Jinyan–China: Most influential unknown person

Late last year, Time magazine featured entertainment blogger Wang Xiaofeng in its 2006 person of the year issue, and while Wang’s name is more than well known throughout the Chinese blogsphere, when 22 year-old Beijing-based blogger Zeng Jinyan (曾金燕) was chosen by the magazine this week as one of the world’s most influential people, well, there aren’t all that many reactions to bring you.

‘Who is she?,’ was one of the few, from Lidan at Blog-City, on May 5:

胡总刘淇之外,还有曾妈妈

Aside from President Hu and Liu Qi, there’s still momma Zeng

这两天,各大报纸网站争先报道胡锦涛、刘淇被列入美国《时代》周刊全球100位最具影响力的人物,不过国内多数人都不知道还有一个曾金燕的姑娘被列入吧!我第一次听说这个人,简单介绍如下。。。

These two days, every major newspaper and website have been trying to get the scoop on Hu Jintao and Liu Qi’s having been chosen for Time magazine’s world’s 100 most influential people, but many people in China don’t know there’s one more: this chick Zeng Jinyan‘s been listed too! It’s my first time to hear of this person[….]

A search at Sina blogs: nothing.

Hexun, one home of writer-blogger Yu Shicun, who has written on Zeng several times in the past: nothing since March 12

Are Sohu bloggers more with it? Or has the provider just not put Zeng’s name on the block list? Three blog posts since the 100 list came out, first from XuXiao888 on May 5:

剩下的一位曾金燕女士,所有网站没有她的消息。她被《时代》杂志列为”英雄与先驱”类别。我在博客上曾见过她的有关报道:曾金燕的丈夫胡佳是中国爱滋病人权和维权人士。曾金燕因营救因从事维权活动而失踪的丈夫胡佳,通过博客等互联网方式向大众揭露事件真相,引起了国际关注,后来他的丈夫被释放。

虽然这有一点犯忌,但我以为,已经荣登《时代》全球百大影响力人物之一的曾金燕仍然是华人的骄傲。媒体不应该集体禁声,这样做无异于”掩耳盗铃”。即使如此,也无济于事。因为,世界已经是平的了,一切人为的封锁和障碍都是力不从心的,也是不符合中国政府提倡的开放的国策的。

The remaining woman, Zeng Jinyan, none of the websites have any information about her. She was listed by Time Magazine in the “Heroes and Pioneers” category. I once saw something about her on a blog somewhere: Zeng Jinyan’s husband Hu Jia works to uphold the human rights of Chinese AIDS patients. Zeng Jinyan, as a result of having her relief and rights-protecting husband Hu Jia disappear, used the blog and the internet to reveal to people the truth, attracting international attention, and then later her husband was released.
This maybe be a bit taboo, but I feel that having already been honored by Time as one of the world’s most influential people, Zeng Jinyan is still the pride of Chinese. The media should not be keeping a collective silence, this is just tantamount to deceiving yourselves. Even if they do, it’s of no use. The world is already flat, all man-made blocks and barriers will never cut as much as they’re intended, nor do they adhere to the open policies the Chinese government calls for.

Better than nothing, a copy and paste job of a mainland news report at CWD’s blog, also dated May 5, and a brief passing mention from Jun Wenzhang the day before. Massive corporate blog providers aside, even Bullog has only been able to come up with one post thus far, from user Jing Ran, also dated May 4: ‘The news mainland media can’t report.’

Zeng Jinyan put up a brief post when she found out, at can can be seen a few comments from her foreign fans:

早上朋友告知说,《时代周刊》今天发布影响世界100人,入选的华人有胡锦涛、刘淇、马化腾(腾讯老总)以及我。

今天是五四青年节,也是陈光诚的儿子小克睿的生日,小孩还是常哭着要爸爸。去年陈光诚是与温家宝齐名位列《时代周刊》影响世界一百人,今年此时,陈光诚还在狱中。

This morning a friend told me that Time magazine released its list of the 100 most influential people this morning, and of the Chinese selected there are Hu Jintao, Liu Qi, Ma Huateng (CEO of Tencent), and me.
Today is May Fourth Youth Day, and it’s also Chen Guangcheng’s son Little Kerui’s birthday. The child often cries when he thinks of his dad. Last year, Chen Guangcheng and Wen Jiabao were named in Time’s list of the 100 most influential people, and this year, at this time, Chen Guangcheng remains in prison.

