Outspoken social critic and blogger Li Chengpeng recently released a new book: the Whole World Knows [zh]. Also known as an eloquent public speaker, Li delivered a bold speech on freedom of speech at China’s elite Beijing University last November. While the audience expected another speech at Li’s book signing event in his hometown of Chengdu in China’s Sichuan province on Jan 12 2013, what they saw was a silent Li with a mask on his face. His speech was censored.
Just the night before the event, Li tweeted [zh] to his 6.6million followers on Weibo:
Someone just delivered a strict order: at my book signing event, I’m not allowed to talk; the readers are not allowed to ask me any questions; I can’t even introduce myself or say “ Happy New Year, Thank you”. I’m not even allowed to introduce the names of other guests at my event; they are not allowed to talk or answer any questions. They can only sit in the corner. I deeply feel it’s against my understanding of dignity. They are crazy.
People who attended the event on Jan 12 tweeted on Sina Weibo:
方塘方糖[zh]：Many readers have come; many policemen have come as well. The guests and the author didn’t have a chance to speak. Li wore a black mask and had tears in his eyes. His T-shirt said: “I love you all.” Li, please don’t cry. Keep going!
王金明小伙[zh]: It’s the most depressing signing event I’ve ever experienced. There were many people on the spot but no sound. The policemen were guarding each corner. Li wore a mask and signed his book with the wrong date. His guests only appeared very shortly before being asked to step down. There were tears on Li’s face.
西藏王洪[zh]: Those who bought the book were mostly born in the 80’s or 90’s. After over 10 years’ of brainwashing, perhaps the book can cure them.
While most Weibo users think it’s ridiculous to control a small signing event, they believe the silent signing itself shows how nervous the government is.
我叫饭某某[zh]: They don’t allow Li Chengpeng to speak, because they are afraid more people will be awakened. However, their nervousness has showed their stupidity. It’s just a book signing event after all.
酝七[zh]：A silent signing, how ironic. They delayed the time, forbade speaking, got rid of the speaker….however, thoughts can speak. The whole world knows.
One netizen commented [zh] sarcastically on twitter:
I suddenly discovered that the Communist Party has made creating a buzz into an art. Li Chengpeng’s book signing was just a small ordinary event, but after the Communist Party's handling of it, it became a work of performance art that has spread throughout the world.