Animal Rights in China

Did you know that when you search Google images for “lion”, the image on the left is the first one that comes up? It is. I didn’t know this either until I stumbled upon it yesterday while watching Penny Arcade‘s new episode of PATV. What, I wondered, was the context for this photo, a shot of a lion riding a horse? I shouldn’t have wondered. Of course it’s from a Chinese zoo.

In fact, the photo is from a Daily Mail article that’s sort of about animal abuse in China. The article’s lede is actually rather interesting:

Just when it seemed that the Chinese had plumbed the depths of animal humiliation, along comes something even worse.

The country which gave you bears riding bikes now proudly presents … lions and tigers on horseback.

Although I understand its value as shorthand in a media where space is limited, isn’t it a bit misleading to blame this on “the Chinese” and “the country” rather than the people who run that particular zoo? Not all zoos in China are so twisted, nor are Chinese people as a nationality cruel to animals (though, certainly, some Chinese individuals are). It’s a small distinction, perhaps, but one whose effects can be seen in some of the comments on the story in question, many of which call for boycotts of Chinese products or of the “disgusting, barbaric, and revolting country” itself.

On the one hand, bigots are everywhere and more precise news reporting isn’t going to stop some people from reading “Chinese zoo” and extrapolating to “all Chinese are like this”. With that said, isn’t implying that this show reflects “Chinese” as a whole misleading? I highly doubt that, were they reporting on animal abuse in the US (which is as rampant if not as blatant as in China), their story would start with something like”Just when it seemed that the Americans had plumbed the depths of animal humiliation.” (And as a side note, aren’t we anthropomorphizing a bit with the “humiliation”, Daily Mail? I’m all for animal rights, but let’s veer away from ascribing human emotions to animals without any kind of evidence).

In any event, animal rights is something that’s been on the mind of Chinese lawmakers, too. Recently, an animal protection law that could ban the eating of dog and cat meat has attracted a lot of controversy. Dog is a part of Korean cuisine popular in Northeastern China, and people in Southern China eat both dog and cat meat. However, it appears much of the fervor may have sprung from a misunderstanding. From the Oriental Morning Post (via Danwei):

What does it mean to ban “the illegal consumption or sale of the meat of dogs or cats”? Chang Jiwen explained things to this paper: “The media has misunderstood. What is ‘illegal consumption’? For example, if Beijing has a rule banning consumption, and other areas have their own rules, then it is illegal to consume it in those places. But in the northeast, there are many ethnic Koreans, for whom eating dog meat is a folk custom, so the northeast need not ban it, and eating dog meat would be legal.” Chang said, “the Animal Cruelty Law needs local governments to issue corresponding regulations.”

So eating dog and cat meat would be illegal except in places where they eat dog and cat meat? That strikes me as rather useless (and I’m not the only one). Of course, the food restrictions are just article nine of a larger draft bill, one I have (as yet) been unable to find a complete copy of.

Anyway, although the draft law has drawn criticism — “According to a poll reproduced in today’s Information Times, 64% of more than 37,000 respondents to an online poll were dubious about the appropriateness and enforceability of the provisions,” reports Danwei — there’s also plenty of support, which lends credence to the idea that blaming “the Chinese” for animal cruelty is, well, stupid. In an online forum for cat owners (granted, a self-selecting group), there was much rejoicing over the announcement of the draft law, and widespread hope that it would become a real law. Said one netizen,

Amitabha [the name of a widely-worshipped bodhisattva], [I hope the law] is quickly presented [to the legislature] and confirmed. There’s enough dog’s blood on the hands of Han [people].

Another wrote:

Go, go, give those people who play with animals’ lives a wake up call!

Of course, much of the controversy over the law comes not from Chinese people’s love for eating dogs so much as it comes from the widespread belief that the legislature should be spending their time passing laws that protect the rights of people before they worry about the rights of animals.

What do you think?

(Full disclosure: Your correspondent has eaten dog meat soup at a Korean restaurant in Harbin, but found it impossible to enjoy. I kept picturing my parents’ dog.)

…Brother is Only Legend

Perhaps you’ve already seen this. Still, we’re going to add to the madness because it’s fun, and because sometimes even very serious China watchers like us enjoy watching videos about crazy men with knives wearing underwear and threatening their bosses.

First, the video (h/t to Ryan of Lost Laowai, click the link if the embed doesn’t work for you). It is quite entertaining, and tells the story pretty simply. Our translation of the video and the lyrics in the background music are below:

Main Title: Double Swordsman in Crowded Shopping Area Seeks Money, Police Use Special Techniques to Subdue Him.

