Mother Discovers Meaning of ‘Subversion’ in China

August 17, 2009 2:33 pm Last Updated: August 17, 2009 9:00 pm

Mr. Quan Guo and his son (Courtesy Guo Quan)
Mr. Quan Guo and his son (Courtesy Guo Quan)
One by one individuals in China are coming to recognize that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is not the future for China. In a courtroom in Jiangsu Province, a CCP member suddenly came to look upon the Party in a new light, as she watched her son be tried on the charge of “subversion.”

Prof. Guo Quan, who has endured several arrests the last few years, was arrested this last time on Nov. 13, 2008. His mother, Ms. Xiao Gu, says that she “had never understood the thoughts of my son.” Yet, as she left the courtroom on Aug. 7, she shouted: “Son, you are great! I am proud of you!”

These words marked a dramatic reconciliation of Ms. Gu to her son’s path of political dissidence.

Open Letters on the Internet

Prof. Guo first went public with his criticism of the CCP in an open letter he published on the internet addressed to CCP head Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. The letter called for China adopting a truly democratic system in which multiple parties would compete in elections.

Other letters followed. In one he called for the military forces to be placed under national, rather than Party, control. In another he called for the protection of the rights of the workers who lost their jobs during the privatization of state-owned companies.

Retribution came swiftly. Professor Guo was forbidden to teach—he was an associate professor at Nanjing Normal University—and was expelled from the Democratic League. The Democratic League is one of eight fake political parties controlled by the communist party, whose purpose is to give China the appearance of having a democratic system.

Chinese New People’s Party

Three days after being expelled from the Democratic League, Professor Guo launched a party called the Chinese New People’s Party. The name New People’s Party was chosen because Guo wanted to distinguish it from parties like the Democratic League.

Guo insisted that anyone who wanted to join the New People’s Party must quit the Communist Party. He also stipulated that those Party members who have committed serious crimes against Chinese people and have blood on their hands are not allowed to join the New People Party, until they have first been tried by the people.

Guo then started to publish on the Internet a series of articles under the title “The Early Voice of Democracy.” As of Nov. 13, 2008, Guo had published 347 issues of “The Early Voice of Democracy,” discussing a wide range of issues, including the communist regime’s persecution and defamation of Falun Gong and the shoddily built “tofu buildings,” whose collapse caused the deaths of thousands of school children during the earthquake in Sichuan Province in May 2008.    

Guo Quan models traditional Chinese costume. (Courtesy Guo Quan)
Guo Quan models traditional Chinese costume. (Courtesy Guo Quan)

After his arrest, police officers from the National Security Bureau harassed Guo’s family. The police officers fabricated accusations that Guo had affairs with other women, and urged his wife, Ms. Jing Li, to divorce him. This is a very common tactic used by the communist regime to break the will of political dissidents.

Love of Traditional Culture

Guo’s career as a dissident might seem far removed from a chief avocation of his: traditional Chinese culture.

He has practiced Chinese martial arts and even invented a sword routine. In 2005, he launched a movement for studying traditional Chinese customs, and opened a specialized fashion store that sells traditional Chinese attire. He has given numerous talks in dozens of Chinese universities, teaching about traditional Chinese customs.

Within traditional Chinese culture, the scholar plays an important role. The ideal of the scholar is of a man who combines learning and virtue. In particular, the scholars traditionally spoke out for the public good, even at their own risk.

A famous quotation from Mencius expresses the scholar’s attitude: “Life is my desire; justice is my desire, too. When I cannot have both of them at the same time, I will maintain justice at the expense of my life.”

A Mother’s Education

Ms. Gu is a well-known journalist in China. A Party member, she worked in the Propaganda Department of Communist Party Committee of Jiangsu Province at the time that Guo was born.

Her son’s trial was the first court hearing that Guo had attended.

At the trial, her son said, “I have written many articles to express my views openly. My intention is to call for a system where multiple parties compete for election. I did not call for the subversion of the nation. I have never found any legal documents that state that calling for a multi-party system is subversion.

“There does not exist any legal document that prohibits Chinese citizens from organizing democratic parties. The charge that I have engaged in subversion by organizing Chinese New People Party has no legal basis.”

The presentation by Guo and his lawyers impressed Ms. Gu. After the trial, she said: “My son was calm and steady, just like a professor lecturing in class. His self-defense was wonderful! Comparing those charges against him with the defense made by him and his lawyer was like comparing an elementary school pupil with a Ph.D. student. They were simply not at the same level!”

Attending the trial changed her view of her son, “In the court of the Chinese Communist Party, by listening to the charges against my son and the defense made by my son and his lawyer, I was educated. I understood that my son was innocent, and he had made contributions to this country and the Chinese people. The court hearing made me understand. I admire my son. I found out that the mind of my son was very firm and could not be changed.”

Prevented From Saying One Sentence

During the intermission in the afternoon, Ms. Gu requested the chance to speak with her son.

“I hoped to look at my son, look at his face and look into his eyes, to say a couple of words to him. I asked (the judge), ‘Can you give us ten minutes?’ The answer was ‘No!’ I asked again, ‘How about five minutes?’ ‘No!’ I then said, ‘Just two minutes, and just one sentence.’ He replied: ‘No!’”

Ms. Gu erupted and began shouting in court.

Ms. Gu says she hadn’t planned to create a scene. But she hadn’t expected that the communist regime would be so brutal. According to Ms. Gu, this was not a question of human rights—the communist regime does not even have human nature.

“I am not saddened by the fact that my son was handcuffed and in a jail suit,” Ms. Gu explained. “I really didn’t know that the Communist Party is so good at lying, so cruel to people. The communist party changed me, a scholarly person, to a mad woman. I was enraged. Today I understand what it feels like to be extremely angry. I didn’t want to go home. I just wanted to die with them. I cried to them: ‘You are the ones who committed subversion of the nation! Come and arrest me!’”

Before Ms. Gu left the court, she yelled out to her son: “Son, I am going back to Nanjing. I didn’t understand you in the past, and I scolded you. I won’t do it anymore, son. You did the right thing, you are so great. I am proud of you!”

Interviews with Ms. Gu conducted by Sound of Hope radio. Additional reporting by Stephen Gregory.