Tea Leaf Nation

Chinese Activist Posts Video Accepting Global Thinker Award

In a Facebook video, 2015 FP Global Thinker Li Tingting says the award is a "recognition of the Chinese feminist rights movement."

Li Tingting

Chinese activist Li Tingting was selected as one of Foreign Policy‘s 100 Leading Global Thinkers for 2015. Li, also known as Li Maizi, has helped lead the push for women’s and LGBT rights in China. She made international headlines after Chinese authorities detained her shortly before the annual March 8 Women’s Day, when Li and others had planned to promote public awareness of sexual harassment by passing out flyers. After an international outcry, she and four others were released following 37 days of detention. On Dec. 4, Li posted a video to her Facebook page thanking FP for the award, stating that “this award belongs to all feminist activists and LGBT activists throughout China.” Her thanks is unlikely to be widely viewed within China, where Facebook is blocked for users who do not use special technology to bypass government censorship. Watch the video and read the translated transcript, below.

“I’m extremely honored to be one of Foreign Policy magazine’s 2015 [Global] Thinkers. In fact, I have little talent and less learning. But I see this award as a recognition of the Chinese feminist movement, not just a recognition of me personally. So this reminds us and makes us believe once again that the last few years of work from China’s feminist movement has led to a number of great achievements, such as the ‘occupy men’s rooms’ event, such as the ‘wounded brides’ demonstration — which all successfully spurred domestic policy changes. Including our third phase, we planned anti-sexual harassment activities on public buses. This should be very important to the anti-sexual harassment ’cause.’

So I’d like to say this award belongs to all feminist activists and LGBT activists throughout China. Let’s all share this award!” 

In a reminder that Li is not just an activist, but also a savvy user of the Internet, she then holds up a cat.

In a written post accompanying her video, Li added, “While I am receiving this award, mainland Chinese NGOers are right now being ‘disappeared,’ and I hope they can be immediately freed from detention and their freedom restored. Only by facing squarely the great achievements of public actors can China truly promote development.” Earlier this year, in addition to detaining Li and other feminist activists (who were later released), Chinese authorities also detained hundreds of other rights lawyers and activists.

More information about Li’s activism is available here.


Translation by David Wertime.

Photo credit: Facebook/Fair Use

David Wertime is a senior editor at Foreign Policy, where he manages its China section, Tea Leaf Nation. In 2011, he co-founded Tea Leaf Nation as a private company translating and analyzing Chinese social media, which the FP Group acquired in September 2013. David has since created two new miniseries and launched FP’s Chinese-language service. His culture-bridging work has been profiled in books including The Athena Doctrine and Digital Cosmopolitans and magazines including Psychology Today. David frequently discusses China on television and radio and has testified before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. In his spare time, David is an avid marathon runner, a kitchen volunteer at So Others Might Eat, and an expert mentor at 1776, a Washington, D.C.-based incubator and seed fund. Originally from Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, David is a proud returned Peace Corps volunteer. He holds an English degree from Yale University and a law degree from Harvard University. Twitter: @dwertime

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian is a journalist covering China from Washington. She was previously an assistant editor and contributing reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @BethanyAllenEbr

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