Scrolling subtitles (loosely translated): On the 26th, a Guangzhou man took his pants off and attacked the door of his company with “pig-killing knives” after being denied workers compensation for an injury he suffered. He said: “I have no clothes, no food to eat, I can only steal [to survive]. It’s not that I don’t want to be a good person, it’s that my family environment and the reality of society today haven’t given me an opportunity. Rich people have everything, I don’t even have cigarettes to smoke. Rather than resigning myself to living like this, it’s better to use this method [i.e., taking to the road in one’s underpants and a butcher’s knife] to change my destiny.” The police used special methods to subdue him, and no one was injured. According to the man’s former boss and work friends, he was willfully causing trouble and [trying to] blackmail [them].

Song in the Background:Don’t Be Infatuated With Brother” (click to download MP3 version)

This song is one of many, many jokes to come of the popular 2009 internet meme, see this for more details. Here are the lyrics, translated:

Chorus: Please don’t be infatuated with brother anymore, brother is only a legend,
Although I hate to leave [you], I still must say it,
Please don’t be infatuated with me, I am only a legend,
I’m never lonely because you were once with me

Rap Verse (in English): Rap:When everybody says someone is a hero
No one really knows the truth about an idol
Whose inside is pretty lonely n vulnerable
Wishing therell be someone who do know
One time, he set himself a high goal
He wants to be there as a role model
Ever since then life becomes a live show
Real time show without any rehearsal

Verse: Every legend fades with time,
Every strong person has setbacks and hardships,
The reason they live free is because they understand what to accept and reject,
The reason they are aloof is that they can see through everything
Please don’t be infatuated with brother anymore, brother is only a legend,
Although I hate to leave [you], I still must say it,
You must remember me, I will always be drifting aimlessly,
Brother will not be lonely because brother has loneliness accompanying him,
Don’t be infatuated with me, I am only a legend,
Although I feign cold detachment, it’s because I don’t want to be sad again,
Please don’t be infatuated with brother anymore, brother is only a legend,
I’m never lonely because you were once with me.

(Verse and chorus repeat)

Coda: The reason love also must be given up is because it’s led to nothing,
If I say it you won’t understand, so let’s sing this song together,
Please don’t be infatuated with brother anymore, brother is only a legend,
Although I hate to leave [you], I still must say it,
Please don’t be infatuated with me, I am only a legend,
I’m never lonely because you were once with me

Fun times! But seriously, is it just me, or does this kind of thing seem to happen a lot? There’s the Chunxi Road Swordsman (pictured), crazy brick-throwing man, and I could swear I remember a story of another pantsless man taking to the streets with weaponry on ChinaSMACK, but I can’t find it anymore.

Anyway, what’s actually interesting about all this is the comments netizens have been making about it, with many expressing some sympathy for the man. One commenter wrote (translation by Fauna of ChinaSMACK):

With so many bitter/long-suffering people in society, he is just a relatively extreme one, and I sympathize.

Those people laughing, imagine for a moment if that person was your guys’ father. Would you still be able to laugh?

Clearly, netizens are quite conscious of the tension and frustration that can exist on the lower rungs of Chinese society. It is a tension that, if the number of armed, pants-less men on the street is any indication, seems to be building. It’s probably something we should take seriously. Or maybe not:

So what do you think? Serious social problem, hilarious photoshop material, or both?

“Without the GFW, Could China Win Western Public Opinion?”

This forum post on Anti-CNN asks the question of netizens: “Without the Great Firewall, would China be able to occupy the battlefield of the Western public discourse?” Here is a sampling of some of the responses by Chinese netizens:

1) China lacks language skills. You should know most people only study foreign languages to pass tests.
2) [Chinese] lack the necessary knowledge, they can only understand the sciences [not the humanities].
3) They lack the historical common knowledge, language background, and cultural background. They’re only willing to study the sciences

It can’t, the power to take the initiative is in the hands of others.

I feel it can’t. I once read a media studies professor’s analysis of Western media [idea] dissemination strategies; I feel that we’re really behind in this aspect. As far as regular netizens are concerned, our national education doesn’t teach these kind of techniques, so [common people] probably couldn’t out debate Westerners. Most importantly, at the present the platforms for international exchange were all created by Westerners.

[In response to the above comment] It’s not a matter of being out-debated, it’s that Chinese are taught to love the nation and the Party from when they’re young; Westerners learn freedom, equality, and universal love. With totally different liquids used in the brainwashing, could there be a common language?

