'Now I Can Speak Out'

Newly arrived in the United States, the wife of a Chinese dissident speaks out about her husband's and her family's ordeal.

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Guo Quan's wife Li Jing and their 12-year-old son on arrival in Los Angeles, Jan. 23, 2012.
Photo courtesy of ChinaAid.

Li Jing is the wife of former Nanjing-based university professor Guo Quan, who was detained Nov. 13, 2008 by police near his Nanjing home and formally charged with "subversion of state power" the following month. He was sentenced on Oct. 17, 2009, to 10 years' imprisonment, having been refused access to his own lawyer during the trial.

Guo's arrest sparked a wider investigation into the opposition New People's Party, which he said represented anyone petitioning the government and the ruling Communist Party for social justice in land disputes, forced evictions, and allegations of official wrongdoing.

Li fled China in early 2012 with the couple's 12-year-old son, Guo Chengli, on a mission to put international pressure on China to secure Guo's release. She spoke recently to RFA Mandarin service reporter Zhang Min:

It has been three years now since Guo Quan went to jail. In those three years, I still miss Guo Quan in the dead of night, and think about him in there. The weather gets so cold in the winter, and when I last visited him, his ears had swollen up [with the cold.] In the summer, it gets very hot.

Then I think about my son, who won't see his father for 10 years, and then I pray, and I ask God what I should do.

I came to America to help my husband to the best of my ability, to assist him, and to draw the attention of the international community to his case and ask them to speak on his behalf to the Chinese government so that he can be released and return home, and come back to his son.

[I last saw Guo Quan] on Dec. 10, [2011]. Every time I see Guo Quan he tells me that his health is fine, so that I won't worry ... Actually his health isn't very good; he frequently has stomach pains and suffers from mouth ulcers. But he tells us that everything is fine every time [we visit.]

Every time I visit him he tells me that he rejects the charges against him and that he has done nothing wrong. He says he will continue to work for China's democratic progress. That's what he says every time.

'I didn't tell anyone'

When we left the country, I didn't tell anyone about it, not friends, not family, not even my mother-in-law or my own mother. None of them knew about this, because I was afraid that if they did know, it would implicate them.

After I got here, I got a text from my sister-in-law who told me that they already knew about it and later I found out they had been told about it by a friend in America.

Following the [rejection of] the second appeal, the lawyer Ms. Li Baiguang has appealed my husband's case at the Supreme People's Court, and that is still in progress.

My view of Guo Quan from living with him is that he really has no interest in material things. He doesn't care what he eats or wears; none of this matters to him. His goal is a spiritual one.

He did a PhD in literature, and then he started to campaign on behalf of certain disadvantaged groups in society, and gradually began to realize the systemic problems in our country, and then he began to try to push forward the progress of democratization in our country ... He set up the New People's Party in order to work towards democracy.

Finally, now that I've got here I can actually say openly that I've been under a huge amount of pressure. Back in China, I couldn't speak out, because I was constantly aware of [the implications for] my elderly mother and child. Now that I have left, I can say that it has been enormously difficult to be sandwiched in the middle of everything.

Now that I am here, I hope that my voice can be heard, so that I can help to get him out of prison as soon as possible.

To begin with, I want to focus on speaking out, but I also need to get my child settled down. I have here a letter [Guo] wrote to his son. Before, we never told him that his father had gone to jail. We said at first that his father had gone overseas to teach, and we told him some fairy tales, some beautiful stories about him.

Later, as he got older, his father decided he wanted to tell him the truth, so he wrote him this letter about how hard it was for him to choose between his struggle for democracy and his own son.

There's a part of this letter that I can't bear to read, in which he tells his son that he is actually in Nanjing, just on the other side of the Yangtze River, and that they can hear the same boats sirens going up and down, on opposite banks.

I always feel so terribly sad when I read that part.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.


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Feb 02, 2012 03:53 AM

Untold millions of law-abiding families like Guo Quan's have been broken up under despotic Communist Party rule, essentially a foreign dynasty of conquest, espousing the foreign ideology of Russian Leninism and Stalinism. The CCP regime is stuck within a vicious cycle of its own creation of ruthless suppression of anyone who doesn't keep their head down and submit to one-party authoritarian rule.