Ran Yunfei: the Legacy of Bullog.cn

baijuyipoemSince the closure of Bullog.cn on 9 January 2008, many Chinese bloggers have written about the incident and have paid tribute to this blog portal. There is a reasonably complete collection of these articles at the GWF Blog.

The owner of Bullog.cn Luo Yonghao has eventually given his account of the story.  He seems to be optimistic that Bullog.cn will reopen in the near future, even though he is not ruling out the possibility that the blog portal will be hosted outside of China.  His blog post can be accessed from this link.  If you have problems opening it, then try this link instead.

Most famous Bullog.cn bloggers have already found temporary shelters and have resumed blogging.  Hecaitou has compiled a list of links that will take you to these blogs.

Ran Yunfei is one of the first well-known bloggers who has published his view on the incident.  He also gave an emotional tribute to the legacy of Bullog.cn.  His article has been widely disseminated throughout the Chinese blogosphere and has generated a large amount of comments.  The following is my translation of Ran Yunfei’s article from his blog at de-sci.org.  The original title of the article is: “The Freedom of Speech Earthquake 2009” (2009年初的言论大地震).

The Freedom of Speech Earthquake 2009

Ran Yunfei 冉云飞

The space called Bullog.cn 牛博 has created a miracle; it has challenged boundaries in a country where freedom of speech is not tolerated.  It has empowered those of us who are timid and fearful, so that we have the courage to express ourselves freely.  It is for this reason we commemorate that space.

That space has been instrumental in developing a sense of community in a country where trust is a scarce commodity.  There, a substantial amount of donation was collected just a few days after the outbreak of the Sichuan earthquake.  There, disaster relief reached areas where help was most needed.   It is for these reasons we express our sincere thanks.

That space has exposed lies in a country where traditional media is frequently purged and chastised for speaking the truth.  It reminded us about the history of how in 1949 news publications such as the Taikung newspaper and the Observation magazine had engaged in a long battle against a corrupt and totalitarian regime.  It is for this reason we have learnt to follow these examples.

That space encourages critical thinking in a country where the government takes pride in deceiving its people.    There, we witness how moderate and rational thinking can co-exist with radical and controversial ideas.  There, we are no longer enslaved by a single authoritarian ideology; we are once again the masters of our own minds.  It is for this reason we will never forget Bullog.cn.

That space provides a platform for the meeting of minds in a country where one is forbidden to freely exercise his constitutional rights to freedom of assembly.  Through Bullog.cn, we have the honour of meeting a group of brave, courageous and talented friends.  It is for this reason we cherish that space.

That space plays the unique role of an open university, in a country where the education system deliberately keeps children uneducated with one school, one answer and one voice.  That is the place where many people meet their real “school mates”.  It is for this reason we express our gratitude.

That space celebrates diversity in a country where only a single species known as CCP members can excel.  Bullog.cn has been inaccurately labelled Headquarter of the Rightists.  In fact bloggers who contribute to Bullog.cn care very little about political ideology.  Some pay more attention to child slavery, others to family planning and climate change.  Some specialise in publishing photographs, others in economics, literature, emotional problems and current affairs.  More importantly, we do not always see eye to eye on the same issue, and we will occasionally contradict each other.   To those of us who love life and hate the abuse of power, that space provides more than just a multi-dimensional platform for information and comments; it is a place where we enjoy friendship and collegial supports.

That space promotes the virtue of endurance in a country overwhelmed by pessimism, utilitarianism and an urge to pursue immediate gains.  There, we realise that small deeds count and that it is possible for little strokes to fell a gigantic oak.  There, we have a blogger named V, who works unremittingly to expose child slavery.  We have Yang Zhizhu 杨支柱who defends human rights to child birth.  We have a blogger (the name I cannot recall) who persistently draws our attention to climate change problems.  We also have Beifeng 北风who insists on publishing a “weekly roundup of Internet news”.  Through these bloggers we can see a glimpse of light at the other end of the tunnel and the light is travelling towards us, slowly but surely.  It is for this reason we are embracing Bullog.cn, as if we are embracing this light in defiance of darkness.