Definitely not, even if we had the truth, we would be drowned by all sorts of their strategic moves.

I feel it can, justice eventually defeating evil is a historical trend!

If you judge it, we haven’t even started debating it yet and we’ve already lost! So what is there to debate about? My answer is that it can’t.

It can’t. Many Chinese have already “climbed the wall”, but the information outside it is fundamentally biased towards the West, so they [the Chinese outside the GFW] naturally believe that what the West says is correct and objective. If we were to get rid of the wall, these people would join the West in a battle for public opinion.

Completely impossible. Only when our actual physical power outpaces that of the West could our values win superiority. Value systems are propped up by “hard power”, not by the gift of gab.

It can.

Definitely not. They don’t communicate in Chinese, and if we communicate with them in English we’ll definitely be no match!

At the moment, no…but we must continue and improve!

Although I haven’t made a formal count and there’s no official poll, from scanning the first few pages of comments it seems that most people agree China could not win the battle for public opinion with the West, at least not at the moment.

Sexism in Han Han’s Film Review?

Yesterday I translated this Han Han post for ChinaSMACK. In the process, I came across this passage, which I found rather interesting. Han Han is saying that he is willing to give Confucius (the recent Chow Yun-fat film) only two “points”, the second of which is thusly explained:

Also, because the director is female, I will encourage her with a point. But it must be said, that whether it’s this female director’s Confucius or another female director’s I am Liu Yuejin, their grasp of non-emotional films, especially the more complex/intricate ones, is rather weak. I don’t understand why they don’t make films about love or life [instead], which is what female directors are good at. Zhang Aijia’s Heartbeat or Xu Anhua’s Day and Night in Tianshui are good movies by female directors. Why should women embarrass themselves?

This passage hasn’t, as yet, jumped out at many of the ChinaSMACK commenters, and neither did it appear to leave a deep impression on Han Han’s commenters from what I can tell (though I confess a deep disinterest in wading very far into the thousands of comments, which are 90-95% just “Han Han I love you”, “I will always support Han Han”, “Wow, first page!”, etc.).

Nevertheless, the passage bothers me. What Han Han seems to be suggesting is that women are inherently better at making one type of movie than another; that they’re not fully capable of creating a complex dramatic epic like a man can. Furthermore, the sentence “why should women embarrass themselves?” suggests that the failure of one female director, is, somehow, reflected on all other female directors.

Granted, there is a great disproportion in the ratio of male to female film directors. But does that justify judging female directors collectively, or deciding based on the works of a few what they can or can’t do? When Zhang Yimou makes a mess of a complex martial arts/”historical”/character drama (as he has repeatedly in the past decade), I haven’t seen anyone calling that an embarrassment to male directors. So why the special treatment for women? Are they really less capable of making films than men because of their gender?

In fact, Chinese female directors can and have made films every bit as complex and character-driven as men. Huang Shuqin‘s Woman Demon Human [人鬼情] springs to mind immediately as a cinematic work by a female director that is moving, emotional, and quite complex in its meditations on the nature of gender and performance. It is not about “love” or “life” (at least, not any more than any film is about “life”), and yet a female director managed to pull it off. Of course, I doubt Han Han has seen this film as it came out in 1987. But there are other examples.

A scene from Woman Demon Human (1987)

Do Han Han’s comments constitute sexism? Furthermore, how do Chinese people define sexism? There seem to be two terms, 性别主义 (“sexism”) and 性别歧视 (“sexual discrimination”), with the former just being a sort of ideology and the latter often implying some kind of discriminatory action. If we take Han Han’s words at face value, it seems to be a clear cut case of 性别主义 (“sexism”), as Han Han implies that men are inherently better at making certain kinds of films than women.

Whether or not Han Han’s comments constitute 性别歧视 (“sexual discrimination”) is probably more controversial. On the one hand, these are his own thoughts posted on a blog. On the other hand, by expressing them in a place where literally thousands of women are going to read them, his words are bound to leave some kind of impression on his many adoring followers, male and female both.

Is it the same as beating a woman, or paying her less than a man? Certainly not. But this kind of mindset is exactly what leads to those more extreme behaviors. After all, if women are inherently worse at making certain types of movies, they must also be inherently worse at other things too, right? Unless there’s some kind of adverse reaction that happens between film cameras and the female gender, we can assume Han Han also believes women are less capable of writing great works of dramatic literature, for example. The supposed existence of these shortcomings in the female gender suggests to readers that there might be more ways in which women are incapable of measuring up to men.

