Daily Archives: 13 June 2014

The 21 “Most Wanted”: June 13, 1989 (a Tuesday)

A handcuffed man is led by Chinese soldiers on a street in Beijing on 14 June 1989 as the authorities looked to prosecute and punish anyone connected with the demonstrations.

On this date, the Beijing Public Security Bureau issued a list of 21 leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests who were being sought for arrest, as reported by the New York Times on the following day:

The 21 students whose mug shots and biographical details were shown on television included the two most prominent leaders of the democracy movement, Wang Dan and Wuer Kaixi. Others shown on television were Chai Ling, the leader of the students occupying Tiananmen Square, and her husband, Feng Congde, and a 28-year-old graduate student, Liu Gang, who is said to have assisted the students from behind the scenes.

The television showed lengthy film clips of Mr. Wuer, apparently so that viewers could identify him and turn him in. The clips also showed the extent of Government surveillance of the student leaders; it seemed that three different video cameras were used to record one visit by Mr. Wuer on May 29 to a restaurant in a Beijing hotel. One camera was trained on him from above while he ate, another showed him leaving the restaurant, and a third caught him as he left the building.

From NYT’s description above, it is clear that Liu Gang’s significance in the movement was not understood by outsiders. Even most students were surprised seeing his name in the no. 3 slot, behind Wang Dan and Wuer Kaixi but ahead of Chai Ling.

This is the list of the 21 most wanted:

  1. Wang Dan (王丹) [3769 0030], male, 24 A native of Jilin. Student in the Department of History, Peking University. Approximately 1.73 metres tall. Has a pointed lower jaw, relatively thin hair, cavities on his front teeth, and relatively thin physical features. Wears glasses for myopia. Speaks with husky Peking accent.
  2. Wuer Kaixi (吾尔开希) [0702 1422 7030 1585], formerly known as Wuer Kaixi [0702 1422 0418 6007]. Male, born on 17th February 1968. Uygur nationality. A native of Yining County, Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Student of the 1988 class of the Education Department, Peking Normal University. Is 1.74 metres tall. Hair parted in the middle. Hair colour is yellowish. Has long face, big eyes, thick lips, relatively white skin, relatively rough voice. Speaks Putonghua. Regularly wears green military trousers.
  3. Liu Gang (刘刚) [0941 0474], male. A native of Liaoyuan city, Jilin. Former graduate student of the Department of Physics, Peking University, now unemployed. Approximately 1.65 meter’s tall. Has a square face, full beard, relatively long sideburns. Speaks with a north-eastern accent.
  4. Chai Ling (柴玲) [2693 3781], female. Born on 15th April 1966. Han nationality. A native of Rizhao city, Shandong. Graduate student of the 1986 class of the Department of Psychology, Peking Normal University. Is 1.56 meters tall. Has a round face, single-fold eyelids, high cheekbones, short hair and relatively white skin.
  5. Zhou Fengsuo (周锋锁) [0719 6912 6956], male. Born on 15th October 1967. Han nationality. A native of Changan county, Shaanxi Province. A student of the 1985 class of the Department of Physics, Qinghua University. Is 1.76 meters tall. Has a square face, pointed chin and quite heavy eyebrows.
  6. Zhai Weiming (翟伟民) [5049 0251 3046], originally called Zhai Weimin [5049 3634 3046]. Male, 21. A native of Xinan county, Henan Province. Student of Peking Economics College. Is 1.68 metres tall. Thin, has a long, oval face, crew cut, single-fold eyelids, relatively dark facial complexion. Speaks with quite a heavy Henan accent.
  7. Liang Qingtun (梁擎墩) [2733 2348 2557], alias Liang Zhaoren [2733 0340 0088], Male. Born on 11th May 1969. A native of Pengxi county, Sichuan Province. Student of the 1987 class of the Department of Psychology, Peking University. Is 1.71 metres tall. Has quite a thin physique and quite dark skin, a long squarish face, small eyes, high nose, quite thick lips. Can speak Putonghua.
  8. Wang Zhengyun (王正云) [3769 2973 0061], male, 21, of Kucong nationality. Address Lianfang village, Nanke town, Mengla district, Jinping county, Honghe prefecture, Yunnan Province. Student of the Central Institute for Nationalities. Height about 1.67 meters. Long, thin face, hair parted in the middle, dark brown complexion with freckles.
  9. Zheng Xuguang (郑旭光) [6774 2485 0342], male, 20. Native of Mixian county, Henan. Address 56 North Lane, Huancheng West Road, Xian city. Student of Peking Aeronautic and Astronautic University. Height 1.81 meters, weight 63 kg. Long, oval face, single-fold eyelids, a pointed chin, big ears.
  10. Ma Shaofang (馬少方) [7456 1421 2455], male, born in November, 1964. Native of Jiangdu city, Jiangsu Province. Student of the evening writing classes of Peking Film Academy. Height about 1.67 meters. On the thin side, long face, pointed chin, dark-skinned, wears glasses for myopia.
  11. Yang Tao (杨涛) [2799 3447], male, 19. Native of Fuzhou city, Fujian. History student of Peking University. Height about 1.70metres. On the thin side, high cheekbones, double-fold eyelids, wears glasses, speaks Putonghua.
  12. Wang Zhixin (王治新) [3769 3112 2450], male. Born in November 1967. Student of China University of Political Science and Law. Address Textile Industry School, Yuci City, Shanxi. Height 1.69 meters. Long hair, wears glasses.
  13. Feng Congde (封從德) [1409 1783 1795], male, 22. Native of Sichuan Province. Candidate of the Institute of Remote Sensing of Peking University. Height about 1.70 meters. On the thin side, dark-skinned.
  14. Wang Chaohua (王超华) [3769 6389 5478], female, 37. Graduate student of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Height about 1.63 meters. Rather thin, long face, dark brown complexion, triangular eyes, short hair.
  15. Wang Youcai (王有才) [3769 2589 2088], male. Born in June 1966. Native of Zhejiang Province. Graduate student of the Law Department of Peking University.
  16. Zhang Zhiqing (张志清) [1728 1807 3237], male. Born in June 1964. Native of Taiyuan city, Shangxi. Student of China Political Science and Law University.
  17. Zhang Boli (张伯笠) [1728 0130 4567], male, 26. Native of Wangkui county, Heilongjiang Province. Student of the writing class of Peking University. Height about 1.75 meters. A little overweight, round face, double-fold eyelid, upturned nose, thick lips. Speaks with a north-eastern accent.
  18. Li Lu (李禄) [2621 6922], male, about 20. Student of Nanjing University. Height about 1.74 meters. Middle type of figure, square chin, protruding lower teeth.
  19. Zhang Ming (张铭) [1728 6900], male. Born in April 1965. Native of Jilin city, Jilin Province. Student of the Automotive Engineering Department of Qinghua University.
  20. Xiong Wei (熊炜) [3574 3555], male. Born in July 1966. Native of Yingcheng county, Hubei Province. Student of the 1985 class of the Radio Engineering Department of Qinghua University. Address No 502, Unit 47, No 1 Mashengmiao, Haidian, Peking.
  21. Xiong Yan (熊焱) [3574 8746], male. Born in September 1964. Native of Shuangfeng county, Hunan Province. Graduate student of the Law Department of Peking University. Address Xingziceshui Hospital, Shuangfeng county, Hunan Province.

