Left Menu
Development News Edition

Dissident Chinese cartoonist shows his face on Tiananmen anniversary

Reuters | Updated: 04-06-2019 17:42 IST | Created: 04-06-2019 17:30 IST
Dissident Chinese cartoonist shows his face on Tiananmen anniversary
Image Credit: Flickr

One of China's most prominent political cartoonists who has hidden his identity for years to avoid reprisals from the state revealed his face publicly on Tuesday to mark the 30th anniversary of Beijing's June 4 crackdown on Tiananmen protests.

Chinese troops brutally crushed the student-led pro-democracy demonstrations in and around Tiananmen Square, first opening fire on the night of June 3, 1989, killing hundreds, perhaps thousands, witnesses and rights groups say. Chinese Communist Party rulers have since sought to white-wash the violence, never offering an admission of guilt or wrongdoing or releasing a death toll.

Badiucao, a 33-year-old China-born cartoonist and artist who has drawn comparisons to graffiti artist Banksy, said he could no longer remain in the shadows despite threats from China's security apparatus prompted by biting satires that poke fun at Beijing's leaders and their perceived abuse of power. In a documentary on his life called "China's Artful Dissident" and shown on ABC television on Tuesday, he shows his face and for the first time details how he was forced to scrap an exhibition in Hong Kong last year given threats against loved ones.

"I'm facing this major choice: to be silent forever, or to fight back, to confront, face to face, this situation," the bespectacled cartoonist told Reuters by phone from Melbourne where he lives, still without revealing his name. "By stepping out on the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre I don't think there's any better time for me to do that."

Badiucao posts most of his cartoons online and uses social media extensively. When required to appear in public in the past, he sometimes wore a balaclava. Despite his precautions, he said Chinese authorities somehow discovered his identity last year, possibly through digital surveillance while he was planning the Hong Kong show, which would have been his first international exhibition.

His works include neon sculptures of deceased Chinese dissident and Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo and a cartoon of Chinese President Xi Jinping holding a rifle next to a dead Winnie the Pooh. Chinese internet users have in the past likened Pooh's portly appearance to Xi. A small number of people have even used Pooh as a symbol of resistance.

"FALLING EGG" Badiucao said he was told by a source that two "policemen" from China would show up for the Hong Kong event - stoking fears he might be abducted to mainland China, which took back control of the former British colony in 1997.

A Hong Kong-based publisher of books critical of China's leaders was abducted in Thailand in 2015, one of five people in the Hong Kong book trade who went missing that year and later appeared in custody in mainland China. "Hong Kong is like an egg falling to the ground," Badiucao said. "It might not have impacted the ground but it's already on the way."

China's main representative "Liaison Office" in the city gave no response to a Reuters request for comment. Badiucao took part in Hong Kong's 2014 pro-democracy protests that blocked roads for months in a direct challenge to Beijing, but he says he won't return. He criticised a proposed extradition law that would allow suspects in Hong Kong to be sent back to mainland China for the first time.

"The extradition law is definitely a new trap, allowing mainland China much more power to use its controlling with violence directly in Hong Kong," he said. "It also generates huge fear." Last year, he launched a public art project on China's "Tank Man" , the nameless individual who stood in front of a row of tanks a day after the Tiananmen Square crackdown in an act of defiance. The man's identity and fate remain unknown.

The artist urged people around the world to pose in public as Tank Man, in white shirt, black pants, and holding two bags. "In order to pass down memory, it's always about the next generation, how to engage them, how to awaken them from this kind of political indifference," he said.

China's Ministry of Public Security did not respond to a request for comment on the fate of Tank Man. When asked about Tank Man by Reuters at a Foreign Ministry media briefing, spokesman Geng Shuang said: "I have no understanding of these situations you mention." Despite blanket Chinese censorship of June 4, the artist said he would reveal the truth through art.

"The physical body can be crushed or damaged, but the spirit lives for much longer," he said. "I hope within my art and within my action ... will be a way to pass on the spirit of '89." ie)


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

How UK’s 'best prepared' healthcare system failed to gauge COVID-19

The UK is proud of their public health system and its unlike any other country as around 90 percent of British public supports the founding principles of National Health Service. But without accurate data being available to stakeholders in ...

Poor on IHR capacity progress in 2019, WHO says Cambodia tops COVID-19 response

Despite being in proximity to Hubei, the original epicenter of COVID-19 pandemic, Cambodia has reported just 226 confirmed cases and zero deaths. After seeing the data, WHO appreciated Cambodias healthcare information system but experts dou...

Loopholes in Healthcare Information System may have failed Singapore COVID-19 model

In the initial days of the COVID-19 outbreak, Singapore was in the limelight for its effective healthcare system and pandemic response plan. However, Singapore has now joined the list of the worst-hit nations and the situation is even worse...

Australia's COVID-19 response: Digital infrastructure of help but implementation remains a challenge

Australias ongoing plans to upgrade its health information system helped by the Digital Health Strategy seem even more practical due to the pandemic. But as evident during the pandemic, administrative lapses and the complex matrix of power ...

Videos

Latest News

Study reveals blood test could diagnose baby brain damage just hours after birth

Researchers have found that an early blood test could detect, which babies deprived of oxygen at birth are at risk of serious neuro-disabilities like cerebral palsy and epilepsy. The prototype test looks for certain genes being switched on ...

Sara Ali Khan soars temperature in monsoon post

Channelling her Tuesday mood with a unicorn-shaped inflatable balloon in a swimming pool, Sara Ali Khan soared temperature with a bikini picture as she enjoyed monsoon rain. The calm before the storm...Nothing will ruin Sara or Unis form, w...

Pedro undergoes successful shoulder surgery

Chelseas Pedro on Tuesday underwent a successful shoulder surgery. Pedro sustained a shoulder injury during the FA Cup final against Arsenal on August 1.The surgery went well, I will be back soon. It was a pity not to win the FA Cup. Thank ...

Theatre doyen Ebrahim Alkazi dies at 94

Theatre doyen and legendary teacher Ebrahim Alkazi died on Tuesday afternoon after suffering a heart attack, his son said. He was 94Alkazi, who was the longest serving director of the National School of Drama, produced plays such as Girish ...

Give Feedback