I do not mean to suggest that Han Han is a male chauvinist. I’ve never met the man, and though I read his blog fairly frequently this is the first time I can remember running across something like this, so I am not attacking Han Han as a person. But I do believe that what he suggested in this essay was fundamentally sexist. Confucius may have sucked, but that doesn’t mean no women are capable of making that kind of film, it just means that one woman wasn’t. To paraphrase a favorite line from the film Gettysburg, ‘anyone who judges by the group is a pee-wit. You take people one at a time.’

What do you think? Was Han Han being a bit sexist or are we making mountains out of molehills?

The Future of ChinaGeeks

Listen up, folks, we’ve got some news!

First of all, I’m happy to announce something you may have already noticed: that Max R. (a.k.a. maxiewawa from ChinaSMACK) has joined ChinaGeeks as a translator! I’m excited to have him on board and look forward to reading his translations! Please remember we’d love to have you on the team, too, so think about joining us.

Secondly, you’ll be seeing my name around the internet a bit more in the coming weeks and months. Provisionally, I will be translating blog posts of young opinion leaders once a week for CNReviews. I will also be translating some of Han Han‘s blog posts for ChinaSMACK at Fauna’s request (the first is already up), although obviously how frequently that happens depends on how frequently Han Han writes something interesting.

In short, it’s going to be a bad year for people who don’t like me (and you haven’t even heard all of it yet!). I will likely be posting links to my posts on other sites here, as well as via Twitter, which I still dislike but will use anyway.

Edit: The first translation for CNReviews is up now, too.

“Hillary Talks About the Problem of the Chinese Internet, China Unhappy”

The following is an original translation of a post by lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan. Ironically, the post was quickly deleted from his blog (see the delete notification he got here), but the essay has been reposted here.


On January 21 Hilary Clinton made a speech at the Newseum journalism museum in Washington about the freedom of the internet.

Clinton made reference to China’s censorship of the internet. In parts she criticised China, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry has responded.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu was asked “In her speech on internet freedom on January 21, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton commented on China’s internet policy, accusing China of restricting internet freedom. How do you comment?”.

Ma Zhaoxu responded: “The US attacks China’s internet policy, indicating that China has been restricting internet freedom. We resolutely oppose such remarks and practices that contravene facts and undermine China-US relations.

China’s internet is open. China is a country with the most vibrant internet development. By the end of last year, China had 384 million internet users, 3.68 million websites and 180 million blogs. China’s Constitution guarantees people’s freedom of speech. It is China’s consistent policy to promote the development of internet. China has its own national conditions and cultural traditions. It supervises internet according to law, which is in parallel with the international paractice.

Hacking in whatever form and offence of others’ privacy is prohibited by law in China. As a major victim of hacking in the world, China believes that the international community should intensify the cooperaion in jointly combating internet hacking so as to safeguard internet security and protect the privacy of citizens in accordance with law.

We urge the US to respect facts and stop attacking China under the excuse of the so-called freedom of internet. We hope that the US side can work with China to earnestly implement the consensus between leaders of both countries on developing bilateral relationship in the new era by strengthening dialogue, exchanges and cooperation, respecting each other’s core interest and major concerns and properly handling differences and sensitive issues so as to ensure the healthy and stable development of China-US relationship.”

I have seen a transcript of Clinton’s speech, and she makes six references to China.

  1. When she makes references to the audience, she mentions Chinese participants. “Also, I’m told here as well are Senator Sam Brownback, Senator Ted Kaufman, Representative Loretta Sanchez, many representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, ambassadors, chargés, participants in our International Visitor Leadership Program on internet freedom from China, Colombia, Iran, and Lebanon, and Moldova.”
  2. When talking about Obama’s dialogue with university students, she also mentions China. “During his visit to China in November, for example, President Obama held a town hall meeting with an online component to highlight the importance of the internet.”
  3. When she talks about the issue of internet censorship, China is mentioned. “In the last year, we’ve seen a spike in threats to the free flow of information. China, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan have stepped up their censorship of the internet.”
  4. She mentions China again when speaking about how the internet is used to crackdown and suppress religious groups. “Some nations, however, have co-opted the internet as a tool to target and silence people of faith. Last year, for example, in Saudi Arabia, a man spent months in prison for blogging about Christianity. And a Harvard study found that the Saudi Government blocked many web pages about Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, and even Islam. Countries including Vietnam and China employed similar tactics to restrict access to religious information.”
  5. She mentions China when speaking of the attack on Google. “The most recent situation involving Google has attracted a great deal of interest. And we look to the Chinese authorities to conduct a thorough review of the cyber intrusions that led Google to make its announcement. And we also look for that investigation and its results to be transparent.
  6. When speaking of Sino-American views on the internet, she mentions China once more.

