A brave citizen fooled the police and managed to hang protest banners on Beijing’s Sitong Bridge on the eve of the 20th Congress. Will he share the fate of the “Ink Girl” —or her father?
by Hu Zimo
From October 13, we have an anonymous hero. He (I write “He” because a man has been arrested) is the brave Beijing citizen who, on the eve of the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, managed to hang on Beijing’s Sitong Bridge two banners with anti-Xi-Jinping slogans.
One banner read: “We want food, not PCR tests. We want freedom, not lockdowns and controls. We want respect, not lies. We want elections, not a Great Leader.” The other banner called for a boycott of courses (which may indicate that the man is a student of nearby Renmin University) and strikes.
For those who were not in Beijing last week, the enormity of what happened may be lost. In preparation of the 20th Congress, the city was tightly controlled by the police. Some described the security measures as historically unprecedented. All this notwithstanding, our man managed to hang protest banners, not a common occurrence in Beijing. Now, the police has recruited (and paid) volunteer “bridge-watchers” for all Beijing bridges. We can confidently predict that some high-placed police commissioners will be fired or even arrested for “corruption,” the usual charge against officers who incur the wrath of the Party.
I am frankly more concerned, however, about the fate of the lonely protester. There are two possibilities, both based on what happened to Dong Yaoqiong, the famous “Ink Girl” from Shanghai. In July 2018, Dong, who had come to Shanghai from Hunan and worked in a real estate agency, filmed herself in the act of spraying ink on a poster of Xi Jinping and posted the video on Twitter, which is banned in China but widely accessed through VPN, particularly by college students.
Dong was arrested and taken to a psychiatric hospital. Based on the time-honored Chinese principle that fathers are responsible if daughters do not behave, the Ink Girl’s father Dong Jianbiao was also arrested. Last month, it was announced that he had died of “natural causes” in jail. His body was cremated, but not before his family had seen it, covered with bruises and other signs of violence.
The crime of the Sitong Bridge man is even more serious, because he acted a few days before the 20th Congress. He may end up in a psychiatric hospital, like the Ink Girl. Or die “of natural causes” in jail, like Dong’s father. At any rate, he is the real hero of the 20th Congress. We will not abandon nor forget him.