Posted by Eric Mu on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 at 5:36 PM
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.
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.
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)
He Zizhuang (Shanghai, screenwriter, movie producer)
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)
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