There's a cautionary tale from China this week. Voice of America Mandarin reports that a retired professor from Shandong University was in the middle of a telephone interview on their Issues & Opinions programme when police burst into his home and dragged him away, kicking and screaming. His last words were "I am entitled to express my opinion. This is my freedom of speech!"
Professor Sun Wenguang has been a thorn in the side of the Chinese Communist regime for years. He was a co-signer of Charter 08, a pro-democracy manifesto that got co-author and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo sent to prison, where he died last year without seeing the light of day, let alone receiving his prize. Professor Sun appeared on Issues & Opinions to discuss what he calls the Chinese governments "throw-money diplomacy". He recently wrote an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping criticizing him for spending too much money on foreign loans and investments instead of improving the lives of Chinese citizens. The letter was widely interpreted as a critique of China's "Belt and Road" international infrastructure program, which is actually much more akin to colonial conquest using huge loans instead of armed forces.
The 84-year-old academic was talking about this issue on Wednesday night, using the WeChat app on his cellphone, when he heard the dreaded knock in the middle of the night. "Here they come again. The police are here to interrupt again," he told the stunned VOA audience, counting off the six police officers who barged into his home.
"What? What, did I say anything wrong?" Prof Sun asked the intruders. "Listen to what I say, is it wrong? People are poor. Let's not throw our money in Africa. The seven, eight of you here, listen up, throwing money like this is of no good to our country and society. It's of no good." The professor continued to talk for as long as he could. "What are you doing? What are you doing? Let me tell you, it's illegal for you to come to my home!" After that, there was only silence, as the cops switched off his phone and made him disappear.
VOA Mandarin has since attempted several times to reach Professor Sun by cellphone and WeChat, but have been unable to get any response. Their correspondent in Beijing called the Information Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China for comment, but the mobile phone open to the public was turned off, and the landline was not answered. The Public Security [sic] Department of Shandong University and the Shanda Road Police Station of the Jinan Public Security [sic] Bureau refused comment.
The story is an alarming one -- or should be -- for those of us who live in so-called liberal democracies, where freedom of speech and even freedom of thought are becoming progressively (pun intended) more attenuated day by day. Canadians of Chinese origins living in Markham ON already know this. Some Chinese-Canadians upset by the Liberal government's open border, let-em-all-in immigration policy organized a protest last Saturday. It was only reported in one of Toronto's four lamestream media outlets, and the video shot by Ming Pao Daily was ruthlessly suppressed for giving the lie to the narrative that Canadians welcome "refugees". The CBC went so far as to ban one WWW reader from commenting on its website, and warned him that providing a link to the video might be "hate crime".
Lesson: Don't think that the knock in the night experienced by Professor Sun could only happen in China or in Russia. Political correctness rules in the "liberal democracies". If you want to survive, follow these five rules:
1. Don't think.
2. If you think, don't speak.
3. If you think and speak, don't write.
4. If you think, speak and write, don't sign your name.
5. If you think, speak, write and sign your name... don't be surprised!