Followed by this post, dated May 5, also translated at EastSouthWestNorth:

昨天,就我入选美国《时代》周刊”全球最具影响力100 人”之”英雄与先驱”(以下简称100人)一事,祝贺、采访和约稿的电话、电邮很多,反而让我觉得意外。面对这些问题,我简单归纳了回答,以答谢关注的朋友。

Yesterday, I was chosen as one of Time magazine’s “world’s 100 most influential people” in the “heroes and pioneers” category. Congratulations, interviews, phone calls and e-mails aplenty. I was actually quite surprised. To deal with all the questions, I’ve made up a simple summary of all my answers, as thanks for all concerned friends.


问:得知自己名列《时代》100人,有什么感受?

Q: How did you feel when you learned you’d been selected as one of Time’s ‘100′?

答:昨天早上,蔡先生通过电子邮件第一个告诉我《时代》公布的100 人里有我。

A: Yesterday morning, a Mr. Cai was the first to tell me, over e-mail, that Time had released its 100 list and I was on it.

《时代》的记者和摄影师去年秋天开始和我联系,当时没有明确说明采访和拍照的目的。所以昨天确定地得知《时代》公布的100 人上有我的名字,我觉得高兴。倒是去年记者电话采访我时,我有点意外。不管是世界范围内,还是在中国国内,哪怕是在我们居住的北京,比我影响力大的人太多了。我年轻,做的是中国主流社会关注程度不高的社会工作,又是一个被警察经常绑架失踪、非法监禁的”活跃分子”的妻子,我的名字还被大陆的各个媒体封杀 ——总之社会角色很特殊,我没有想过自己会成为100 人之一。

Time reporters and photographers began to get in touch with me in fall last year. At the time they didn’t say exactly for what the interview and photos would be used. So yesterday when I was able to confirm that my name was on Time’s 100 list, I was quite happy. When the journalist phoned last year for an interview, I was a bit surprised. Whether you’re looking worldwide, in China, or even here in Beijing where we live, there’s way too many people far more influential than I am. I’m quite young, just doing work which to a large extent is not paid any attention by mainstream Chinese society, but I’m also the wife of an illegally monitored “activist” who’s often kidnapped or disappeared by police. My name’s been blocked from all mainland media—in brief, a tather particular role in society, but not one that I thought would make me one of the 100.

无论如何,我觉得这是《时代》给我的一种鼓励,是对我2006 年的工作的肯定。我发手机短信把这条消息告诉我远在福建的父母、干爸干妈,又打电话给胡佳的母亲。

But no matter what, I see this as Time giving me some encouragement, an affirmation of the work I did in 2006. I sent a text message to my parents and grandparents way off in Fujian province to let them know, and phoned Hu Jia’s mother to let her know.

5 月4日 这一天是陈光诚的儿子克睿的4岁生日,之前我一直惦记着,早晨醒来我就让胡佳先给袁伟静发短消息祝福小孩子,在我心中这一天是属于小克睿的节日。因为要赶路,所以匆匆通过电子邮件把关于 100人的消息发到博客,我们按原计划出发到密云水库和朋友聚会,又因为其他一些事情,到夜里近一点才回到家,所以今天才回应。

May 4, this day is Chen Guangcheng’s son Kerui’s fourth birthday. I’ve been keeping it in mind all along, and this morning when I woke up I got Hu Jia to send [Chen Guangcheng’s wife] Yuan Weijing a short message to congratulate the kid. In my mind, this day belongs to little Kerui. I had to get on the road, so I just hastily posted news about the 100 list up on my blog, and we stuck to our original plan to head out to Miyun Reservoir for a party with some friends, and also because of some other things, we didn’t get home until close to one a.m. and have only been able to reply now.


问:你认为什么原因使你能够名列 100人?

Q: What do you think the reasons were why you were included in the 100?

答:我不清楚《时代》用什么准则和标准来挑选这 100人,只能做些猜想。

A: I’m not sure what standards Time uses in selecting the 100, I can only guess.

