Monday, March 29, 2010

Be careful what you blog about...

Or rather, be careful what name you blog under.

A number of friends of mine blog - or have blogged in the past - under their own names; and I've always thought they were completely daft to do so while living in China.

Now, alas, it would appear that my anxieties on this score have been vindicated.

One of these friends has just been put through a very torrid time by police officers at the Entry & Exit Bureau, forced to skip off down to Hong Kong to get a new visa well before the old one had expired, and even had it hinted to him that it might be prudent to move apartments (since the coppers at his local station will now have him pegged as a possible undesirable).

And it seems that this all resulted from someone 'denouncing' him for something or other he'd written online. Now, this is all deeply ridiculous, since my pal - apart from the inevitable facetious sense of humour which is inculcated in all laowai by our brainwashing education system - is not much of a "China-basher", and scarcely political at all (much less so than me, for example; and I'm not very political.... although I used to try not to be political at all until all that shit we had to put up with in Olympic year here). But evidently the complaint against him was persuasive enough - or the complainant was influential enough - that it was taken seriously by the police and an "investigation" launched.

And once they start investigating us, we're all on a very sticky wicket (remember my panic attacks in December and February?). Almost all of us have paid for our visas rather than acquiring them "legitimately". Almost none of us has ever paid any tax here (our various employers usually claim they have paid some, and make a big fuss and bother over noting down our passport details, and levy small but irritating deductions from our promised pay packets; but if you actually try to check the tax records, you invariably find that no tax has ever been paid in your name - it's just another example of the entirely routine petty embezzlement I complained of the other day).

The authorities here can easily find an excuse to throw any of us out of the country at a moment's notice. Or to make life very, very unpleasant for us with threats and inquiries. Just knowing that our grip on our homes and livelihoods here is that insecure is pretty damned unpleasant.

Hence, I will continue to blog anonymously. And I'll try to be restrained in expressing my political opinions. And I certainly won't go mixing it with rabid fenqing types on any Chinese forums!!

Not that my identity cloak is all that formidable. There are far too many of my online friends and commenters who know who I really am. And I've scattered enough autobiographical details around here over the years that it probably wouldn't be all that hard for a dedicated researcher to work out who I am. (Actually, I rather think 'they' already know, since I have been the victim of quite a bit of seemingly individually targeted telephone and Net-connection harassment in the past.)

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