Labor Academic, Wang Jiangsong, Pressured to Delete his Twitter Account after Meeting with Police

Wang Jiangsong is a labor academic and activist in China. With more than 20,000 followers on Twitter, he uses his voice to advocate for the rights of Chinese workers. Wang has been tweeting for more than 6 years but that has come to an end. Although his Twitter is currently still active, after police met with Wang, he is no longer actively using his profile. Below is the translation of Wang’s description of his interaction with the police:

November 8th: transcript of Police conversation.

This whole ordeal with the police has lasted for more than a month, and unfortunately, this Twitter account did not survive. The article that I am tweeting now will be this account’s last tweet. This article comprehensively describes the incident with the police. Those who like the article, please save it. This Twitter account will stop tweeting at 11:59 PM tonight.

I arrived at the school’s security office, room 107. Immediately, the man who stood up was a police officer of the Daxing Qingyuan St. station who I was quite familiar with. The officer had a smile across his whole face when he called my name, Professor Wang. Another police officer was very serious, his eyes were watching me like a hawk. He was wearing a dark blue uniform and was middle-aged. He shook my hand and said he was from the Daxing sub-Bureau. He was a very terrifying police officer from the so-called public security department. In the school’s security office, a female worker poured me some tea.

Daxing Officer: Professor Wang, yesterday, I contacted you in during the night, but I wasn’t able to get through. Today, early in the morning I tried to contact you again, but I did not get through again. So I didn’t have a choice but to bring a team to your home in Daxing. Your ex-wife answered the phone and said she was taking a shower, so we waited outside for her to be finished showering. When she was done, she not only didn’t open the door, but also demanded we leave her front door and go to the front gate of the building. We were just normally enforcing the law. We were wearing our uniforms and came with our official equipment, but your ex-wife made us stand outside in the freezing cold for more than an hour and 40 minutes! In the end, we weren’t even able to enter the apartment!

Me: My phone doesn’t have any record of you calling. You’re the expert. Please check my phone.

Daxing Officer: Your phone doesn’t say anything, but I’m certain I called you a few times. If I didn’t call you then I’m an idiot!

Me: Well, that’s really strange.

Daxing Officer: It’s just a misunderstanding.

Me: If it’s really like this, then you should really understand my ex-wife’s response. She’s just a single mother with a little kid. They are harmless. You guys didn’t have reasonable grounds to enter. And going through the building and going straight to her door obviously made her scared! The person who you were looking for was me. She told you I don’t live there but live on the campus China Labor Relations University. Why did you continue to insist on entering after she told you this? Isn’t that considered trespassing?

Daxing Officer: We enter homes and conduct interviews like we are allowed to do according to the law. Also, we don’t always need to enter the home. We may just need to say a few words then go. It’s a very simple thing.

Me: First, you guys don’t go door to door conducting interviews. You purposely pick certain people to interview. Second, what you are doing is interviewing not searching. So you need the head of the household’s permission. If they don’t agree then you cannot forcibly enter. Moreover, you really can’t blame her. She told me what was happening over the phone, and I told her not to open the door. If you are looking for someone to blame, blame me. In addition, there was one fat police officer who really terrorized my ex-wife. He obviously broke the law and violated regular law enforcement procedures. You need to say something to him, or else my ex-wife has the right to register a complaint about you guys.

Daxing Officer: The young officer felt like he was wronged. He got a bit angry. Do you know how cold it was? Making us wait 2 hours!

Me: But I was prepared to cooperate with you at anytime. Was there one time I refused to meet with you guys?

Daxing Officer: I just said it was a misunderstanding. Because you didn’t answer the phone, we thought that you were in fact at your ex-wife’s house. But to get back to the main point, today I found you to confirm a few things. You probably know what I’m talking about…

Me: I don’t know.

Daxing Officer: It’s impossible that you don’t know. How old are you?

Me: 55.

Daxing Officer: I’m also in my 50’s. You and I both have grey hair, let’s not treat each other like children.

Me: Please just be frank with me.

Daxing Officer: Last time you told two of our colleagues that you gave control of your Twitter account to someone else. Do you really underestimate us that much? I’ll tell you, the things you send on Twitter come from which phone? We all know! This is advanced technology. I’m really proud of our country!

