Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Germany. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Liu Xia Free and Out of China After Years of Detainment for No Crime

Post updated with additional tweets and attributions at 5:42 p.m.

Nearly one year ago, Liu Xiabo died in China. Today his wife Liu Xia, who faced her own long and difficult journey, is finally free under more positive conditions — as reported by Suyin Haynes in Time:
Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, has left China for Europe after eight years under de facto house arrest.

Family friends said that Liu Xia boarded a flight from departing from Beijing on Tuesday headed for Berlin . . . .

An accomplished poet and writer, Liu Xia was placed under house arrest by the Chinese authorities in 2010, after her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize but was unable to collect it due to his detention on political grounds. She had never been charged with a crime and was placed under close state surveillance. Concerns for her health mounted after she was heard in an April audio recording saying that she was “prepared to die” under house arrest following the loss of her husband.

The recent lack of high-level official condemnation over Liu Xia's previous ongoing detention was striking. Jane Perlez in The New York Times reports Germany played a key role in her release and provides one reason for the relative quiet:
European diplomats had said over the last several months that China had left Ms. Liu in limbo as a show of resolve against Chinese human rights dissidents, despite aggressive efforts by Germany to press for her release.

After Ms. Merkel’s visit to Beijing in the spring, the Chinese authorities let the Europeans know that if Ms. Liu’s case was not publicized, her release would be possible, a European diplomat with knowledge of the case said.

Although Liu Xia is now in Europe, as reported by Catherine Lai and Tom Grundy in the Hong Kong Free Press she may not yet be entirely free.
Patrick Poon, researcher for Amnesty International, told HKFP: “It’s really wonderful news to hear that Liu Xia is eventually able to leave China. She has been suffering depression. It’s good that she can receive medical treatment in Germany now. Her brother Liu Hui is still in China. Liu Xia might not want to talk much as she would be worried about his safety.”

So some are calling for her brother to take a similar voyage.

Some see positive signs in the news that extends beyond Liu Xia's freedom.

Some don't see Liu Xia's release as a sign of broader positive change inside of China.

But the news may still suggest something about changes outside of China.

I found Liu Xia's detainment extremely troubling and feared she would meet final circumstances similar to her husband's. So it is heartening to see she will now be in a far better situation, to say the least. Hopefully she can recover her health. And may she find it possible to safely express herself.

"Created by Liu Xia during the time of Liu Xiaobo’s labor reeducation in 1996-1999, the 'ugly babies,' as Liu refers to the dolls, are positioned in tableaux that evoke confinement and repression."
Source: Columbia University's The Italian Academy

Monday, August 14, 2017

Nazi Salutes from Chinese in Germany and White Nationalists in the U.S.

There is a certain irony in Chinese traveling all the way to Europe only to get arrested for expressing themselves in a country where they were far, far freer to express themselves. Over a week ago two Chinese citizens visiting Berlin, Germany, apparently thought it would be a grand idea to take photographs of themselves giving the Nazi salute in front of the Reichstag building. This was, in fact, a really bad idea for several reasons including that:
The Chinese citizens are now facing charges for "using symbols of illegal organizations" which could carry a fine or a prison sentence of up to three years, according to the police.

The Nazi party is banned in modern Germany, and its symbols and imagery can only be used for purposes such as teaching or historical research.
However, they should feel fortunate no passersby responded as one person did this past weekend not far away elsewhere in Germany:
Police say a drunken American man was punched by a passer-by as he gave the stiff-armed Nazi salute multiple times in downtown Dresden. . . .

Police say the American, who is under investigation for violating Germany’s laws against the display of Nazi symbols or slogans, had an extremely high blood alcohol level. His assailant fled the scene, and is being sought for causing bodily harm.
It isn't clear whether these men were expressing support for any Nazi ideals. But in the U.S. this past weekend, white nationalists took things to another level, a clearly intended level, by protesting in Charlottesville, Virginia, while carrying a variety of flags, including the Nazi flag, and giving the Nazi salute. One man who had previously shown much interest in Nazis plowed his car into another vehicle near counterprotesters setting off a chain reaction causing multiple injuries and one death.

There have been many powerful and thoughts thing written about the protests, the violence, and the reactions. I will simply share one of the powerful images widely shared this past weekend which especially spoke to me:

The photo actually appears to be from a protest last month in Charlottesville. One of the earliest postings was on Instagram (source of the above image). There was also an early Facebook post that identifies the officer as Darius Ricco Nash, who responded.

Regardless of when the photo was taken, it speaks to the events of this past weekend and to many others. And it is a very American photo. There is both bad and good in that.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

"We Had a Whole World"

70 years ago today, International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most deadly Nazi concentration camp.