    “The internet has already been a source of tremendous progress in China, and it is fabulous. There are so many people in China now online. But countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century. Now, the United States and China have different views on this issue, and we intend to address those differences candidly and consistently in the context of our positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship.”

Although Clinton had some criticisms of China, her stance wasn’t rigid.

If our internet has any problems, I think that 3 hundred million netizens have the most right to speak out on it. If a fellow countrymen spoke up about the internet, those that supervise it wouldn’t react. But as soon as these words are on the lips of an outsider, it embarrasses them.

Our spokesperson even remembered that “China’s Constitution guarantees people’s freedom of speech.” This made me feel gratified. Internet censors, don’t delete netizens’ posts lightly, or you’ll be infringing on a basic constitutional right.

“[China] supervises the internet according to law, which is in parallel with the international paractice.”

I totally support the spokesperson’s point of view. But I think we need to apply this lawful supervision not only to obscene sexual material, but also to the restrictions placed on citizens’ expression of their views. Even more so, those that misuse public office to stop netizens’ expression of their views should be supervised according to the law.

On the afternoon of the 22nd, the American Embassy in Beijing, along with the American Consulate in Shanghai and the Consulate in Guangzhou, invited netizens to discuss their views on Clinton’s address. I really would like to understand what the situation is like in America with regard to lawful supervision of the internet. It’s a shame that there isn’t time for me to have a turn to ask these of questions.

Chinese Video Games in America

In terms of video games, there has long been a divide between East and West. Even in the current climate, dominated by American and Japanese developers and publishers, there isn’t as much integration as one might expect. And Chinese games have, historically, failed to find much of a market outside the PRC’s borders. Still, the success of FarmVille in the United States (a clone of the extremely popular Chinese social networking game “Happy Farm”) has shown that there’s potential there. Many Chinese developers have already expressed interest in expanding their market into the US. But they still have a long way to go.

Stan Abrams of China Hearsay tackled this very issue in a recent post. I should say up front that while I have nothing against Stan personally, and I like his blog, I think he’s made a few mistakes here. First of all, he continues to make references to American “kids”, but the average age for video game players is already 30, and it is rising. And while I completely agree that, since many Chinese games draw from Chinese history, Chinese developers will need to re-calibrate their narrative style (and the narratives themselves) for an audience that largely isn’t familiar with China, I think saying that “Chinese history is about as well known to most gamers as is regular exercise and a healthy diet” is a little unfair. (Full disclosure: I routinely play video games and subscribe to the notion that they are just as capable of attaining artistic merit and telling a complex, moving story as any other art form).

That said, I think Stan’s analysis is quite apt, but I wanted to expand on one point:

China’s biggest online game companies are increasingly looking to offer games in the U.S., bringing with them a game model where users play for free but must pay to get certain power-ups for their characters.

Sounds like a good idea? Gaming companies here are doing very well, and their business model is very different from that of most U.S. games, which are based on monthly fees. Maybe there is an untapped U.S. market for folks who would be attracted to the “no fee” system.

It seems rather unlikely to me that the Chinese model (at least, the one described here) would be embraced by American gamers, who have historically been very opposed to any model that allows players who pay for something an advantage in PvP (player vs. player) combat. For example, Penny Arcade, an incredibly popular webcomic that has spawned massive gaming conventions on both coasts of the US as well as a multimillion dollar charity, has routinely railed against the idea of having weapons, say, that players could buy to get a leg up on the competition.

Granted, when the idea is mentioned in American gaming circles, it’s often in the context of retail titles that gamers have already paid for. And even so, there are plenty of games that (successfully) sell in-game items and content on top of a preset retail price or monthly subscription fee.

The bigger problem, I think, will be quality and polish. Chinese game consumers, generally speaking, are willing to play games that, graphically, are below the standards of most American gamers, who are already used to games that look great on big-screen HD setups. Most Chinese games simply don’t look good enough to draw American consumers away from American and Japanese triple-A titles.

