Mr Democracy

A written constitution for the UK (made in China)


  • Welcome to Mr Democracy, the story of a British artist who set off to get a written constitution for the UK made.
    Understanding the changing balance of power in the world, and with a nod to Britain’s ‘democratic’ ventures across the world, he chose to get it written in China, and ship it back to the UK.
    Read more under 'about' and in the many blog entries.

Second official visit

Posted by mrdemocracy on 08,08,2008

Back in Guangzhou, I got a knock at the door from the Police in the new hotel too. There were some attacks in the north (see here), so its fair enough that any foreigners in any part of China may be terrorists, despite the attackers being Chinese. This at least, is what my Chinese art student helper said. It is always amazing and scary just how easy and lightly people will bow down and take a bit of totalitarian government, with just the faintest of excuse. ‘The Olympics’ really was the reason for any abuse of Police power. I was more used to it now, after last time, and I do think people here are more used to the Police inviting themselves to any occasion than in the UK or Germany, but I still hate it. The came with a young woman interpreter. I like it that the police don’t actually speak English, it slows the interrogation right down. He pointed at the tripod and asked what it was. I said it was a tripod, I am a tourist. This just exemplifies the pointlessness of police interrogation anywhere in the world – harassing ordinary citizens. I say pointless, it does keep them in check, adding that little bit of fear which discourages us from protesting. ID cards in the UK should bring us that bit closer.

It also brings to mind something a friend who studied in Russia. She recounted how Russians said the difference between their system and ours was that they knew they lived lived in a system (a designed system) whereas it seemed we didn’t. Having said that it seems the Chinese, the Chinese I met, aren’t too aware of how much their system is designed, and how different it could be. Indeed, the writers in Shanghai asked me ‘so which human rights do you (all) think we so desperately need? I’m fine, my life is not interrupted by the police on a regular basis’. This was interesting if a little saddening, but it shows that the propaganda works. In another conversation with someone who worked with me in Gaungzhou, he asked if I could make one change in China, what would it be. We talked about it and agreed it would be one relatively simple change: press freedom. Press freedom would allow the corruption to (start to) be reported, bringing exposure and shame.

Since looking up an article about the terrorist attacks, google returns an update – that the attack now seems less black and white than first mentioned. Now its out of the (narrowly focussed) media spotlight, but I remember at the time a BBC ‘From Our Own Correspondant’ reporter commenting on how quickly the scene was tidied up, and there was little evidence of the attack. Have a look here.

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