A petition to stop the ban on Tang Wei

Tang Wei won an award.jpg

Bring back Tang Wei

Below is a translation of a petition letter, that has been circulating online in China during the last few weeks. The petition has been digitally signed by lawyers, entertainment and media industry people, academics and citizens. However, the petition seems to be frequently deleted from Mainland websites. There is currently a copy of the original on this website.

Suggestion that Tang Wei be given back the right to work

President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao:

We are movie and law practitioners and people who work in other industries. First, congratulations for being reelected. Here we want to make you a suggestion about the ban issued by SARFT that forbidds TV commercial starring Tang Wei being broadcast.

On March 18th, media including The Beijing News and Sina.com reported the response from the SARFT officials on the incident, which indicates that the cause of the ban is that Tang Wei acted in Lust, Caution, a movie produced by Shanghai Movie Studio, together with movie companies from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Since Lust, Caution hit the screen, it has inspired heated discussions among audiences and researchers about its artistic approach, historical background, portrayal of characters, the way it deals with sexuality, and its themes. People have radically different opinions but this kind of discussion does help the public have a better understanding of the art and ideas of the movie.

We didn’t see any interference from the government to the release and discussion of the movie. This is wise and is also the attitude adopted by governments of other countries. It is also consistent with the spirit of creating a law-governed society as you always advocate. But around March 8, SARFT slammed a ban on Tang Wei. It has caused confusion and disagreement.

Even if the publicity department of the government decides that the movie is inappropriate to watch and will cause harm to the cultural value system advocated by the government, the person held responsible should be the person who approved the release of the movie.

Because in most cases, leaders of state-owned movie studios and government officials should have a better understanding of the policies than young actress Tang Wei, therefore they should be in better position to decide whether the movie should be allowed to be watched and discussed. Tang Wei doesn’t have any involvement in this decision making process. Of course, if the government feels it has to interfere with literature and the arts, it should be openly discussed, and reasons should be given to the public. That may help achieve the desired result.

Even if Lust, Caution should be punished for its problems, Tang Wei is only part of the problem. It is a severe violation of justice that SARFT who approved the movie in the first place should punish Tang Wei. This in fact has made it impossible for Tang Wei to act in any movie or TV in mainland China. With this indefinite ban, it is hard to imagine that any mainland China movie, TV, or commercial company would hire Tang Wei.

According to March 8’s Southern Metropolis newspaper, director Gu Changwei decided not to use Tang Wei in his Shiwai Taoyuan (世外桃源). This will lead the public to believe that it’s the actress who is responsible for this controversial and possibly problematic movie and her that should be punished.

To implement this ban without due legal procedure not only hurts Tang Wei, it also hurts the art and artistic creativity of mainland China. It put restraints on China’s cultural creativity and reduces China’s soft power.

During recent years, with your determination to build a law-governed state, procedural justice is an important indicator of the construction of the legal system. SARFT is an exception to this trend of development. Several recent cases of approval withdrawal (Meteorite Garden 流星花园, Rice 大鸿米店, Lost in Beijing 苹果 etc.) have already caused very negative effects in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. If this is not corrected, your hopes of constructing a harmonious society will be damaged. The image of the government and the country will also be damaged.

This incident has already caused a negative response among ordinary people, and suspicion among people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the whole world. The government should respond to this, and correct the problems as early as possible. We have all been concerned about this and have expectations of the government. However until now, we have failed to see any clear decision made by SARFT, aside from some incoherent explanations which only increased confusion and dissatisfaction.

The practice of official accountability is a sign of social progress. When officials of SARFT feel that their superiors and other people feel uncomfortable about a movie, they try to shift the focus by hurting an actress. If it is true, according to the spokesman of SARFT, this move was intended to prevent young people getting the wrong message that “fame can be gained by taking off your clothes”. SARFT can mobilize their propaganda mechanisms to neutralize this effect by advocating more positive things, instead of depriving the right to work of a ordinary Chinese citizen.

Whatever the explanation from SARFT, many people actually believe that SARFT has tried to transfer the blame to others without proper legal procedures.

Therefore we suggest that the central government instructs SARFT to withdraw bans on Tang Wei to allow this actress to work again in mainland China to redeem the damage that has already been done.

Sorry to disturb, because we do not want to be treated the same way.

(This suggestion will be presented to the Central Government)

Signed by:

He Zizhuang (Shanghai, screenwriter, movie producer)

Cun Weiping (Beijing, professor, scholar)

Hao Jian (Beijing, professor, screenwriter, scholar)

Yang Yinbiao (Chongqing, writer)

Teng Biao (Beijing, lawyer, professor)

Zhao Guojun (Beijing, law scholar )

Xiong Shanhui (New Canaan, scholar)

Cheng Qingsong (Beijing, screenwriter)

Note, the version of the petition linked above ends here, but the first version, from which this is translated, also included the below names:

Zhang Xian (Shanghai, screenwriter)

Zi Feiyu (Beijing, media worker)

Qin Qi (U.S., scholar)

Jiang Zhen (Beijing, university student)

Wu Di (Beijing, screenwriter)

Wan Chuanfa (Shanghai, filmmaker)

Zhang Jie (Beijing, editor, poet)

Huang Jie (Huai’an, editor)

Qu Jiangbo (Zhengzhou, university student)

Liu Yu (Beijing, student)

Tao Dengfeng(Beijing, teacher)

Zhang Jinglei (Tianjin, student)

Zhang Jie (Beijing, editor)

Fei Ming (Beijing, screenwriter)

Liu Yi (Sichuan, director, screenwriter)

Li Yinhe (Beijing, sexologist)

He Jia (Bejing, teacher)

Li Dawei (L.A, scholar)

Cheng Lanqing (Guangzhou, freelancer)

Cheng Jun (Beijing, music industry)

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