Another issue Chinese developers will need to consider is context. Aside from cultural context and the relationship it can have with a game’s narrative (see Stan’s point about American gamers’ interest, or lack thereof, in Chinese history), an obvious but important difference exists in where and how Americans and Chinese play their games. In China, PC games rule, and most Chinese play them in marathon gaming sessions at internet bars. MMORPGs and the like are popular in part because there is little alternative — single player games require player progress to be saved to the hard drive of the computer, and since many Chinese gamers don’t own computers of their own, they’re more likely to play massively multiplayer games where progress is saved on game servers via the internet. In the US, however, console games outsell PC games, and fast-paced multiplayer titles with strong single player components like the recent Modern Warfare 2 — which sold 4.7 million copies in 24 hours in the US and UK alone — outsell RPGs.

The glaring exception to all of this, of course, is Activision Blizzard’s behemoth, World of Warcraft, which has millions upon millions of players in both the US and China, despite its five-year-old-and-still-aging graphics and money-draining pay scheme. Bridging the cultural gap, it seems, is possible. But Blizzard is famous for relentlessly vigorous quality control that results in solid, addictive (sometimes quite literally) gameplay. If Chinese game companies want to enter the US market, they’re going to need to beef up their quality standards on pretty much every front. And, as Stan says, they’re going to need to think carefully about the stories they’re telling and the way those stories are presented, because American consumers aren’t going to buy a game just because they can play as Zhuge Liang. (Full disclosure: I would totally buy that game.)

Also of interest but completely unrelated: This post at Inside-Out China is very much worth your time. Especially worth considering is Mrs. Euberlein’s final point:

Meanwhile, another curious question comes to mind: don’t those leftist people have the same human rights as the democratic dissidents do? If so, why haven’t I seen any protests against their arrests from human rights groups?

“From Now On, America is in Trouble!”

The following is a translation of this post from Han Song’s blog. It’s not immediately clear whether this is something that acutally happened to him or just a joke. On the one hand, it’s written like the sort of joke that often gets passed around on the internet; on the other hand, as it makes reference to Haiti, if it’s a joke that’s going around it’s a very new one, possibly one Han Song wrote himself.


Taking a cab, the cab driver won’t stop talking: ‘China is so awesome! We’ve got everything. If you’ve got one [kind of] guided missile, you’ve got another one, and we’ve got a third one [that’s even better]. America has been stupid. Hu Jintao’s mind is quite complex. He sent off the Big Dipper*, why? Because poor countries will buy our [rockets]. If you Americans sell them for five dollars, we will sell them for two! The Soviets weren’t the same, only doing military stuff, they weren’t making money like we are. We make many things and sell them. Yesterday a big boat was launched again in Shanghai, three aircraft carriers, so big! In twenty years we’ve made ten aircraft carriers, why? Hu Jintao wants them to escort freighters. We sent planes to Haiti to save people, of those that arrived there on the first day, all of them were developed countries! The plane flew for more than twenty hours straight, normal countries can’t do that!

Twenty years in the future, our China will be the elder brother of the world. Haven’t we been the older brother before [in history]? There are even more advanced things that they’re definitely in the process of making right now that haven’t been made public yet. Here, it’s really ‘whatever we want, we have’. During Mao’s time, he made the atomic and hydrogen bombs, America is now scared, right? From now on, America is in trouble. I support the Communist Party, without the Communist Party China wouldn’t be well off. Only with the CCP can we be so awesome. Changing to someone else wouldn’t work. Can Hu Jintao have another term? After he retires, can he chair the Military Commission of the CCP? Jiang Zemin can retire a bit later…’

He counts the money and then says, ‘hey, how about some gas money, these days you can’t even make enough money to eat shit!’


*A military missile or satellite system. I will edit in more details later, my computer is currently having some weird error that doesn’t allow me to type in Chinese, so I can’t currently search for details about it.

Han Han: “From Now On, I’m a Vulgar Person”

The following is a translation of this post from blogger/writer/race car driver Han Han. Note that I have translated ”黄段子“ (literally, “yellow texts”) variously as “inappropriate texts”, “sexy texts”, and “pornographic texts” depending on what I think works best in context.


Today, all over the nation, the crackdown has started on pornographic/inappropriate text messages. In [a past post], I said I would send all sorts of pornographic texts to friends to find out where the line was, because it’s rare that [an illegal activity] in China results in such a [relatively] benevolent punishment, after going against the government’s wishes all that happens is your service is stopped (not like that rural person in Guizhou, where his punishment was having his life stopped). Since the only punishment is losing your [text-messaging] service, why not give it a try?