Me: …….This Twitter account is really still on my phone. I tirelessly built up this account for the past few years. It’s not easy to build a big platform for labor research on Twitter. In one moment just erasing it all, that’s just really hard for me to do. I’m sure you can understand. Furthermore, I think that after this tension fades away, everything will go back to normal. How does that sound? Is this really such a big deal?

Daxing Officer: Yes it’s very serious! This is the opinion of my boss, not me. This Twitter account needs to unconditionally be shut down. If you refuse…I’ll let you think about what the consequences will be. Do you believe me that I can get rid of your pension?

Me: I believe you. I believe you. But going on Twitter to speak violates what law?

Daxing Officer: In our country we have proper channels to speak, but you’re talking about foreign channels and going through these channels to spread anti-Chinese thought. If we were in the past, you would have been called a traitor to the Chinese people.

Me: You saying this isn’t correct. Firstly, You didn’t mention a law which I violated by going on an international website. If there is a law like that, please let me see it. Secondly, millions of people use VPN technology to talk online, are they really all traitors to the Chinese people? The “little pinks” (those netizens who favor the CPC and the central government) and the “internet army” all use VPN. You use VPN. Does this count as breaking the law? Are all of you traitors?

Daxing Officer: I’m not saying you’re a traitor. I’m just objectively saying the result of your behavior. Every citizen has the obligation to protect the interests of their country. You can’t give our country’s enemies any ammunition to attack us. But when you say all these bad things about China on Twitter it really defames the reputation of our country.

Me: Haha, The tone of your voice right now really makes me think you worship power.

Daxing Officer: My tone only implies that I worship justice!

Me: No. You’re just very authoritarian. You think power is truth. Are you really that confident? Are you really sure that you police are really protecting justice?

Daxing Officer: Of course! We policemen make loyal and selfless contributions to the nation’s prosperity and safety.

Me: Is Zhou Yongkang a police officer?

Daxing Police Officer: He is not.

Me: He obviously is. He was the Secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, a police chief. Are Wang Lijun and Meng Hongwei police officers?

Daxing Officer: Those are just other people. You shouldn’t generalize.

Me: I’m obviously not generalizing. But when us commoners come upon those wearing a police uniform it really is difficult for us to distinguish who is really a police officer and who is fake, who is a good officer and who is a bad officer. We need you police officers to handle things according to the law so that we know you are a real and good officer. In reality, it is very common for police officers to make us feel disappointed. For example, there was a time I was a victim of an online scam. So I went to the Qingyuan St. local police station to report the crime. After waiting several hours, the police finally took my statement. As they were taking my statement, they also scolded me for my “stupidity.” After taking my statement, there was absolutely no response later on. How many crimes take place that you do nothing about? If you do something about all of this stuff, the public will naturally support you all.

Daxing Officer: It’s a problem of division of labor. I just concentrate on my job. Your irresponsible remarks on Twitter have already had a bad impact.

Me: Whenever I say things, I consider whether it has a basis in law. Are you able to identify one sentence I said which violates the law?

Daxing police officer: Are you sure that you never said anything that attacks the Party and violate the law?

Me: No. If you think I did, please find it for me.

Daxing police officer: Then have you ever reposted such speech?

Me: That I cannot guarantee. But reposting doesn’t mean that I totally agree with what they say. Maybe I repost them because I agree with part of their speech or I just simply want to make a record of a fact or a story.

Daxing police officer: Regardless of what you said, you still choose your stance when you repost their speech and actually expand the negative impacts. You choose to stand against the Party and the nation.

Me: I won’t argue with you now about the distinctions between the Party and the nation by definition. This would just start a pointless fight. I only want to point out that what you said about “choosing a stance” is too parochial. According to what you said, as long as people give compliments and support, they are patriotic and love the party. So am I the most patriotic and loyal person if I shout out loudly “Long live the party! Long live the nation!”?’

Daxing police officer: Sure. If you shout like this, of course you are out of trouble.

Me: Then why did Lin Biao fall into troubles when he did exactly the same thing? Critiques and dissatisfaction can be another form of patriotism and love for the party, with an intention to make this nation a better place. Does the U.S. have social problems? Does Japan have problems? Do European countries have problems? Have you ever seen a nation without social problems? And have you ever seen anyone who is convicted of a crime for criticizing and exposing the dark side of the society in these nations?.

