Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

`To Little Brightness, from Rainbow China's New Era

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

`To Little Brightness, from Rainbow China's New Era

Article excerpt

FROM the founding of the People's Republic of China, public "struggle sessions," imprisonment, and internal exile were not the worst that those labeled "enemies of the state" had to endure. Frequently people condemned to censure or prison were abandoned by their closest family members. In a process known as "drawing a clear line of demarcation," wives divorced politically disgraced husbands, children rejected their "bourgeois" or "rightist" parents.

Even in China, where family loyalty has always been a cardinal value, a combination of fear and brainwashing by the Communist Party led many to join in the condemnation of relatives. Wei Jingshen, the dissident of Democracy Wall fame whose fate in prison remains a mystery, was deserted by his parents and fiance. Perhaps toothless from malnutrition, perhaps mad from isolation, he is rumored to be visited only by a sister.

Harry Wu, chronicler of the Chinese Gulag, considered himself forgotten by the world, a feeling said to make all other forms of torture unendurable: During 19 years of imprisonment, he was cut off by all family members except his mother, who committed suicide.

After the bloody ending to the massive peaceful demonstrations of spring 1989, many familiar with China's recent history expected the cycle of betrayal and rejection by family, friends, and neighbors to continue. The idea of a widespread "Chinese Underground" helping to hide dissidents and spirit them over the border into Hong Kong seemed impossibly idealistic. Particularly bitter in those days of the "White Terror" was the news of a student leader betrayed by his own sister and brother-in-law, in whose apartment he had been hiding.

That the popular movement crushed by tanks in June 1989 was not a failure can be seen by a letter from a woman named Wang Zhihong to her husband, imprisoned dissident Chen Ziming, on his 40th birthday in December 1991. It was published in the September issue of the overseas pro-democracy journal "China Spring. …

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