However, I am very regretful, because this behavior has harmed my relationship with many of my friends. In the past two days, many friends have directly questioned me: ‘why haven’t I received pornographic texts from you? Is it because you do not consider me a friend?’ No, it isn’t that. Perhaps you’re a naturally inappropriate person, and thus you just thought my inappropriate text was a common joke. Perhaps you’re not an inappropriate person, but my text was inappropriate enough that it was blocked by China Mobile before it got to you. And I didn’t send it to all my friends, because many of them often seem as though they’re relatively upright/moral. I didn’t realize so many of you were this immoral!

Aside from sending pornographic texts to males, beginning tomorrow, I will also be sending sexual harassment [text messages] to females. This is all in the name of making good on the government’s dereliction of duty. I strongly support the government policy, but they haven’t told us what the definition of “pornographic” and “inappropriate” are. The relevant government department should publish in the People’s Daily and read aloud on the TV news a list of the [banned] obscene and pornographic words. For exmaple, on the news, the female announcer could say that “the relevant department has initiated a stern crackdown on pornographic messages and the vulgar-ization of texting. Words to be banned include: Vagina,” then the male announcer says “penis”…that would be a truly responsible [way of handling it].

Actually, sexy texts and sexual harassment are completely different; sexual text messages play an important role in human [romantic] relationships, and they are an important way of making people feel close when they are apart from each other. Among the people around me, no one has ever exploded in rage upon getting an “inappropriate” text. There are only two situations in which reciving such a text would make someone uncomfortable: if it wasn’t fun enough, or if one [accidentally] forwarded it out [to others] after seeing it. Of course, since we’re often on the opposite side of popular opinion, it’s impossible to keep the government from investigating; ninety percent of people said they really hate pornographic/inappropriate texts. These texts are, [they say], very vexing, distracting them from their studies and keeping them from getting into graduate school and becoming government employees, for example.

The second kind of text is texts with some sexual implications, i.e. flirty text messages; flirty text messages play an important role in human [romantic] relationships, and they are an important way of making people feel close when they are apart from each other. SInce anyone can send this kind of text, I estimate there is a high rate of “returning to bed” [after these messages, i.e., they are effective]. Whether it’s lovers, sweethearts, or married couples, these kind of texts are indispensable and reasonable […] with this kind of one-on-one information [exchange], if the people involved don’t have an opinion, and aren’t getting involved [in reporting it as a bad thing or a crime], then what is the government doing getting involved?

Therefore, I think the government’s motive in this move is to block some messages from those advertising and seeking prostitutes. For example, I received [a text]: “Little sisters [girls] from all over, intimate service, white collar 500 RMB, students 600 RMB, models 800 RMB, foreign girls 1200 RMB, virgins 3000 RMB.” From this text we can learn two things. One, this sort of text often doesn’t contain any words that [would be] screened/blocked. The second is that white collar [girls] are truly pitiable; there is so much pressure on them at work and when they go out to sell or pretend to sell this identity they cannot even fetch a good price.

Another thing I question is, what kind of system will the government be using to inspect text messages, exactly? I never use “violating human rights” or “infringing in privacy”, [that would be appropriate if it were] having people burst through your door and telling you to pull out when you’re making love with your wife. But I am curious, if you are flirting with your girlfriend and the text is screened by a computer, and then is inspected by workers in the relevant department and found to be OK and sent out, this is [sort of] like two people are being abused [i.e., the original recipient and the worker who also read the dirty text message]. Additionally, this system will definitely block dirty text messages from all sorts of people, whether it’s a local politician, a noted public figure, a famous author, a worker or a peasant, etc. Perhaps these people’s texting service won’t ultimately be suspended, but seeing what messages they send every day would be very interesting, perhaps you [someone who works in the office that screens texts, presumably] would see them before they are blocked.

Twenty years ago, China used the term “hoodlum” [流氓]to label a group of people it wanted to eliminate. After sentencing and more sentencing, execution and more execution, we’ve come to today, and the vocabulary has changed [from “hoodlum”] to “vulgar”, they want to eliminate you because you’re vulgar. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the people who judge whether or not others are vulgar, where does their ‘high culture’ come from? For example, spending 100 RMB on a prostitute is vulgar, spending 100,000 RMB on an entertainer is high culture; if a person looks at a pornographic picture it’s vulgar, if a person looks at a classified government document it’s high culture; if a person buys a toy gun it’s vulgar, if a person uses a real gun to kill two people [probably a reference to this case] it’s high culture; if a person plays World of Warcraft it’s vulgar, if a person ‘plays’ with models it’s high culture. Of course, no one can say for sure [what’s vulgar and what isn’t], and as soon as you say for sure, you can’t do whatever you want. To prevent against a day when I might suddenly become a ‘vulgar person’, I will take the initiative, and become one now.