博客的运用可能是我入选的其中一个原因。在我们这个没有言论自由的国家,新闻媒体首先是”党的喉舌”,记者和媒体的”生杀大权”都被中宣部掌控。纵使优秀的媒体工作者能偶尔突破新闻审查,也无法长期全面深入地报道社会底层最需要关注的事件和问题。在亲身接触社会弱势群体,亲自调查一些相关的社会问题,在开始阅读具有公信力的英文报道和学术报告后,我才明白,我们中国公民生活在一个谎言社会里,中宣传部就是《 1984》” 真理部”,每日用它的语言”修改历史”、”编写事实”。并指导、命令国内新闻机构作”感人至深的正面有益的新闻报道”。为了拒绝虚假的新闻,描述真相,越来越多的中国人,在网络开办自己独立的新闻机构——博客,就算不报道国家大事,也可以如实地记叙身边的社会百态,甚至只是在博客上说些”真心”的闲话。在现实生活中,人们因为担心惹麻烦对政治性话题很冷感。在可以匿名的网络上,你会发现无数热情关注中国社会现状、抨击时政的网民。而对于主流媒体不能报道的非法软禁、逼迫失踪、维权以及公民社会运动的重要事件等话题,博客成为社会工作者、有独立思想人士的一个平台和接触公众的机会。 2006年我通过博客持续讲述胡佳的失踪、长期软禁和我被跟踪的生活,以及中国类似遭遇者的故事,引起很多朋友的关注。尤其是胡佳失踪时,博客成为一个营救平台,发挥了我事先未曾想到的作用。博客成为维权运动、公民社会工作、甚至保护家人的一个很好的工具,而只要是记录个案描写个人的真实遭遇,就注定了博客内容与众不同。唯一遗憾的是, 2006年 9月份前后,我的博客被网络警察屏蔽后,在中国大陆就再也无法直接访问了。我连自己更新博客都常常要借助电子邮件。

My use of blogging could be one reason why I was selected. In this country we have no freedom of speech, the media are first and foremost “the Party’s mouthpiece”, and journalists and media’s right to continued existence lies in the hands of the Central Propaganda Department. Even if top-notch media workers can still sometimes break through news censorship, they’ve still no chance for long-term investigative reporting into the incidents and problems of society’s lower levels’ most in need of attention. After personally interacting with weaker groups in society, personally investigating some related social problems, and as I began reading some credible English-language reports and academic studies, I finally understood that we Chinese citizens live in a society of lies, that just like the Central Propaganda Department is just like the Ministry of Truth in “1984″, using its own language each day to “change history”, “rewrite the truth”. As well as ordering Chinese news outlets to produce “deeply-moving, positive and helpful news reports”. In a rejection of fake news, fake renditions of the truth, more and more Chinese are opening their own independent news outlets online—blogs, which even if they don’t report on major national incidents, they can still record the hundreds of different nuances to society that they see around them, even if it just a few casual “sincere” lines on their blog. In real life, people are worried about creating trouble and so tend to be rather unresponsive to political problems. But when anonymous on the internet, you can see the countless and passionate opinions strongly concerned with Chinese society, netizens tearing away at current events. And as mainstream media are unable to report on such important events and topics as illegal house arrests, forced disappearances and the civil rights and civil society movements, blogs have become a platform and a chance through which social works and independent thinkers can interact with the public. In 2006 when I opened a blog to continue writing about Hu Jia’s disappearance and long-term house arrest and my own life of being followed, as well as the stories of those with similar experiences in China, it attracted many people’s attention. Especially while Hu Jia had disappeared, my blog came to act as a rescue center, things I’d never before imagined possible. Blogs have become a tool for those in the civil rights movement, those in citizen social work, and even as a way to protect family members, and as long as people record truthful portrayals of what they encounter, it’s guaranteed that their blog content will stand out from others. The only pity is that since September 9, 2006, my blog has been blocked by police and cannot be directly viewed from within China. Even my own blog I often am able only to update it via e-mail.

中国优秀的博客作者众多,无论文采、深度,我都不能算是最好的。所以写博客这一形式肯定不是入选的唯一因素。因为中国的非法拘禁、失踪事件越来越多?因为我在写博客的过程中,实践着人权教育和社会工作对我的影响?因为中国乃至世界的人民非常关注中国维权运动与弱势群体和底层人民的反抗、挣扎?因为2006 年我给联合国机构、人权组织、艾滋病和环保人士、欧盟等真正有影响力的人写了太多的报告和求助信,还号召太多的人和我一起给中国的领导人写信?因为胡佳失踪时我成功地召开了世界各国驻北京记者的招待会,让媒体朋友把我的请求传遍世界?

There’s so many outstanding bloggers in China, be they of literary talent or depth, there’s no way I can be considered the best. That’s why blogging can’t be the only reason for my having been entered. Because incidents of illegal arrest and disappearing in China continue to increase? Because in my process of writing I make use of the impact human rights education and social work have had on me? Because people in China, even the world, pay close attention to the civil rights movment and resistances and struggles of ‘weak groups’ and lower-class citizens? Because in 2006 I wrote too many reports and letters requesting assistance to the United Nations, human rights groups, AIDS workers and environmentalists, the European Union and others with real influence, calling for too many people to join me in writing letters to Chinese leaders? Because after Hu Jia disappeared I successfully held a press conference for foreign correspondents stationed in Beijing, allowing media friends to spread my appeals to the world?

