Han Han may be beloved (to some) on the Mainland and despised (by some) in the Party, but two of his harshest critics, Li Ao and Chen Wenqian, are from Taiwan. In general, he has declined to respond at all to their criticism, but in a recent interview, he finally spoke out.
We asked him: “When people praise you, how do you feel about it? When people belittle you, how do you mitigate that? Taiwan’s Chen Wenqian and Li Ao have been heavily critical of you, but you haven’t responded, what does that mean?
Han Han said: “In the past I fought many battles through my blog, but later I gave myself a rule: if the opponent is older than 70, under 20, or a woman, I will not respond. Li Ao and Chen Wenqian both fall under this rule. But I would like to say to Mr. Li Ao: if A and B have a disagreement, and then A and you have a disagreement, this doesn’t mean you have to go and side with B [on everything]. There is another kind of attitude, it’s called independence.
We asked him, “How can you be so blunt?” He said, “Aside from the girls and family members I like, seeing everything else as devoid of substance is OK.”
It’s not difficult to imagine how a young, famous, attractive race car driver/professional writer might come to have a skewed image of women. But that doesn’t make this attitude acceptable, or any less disappointing for those of us who enjoy his writing and social criticism on the occasions it doesn’t betray this bias.
Very possibly, Han Han’s lifestyle will allow him to look down on women and others in general for the foreseeable future. But one wonders to what extent his fans, as they age and mature, will begin to shy away. Moreover, one wonders to what extent his much-touted influence will wane as media elites and intellectuals continue to edge away from his positions, afraid of being associated with his increasingly-public misogyny.
There are few sharper tongues in China, and at his most poignant, he drives directly to the heart of this country’s most fatal flaws. It’s a shame he insists on blunting his own sword with these sexist, arrogant remarks.