Make that 101: Chinese Filmmaker Does Documentary On China’s 100-Year Struggle For Constitutional Rule . . . China Sentences Him To One Year In Jail

130px-Mao_Zedong_portraitThe Chinese government again proved that little has changed in the People’s Republic in the denial of basic civil liberties and human rights. Filmmaker Shen Yongping has become the latest and more poignant example of the totalitarian regime’s continued crackdown on free speech. Shen produced a documentary on the 100-year struggle of the Chinese for constitutional government. Chinese officials responded by arresting him and now sentencing him to a year in jail. It appears that a sequel is in the making.

The Chaoyang District Court in Beijing found Shen Yongping guilty of running an illegal business on the basis of his not obtaining permission to film the documentary, which of course would not be granted. Here is the indictment. However, his lawyer said that the charge is baseless since he had released the film online for free and did not profit from it.

Shen, who is in his early 30s, was detained as soon as he finished his eight-part series that traces the struggle for constitutional rule from the last days of the imperial Qing Dynasty. Chinese authorities repeatedly warned him that such publications are strictly forbidden and the YouTube film is blocked in China.

Here is the documentary on YouTube:

Source: Washington Post

28 thoughts on “Make that 101: Chinese Filmmaker Does Documentary On China’s 100-Year Struggle For Constitutional Rule . . . China Sentences Him To One Year In Jail”

  1. There was quite a discussion with Lauren Bacall and an interviewer about McCarthy. Bacall admitted that Hollywood had been spoofed by communists. When Bogart got to DC and learned a bit more, they left on a commercial flight home. They, and others, had come in a private plane. She may have written it. At any rate, Bill Buckley’s book about McCarthy was an eye opener. Also learning the Rosenberg”s were spies, and how many communists were at high levels in Truman’s administration came as a shock. And McCarthy’s name is still used in a descriptive sense, McCarthy’s Era.

    Getting Eisenhower was fortunate. Elected without anyone understanding the evil of Stalin, was fortunate. I have his memoir on my list of bios, which will lead me to many other books. The hard part is always which to read and not read. I’m sure all of you have suggestions. I’ve read as much JFK as I ever want.

    Just an aside, but watching the Rose Parade, Bob Eubanks commented on how proud Texans are of Texas. He wished the rest of the country would feel that way about the U.S.

    Apologies for being so jabbery today, just in a mood. New year and all.

    Oh, sorry, another thought. Maybe China wants a little information out, but have to act displeased? The guy probably needed the rest. How will they treat him in jail?

  2. Spend some time reviewing the hundreds of articles, documentaries, and editorials scattered throughout the media over the last sixty years and if you can abstain from cherry picking those very very few elements peculiar to your position that the McCarthy shame was justified, you just might understand. Most atrocities started with some seemingly justifiable argument.

    1. issac – God knows I have fought the good fight over this issue, but the Communists keep pushing their narrative through articles, documentaries and editorials. The problem is that at this point they have so demonized McCarthy that if God himself came down and told you McCarthy was right, you would be hard pressed to believe it.

      Cite something that is factual in your defense. Step away from the narrative of the Communists and fellow travelers. Be your own man!!!!

  3. Paul

    The witch hunt went far beyond nabbing the Rosenbergs. That was not accomplished through the persecution of the liberal minded, (today they would be simply liberal minded), writers. I doubt that Dalton Trumbo had anything to do with it or would have if he could. Most of those persecuted were greater Americans that those that persecuted them. The extreme conservatives feared an intrusion into the minds of American children by left leaning writers of popular entertainment. What was predominant in this great threat was the concept that all is not what it seems, and sometimes the human will triumphs over narrow-mindedness and oppression. Something like the situation in China today. Like I said, sixty years ago one can find fairly similar things going on here in the US. The details of the arguments may differ but the message was still, one way or the highway. There is always a threat and however real it was, it was minuscule compared to the rights that were trampled. If history has shown us anything it is that the ideals of the founding fathers are not unique to the US, they are desires innate in the human condition. In China during the past couple decades and hopefully to continue, there has been a condensed transition, not one that parallels the American transition to higher ideals, but a transition to higher ideals nevertheless.

  4. The rights that were trampled in finding a fault here and there far out weighed any success by McCarthy. The politicians predicted, regardless of what sparks popped along the way, that the proceedings contradicted the rights perceived as guaranteed in the Constitution. Much like in an endless line of arguments from the country’s inception, the US has contradicted itself to achieve certain ends in times of duress both real and imagined.

