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December 07, 2005

Liu Binyan

So is Liu Binyan.

So is he gone, like Zhao Ziyang and Ba Jin.

You mean, I get to dress up in all black for the third time, this year alone, to commemorate somebody that I consider to be very important in Chinese history?

Alright, here comes one of those history ramblings again.

Liu's widow said that she will have her children take Liu's ashes back to China. She said he finally gets to go back. Sixteen years in exile, he can finally go home, not alive, not being able to see China again with his own eyes, but at least, in some form, through some formality.

If I recall correctly, Zhou Enlai has once said that he'd like his ashes spread over the Yangtze River when his time is due. A final return to the origin of all Chinese culture since time immeorial.

There is something sadly romantic about that idea. Politicians, poets and historians who live through China's tumultuous times have expressed such wish. Qu Yuan chose to jump to his death in a river. The River Elegy as individually applied, in every one of these people's lives.

Born in China, die in China. I don't think many people in our age understand how fortunate it is to be able to call a place home and be able to go as one wishes, and to choose to die there. Some people simply don't get the right to do that. They could be in willing exile, they could be forced to stay out of their own country by the government. Either way, Liu was somebody who loved China deeply, and because he was so outspoken about his ideas, he was banished from the country he loved enough to make his point despite knowing the very likely fate that he'd be kicked out of the country, if not locked up and killed, or, all of the above.

Do I have a tribute to write for Liu Binyan? I am not sure I do. I have read one or two of his books on the 1989 Democracy Movement, and I know his life relatively well. At some point, he has inspired me to become a journalist and political commentator on Chinese affairs. Somewhere along the lines, I gave up on that and chose law school.

Now, somebody that I respected a lot has passed away. I am starting to wonder what could possibly be China's political future, when the most outspoken, brightest and adamantly pro-democracy Chinese intellectuals are passing away one by one. Do we have a Chinese person, who has the intellectual acumen and the courage, to take over the legacy born by Zhao Ziyang, Ba Jin, and Liu Binyan, each signifying a different aspect to Chinese thought in the country's historical path? Do we have anybody today to work outside of the one-party system and guard independence in thoughts?

Oh... China.... When will China become what these intellectuals envision it to be, a country of true magnificence?

Posted by sinogeek at December 7, 2005 01:17 PM

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