Han Han: “The Derailed Country”

The following is a guest translation by a Matt Schrader. It is supposedly an article that was posted to Han Han’s blog and then deleted. However, short of contacting him directly, which I have no way of doing, there’s no way to confirm that the article is in fact his. It’s also worth mentioning that articles are frequently passed off as being by Han Han as an attempt by other writers to draw more attention to the article in question.

On the other hand, articles are also frequently deleted from Han’s blog and when that happens, they quickly end up copied on other sites. Since in this case the original isn’t on Han’s blog, we’ll post the Chinese text in its entirety here. (There is no mouseover text below).

UPDATE: Based on information from a couple sources, I now believe it’s accurate to state that this is, in fact, an authentic Han Han piece.

Translation: “The Derailed Country”

You ask, why are they acting like a bunch of lunatics?

They think they’re the picture of restraint.

You ask, why can’t they tell black from white, fact from fiction?

They think they’re straight shooters, telling it like it is.

You ask, why are they running interference for murders?

They think they’ve thrown their friends under the bus. And they’re ashamed.

You ask, why all the cover-ups?

They think they’re letting it all hang out.

You ask, why are they so irretrievably corrupt?

They think they’re hardworking and plain-living.

You ask, why are they so infuriatingly arrogant?

They think they’re the picture of humility.

You feel like you’re the victim. So do they.

They think: “During the Qing Dynasty, no one had television. Now everyone has a television. Progress!”

They think: “We’re building you all this stuff, what do you care what happens in the process? Why should you care who it’s really for, so long as you get to use it? The train from Shanghai to Beijing used to take a whole day. Now you’re there in five hours (as long as there’s no lightning). Why aren’t you grateful? What’s with all the questions?

“Every now and then, there’s an accident. The top leaders all show how worried they are. We make someone available to answer journalists’ questions. First we say we’ll give the victims 170,000 kuai apiece. Then we say we’ll give them 500,000. We fire a buddy of ours. We’ve done all that, and you still want to nitpick? How could you all be so close-minded? You’re not thinking of the big picture! Why do you want us to apologize when we haven’t done anything wrong? It’s the price of development.

“Taking care of the bodies quickly is just the way we do things. The earlier we start signing things, the more we’ll have to pay out in the end. The later we sign, the smaller the damages. Our pals in the other departments—the ones who knock down all the houses—taught us that one. Burying the train car was a bonehead move, true, but the folks upstairs told us to do it. That’s how they think: if there’s something that could give you trouble, just bury it. Anyway, the real mistake was trying to dig such a huge hole in broad daylight. And not talking it over with the Propaganda Department beforehand. And not getting a handle on all the photographers at the site. We were busy, ok? If there’s anything we’ve learned from all this, it’s that when you need to bury something, make sure you think about how big it is, and make sure you keep the whole thing quiet. We underestimated all that.”

They think that, on the whole, it was a textbook rescue operation—well planned, promptly executed, and well managed. It’s a shame public opinion’s gotten a little out of hand, but they think, “That part’s not our responsibility. We don’t do public opinion.”

They’re thinking: “Look at the big picture: We had the Olympics, we canceled the agricultural tax, and you guys still won’t cut us a break. You’re always glomming on to these piddling little details. No can-do spirit. We could be more authoritarian than North Korea. We could make this place poorer than the Sudan. We could be more evil than the Khmer Rouge. Our army’s bigger than any of theirs, but we don’t do any of that. And not only are you not thankful, but you want us to apologize! As if we’ve done something wrong?”

Society has people of means, and those without. There’s people with power, and those that have none. And they all think they’re the victim. In a country where everyone’s the victim, where the classes have started to decouple from one another, where it’s every man for himself, in this huge country whose constituent parts slide forward on inertia alone—in this country, if there’s no further reform, even tiny decouplings make the derailings hard to put right.

The country’s not moving forward because a lot of them judge themselves as if Stalin and Mao were still alive. So they’ll always feel like the victim. They’ll always feel like they’re the enlightened ones, the impartial ones, the merciful ones, the humble ones, the put-upon ones. They think the technological drumbeat of historical progress is a dream of their own making.
The more you criticize him, the more he longs for autocracy. The more you gaomao him (piss him off), the more he misses Mao.

A friend in the state apparatus told me, “You’re all too greedy. Forty years ago, writers like you would’ve been shot. So you tell me, have things gotten better, or have they gotten worse?”

I said, “No, you’re all too greedy. Ninety years ago, that kind of thinking would have gotten you laughed out of the room. So you tell me: after all that, have things gotten better, or have they gotten worse?”

0 thoughts on “Han Han: “The Derailed Country””

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  2. There is a mistranslation here: “The earlier we start signing things, the more we’ll have to pay out in the end. The later we sign, the smaller the damages. ”
    It should be: “The earlier you sign the confidential file to agree to cremate your loved ones’ bodys, the more money you get; the later you sign it, the less you get. “


  3. Han Han’s essay is fine, but is almost not needed, since what the Party leaders say and do themselves is self-contradictory enough. Premier Wen used the explanation of having been “in his sickbed for 11 days” as an excuse for having shown up a couple days late at Wenzhou to solace the train wreck victims. However, he was photographed standing up in a business suit, beaming and shaking heads with a Japanese visitor on the day after the train wreck. Also, the Premier said those responsible for the train wreck would be “severely punished.” Yet the blame for the train wreck has been put on a lightning strike–now are the Public Security Bureau’s Men in Black going to leap straight up into the sky to arrest and handcuff 老天爷? (Old Man Heaven)


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  5. Take a look at twocoldtranslated dot wordpress dot com. That guy has the Chinese text running in parallel and takes 5-10% LESS liberties with the original.


  6. I don’t know why the attention to a rich guy ..
    Han han just another puppet of the establishment
    He fights so hard from his blog wow! (sarcasm)


  7. The post is indeed Han Han’s. I have an RSS subscription to his blog on Sina, and got this post to my mail directly from there, but when I wanted to read it, it was already missing.


  8. From what westerners tell me and from what Han Han says here, I think the following this is where they want.

    For China to go back to a 3rd world country place.

    >all the Chinese are in one class, poor peasants

    >everything made and built in the west, good and safe before the Chinese can have use of them

    >Chinese lives are too precious for anything new and not proven to be safe in the west, like the Titanic and Space shuttle

    >most accidents are caused by the Chinese govt and not by GOD or by the common Chinese peasant worker

    >nothing that China do or make is better than the what is made or done in the west

    >China was better off living in misery 60 years ago, they only had one thing to complain about and the was, there is no rice to eat with the dirt.


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