Two years ago, I spent a couple of weeks in Shanghai & Beijing. I had, indeed, noticed that I couldn’t access my Gmail account. Hopefully, I could access the e-mails which where hosted on my French platform… named “Free” – How ironic is that? I could also access Le Figaro newspaper online, but not Le Monde, for some reason. But I forgot about it.
Of course, I also know about the Chinese regime practices, muzzling opposition and where freedom of the press doesn’t even exist as a dictionary entry.
That far, my political consciousness prevented me from going to Burma or Cuba. For China… well… I was so interested in discovering the Silk Road that I put some of my principles aside. At least, I thought I was…
A few days ago, I was looking through the window of the Trans-Siberian train, absorbed by the never-ending skyline of trees and dachas. I felt peaceful. I felt complete. I felt free.
I was realizing that I was here, twelve thousand kilometers from home, about to reach a city I had always dreamt about, on my own will.
From where I come, the 18th century freed human beings from slavery, the 19th century set liberty of expression, and the 20th century put women at work. In addition to that contextual freedom, I was realizing, in that train, a few hours from reaching Vladivostok, that I am where I am thanks to my own energy. I – me, myself, I – am responsible for the additional part of freedom making that one-year trip a reality, breaking for a moment the straitjacket of a daily life – for what it means.
To make a long introspective story short (shorter at least!), I’m less than ever willing to let the Chinese Communist Party telling me what I can say, where and when.
Let’s be clear here. I do not pretend to an activist. I am not. I am just a traveller who wants to keeps her liberty of action.
“But weren’t you in Russia last month?”
It doesn’t compare, really. Of course, one more time, I am not a national citizen, or an opponent to the regime, just someone who crosses boarders. Ok, I guess that in Russia I couldn’t wear a tee shirt claiming “Fuck Putin”, and I couldn’t show my boobs in the street, and I would probably loose elections if I was competing against United Russia. But I can send e-mails, write stories on the Internet, ride a car (which is not the case in China by the way).
Unless what guidebooks say about Russia, you don’t really need to register in every city you pass-by. The police may ask you (should you be arrested, which is already quite unlikely) where and why you stay in Russia. Showing your train tickets, or hotel bookings, are good enough evidences for them.
On the Red square, I’ve even been able to make a guard hold my mascot for a stupid photo. I just wanted to see how tough those guys are supposed to be.
So I’ve decided to leave China. I am flying to South Korea, another country we know nothing about and that I’m very excited to discover!!!