The power of the state is a double-edged sword. When that power is placed in the right hands, it can improve citizen’s lives, rebuild dead cities, and breathe life into a country that was once dying. But when placed in the wrong hands, that life is quelled. The people slowly becomes cogs in a machine that the state is focused on building.
The Chinese government has been polishing it’s iron fist throughout the years. Their mos popular way of doing this is by severely limiting what can be accessed on the Internet. You want to watch Netflix in Beijing? You better have a decent Netflix VPN that can access it or you’re out of luck. Want to read news from the BBC? As of 2018, you can’t.
However, there is no shortage of citizens who are willing to stand up to the state, and one of these citizens is named Huang Qi.
The Start of a New Generation
64Tianwang is a Chinese website dedicated to exposing the misdeeds and lies of the Chinese government. Huang Qi was the founder.
For years, the website has been operational—though, mainland China has the website blocked. However, the dissidence of Huang caught up with him last week, when the courts sentenced him to 12 years in prison, fined him 20,000 yuan and revoked his political rights.
This isn’t the first time Huang has been imprisoned, but supporters are scared that this may be his last, as Huang’s health has been deteriorating from multiple tumors in his body. The courts refused Huang’s request for medical attention while detained, so he may end up ending his life in the prison.
Clearly, this isn’t right. Huang Qi was an activist that has been risking his freedom and rights since 1998. He deserves more than to die in prison, but the state views it differently. They see a rebel that breaks status quo, a threat to the iron fist they’ve polished for decades.
However, Huang Qi is only one of few who have risked their lives in an attempt to force the truth out of corruption.
Becoming an Outcast
Ever since the Internet has become the foundation upon which society lies, there have been many cyber-activists, hacktivists, whistleblowers, and many other types of rebels. Why accept the status quo when the status quo demands your silence?
Huang Qi is the latest casualty of these activists that rebelled against China. But many countries are guilty of silencing activists that disagree with the government.
Perhaps the most popular example, at least in the United States, is whistleblower Edward Snowden, who revealed the privacy-breaches that the NSA was capable of. He also exposed the access to data that countries around the world had, such as the U.K.’s ability to tap fiber-optic cables.
How about Julian Assange, who runs popular whistleblower site Wikileaks? He was actually arrested recently, after taking asylum in Russia for a few years, same as Ed Snowden. Though, Snowden hasn’t been arrested yet.
What about Sebastian Radke? Jimmy Wales? Rainey Reitman? Activism takes a toll on a person. Even in free countries, an act of rebellion for the betterment of the people can cost you the luxuries of a life you once had. You become an outcast, always on the run from the people you advocated for.
It takes an unprecedented amount of bravery, especially in a modern era where you can be tracked anywhere at any time. But we need more like Huang Qi and Snowden. The world needs more Assange’s, though maybe not as biased this time around.
I don’t know, I saw the news of Huang Qi and felt that cyber-activism and other forms of activism don’t receive enough attention.
As governments and companies try to extend their power over the people more and more, we will need more and more heroes to take the role of activist.