One of the cartoons attributed to the young Chinese cartoonist“Zhang” about veterans claiming retirement benefits. The red sign around the soldier’s neck reads: “Please give the veterans a bite to eat”.
On Sunday, 28 July, the Anhui provincial police announced on its Weibo social network account that it had detained a female cartoonist surnamed Zhang in May for spreading content that “humiliates China”.
Arrested for publishing cartoons that “insult China”
The 22-year-old, who some sources refer to as an amateur cartoonist, is accused of drawing and disseminating cartoons that “depict Chinese people as pigs” and sharing them on domestic and international social media. The police add that she had done so to gain fame in the pro-Japanese community called “jingri” made up of Chinese people who consider themselves “spiritually Japanese”.
The authorities believe that through some 300 illustrations published by Zhang:
“…insulting China by deliberately distorting its history, trampling on national dignity and offending the national sentiments of the Chinese people
On the same day, in another statement, also on Weibo, police in Liaoning province said they had arrested another Chinese national named Lu Mou for collaborating with Zhang. According to this second statement, the 36-year-old met Zhang online in 2017 when he was living in Japan and is accused of helping to share his vignettes on social media since January 2018. Police do not report the date or any other details regarding his arrest. Link – Capture.
Cartoon posted by Zheng shortly before New Year’s Day, as China entered the Year of the Pig, Zhang made this cartoon celebrating the event. It is a map of China in the shape of a red pig with several pig-headed figures protesting some recent scandals in China. In the top left corner are five yellow stars referring to the flag of communist China. It is another of the illustrations that some point to as allegedly offensive.
Several media outlets identify the cartoonist as Zhang Dongning and circulate this photograph, which they also cite as its source on the social network Weibo. A couple of other photographs are also circulating along with some of her cartoons.
No legal basis
Some lawyers have already warned that the Chinese government’s charges have no legal basis and have spoken out about Zhang’s detention.
“To consider insult charges, the target must be individuals and not a group. There must be specific victims,’ Shandong lawyer Fu Wen wrote on Weibo
“In this case, if there is any victim, it would be all Chinese people, but one has to ask whether every Chinese person thinks his or her personal dignity and reputation have been harmed.”
Beijing-based lawyer Zang Qiyu announced publicly on Weibo that he was willing to defend Zhang for free and said that neither “insulting China” nor being “spiritually Japanese” constitutes a criminal offence.”
“It’s a cartoon interpretation of a real-life situation, if you accuse Zhang of insulting the dignity and reputation of all Chinese people, it’s not going to succeed. I am not insulted by his work. And I am Chinese.”
‘Spiritually Japanese’ Artist Held in China’s Anhui Over Pig-Head Cartoons – Radio Free Asia
Chinese Cartoonist, Collaborator Arrested for Unpatriotic Comics – Sixth Tone
Related: 130 cases worldwide