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The Questioning    cover image

The Questioning 2013

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Icarus Films, 32 Court St., 21st Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201; 800-876-1710
Produced by Zhu Rikun

DVD, color, 21 min.

High School - General Adult
Human Rights, Psychology, Political Science, Sociology

Date Entered: 12/21/2015

Reviewed by LaRoi Lawton, Library & Learning Resources Department, Bronx Community College of the City University of New York

Since Communist Party leader Xi Jinping came to power in November 2012, the authoritarian regime of present day China has combined new methods with harsh tactics of the past "to dominate online discourse, obstruct human rights activism, and pre-empt public protests.” China’s Communist government is rolling out a blueprint to ascribe everyone in the country “citizenship scores.” According to the ACLU, “China appears to be leveraging all the tools of the information age—electronic purchasing data, social networks, algorithmic sorting—to construct the ultimate tool of social control. It is, as one commentator put it, ‘authoritarianism, gamified.’ ” In this system, everyone is measured by a score ranging from 350 to 950, and that score is linked to a national ID and resident card. In addition to measuring your financial credit, it will also measure political compliance. Expressing the wrong opinion—or merely having friends who express the wrong opinion—will hurt your score. The higher your score, the more privileges the government will grant you.

Producer and human rights activist Zhu Rikun turns an encounter with Chinese police officers who have been following him and a colleague throughout the day into an example of what happens to people who speak or act against China’s political, social or economic interest. The price for civil disobedience in China today means questioning and in this film, the viewer witnesses a real-time ‘room inspection’ by the Chinese police. The film is mesmerizing as eight Chinese police officers come into Zhu’s room and ask both parties for their passports and resident ID cards. The next 21 minutes is a riveting experience and exchange between Zhu and the police about his identity, views, nationality and business in Xinyu, Jiangxi Provence. The police are unware that the entire scene is being taped live as they question both men but concentrate their questioning on Zhu. The exchange between the senior police officer and Zhu is classic in the sense that all Chinese citizen’s lives are affected by the actions of the government. This 39-year old activist challenges the police and their subversive interrogation of his political and national views. The list is long of other Chinese civil rights activists who have been beaten, arrested and harassed to the point of forced submission. Zhu Rikun, like many of his brothers and sisters who are questioning the government status quo, ‘will not go quietly into the night.’