    Regardless of the Verona intercepts, a perceived threat by Communists imbedded in unions, Hollywood, etc, public opinion/Americans did not agree with the swap of their rights and freedoms for the measures they perceived as draconian. Ike may have been ticked off for personal reasons, the Kennedys may have initially seen the ‘routing of the Commies’ as a potential vehicle for political advancement, but politicians sniff and go down wind. They keep the stink well behind them. McCarthy, regardless of any initial good intentions smells bad historically. Most of those persecuted were inoffensive and no threat whatsoever to the ‘American Way’.

    The lesson/observation I find worth noting is how the same sacred documents written hundreds of years ago, in an entirely different set of circumstances, by people who lived lives in part contradicting their own words, can be interpreted by some to point in one direction and by others to point in the polar opposite direction. This is perhaps more important than those documents. Man creates his gods and starts with the gods of chaos. Some Greek guy said that a few thousand years ago. This is such a young country.

    1. issac –

      Regardless of the Verona intercepts, a perceived threat by Communists imbedded in unions, Hollywood, etc, public opinion/Americans did not agree with the swap of their rights and freedoms for the measures they perceived as draconian

      The threat was not perceived, it was real. The Rosenbergs were guilty. And it is Venona not Verona.

  5. Paul
    You need to broaden your understanding of history. When the McCarthy rampage got out of control and public opinion was seen to be slanting against it, the politicians as they always do, got on the bandwagon of public opinion. You can cherry pick to your heart’s content but the Kennedys might have been on board the idea in the beginning given the nuclear info leaks and all but when McCarthy went to those extremes, public opinion changed, followed by those with political careers in the sway. Joe Kennedy was priming his two boys for the White House and had his finger on the pulse of America. The bottom line is McCarthy went to extremes. America, the further back you go, has had its share of extremes. That is why this is a great country, it is evolving. The greatest danger is overlooking its weaknesses and faults, past, present, and future.

    1. issac – Ike put the pressure on to shut McCarthy down. The State Dept was upset that McCarthy exposed their problem. Over the next couple of years they got rid of several hundred ‘suspect’ employees. HUAC held the hearings on the unions and Hollywood, not McCarthy. And, as the Venona intercepts have shown, McCarthy was right.

  6. John Maynard Keynes or one such political philosopher yakked about the word Convergence. He said that with time, the Communist countries would become more capitalistic and the capitalistic countries like the U.S. would be come more socialist and also autocratic. People in America forget that China is still Communist China! They need a Revolution.

  7. Paul

    Like I said, ‘sixty years ago you went to jail’, not any more. We have evolved, but we were just as wrong as the Chinese are today. Furthermore, many ‘artists’ and others were jailed and had their lives ruined and did not belong to any group dedicated to the overthrow of the US government. Some did continue to work under other names but some were forced into exile and most lost the positions they enjoyed before the injustice was stopped. The US let it happen and then the more noble politicians, Ike for one put a stop to it.

    Today there are those that still think the worst of those that were persecuted and black listed but hopefully most of us recognize that they have rights and those rights were taken away from them when one side of the country pulled an end run on the other. No touchdown.

    1. issac – you need a course in history. The only reason Ike got involved is that McCarthy went after Ike’s beloved Army. He had not problem with the attacks on the State Dept or the Dye Comm. attacks on the unions and Hollywood. It was just that his ox was being gored.
      McCarthy was backed by Joe Kennedy and employed the Kennedy boys to help them get their starts politically.

  8. Lew Wasserman was the kingmaker. Of course, he was joined @ the hip w/ the mob attorney, Sidney Korshak. Super Mob is the best book I’ve read about Korshak. Korshak started in Chicago w/ Capone’s people and then moved to Hollywood to run the unions. The most shadowy mob guy ever. Some of Korshak’s people became “legit.” Jay Pritzker is one of those. His daughter, Penny, is our Secretary of Commerce! Interesting a woman who sat on the knee of Sidney Korshak and Meyer Lansky is out Sec. of Commerce. Only in America.

  9. Paul, I read an interesting book, When Hollywood was Right. There were a good number of conservatives in Hollywood before and after WW2.. But, the unions brought in Communists. Some union people, who were liberal, were turned off by the radicalism, some were drawn to it. More were drawn to it, or played Sgt. Schultz. The book gives great details on movie biz, California and national politics vis a vis Hollywood, actors and studio executives. The smart ones hedged their bets and played w/ both Dems and Rep.

  10. Paul

    If the artists and other ‘free speakers speaking freely’ deserved what they got, then by your standards, we would all be in jail. Regarding the ‘part of the money only going to China’ bit, the shameful part is that the high paying jobs are all going to China. Germany, Denmark, Spain, India, and China are exporting heavy wind turbines. Of the five to ten million dollars each one costs to install sixty to seventy percent of the money earned is earned at the place where the turbines originate. Denmark exports 40% of the world’s heavy wind turbines through private companies that cooperated with labor and government. Companies like Vestas in Denmark originated in the private sector, were originally subsidized by the government and are now training Americans in special trade schools to maintain their equipment. The real benefits remain in Denmark. Germany has a dozen corporations that manufacture and export thousands of turbines at the cutting edge of technology.

