China Censors Law Professor’s Reflection on ‘Facing the Real World’

A law professor from a prominent Chinese university posted a reflective essay on her WeChat public account, only to see it deleted within two hours. Professor Lao Dongyan holds a Doctor of Law degree from China’s prestigious Peking University and works as a law professor and Ph.D. advisor at Tsinghua University. Lao is a published author and often appears on the media talking about various social issues and the law. Lao’s latest 6,000-word dissertation titled “Facing the Real World” met with immediate censorship. Professor Jerome A. Cohen, New York University School of Law Founder and Faculty Director Emeritus, added a link to Lao’s essay in his blog, and said that it is “not only about the plight of legal scholars, lawyers, free speech, and the abuse of criminal justice… It is also a meditation on arriving at middle age and on the responsibilities of raising children to cope with the contradictions of China’s present political, social, and economic environment.” ‘Living Among Absurdity, Busy while Feeling Lost’ As a reflection on the year 2021, Lao started by lamenting about how Chinese society is inundated with “positive energy” rhetoric, yet people are drowning in a tidal wave of “insecurity.” The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses the phrase “positive energy” as a catch phrase to encourage citizens to take all suffering, including that which it inflicts, on the chin. Lao’s essay commented on the absurdity of society. Under the zero-COVID policy, an eight-month pregnant woman, who tested covid negative, was not admitted and suffered a miscarriage outside the hospital because she came from a “high covid risk” area; an old man died of a heart attack while waiting to be PCR tested at the hospital; a mother and her teenage daughter, who passed 18 rounds of covid tests, were stranded on the streets in the cold winter night and not allowed to enter their neighborhood to go home. Other incidents include migrant workers, who were discouraged from returning home for the Chinese New Year, being labeled as “returning home with malicious motives,” and will be “first quarantined and then detained,” according to a CCP official for a township. A healthy and rational school teacher was sent to a psychiatric hospital simply for speaking from her heart on social media. “The absurdity does not stop there,” Lao wrote, “under the banner of ensuring harmony and safety, the fast-developing internet and big data technology have become the newest tool of control and a heavy shackle of the people.” In her essay, she called out the “evil of the system” as the root cause of societal problems. “Looking at the history of the 20th century, nearly all the catastrophes were caused by the evil of the system, [and] compounded by the evil of human nature.” Lao concluded that society has lost empathy. She said that the lack of feelings has become the prevalent sentiment during the past year. For a long while, she stopped posting on social media and had no interest in publishing because “other than causing myself trouble, what use do these writings have?” In addition, Lao resonated with the “lie flat” movement. She explained that hard work has been de-valued so much that people choose to do nothing, or “lie flat,” as a form of passive resistance. At the end of her essay, perhaps as an encouragement to her readers, Lao quoted J.K. Rowling’s commencement speech at Harvard University, “If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change.” Professor Cohen wrote in his blog, “I wonder whether Professor Lao will now suffer the fate of her former colleague, the ex-communicated, shunned, and impoverished Professor Xu Zhangrun, who is being quietly and informally but severely punished for his brilliant and courageous critiques of Xi Jinping’s repression.” Follow Kelly Song is a U.S.-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on all things related to China.

China Censors Law Professor’s Reflection on ‘Facing the Real World’

A law professor from a prominent Chinese university posted a reflective essay on her WeChat public account, only to see it deleted within two hours.

Professor Lao Dongyan holds a Doctor of Law degree from China’s prestigious Peking University and works as a law professor and Ph.D. advisor at Tsinghua University. Lao is a published author and often appears on the media talking about various social issues and the law.

Lao’s latest 6,000-word dissertation titled “Facing the Real World” met with immediate censorship.

Professor Jerome A. Cohen, New York University School of Law Founder and Faculty Director Emeritus, added a link to Lao’s essay in his blog, and said that it is “not only about the plight of legal scholars, lawyers, free speech, and the abuse of criminal justice… It is also a meditation on arriving at middle age and on the responsibilities of raising children to cope with the contradictions of China’s present political, social, and economic environment.”

‘Living Among Absurdity, Busy while Feeling Lost’

As a reflection on the year 2021, Lao started by lamenting about how Chinese society is inundated with “positive energy” rhetoric, yet people are drowning in a tidal wave of “insecurity.” The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses the phrase “positive energy” as a catch phrase to encourage citizens to take all suffering, including that which it inflicts, on the chin.

Lao’s essay commented on the absurdity of society.

Under the zero-COVID policy, an eight-month pregnant woman, who tested covid negative, was not admitted and suffered a miscarriage outside the hospital because she came from a “high covid risk” area; an old man died of a heart attack while waiting to be PCR tested at the hospital; a mother and her teenage daughter, who passed 18 rounds of covid tests, were stranded on the streets in the cold winter night and not allowed to enter their neighborhood to go home.

Other incidents include migrant workers, who were discouraged from returning home for the Chinese New Year, being labeled as “returning home with malicious motives,” and will be “first quarantined and then detained,” according to a CCP official for a township. A healthy and rational school teacher was sent to a psychiatric hospital simply for speaking from her heart on social media.

“The absurdity does not stop there,” Lao wrote, “under the banner of ensuring harmony and safety, the fast-developing internet and big data technology have become the newest tool of control and a heavy shackle of the people.”

In her essay, she called out the “evil of the system” as the root cause of societal problems. “Looking at the history of the 20th century, nearly all the catastrophes were caused by the evil of the system, [and] compounded by the evil of human nature.”

Lao concluded that society has lost empathy. She said that the lack of feelings has become the prevalent sentiment during the past year. For a long while, she stopped posting on social media and had no interest in publishing because “other than causing myself trouble, what use do these writings have?”

In addition, Lao resonated with the “lie flat” movement. She explained that hard work has been de-valued so much that people choose to do nothing, or “lie flat,” as a form of passive resistance.

At the end of her essay, perhaps as an encouragement to her readers, Lao quoted J.K. Rowling’s commencement speech at Harvard University, “If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice; if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but with the powerless; if you retain the ability to imagine yourself into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, but thousands and millions of people whose reality you have helped change.”

Professor Cohen wrote in his blog, “I wonder whether Professor Lao will now suffer the fate of her former colleague, the ex-communicated, shunned, and impoverished Professor Xu Zhangrun, who is being quietly and informally but severely punished for his brilliant and courageous critiques of Xi Jinping’s repression.”

Kelly Song

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Kelly Song is a U.S.-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on all things related to China.