The Great Firewall of China

The Great Firewall of China

China’s environmental crisis comes into focus at this year’s Doo Dah

By André Coleman , Kevin Uhrich 04/25/2013

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Much as human rights abuses in China took center stage at the 2008 Rose Parade, runaway environmental pollution in that rapidly industrializing country will be highlighted during another Pasadena institution — Saturday’s 36th Occasional Doo Dah Parade.

On Jan. 1, 2008 — the year China hosted the Summer Olympic Games — a China-themed float met with stiff resistance from human rights activists.

At this year’s Doo Dah, a local tradition that started out as a send-up of the more formal Tournament of Roses event, members of the Visual Artists Group, founded to support freedom of expression following the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, are asking people to join their entry, The Great Firewall of China Marching Brigade, to help bring attention to the plight of environmental crusader Wu Lihong.
Lihong, who lived near polluted Tai Lake, became a thorn in the side of local party, government and business officials after nearly a decade of highly publicized protests over the ongoing industrial degradation of the lake, which today is a breeding ground of death for people, fish, fowl and other life inhabiting the area.

In 2007, Lihong was brought up on what supporters contend were trumped-up bribery and fraud charges and sentenced to three years in prison, where Lihong says he was beaten and tortured.

Visual Artists Group President Ann Lau was a key organizer in the protest against the Rose Parade’s China float.

“When [Lihong] was just complaining about the pollution, they gave him an award, but when he started complaining about the government’s part in it, they set a trap for him,” Lau said. “In China the government can do whatever they want, and if they are targeting you, they will find every way to target you.”

In 2009, Lau served as the Doo Dah’s “Thorny Rose” for being what parade producer Tom Coston of the Light Bringer Project called a “royal pain,” but only in a good way.

Marchers are asked to wear green tops and dark pants. For more information, contact Lau at (310) 433-0697 or email her at For more on the parade, see page 25.


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