    This is America’s shame, supporting global enterprise, shareholder profits, and the fast buck, at the expense of the American worker. The question one must not avoid is if alternative energy is the next economic revolution, one many times larger than the tech revolution, then why is the US not at the vanguard?

    Guys like the Koch brothers can answer that question for you.

    1. issac – the artists belonged to Communist organizations or refused to say whether they belonged to Communist organizations. At that time the CPUSA (both above ground and underground) were dedicated to the overthrow of the United States government. The Hollywood Seven made a tactical error when they refused to answer before the HUAC committee. They thought that they would be supported by the SC. However, between the time they were found guilty of contempt of Congress and their case got to the SC one of the judges that they were depending on had been replaced with a vote from the other side. The writers who were ‘blacklisted’ continued to write and get paid, just not under their own names. Noted ultra-liberal, probably Communist, Dalton Trumbo did Spartacus for noted ultra-liberal Kirk Douglas. The actors just moved to doing theatre. Although they have all played the victim, none of them really were and you are just buying into their fake victimization story.

  11. Paul

    You might try differentiating between the words and the actions. Communism does not exist as was designed by Marx and those early thinkers. In the USSR, Cuba, China, North Korea, and other countries that called and continue to call themselves Communist, they pretty much rule by a dictatorship of sorts. Whether it is a group of select people or a family line, there is little if any of the original ideology left.

    What makes a country is its transition or evolution from its early stages where the words are great but the actions far behind, America comes to mind. Sixty years ago, an American doing this could be put in jail or at the very least, ostracized. Revisit the McCarthy era and the thousands of valuable American artists that lost their careers, went to jail, or left the country.

    China is that transition in progress. Like I said sixty years ago the dude would have been shot and we might have or might not have heard about it.

    Capitalism is another word that bears looking into. One of the reasons China is so successful so rapidly is that it has been careful to import technology and then develop that technology to a point where it can be an export. Case in point, twenty-five to thirty years ago, GE came to China at China’s request to develop wind power. China has a 70% built in China policy so GE was obligated to build the $10,000,000 a pop wind turbines in China as opposed to only assembling them there. Doing this cost thousands of high paid jobs in the US. This way the technology that belonged to Americans, the Americans that developed it, was exported to China. Now, in West Texas and elsewhere in the US, Chinese companies are developing wind farms that will use Chinese built turbines, cloned from the GE turbines/American technology, and built by the company named Enga. Chinese banks will fund these wind farms. Chinese developers listed on Wall Street will organize it. Chinese engineers will be paid to build them. The one time job of installing them will be done by Americans as well as the ongoing lower paid job of maintaining them. The wind farms will be owned by the Chinese and when their technology advances and a 2.5 mg turbine is deemed obsolete, it will be replaced by Chinese turbines of 5 and perhaps 10 mg.

    All of this can be termed capitalism. However one must differentiate between the success of the cooperative banking, government, and privates sector of the Chinese and the negligent global autonomy of GE in its squandering of American technology and opportunity.

    By the way, when those die hard patriots in Texas pay their utility bills, the money will be going to China.

    1. issac – McCarthy was right. The artists deserved what they got. And only part of the payments for the utilities are going to China.

  12. Isaac, That is an interesting perspective. However, I doubt the filmmaker takes much solace in your waxing philosophical.

  13. It’s the old glass half empty or half full. In this case Turley is viewing China through American specs. Go back sixty years and Americans were being jailed for similar acts. Then China would have executed the dude and billed his family for the bullet.

    China is the country of the 21st Century. When you put it in context, and look at the bad with the good, coming from where they came from in such a short time can fill your glass half way or empty it. America pulled off a similar move, much smaller and under different circumstances, with the Marshall plan that rebuilt Japan and Germany.

    The guy going to jail for a year will end up being a soft martyrdom for a continuing move to freedom. China has been moving two, three, and four steps forward and occasionally one step back. It is human nature to print and read only the bad news. No one wants to read that someone avoided an accident on the freeway.

    1. issac – China really is not in the 21st century yet. Their system is capitalistic, but their government is Communistic. They really do not know where they are.

  14. “Throw the cad in jail, then try to find a law that he broke to keep him there.”

  15. We take free speech for granted in this country and sometimes are upset by it when we don’t agree with the message. But, it is far more upsetting to read about situations where free speech is denied.

  16. Shen Yongping only sentenced to a year? China is getting soft…or moving more center.

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