Daxing Police Officer said very sternly: If you want to expose the dark side of this society, you can always do it in a legal way, rather than talking nonsense on Twitter. The Publicity Department is responsible for propaganda things. Why do you think you have a say? You are just a professor and what you should do is teach students well, write great academic books, and serve as an excellent librarian. That’s all.

Me: (cursing inside…) Never mind, there’s no need to argue. To be honest, you can’t expect to beat me when it comes to reasoning. But I’m not here to argue and to justify my arguments. Instead, I’m here to see what you are supposed to do with me. You lose when it comes to reasoning, while I lose when it comes to power and order. You won’t be convinced by my arguments, but I have to conform to your order when I’m at risk of being hurt.

Daxing police officer: Alright. Let’s start to take your statement. This may last for forty to fifty minutes. (The police officer set up the equipment and started to record. They inquired about my personal information at first as usual. When they asked me about my family relatives, I told them that my parents passed away, I got divorced and my daughter lives with my ex-wife. When the Daxing police officer asked further information about them, I said “can I refuse to answer?” He said yes.)

The Daxing police officer went out of the room to smoke several times. When he came back, he read the records made by the other police officer but he was not really satisfied. That police officer responded that he was not familiar with this procedure so he didn’t know how to raise questions. So the Daxing police officer took the record and did it himself. He gave the records to me to confirm afterwards. I thought he was fair–he didn’t include what I said to rebut his words.

Me: That’s right. You as police officers are only responsible for collecting the facts. It is the judge who has the say to determine whether I’m guilty or not. So you shouldn’t try to change my mind, which you will never able to do and is beyond your duties.

Daxing police officer: I don’t care wherever you go to get your judicial verdict, you can even go to International Court of Justice. Actually I know everything you said on WeChat and Whatsapp. Can you cancel your WhatsApp account too?

Me: I can’t.

Daxing police officer: Why?

Me: Because I am a researcher. I need to follow and understand what is happening outside the wall in the field of academics and media. I need to listen to opinions from different aspects in order to achieve my own academic conclusion.

Daxing police officer: Then can you open your Whatsapp and show me? You dare not show me, right?

Me: That’s not the case. In fact it is because other people’s privacy are involved as well. But if you keep on forcing me to show you, I can delete my whole account.

Daxing police officer: Your signature on this statement itself is not sufficient, I will need you to write me a letter of guarantee.

Me: What letter of guarantee?

Daxing police officer: Promise that you will deactivate your Twitter immediately and not talk nonsense on WeChat and Whatsapp.

Me: Giving you a statement itself is not enough? Didn’t I promise you that I will deactivate my Twitter account?

Daxing police officer: No, I don’t trust you Professor Wang. If you don’t keep your promise, I will come find you again and slap this letter of guarantee in your face!

Despite feeling the urge to curse, I still said “give me a pen and paper” without any hard feelings.

I guarantee that I will deactivate my Twitter account @JIangyingbinfen and not say anything against the Party and country on both WeChat and Whatsapp.
Wang Jiangsong December 8th, 2018

My heart felt as if a knife just cut through it. I admit that I still lack the courage to refuse to comply to these illegal and unreasonable requests. I feel ashamed.

When the police officer and I left the security office, I heard the Daxing officer tell the female office worker not to tell anyone else about what just happened. In the stairwell of the building, he grabbed my hand and said: “If what happened this morning to your ex-wife and daughter really made them feel frightened, then I really want to personally apologize.” It seems that he was sincere and rather caring.

We walked outside and got to the police car and the Daxing officer asked me if I wanted a ride. I hesitated a bit but I said “”yes that’ll be nice because I had a few things I needed to take care of back there”. He said: “I didn’t expect that you would actually say yes…” Anyway, I got in the car and immediately noticed the strong smell of cigarettes. He asked me if I wanted to smoke. I politely refused.

Daxing police officer: You’re nice. You have a car but you don’t drive. You like to take the subway instead. But the subway is more on time. Do you come back to Daxing every week?

Me: I only come to Daxing when I have a reason to. My wife suffers from myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN), more commonly referred to as thrombocytosis. It’s a terrible type of blood disease. You need to take chemotherapy medicine in order to control the platelet count. This medicine causes a lot of physiological and psychological side-effects. Therefore, she can’t become upset or provoked or else her platelet count will immediately rise, causing her terrible headaches and dizziness. I recently was fired and lost my housing benefits. After this happened, my ex-wife was completely distraught. She demanded that we divorce, but I didn’t agree. I was so ashamed, but I didn’t have a reason to refute her. After she accepted some of my conditions of how I will still take care of her, we got divorced. This divorce was obviously due to my problems but there were also some more objective problems. So from now on, I take responsibility for all of my problems. You guys will stop frightening her, right? Afterall, we don’t live in the ancient times of Shangyang (time of an extreme dictatorship) anymore, right?

