The Countryside

A volunteer's shuttered blog: follow-up

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An article in today's English-language Global Times reports on the story of Eckart Loewe, an educator from Germany who has been volunteering in Guangxi for the past decade.

Loewe (who goes by the name Lu Anke 卢安克 in China) abruptly closed down his blog last week, leaving a final message that mentioned the "discomfort" his work with poor rural children had caused. The message included the following statement, which gave the impression that government criticism had prompted the shutdown:

At the request of the relevant departments, I make the following statement: I have no formal status as a volunteer, and I am not credentialed to teach in China.

The Global Times article, titled "German teacher closes blog, denies govt pressure," blames the Hong Kong media for misleadingly reporting that Loewe had been threatened with deportation:

The Hong Kong-based Ming Pao newspaper reported Saturday that Loewe had received a warning from the regional public security department that he is not qualified to be a volunteer or teacher because he lacked the qualifications.

If he continues to write about Chinese education and those left-behind children, he would be punished or even deported, the paper said in a report.
...
Loewe stressed that he didn't receive any pressure from the local authorities to close his blog.

"In fact, I have gotten great support from the local government, including the education bureau and police bureau since I came here." Loewe said Sunday.

Although the Global Times article points out that Loewe posted his message "without referring to any official organ," (relevant departments is a familiar dodge), the newspaper is similarly imprecise when it refers to "local authorities."

A reporter who had sought an interview with him in April wrote that Loewe had mentioned receiving a warning from the Guangxi Autonomous Region Public Security Department, not the most local of official organs. And on Saturday, the microblog of the magazine New Weekly reproduced an emailed reply to their request for an interview with Loewe:

New Weekly: Thank you very much for your interest in my situation, but I cannot accept your interview. Having been criticized by the Guangxi Public Security Department (I have exceeded the scope of my activities), I no longer wish to communicate with the outside world, nor will I continue to update my blog. Because the planned subject matter of your interview is quite sensitive, I am even less willing to accept it. So that I can be allowed to remain in China, please drop your interview with me.

Eckart Loewe
April 29

Neither newspaper was able to obtain a response from the Public Security Department.

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