Tag Archives: Arrogance

The Real Threat

While the central government is busy rounding up everyone who might have once glanced at Ai Weiwei, and simultaneously instituting what appears to be some kind of “no lawyer left behind” detention policy, the rest of China is mostly ignoring it. That’s not a surprise, of course; it isn’t being reported in the media aside from the occasional screeching prose of the state-media’s shrillest news organs, which no one reads anyway.

Whether Ai is guilty or not; whether these other lawyers and writers and “dissidents” are guilty or not, they aren’t an actual threat to China or to CCP rule. Neither was the Jasmine Revolution, which — shock! — wasn’t orchestrated by any of the people they’re now rounding up anyway.

What could be a threat is the growing tension between the privileged and the non-privileged classes, the haves and the have-nots, the daguanguiren ((达官贵人)) and the laobaixing ((老百姓)). There is, at present, no push for revolution, no great Westernized uprising. There’s nothing to make a sexy headline out of on CNN. What there is, though, is bubbling dissatisfaction just below the surface of everyday life that bursts out in spurts when the inequities of society make themselves unavoidably obvious.

At present, this happens mostly with car accidents.

Everyone knows, of course, about the Li Gang incident, but there have been many like it, and when conditions are right, what starts as a traffic accident quickly becomes a “mass incident.”

Take for example, this incident in Changchun:
Essentially, what happened is that a police officer driving his own car got angry with an old woman who wouldn’t get out of his way. He eventually got out of the car, argued with the old woman, and then started to beat her, grabbing her by the hair and punching her in the face, according to an interview she gave that’s excerpted at the end of the video. The old woman’s daughter came over and he hit her, too. That was when passers-by started to gather, and they were not amused.

Watch the video. At the 1:00 mark, the narrator says “Rationally, everyone [jumped in] to prevent the [police]man’s crude behavior.” Then the video cuts abruptly to a shot of a mob going absolutely apeshit on the police officer’s car (which he, by that point, was wisely hiding inside). Even after police arrived, they kept smashing the car, and began chanting “Apologize, apologize!” Several scuffles with police occurred. Hours later, after police unsuccessfully tried to get the mob to disperse, the police finally got the man out of his car and into a waiting police van (2:19, note the people in the background still fighting to break through the police lines and attack him).

Of course, there’s more to this than privileged versus commoner (he was also beating an elderly woman, which wouldn’t win him many friends regardless of the prevailing mood of the time in any society). But the old woman he beat puts it in terms of haves and have-nots, and apparently so did the policeman. She says he told her it didn’t matter if he beat her to death or not, he could afford to pay the compensation money. She also said he looked down on thelaobaixing, the common people.

This is, of course, an isolated incident. But this kind of thing happens a lot, and moreover, it obviously speaks to deeper issues. Unsurprisingly, it spread quickly across the internet, and has been reposted many times already. This posting on 56.com, for example, has already been viewed over half a million times. So has another posting of the same video on the same site. This one, on 6.com, has over 600,000 viewings.

What’s most telling about this video is not the comments, which call for the offending officer’s head on a platter, and many of which also condemn police officers and public servants in general for their increasing lack of concern for the common people. No, what’s most interesting about this video is that it’s from early December 2010, but it’s still being passed around on Chinese social networks today.

These stories keep getting passed around beyond their news shelf life, I suspect, because they are tapping into an increasingly common feeling of anger and exploitation among those who really are laobaixing. The story may be from December, but the feeling is as widespread today as it was then, probably moreso.

Are people about to take to the streets and launch a second Communist revolution to overthrow the new bourgeoisie? Absolutely not. But instead of harassing innocent dissidents and their lawyers, China’s leadership would do well to pay more attention to these issues.

Ai Weiwei may prove to foreigners that there’s no rule of law in China, but most Chinese don’t know or care. What they care about are cases like this, and little by little, the police and the businessmen and the chengguan and the officials — all agents of the government and the Party — seem to be doing their best to drill home the message: we do not care about you.

Hooray For Arrogance!

ChinaSMACK readers have probably already seen this post of theirs, purportedly a transcript of a BeiDa student laying into a Japanese reporter. Much of the discussion on ChinaSMACK is centered around whether or not it’s fake — it seems awfully likely it is, given the lack of video, photos, or attribution — but what I find more concerning is that many netizens (ChinaSMACK translates some comments; there are many more on the original post) feel that the student did a good job. Really? Seemed to me like he came off rather like an arrogant prick.

The reporter, as far as we can tell from the questions he asks, is just looking for student opinions on Sino-Japanese relations. He doesn’t say anything offensive, or deny that the Nanjing Massacre occurred, or anything like that, yet the Chinese student takes a crack at Japan in answering nearly every question. His presentation of history is a bit terrifying, but Jeremiah over at Granite Studio has already written a great response to that, which I recommend everyone read.

What struck me as the most obnoxious, though, was this:

Q: In China’s university campuses, student suicides happen frequently, again and again, why is this?

A: Actually, the country with the most student suicides is your country. Many bizarre methods of suicide were invented by you guys. In a UN report, Japan’s suicide rate was ranked number one. I don’t know what sufficient evidence you have to prove the suicide incidents in my country’s the university campuses. Chairman Mao Zedong had a famous saying: “If you haven’t investigated, you don’t have a right to talk”. I hope you write an objective and true report. With regard to the words that you just used in your question I must correct you, in Chinese Mandarin, “frequently” and “again and again” is redundant, a mistake. Moreover, what you said does not match the reality! (Applause)

How terrifyingly American it is to correct the grammar of someone who has gone to the trouble of coming to your country and learning your language to communicate with you. Moreover, the Chinese student’s intent here seems to be to belittle the reporter even further, which serves no constructive purpose. It seems like a pretty fair bet that that reporter’s Chinese is better than the BeiDa student’s Japanese, no?

Read the interview for yourself and see if you don’t come to the same conclusion. Is this really the way China wants to present itself to the world? Arrogant and ignorant?

And while we’re on the subject of harsh condemnations, check out this brutal smackdown of Han Han in the China Daily. Ouch!