I apologize once again to those readers, web users and close friends for the mess that ensued as I suddenly lost contact with the outside world! Trust me, Old Yang isn’t finished yet, and some year, some month and some day I will have an opportunity to thank you face to face, thanking you for the way that you offered your sympathy, support and attention, and extended a warm hand in the midst of my sickness.
Once I reconnected with the world, a flood of information and letters came. And there were so many friends online I recognized and didn’t recognize who were trying to find me. Some friends couldn’t sleep at night, waiting for me to come back, and for that I am truly moved.
The predominating feeling in choosing to engage in writing like this and follow pursuits like this in China is one of loneliness. Your views make you somewhat alien. Your aspirations set you apart from the fold. Your family and friends start to view you as unusual. For many years, that feeling of loneliness buries not only one individual ideal after another, but ultimately destroys that dreams for which the Chinese people have struggled for for a century and still not grasped. We Chinese have grown accustomed to using cold indifference and isolation to destroy hopes and dreams. We’ve all at one time or another been accomplices.
And yet there, during the two loneliest days of my life, I received so much friendship and care. Thank you all. All of you have helped me to recognize what is right and what is wrong. All of you have helped me to recognize that my choices have not been wrong . . .
I’d also like to take this opportunity to express my feelings of thanks to people overseas, and particularly to overseas media and to the government of Australia. This thanks is mingled with a strong sense of guilt and shame. For years now, I’ve enjoyed the convenience and benefits of national treatment from Australia, and yet I have dedicated everything I have to China. I hope that some day they are able to understand me. A harmonious and stable China, strong and prosperous, and which respects human rights, conforms to the interests of the whole world.
At the same time, I wish to say to my readers, there are very special reasons why you have heard me say in various introductions that I am Chinese and that I hold Chinese nationality, and this is emphatically not a deception. Could anyone commit such a low-order mistake, least of all me, who has his Australian passport in hand when he travels in the West? Some day in the future you will hear me explain. But not now.
I want to reaffirm that wish to take full responsibility for my neglect, and ask that everyone please forgive me. But I don’t wish to expend too much time trying to explain. I must devote more time to continuing with my work and mission, which has already become my life.
Of course, this does not prevent us from observing the world around us through the window that this whole affair has opened. When I lost contact with the outside world because my mobile was off, perhaps everyone immediately guessed what the “facts” were, and they all knew the “truth.” Thereupon, my family began the rescue mission, web users searching, friends started rushing out with appeals, many overseas media moved on the story, the Australian prime minister and foreign minister started pulling strings, and China’s foreign ministry spokesperson leapt to a routine denial of rumor — and for its part, the Chinese media maintained collective silence, and a few website editors even discussed whether or not my essays should be taken down.
Perhaps everyone knew that this day would come, and the day did come on that day. In the aftermath, there are a couple of points we should think about: Who is it that made everyone believe that a patriotic writer, calm and moderate, who writes stories and reasons things out would eventually come to such a day? Why is it that no one actually supposed that I might have been “kidnapped” by criminals who wanted to hold me for ransom, sold out by traitorous “friends,” possibly suffered a fallout with a business partner, or even maybe even a jealous lover? In a country in which they say a socialist system of rule of law has been fully built, how is it that the rational line of thought for the Chinese media leads them directly to the government in a “kidnapping” case so that they maintain a shameless and numb distance?
Think about the Qian Yunhui case (钱运会), think about the recent hoarding of salt, think about my “kidnapping” case. How is it that they all come to the same point? What I want to say is that the role I have played all along, and will continue to play, is the role of the calm intermediary, connecting the past and the future, connecting domestic [China] to the outside world. Calmly, and progressing step by step, I want to build our nation into a harmonious and stable one, strong and prosperous, a modernized nation that is free and democratic.
The goal isn’t asking too much. And on some level every citizen should take responsibility for realizing this goal. But I don’t want to shoulder that cold and serious joke I hear at every meeting: How is it that you haven’t been arrested yet?
Having been through this experience, I have added another dream. I dream that when I silently take my leave of you all, you will sigh and exclaim, “He’s tired, let him rest. We don’t need him anymore.” I hope when word comes that I’ve been “kidnapped,” our [foreign ministry] spokesperson and government will say, “We can’t lose a single citizen!” I dream that disappearances and missing persons in this country of ours happen because someone is ill, or because their mobile phone ran out of juice. I dream . . .
This essay was originally posted on April 6 at Yang Hengjun’s Blog.