有些人说是因为我的勇气。我很惭愧。大家不知道我以前是多么地恐惧,又是如何地隐忍。胡佳从2004 年开始就频繁地失踪或被软禁,我寻找过他,但更多地只是等待他从警察手里回来。当国保警察找到我的大学,通过学校党委要求我”不要和胡佳继续交往”、”不要花时间在艾滋病社会工作上”,否则”小心毕业证书”时,我是多么害怕以至于常常沉默。是的,06 年的失踪和软禁事件中我开始学着反抗后,渐渐地不再恐惧了。因为我终于意识到,如果最心爱的人我都不能守护,我还有什么可以失去呢?我还害怕什么呢?如果人不能有尊严地活着,苟且隐忍又有什么意义呢?如果我总是害怕来自政权强大的看不见的黑势力,那我的工作受阻,在艾滋病村的老人、小孩、病人还有志愿者又怎么办呢?那些比我遭受更多磨难的维权人士的家属,如陈光诚的妻儿怎么办呢?相信只要心中存有正义,勇气自然而来。我的宗教信仰也给了我很大的支持,帮助我从恐惧中解脱。根本上师和佛祖的笑颜常常突然出现在我脑海中,让我充满力量。佛祖说人生终归会受各种各样的苦,那就坦然面对吧!于是我渐渐地放下恐惧,纵然时常气愤、恼怒、悲痛,但从来不失去信心。

Some people say it’s to do with my bravery. I’m ashamed. Nobody knows how fearful I used to be, or how forebearing I was. In 2004 when Hu Jia first began to disappear or be placed under house arrest, I’d go searching for him, but mostly just waited for him to come back from the police. When the secret police found out where I went to university, they went through the campus Party Committee to tell me “not to continue associating with Hu Jia”, “stop wasting time on AIDS social work”, or else “start worrying about your diploma”, I was often so scared that I’d just stay quiet. Really. In 2006 between the disappearances and the house arrests, I began to learn how to fight back, and gradually stopped being so scared. Because I’d finally realized that if I can’t even protect the people I love the most, what else do I have to lose? What else am I scared of? If people can’t live with dignity, what use is there in suffering in silence? If I live in constant fear of unseen dark forces from the powerful regime and my work is thwarted, then what are the seniors, children, patients and volunteers in the AIDS villages supposed to do? Those family members of rights upholders who’ve had to deal with so much more trouble than I have, like Chen Guangcheng’s wife and son, what are they to do? I believe that as long as justice exists in our hearts, bravery follows in suit. My religious faith has also given me great support, helping me escape from fear. The smiles of my buddhist master and Buddha himself often appear in my mind, renewing my energy. Buddha says all life must deal with so some sort of pain, so I say bring it on! I gradually release my fear, but even if I’m often furious, annoyed or hurt, I still have never lost my faith.


问:名列100人会给你将来带来什么影响和改变?

Q: What sort of influence or changes will the list bring to you?

答:如果不是那么多朋友和记者的祝贺与提问,我意识不到这个问题。《时代》是具有世界影响力的媒体,发布名单肯定会让更多人知道这100 人。但是这只能代表着对过去工作和贡献的肯定,很快人们就会忘了,而去看新的名单、新的事件。所以我没有意识到也没有想过名列100 人会给我的将来带来什么影响和改变。将来要做的社会工作照做,方式也不会因此而改变。一时的国际知名度可能会让我更加安全,再加上我现在怀孩子,我想07 、08年他们也许会跟踪、软禁我,但不至于把我投到监狱。可是谁知道究竟会发生什么事情呢?我们最关心的朋友,盲人赤脚律师陈光诚,去年也是《时代》 100人的英雄与先驱,受到世界媒体、政界、民间的高度关注,但是他因出色的维权工作遭到报复,至今还在监狱中。

A: If it hadn’t been for all the friends and journalists sending me congratulations and questions, I wouldn’t even have noticed. Time is one of the world’s most influential media, so releasing this list will of course allow many people to know who these 100 are. But this can only represent a confirmation of work and contributions of the past, people will quickly forget and go look at the next new list, new incidents. This is why I never realized or thought that the being on the 100 list might bring me any effect or change. For the future I’m going going to stick with my social work; my methods won’t change because of this. Temporary international renown might make me feel safer, especially now that I’m pregnant. I think in 2007 or 2008 they might keep following me, keeping me under house arrest, but they won’t go so far as to throw me in jail. But then who knows what might actually end up happening? The friend we’re most concerned about, blind barefoot doctor Chen Guangcheng, was also chosen by Time as one of their 100 heroes and pioneers, which brought him a high degree of attention from world media, the political world and civilians, but as a retaliation for the outstanding civil rights work he did, until today he’s still in prison.