*The 21 Most Wanted*

As Liu Gang would later comment, almost all of the 21 had been, one way or another, involved with the Beijing Students Autonomous Federation he had founded.


June 13, 1863 (a Saturday)

On this date, “Darwin Among the Machines” appeared as the heading of an article published in The Press newspaper in Christchurch, New Zealand. Written by Samuel Butler but signed Cellarius, the article raised the possibility that machines were a kind of “mechanical life” undergoing constant evolution, and that eventually machines might supplant humans as the dominant species:

We refer to the question: What sort of creature man’s next successor in the supremacy of the earth is likely to be. We have often heard this debated; but it appears to us that we are ourselves creating our own successors; we are daily adding to the beauty and delicacy of their physical organisation; we are daily giving them greater power and supplying by all sorts of ingenious contrivances that self-regulating, self-acting power which will be to them what intellect has been to the human race. In the course of ages we shall find ourselves the inferior race.


Day by day, however, the machines are gaining ground upon us; day by day we are becoming more subservient to them; more men are daily bound down as slaves to tend them, more men are daily devoting the energies of their whole lives to the development of mechanical life. The upshot is simply a question of time, but that the time will come when the machines will hold the real supremacy over the world and its inhabitants is what no person of a truly philosophic mind can for a moment question.

The article ended by urging that “war to the death should be instantly proclaimed against them. Every machine of every sort should be destroyed by the well-wisher of his species. Let there be no exceptions made, no quarter shown; let us at once go back to the primeval condition of the race.” This article, along with later writings by Butler on “machine evolution”, was arguably satirical in intent, although he may have been using these fanciful writings to explore some real philosophical issues like the question of whether biological life and evolution can be explained in purely mechanical terms.

An artificial intelligence with attitude.

Butler developed this and subsequent articles into The Book of the Machines, which consisted of three chapters in his novel entitled Erewhon, published anonymously in 1872. The Erewhonian society envisioned by Butler was one that had long ago undergone a revolution in which most mechanical inventions had been destroyed, and the narrator of the story finds a book detailing the reasons for this revolution, which he translates for the reader.

Butler was the first to write about the possibility that machines might develop consciousness by a kind of Darwinian selection. Although many dismissed this as a joke, Butler wrote in the preface to the second edition of Erewhon that he had no intention of satirizing Darwin’s evolutionary theory:

I regret that reviewers have in some cases been inclined to treat the chapters on Machines as an attempt to reduce Mr. Darwin’s theory to an absurdity. Nothing could be further from my intention, and few things would be more distasteful to me than any attempt to laugh at Mr. Darwin; but I must own that I have myself to thank for the misconception, for I felt sure that my intention would be missed, but preferred not to weaken the chapters by explanation, and knew very well that Mr. Darwin’s theory would take no harm. The only question in my mind was how far I could afford to be misrepresented as laughing at that for which I have the most profound admiration.

As Alan Turing (1951) observed, “once the machine thinking method has started, it would not take long to outstrip our feeble powers. … At some stage therefore we should have to expect the machines to take control, in the way that is mentioned in Samuel Butler’s ‘Erewhon'”. Turing shared Butler’s view that the consequences of such greater-than-human intelligence will be profound, and conceivably dire for humanity as we know it.