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  • May 22, 2019

Filmmaker and activist Huang Huang arrested by Chinese authorities

DENG CHUANBIN was arrested on May 17, 2019, for tweeting a political meme that references the 1989

In the early hours of May 17, activist and independent documentary filmmaker Deng Chuanbin—also known as Huang Huang—was arrested and taken from his home in Yibin, in Sichuan province. Earlier that morning, he had tweeted a Chinese political meme that shows a liquor bottle with a label marked “64.” The numbers commemorate the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests on June 4, 1989, a taboo subject in mainland China. The type of clear spirit in the photograph, bai jiu, is a close homonym to “89” in Chinese (ba jiu). 

Chinese authorities arrived at his house with an arrest warrant and took him to the Nanxi District Detention Center, where he has been detained since. They also confiscated his three cellphones, iPad, laptop, computer, point and shoot camera, and memory cards. 

As a filmmaker, Huang has worked with artist Ai Weiwei; New York-based independent filmmaker Nanfu Wang; and independent filmmaker and journalist Andy Cohen, who is also a contributing editor of ArtAsiaPacific

Huang is one of many who have been arrested by Chinese officials for reposting the iconic liquor bottle picture, which has been circulating online since 2016. The Chinese government goes to great lengths to suppress discussion around the events of 1989. Every year around this time, dissidents and outspoken liberals are detained or placed under house arrest. Many suspect the crackdown will escalate in the coming months, as 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the incident.

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