forced to quit the campaign. Many organized spreading rumors and political lies in SMS to defame my personality, motives and actions (mostly on social media), i.e., my campaign was a conspiracy and sponsored by the west media, and I was manipulated by the US embassy, and I will leave the university it is useless to vote for me.
I was shocked to find, in the last week before the vote day, all my social media ( weibo/micro-blog on sina.com, blog, renren and my election video on tudou/56 were closed.) I tried to register new one many times on sina.com and renren.com, but all were closed for a short while. Things went beyond my imagination. All my mobiles and phones were monitored. I was followed by two securities in the campus and two secret agents outside. Many students and faculty members involved were forced verbally to quit me. Some students were required to identify my supporter on CCTV, some parents were asked to come to Beijing to persuade the students to stop.
The Big Brother was watching us.
We did nothing wrong. All we did was in the track of China’s constitution and election law. But I was told there were policy and regulation, which were more important and measurable.
On the vote day of Nov 8, there were numerous banners and flags in the campus, which said to carry on socialist democracy and enhance the rule of law, and to vote gloriously. Many securities and secret agents walked around. People outside of the campus were not allowed to entered for three days.
I was not among the two officially nominated candidates. My name was not in the ballot. However, the voter could write down my name if they voted for me. I got 1296 votes among 8035 turn-outs, the second largest winner, much more than an official candidate. The No.1, a vice presidents of my university, passed the half line only with 117 more votes. If no those 117 votes, the election would be a runoff. He and I, the first two, will be voted another day. In that case, my name will be written on the ballot. Who knows the result?
Farewell to my 10 weibo (Microblogs on sina.com), 4 blogs with 100 articles, and 1 paid Renren ID with twenty thousand followers, most of them were my university (vote zone) contacts.
My social media can be closed, but I will neve close my mouth and my writing will never stop.
Qiao Mu (Michael)