Daxing Officer: So you should continue calmly engaging in scholarship; live your life. Don’t increase the burden on your ex-wife and daughter.

Me: Who can I possibly complain to? Do you assume that I’ve got nothing to do so I waste my time doing this?

Daxing police officer: How much is your salary? At least twenty or thirty thousand a month right?

Me: I got nearly twenty thousand a month before I was punished. Then my salary was decreased to the lowest level of associate professor–a little more than ten thousand a month.

Daxing police officer: That is still a higher pay compared to me! I don’t have my own house, I only rent. Also, aren’t you a labor activist? We are also laborers. We spare no effort working for the nation and the people. But no one is protecting our legal rights! You see, I have to work even today on the weekend. I was freezing waiting for you outside the building for the whole morning. I have sick parents waiting for me to take care of them.

Police officer: We police officers are not protected by the labor law, working overtime is a common phenomena thus we all suffer from health problems. Professor Wang you should speak up for us.

Me: Then we’ll have to see if you have the guts to stand up and defend your rights. Besides that, systematic change is also important. Western countries have police union that protects the welfare of police officers.

Police officer: We have a police union too.

Me: We all know what it is for, right?

Daxing police officer: You intellectuals are all pedants. A country’s reform is not like what you imagine. You gotta take one step at a time. I have dealings with many people who are more famous and powerful than you. You share the same problem of being unrealistic. There was once a professor specializing in philosophy of Marxism who received two PhD degrees from two famous universities…

Me: And he was also subdued by you?

Daxing police officer: He had no choice. You have to be consistent with the Party because you’re here in China (the fat police officer who came to my ex-wife’s house this morning said the same thing– he shouted at her: “we are here in Beijing, China, keep that in mind! If you’re going to fight then I’ll fight with you as long as you want. You are suspected of impeding our work, in that case we can summon you under coercion.)

Me: I intended to be consistent with the Party. But the thing is I don’t know who “the Party” refers to?

Daxing police officer: Isn’t this easy. It’s obviously President Xi Jinping.

Me: President Xi is the core of the Party indeed. But we cannot be sure that people with lower ranks are doing what is expected. For example, Hu Jintao was president too but he fought at the center on the battlefield against a multitude of enemies. Looking back at historical events: Chen Duxiu, Qu Qiubai, Xiang Zhongfa, Hua Guofeng, Hu Yaobang, Zhao Ziyang…all of them had represented “the Party”, but they ended up being punished. Even the “greatest” man Mao, the Cultural Revolution he led was considered wrong eventually. The next “greatest” man Deng Xiaoping was the same–many people these days intend to prove him wrong. That’s the reason why I say even if we are supposed to conform to the Party, we ought to keep a safe distance, or else we’ll suffer from it. There is inconsistency within the Party, how could you possibly expect us to be aligned with the Party? No one’s able to keep up with the inconsistency within the Party. It’s totally possible that you’ve been consistent with someone like Zhou Yongkang who represented the Party.

The police car was fast and we soon arrived in Daxing. The Daxing officer asked me the ultimate question at last: Professor Wang, can you tell us, what is happiness?

Me: I really don’t know what is happiness. I only know that I am in pain right now. What is happiness to you? Do you really feel this sense of overwhelming happiness and great sense of achievement everytime you take down a professor?

Daxing Officer: Now you’re just scolding people. I think that happiness is having ample food and clothing, being healthy, and having a harmonious family. You used to have all these things but you destroyed everything with your selfishness. You have no one else to blame but yourself.

Me: What you just said is exactly what I wanted to say. This makes me think that, if you took off your uniform, you might be a decent person. Please stop here, I’ve arrived at my destination. I wish that we’ll never have to meet again.

Daxing Officer: Alright. Hopefully I won’t see you again!

(This article was written according to memory. If there is inaccurate or unverified information, the Daxing officer and police officer can point out the mistakes. 12/11/2018)

Translated by China Labor Watch

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