One thing the Chinese government and its leaders often say to outsiders is that “Chinese people mean what they say!”

The “Chinese people” who are involuntarily represented by the Chinese government have since ancient times been honest, kind-hearted people, who keep their promises and truly “mean what they say.” Today’s Chinese government and its leaders are far from honoring this tradition. They have completely betrayed the Chinese tradition of integrity. Everything they say is a lie and nothing they say can be believed. What they do is to pretend to honor their prior promises to a very limited degree before they need to tell an even bigger lie and commit an even bigger fraud, and after that, they remain unchanged and become even worse.

In the past four years since the closing of the Olympics, the air of democracy and freedom over China has thinned day by day and the human rights condition has worsened, causing more and more Chinese writers, journalists, lawyers, and professors as well as ordinary people to be repeatedly repressed. Many were either followed, wiretapped, threatened, detained, “disappeared,” or tortured. I’m no exception. I’ve been watched by the authorities for a long time. In China, my books are not allowed to be published and my plays are not allowed to be performed. Even though my script, “Blissful Encounter with Mr. Cai,” received two awards from non-official theater groups and academic institutions, it’s banned by authorities.

When Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to prison, I wrote a poem of four lines:

The emperor-designated convict was sentenced
to eleven years
Bizarre injustice happens in the Sacred Land
every day
Prison is on both sides of the high wall
One is imprisoned either inside or outside of
the wall!

This is the true condition of human rights in China today.

Sha Yexin is an acclaimed playwright and political commentator based in Shanghai. He is a Board Member of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre and Honorary Chairman of the Chinese Theatre Association.