That space welcomes honest opinion.   It is a friendly club in a country where dissidents often have to endure isolation, threats and dejection.  It is also a place where we can find others who share our belief in truth and honesty.  In that club we can quarrel, we can speak, we can remain silent, we can take leave quietly and then return to rejoin; it is all voluntary.  It is for this reason we morn Bullog.cn from the bottom of our heart.

That space houses some of the best bloggers in this country, a country plagued by suspicion, pestilence and servility brought along by a violent totalitarian regime.   There are Lian Yue 连岳, who is calm and moderate; Liang Wendao 梁文道, who is modest but firm; Cui Weiping 崔卫平, who is peaceful and reasonable; Han Han 韩寒, who is positive and optimistic; Lao Mo 老莫, who is rational, brave and resolute; Si Yi 四一, who is interesting and compassionate; Qian Liexian 钱列宪, who is funny and humorous … and the list goes on.  We then realise that amidst the bitter cold of a snowy winter, someone is already preparing for the arrival of spring.  They are also calling out to let everyone know that spring is just around the corner.

The message about Bullog.cn’s closure had been circulated quickly via SMS, telephone and email yesterday.  Many people had set aside their indifference and their habit of self preservation to openly express their concern, worry, anger, sadness and frustration over the closure.  Most of these kind messages were understandably directed to Luo Yonghao 罗永浩who was at the brunt of the attack, and to someone like me who had been forced to leave Bullog.cn ahead of its closure.  I would like to let you know that your messages are received and I thank you all for your kindness.   I would also like to express my gratitude to the team at sci-de.org 德赛公园for allowing me to forward a message to my friend Mr Luo, to let him know that we share his love for freedom, and that we will not lose our hope for the future, or for freedom, even when we are in the darkest hours of the night.

At a time of economic turmoil, freedom of speech has fallen victim to a severe winter spell that has swiped through China.  Bullog.cn, as a yardstick for freedom of speech in China, is now under siege.  Bullog.cn is well known for its commitment to truthful and honest opinions.  The shutting down of this blog portal foreshadows another round of purge on freedom of speech.  The tremors from this purge will match those of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.  I neither intend to express my sadness over the closure nor prepare to say that I have lost hope in the future of China.  French biologist Louis Pasteur (1822 – 1895) once said, “Opportunity only looks upon those who are mentally prepared for the challenge.”  What I intend to say is that there is always hope for those who persevere in face of hardship.  We can only live once.  Our mortal remains will one day decay and turn into dust.  It is freedom that defines the meaning of our mortal being.  Without that, we cannot live out the full potential of our lives.  As for Bullog.cn, it may or may not survive this persecution.   This, however, is beside the point.  What matters is that Bullog.cn has written a glorious page in the history of Chinese people’s fight for freedom of speech.

Let us be as firm as Bai Juyi 白居易 (772 – 846) when we say:  lush grass grows, year after year, imperishable with the wild fires, green again in the spring wind

Let us be as awesome as Alexander Dubček (1921 – 1992) when we say:  you can pick our flowers but you cannot destroy our spring.

Let us be as calm and collected as Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970) when we say:  we have unbearable sympathy for suffering.

Let us repeat the prayer in the Bible and say: may we blossoms like a flower before we are picked.

Let us be as indignant as A Long 阿垅 (1907-1967) when we proclaim on departure: WE ARE NOT GUILTY.

This is written at 7.56 on 10 January 2009 in Chengdu, the day after Bullog.cn has been shutdown

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1 Response to Ran Yunfei: the Legacy of Bullog.cn

  1. Pingback: After Obscenity Blackout, Outspoken Bloggers Return - China Journal - WSJ

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