倒是一些朋友告诉我们,当他们昨天拨打我家的电话和我的手机时,听到的答复是电话有故障或无此号码、请查实,甚至手机显示正在忙——有时我确实在接电话,有时我根本没有使用手机时它也显示忙音。后来更麻烦,因为国内的报纸在铺天盖地地报道胡锦涛和刘淇入选100 人,没有关于我的介绍,对此我早有思想准备,所以原本不想说什么,谁知家里来电话追问为什么。我怎么办呢,不解释似乎我在撒谎,详细解释原因岂不是叫家人伤心!一些网友也迷惑,问”是国内媒体封锁还是国外媒体造谣”?

Then some friends told us that yesterday when they phoned us at home or to my cell, they got messages saying the number was out of service or had been disconnected, to try again, and even a busy signal. I definitely did use the phone a few times, but even when I wasn’t it still appeared busy. Then it got worse, as mainland papers went covering the land and sky with news that Hu Jintao and Liu Qi had made the 100, but there were no mentions of me. I was prepared for something like this, so at first I didn’t want to say anything. Who knew people would start phoning me at home to find out why. What could I do? If I didn’t explain it would have seemed like I was lying, but to explain in detail would just hurt my family. Some netizens got confused too, asking: “are mainland media being censored or are foreign media spreading lies?”


问:与胡锦涛主席同列一榜,有何特别感想?

Q: How do you feel about being listed alongside Chairman Hu Jintao?

答:没有特别的感受,我们的社会角色很不相同。我国是世界人口最多的国家,经济总量排在前几位,而我们体制权大于法,党大于国。胡锦涛主席作为一个大国如此体制下的最高权力代表,毫无疑问有着巨大的影响力。入选《时代》肯定有它考虑的因素。

A: No special feeling. Our roles in society are too different. China has the highest population in the world, our economy ranks in the top few places, our system’s authority overrules our laws, the Party is bigger than the state. As the representative of a large country under this kind of system, Chairman Hu Jintao undoubtedly has greater influence. Time must have its own factors to consider in compiling the list.

我和胡佳都是普通人,我在一家小公司做一点工作挣钱养家,剩下的时间做艾滋病关怀、救助和维权工作。胡佳现在是自由职业者,抑或警方所言的”城市无业人员”。

Hu Jia and I are just average people, I work in a small company to make some money to feed the family, doing AIDS care, relief and rights protection work in my free time. Hu Jia is self-employed right now, or as the police put it, “urban unemployed.”

我对与胡锦涛同榜没有特别的感想,对他个人也没有抱怨。但是,中国司法部门对公民社会和维权人士的镇压,作为主席的他需要负责任。偶尔我会希望中国政府高层的”有良知的领导人”加速推动社会政治改革,以消除腐败弊端,减轻压在老百姓头上的重压,让中国社会真正进步,让人民自由而幸福。可是,随着政府出台越来越严厉的对网络和新闻审查、对民间打压的政策,绝大多数时候我不对当局抱幻想。我相信将来会更好,但是必须通过每一个的努力、挣扎和奋斗,而非等待统治者遥遥无期的” 恩赐”。

I have no special feeling about being listed alongside Hu Jintao, and have no complaints against this particular person. But, Chinese judiciary bodies suppress civil society and those who uphold rights; as Chairman he needs to take responsibility. Sometimes I’ll hope that the “leaders with conscience” within the higher levels of the Chinese government will speed up the push for social and political reforms, and in wiping out corruption, reducing the weight pressing down on the heads of the common people, allowing Chinese society to effectively improve and granting its people freedom and happiness. But, as the government releases increasingly strict internet and news censorship, policies that strike down on the people, the sheer majority of the time I don’t feel disenchanted with the authorities. I believe the future will be better, but that it needs everyone’s effort, struggle and strife, and not just waiting for the rulers’ bestowing of it upon us at some indefinite point in the future.
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