Violinist sues quartet over China censorship

Violinist sues quartet over China censorship


norman lebrecht

September 06, 2020

The violinist Yi-Wen Jiang is suing the Shanghai Quartet for half a million dollars in unfair dismissal, arguing that he was forced to resign after the other players objected to social-media comments he had made that were critical of the Chinese regime.

The quartet formed in Shanghai in 1983 and is resident at Montclair State University in New Jersey.

It says the violinist resigned of his own free well.

The case continues.



  • Anon says:

    “the other players objected to social-media comments he had made that were critical of the Chinese regime”

    This is what he said, word for word, including the emoji: “据说墙内的们看不了”—”Apparently pigs behind the wall can’t see this.”

    “The wall” refers to the censorship system placed by the Chinese government on the internet within mainland China. So he was essentially saying all people living in mainland China are pigs. I fail to see where he was critical of “the Chinese regime”.

    His father, by the way, is also a violinist somewhat famous in China, and a Chinese Communist Party member who is still taking Special Government Allowance of the State Council from “the Chinese regime” to this day.

    The “pigs behind the wall” comment was made under a post by San Francisco Symphony Associate Principal Viola Yun Jie Liu, who has been claiming without scientific evidence on his social media account that the coronavirus was for sure “constructed in China”.

    • Bone says:

      “Pigs behind the wall” is directed at the creators of the Wuhan virus who, in the authors opinion, are responsible for the virus. HTH

      • Anon says:

        No, it is not. The comment was made under an article shared by Yun Jie Liu, the Associate Principal Viola of SFS, about the possible effects of some US government policies on Chinese Americans. Under this shared article the violinist in question then replied “Apparently pigs behind the wall can’t see this”. He unequivocally referred to all people living in mainland China as “pigs”, with the pig emoji symbol that was not successfully posted in my first comment.

  • caranome says:

    Good luck. What about the hundreds (if not thousands) of known cases in the US where employees are fired over a blog, video, statement etc. done 20, 30 years ago which violated the latest thought and speech codes made up in the last 5 years of the Destructive Left?

    • DS says:

      “Latest thought and speech codes made up in the last 5 years of the Destructive Left”?Gee, I wish we had that much power. Who’s in charge of our government? Who has destroyed our democracy, the post office, our reputation and standing in the world? Who tried to ignore the virus and wants to stop testing and counting the dead? You and your right wing ghouls don’t need any help from the Destructive Left.

  • Sharon says:

    Is Jiang from China? Why is he suing the quartet for money they do not have?

    Does he believe that the publicity in doing this will protect him (or his family) from prosecution in China?

    There’s got to be more to this story.

    • Carlo says:

      The CCP govt hasn’t even given a reponse to what Jiang said. But the Chinese people condenmed him spontaneously for his racial remarks “pigs behind the wall”. His father is still being funded and respected by CCP. If he is still a member of Shanghai Quartet, this group will lose the Chinese market.

  • Nick2 says:

    If you are Chinese (or even of Chinese descent) in a quartet named the Shanghai Quartet, criticizing China is obviously at your own risk. Like it or not, the Chinese leadership does not take kindly to criticism – but does not tweet that criticism as the US leader usually does. No matter the dreadful situations with the Uighurs and in Hong Kong and the independence of the Quartet, discretion would have been a wiser move.

  • sam says:

    1) Isn’t the legal form of a quartet some sort of a “partnership”, depending on whether it was formed under Chinese law or American law, like a “limited partnership”(LP) or a “limited liability partnership” (LLP) or even a “general partnership” (GP)?

    So, aren’t all partners equal partners, equal owners and equal shareholders? Doesn’t the partnership agreement control how partners must be bought out by other partners?

    A partner is not an employee who can be “dismissed”, a partner is not an employee who can “resign”, you have to fulfil your mutual obligations as a partner (debts, liabilities) to your other partners.

    So I don’t understand his law suit.

    2) If you’re a member of a Chinese quartet, either because your quartet is formed under Chinese law, or because you depend on China for your business, or because you travel to China constantly, you’d be an I-D-I-O-T to criticize the Chinese regime, who would not hesitate to jail you the moment you step foot on Chinese soil.

    Look, if you want to be a political dissident against the Chinese regime, all the more power to you, but don’t be surprised when your Chinese partners take action to force you out of the partership.

    • Anon says:

      They were founded in China in 1983. However, they have been in the US since 1985. In 1989, they became the ensemble in residence at The University of Richmond, and have been in residence at Montclair State University since 2003.
      I wouldn’t call them a Chinese quartet. They are very much American and have been so for a long time.

    • “So I don’t understand his law suit.”

      His stated premise is that they forced him to quit. He didn’t want to. He was “under duress”

      If true, that would be a premise for a lawsuit.

      “a partner is not an employee who can ‘resign'”

      All it takes is for the contract to provide for that possibility and explain how to do it.

      Since he *signed* a resignation he’s going to have to come up with some pretty damning evidence that he was *forced* to do it, as he claims.

  • Anon says:

    FYI, Shanghai Quartet is actually an American business entity, based and governed by laws in US, not in China. When a music band break up, there is often some financial settlement for the exiting member.

  • Will says:

    The lawsuit is not against the remaining members of the Shanghai Quartet, but against Montclair State University, where the Quartet is employed.

  • iii says:

    I don’t agree that emoji meant all people inside the wall, but agree with meaning parts of people inside been wash brain.I trust Mr. Jiang has the same opinion. isn’t it truth? that including the people outside the wall, they don’t care about the people are suffering. this case is not simple on face . it ist been use to propaganda and rise so high guilty. because when you see in one day all over the Sina Weibo full of critical langue and abuse, all those people post are such organised. you must know what meaning. by the way, who here mentions Jiangs father , that is ridiculous, totally no reasonable, are you mean when one person is guilty should involve whole family ?

  • Anon says:

    It’s quite clear that the so called offensive comment by Mr. Jiang was NOT meant to describe all Chinese. But, there are those who want to portray it this way for their reasons. It’s shocking such a comment could, by political pressure, cause the abandonment of the close artistic and spiritual connections built through decades of hard work together. A very sad saga.

    • Anon says:

      What he said is crystal clear in context. He clearly did refer to all mainland Chinese as pigs. If he didn’t mean it, then he should have phrased his comment in a different way, which he did NOT.

  • Sharon says:

    Is it unreasonable that when one person is guilty it involves the whole family? Of course, but that’s how it is in China.

    Suing Montclair State makes more sense. The college may have put a lot of pressure on Jiang to resign from the quartet because of its university affiliation. The quartet might be able to use the facilities of Montclair State for free or may receive other financial or material benefits from the college.

    I have heard of other cases where professors were forced to resign or were fired or graduate students were forced to quit their programs because they had done something or said or written something critical of a foreign government or its people with which their American university wanted to maintain good relations.

    In addition, with people being so sensitive to things related to the Black Lives Matter movement, calling any ethnic group “pigs” even if one is from that ethnic group and the writer may not have even been referring to the whole ethnic group, has to be strictly condemned by the college or university which one is affiliated or the college itself risks being considered racist.

    I have mentioned in other posts that I am trying to help an undergraduate student ( a daughter of a friend; I am not a student or employee of a college) who said in an email that Black Lives Matter protesters “act like apes”. It went viral in the her college community and she was expelled for at least two years.

    This may be the real issue here. Montclair State may have believed that the email was racist.

    I hope this situation can be resolved and that the whole thing can die down.