In the video below, one way to remember the world which existed before the Holocaust:
Children of survivors, we don't have any artifacts. We don't have photographs. We don't have family heirlooms. They call us the second generation, which, if you think about it, it means our parents are the first generation and nothing existed before us. And it's not true. We had a whole history. We had a whole world. And my grandfather is just one person in that world, but he existed before the war.

And I found him.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The October Beer Street Festival in Zhuhai

During a visit to a shopping district in Zhuhai's Nanping Town yesterday, I felt a craving for potatoes, but none of the street food vendors had anything of interest to me. I then recalled unexpectedly stumbling upon a German restaurant a week or two ago. I thought it might do the trick, and it was only about a 10-15 minute walk away.

Upon reaching my destination, I discovered it was my lucky day as it was the location of Zhuhai's three day October Beer Street Festival--probably the closest thing to Octoberfest in Zhuhai. The St. Pauli Kommune German Restaurant & Bar was participating and had a special selection of food outside.

tent selling food and drink outside of the St. Pauli Kommune German Restaurant & Bar in Zhuhai, China.

Several other tents sold non-German food. And one tent sold selections from Finsta--a German family-owned distillery based in Xinxing County several hours away from Zhuhai. After sampling the offerings, I left with my first bottle of red lychee brandy--good stuff and not too sweet. Lychees will never be the same for me.

young woman holding a bottle of finsta alcohol

My initial goal was food oriented, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that potatoes were included in the meal I ordered from the St. Pauli tent.

small German meal on a paper plate

Given that the meal was a smaller portion and it passed muster (including the potatoes), I decide to sample another selection. This time, though, I accompanied it with some Hofbräu draft beer.

small german meal of sausages and a dunkel Hofbräu draft beer

Of course, the festival included music and dancing appropriate for the "party" theme of the day.

singers and dancers on the stage at Zhuhai's October Beer Street Festival

The crowd steadily grew through the night, with the focus mostly on the stage.

crowd at picnic tables for Zhuhai's October Beer Street Festival

Although sometimes the performers came out into the crowd.

singer standing on a large box

adults and children in a conga line

man and woman singing surrounded by children

Similar to experiencing a bit of China in Germany, it was fascinating to see the mix of very different cultures. And I'm glad I had an unusual craving for potatoes, or I probably would have missed it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A Bit of China in Europe

In the previous post I identified the city -- Shanghai -- in the first of two photos I shared in an earlier post. The second photo may have presented an even greater challenge to recognize. I visited the city where it was taken two years ago to present a talk about conducting research in China. Despite being in Europe, at times I could still feel a small touch of China.

After flying from Shanghai with a connection in Dubai, I arrived late at night. The next morning I left my hotel to take a walk, and one of the first sights that caught my attention was this:

Restaurant Shanghai

Although I was curious whether the "Restaurant Shanghai" served truly Shanghainese cuisine or a more generic form of Westernized Chinese food, I decided to take a pass. After all, I preferred to save myself for some of the local-style dumplings:

german dumplings and a liter of beer
Related to Chinese dumplings or just an example of "convergent evolution"?

Also apparent in the above photo is the appropriately-sized glass containing a most glorious liquid. I enjoyed similar glasses at a variety of locations, such as this popular site with a "Chinese Tower":

Chinese-style pagoda at a German beer garden

I did not recall seeing a pagoda quite like that anywhere in China, but the excellent beer (in appropriately-sized glasses) kept me from deeply pondering the issue.

But my focus was not always on the local food and drinks. During one of those moments I saw this display in front of a museum:

large display of Chinese words
The Chinese word "欢迎 "(huānyíng) means "Welcome" in English.

I imagine any visitors from China would have been even more surprised than me to see such a greeting.

Finally, if the above photos are not enough clues, maybe this photo of one of my favorite castles in Europe, Schloss Nymphenburg, will do it:

castle in Germany
Will this castle someday meet the same fate as an Austrian village which has been copied in China?

Ah... München. Many years ago, the city known in English as "Munich" was the first place I visited outside of the U.S. (excluding an hour or two in Canada at Niagara Falls). It remains one of my favorite cities, and I have had the pleasure to visit a number of times. My most recent visit was the only time I arrived from China, so some of the above scenes particularly caught my attention.

However, Munich's art, music, people, food, drinks, and more have typically connected with me in ways that have little or nothing to do with China. As has some of its history. Some of it is a bit too heavy for this post, so I may touch on several assorted topics in the future. For now, I will leave you with a photo of one of my favorite snacks at Munich's Viktualienmarkt:

herring sandwich and liter glass of beer
A delicious herring and onion sandwich

Of course it was accompanied by yet another appropriately-sized glass of beer.

Back to China soon, unless someone needs me to pay another visit to Munich.