Selected Comments

China is always like this…

Han Han, I love you, first page [of the comments], oh yeah!

Pornographic/inappropriate texts influencing friendship is definitely wrong.

I support you, Han Han [many people said something to this effect

Journalism Win!

It’s a tough life for journalists in China sometimes, but that doesn’t mean they have to like it. In this awesome post at ESWN, Roland translates part of the transcript of a PSB press conference discussing an incident where a police officer shot and killed two local men. Unfortunately for the PSB representative, the reporters weren’t in a particularly charitable mood. Some especially delicious excerpts:

Unidentified reporter: Why did Zhang Lei only fire lethal shots? Is it possible that he shot and injured the man in the leg and then shot him again in the head to cause death?
Ran Taiyou: Based upon our investigation, we can say categorically that this view is not objective. Two of the shots were fired into the air. One shot hit a non-lethal part of the body. There was no such thing as injuring Guo Yongzhi first and then going up to shoot him in the head.

Xiaoxiang Morning News: Guo Yongzhi was shot twice. But you just said that there was no such thing as injuring GuoYongzhi first and then going up to shoot him in the head. Does that mean that he was shot dead in the head first before being shot in the leg next?
Ran Taiyou: There was no such thing either.

Xiaoxiang Morning News: So he was neither shot in the leg first nor shot in the head first. Did Zhang Lei shoot Guo Yongzhi twice faster than the bat of an eye?
Ran Taiyou: You can ask again after we complete our investigation.

(chaos in press conference hall)

Xinmin Weekly: I protest! This press conference has been rehearsed!

And then a little later…

Xinmin Weekly: The police investigation report stuck to the “attacking a policeman” story on January 13 and the attempt to seize the gun. How come none of the eyewitnesses interviewed by the media said so? Many eyewitnesses did not even see any physical contact between the two sides. At most, the principals said that they shoved and pushed the police. I don’t know how the police concluded that there was an attack on a policeman and an attempt to seize his gun. Have you interrogated these eyewitnesses? The police must reveal their procedures.
Ran Taiyou: As the reporter comrade said, the procedures must be revealed. However, the case is still under investigation, including the scene analysis and technical examinations. A lot of investigation is still going on. When the investigation is completed …

Huasheng News: If the investigation is still ongoing, then wasn’t it hasty to announce “the attack on a policeman” on January 13?
Ran Taiyou: No, no, that was not a result. The true legal results will have to wait until the investigation is completed …

Chongqing Morning News: A conclusion was drawn before the investigation was completed. Do you feel that you were acting responsibly as a government worker?
Ran Taiyou: The state of our investigation … the final results … we will reveal the facts from the investigation to everybody …

Xinmin Weekly: Do we understand that you mean mean to say that the “attack on the policeman” and the “attempted seizing of the gun” are not definitive but just certain testimonies that the police heard during their investigation?
Ran Taiyou: The final results will have to wait until the investigation is completed before being revealed to everybody.

Chongqing Morning News: Can you give us a time for the results of the investigation?
Ran Taiyou: This … we can … after this is over, we can set up a time together … oh … this … exchange … exchange together.

Xinmin Weekly: Is the press conference today a progress report on the investigation? Or is it definitive? Please answer directly!
Ran Taiyou: This is … the situation of our investigation … this is not the final state …

Host: The Q&A is over.

(Instant chaos in the meeting hall. The reporter are extremely unhappy and they protested loudly. They shouted out more questions)

Chongqing Morning News: If you have defined that two villagers were shot because they attempted to seize the policeman’s gun and the government paid 700,000 yuan in compensation, aren’t you encouraging other people to do the same thing to a certain degree?

Host: A reply has already been given.

Jiangxi TV: Did the compensation to the deceased come from using the budget for civil affairs?
Wu Xin: It was only borrowed temporarily.

Jiangxi TV: Isn’t this loan a form of transfer? The civil affairs budget is used specifically for relief work.
Wu Xin: No, this comes from civil channels and it is only being temporarily borrowed.

(The mayor and the deputy director wanted to leave, but the reporters surrounded them. The scene fell into chaos again.)

Host: We have prepared lunch for everybody. Please go and eat lunch.
(The reporters said that they didn’t want lunch and continued to surround the mayor and the deputy director, who were able to run off eventually.)

I try not to do this (make posts that are just long quotes from someone else’s site), but this was just too awesome not to highlight. If you speak Chinese, the video is also quite entertaining.

And since we’re doing the links thing, check out these three things as well. 1. 2. 3.