Until this week, the social critic Sima Nan was best known for getting his head stuck in an escalator at Dulles Airport. That moment was particularly precious because Nan, a devoted neo-Maoist, had just posted another of his anti-America screeds on Sina Weibo before flying to DC.
But China’s most famous wumao is now back in the news for a more impressive reason: as an impassioned defender of free speech.
Because it's politically expedient to do so -- proven by Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, etc., to work -- Beijing conducted a drug investigation that recently culminated in a bust of street-level slingers in Sanlitun. This news doesn't affect the vast majority of Beijingers, foreign or local, which is to say, there's little reason any of us should cheer. If anything, we should cringe, knowing these "crackdowns" almost always disproportionately affect those on society's fringes who are most powerless to defend themselves.
People's Daily deserves not our scorn but our patience and understanding. I make the comparison with autism with absolutely no intention of being insulting to autistic people or their family and friends, and please accept my apologies if this still sounds offensive. But maybe the proper response to People's Daily -- which has underdeveloped communication skills (despite being the official mouthpiece of the government), difficulty grasping abstract concepts, and fantasies that are simply untenable in the real world -- should be with tolerance, composure, and encouragement?
People's Daily has had an eventful week. Last Monday it called the New York Times "circling vultures" for an article on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370; on Friday it sought "immediate rectification" from a parody Twitter account, @relevantorgans; then, somehow, it got a guest editorial out of Bill Gates. But PD truly tops itself with this next thing, because these are words that someone actually wrote. Via Reuters:
The fourth Beijing International Film Festival opened on Wednesday, and it looks like it's already less boring than last year's. For that we have the Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone to thank, who on Thursday in a panel discussion spoke provocatively on Mao Zedong and urged the Chinese to confront their history. As The Hollywood Reporter reports:
Forget human rights, which will not, I promise you, get the man on the 5F dancefloor to lose his groove. Forget censorship, because who cares about cultural emasculation? Forget Zhou Yongkang, school stabbings, Diaoyu Islands, corruption, Sichuan earthquakes, shoddy construction. Take a lesson from the New York Times when it wants to link-bait: head over to the US embassy's Beijing air Twitter account and report the latest AQI, because nothing -- absolutely nothing -- unites the English-reading populace of China quite like bad air.
An episode of The Colbert Report last Wednesday used the words "ching-chong ding-dong" in an attempt to satirize / skewer Washington dunderhead Dan Synder. When the show's Twitter account tweeted the joke the next day without context -- “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever” -- a bit of hell broke loose on social media, resulting in Korean-American Twitter activist Suey Park starting the hashtag #CancelColbert. It reeked of so much faux outrage and willful ignorance
When it comes to toadying up to authority, you can’t beat foreign business. While smog comes and goes like a dissident in the night, its legacy lives on -- for example, in the missive below from Savills, the London-based real estate agency, which wins our coveted Beijing Cream Corporate Whore of the Month Award with “Twelve tricks to protect you from haze.”
China is officially (politically, that is) an enthusiastic supporter of the Sochi Games, which is why Chinese athletes walked out at the opening ceremony waving both Chinese and Russian flags. To no one's surprise, then, the pro-government media here is peeved by all the negative coverage in "Western media." Speaking for them all, Global Times has just published an editorial headlined, "Booing Sochi only shows West's bigotry."
Louis CK was in Beijing in June 2012 to film the (wonderful) finale of (the wonderful) third season of his show Louie, and apparently he got enough material to tell stories for years. He was recently on David Letterman, where -- for whatever reason -- he was prompted to relive his experience.
"The smog has become so thick in Beijing that the city's natural light-starved masses have begun flocking to huge digital commercial television screens across the city to observe virtual sunrises..."
-- lied The Daily Mail in an article last week
Jimmy Kimmel held a "kid's table" a couple of weeks ago and asked blah blah blah, and it was all pretty boring until some young'un said we should "kill everyone in China." If you're interested in the context, read up on it here. "Kill everyone in China" isn't the best joke, even out of the mouth of a young child -- it's certainly not the best thing* Kimmel's done with kids -- but whatever, it's Jimmy Kimmel, it's late-night comedy, who really cares?
The Telegraph, reporting from across the pond on a senseless tragedy, i.e. yet another mass shooting in the US, has apparently thought it worthwhile to use the first 12 paragraphs of an 18-paragraph story describing how Aaron Alexis -- the Navy Yard gunman who killed 12 people on Monday in Washington DC -- had a "string of failed relationships with Asian women." That's in the headline of this "exclusive," by the way: "Aaron Alexis: Washington Navy yard gunman had string of failed relationships with Asian women."
"Mr. Kim Jong Un! Channel 4 News, UK!” yelled the journalist at the back of Kim Jong Un’s head.
The Great Marshall stopped. He slowly turned and smiled, his visage a million shining suns. The room, which had been full of raucous cheers, came to a hush. In perfect English he replied, “Yes? How may I help you?”
Just kidding. That last part didn’t happen.
Today, barbarians of the unruly and unruled Internet are less dangerous. Today, your sleep will be sounder, your dreams more colorful, your future freer. For today, Britain, you are one step closer to achieving China's harmony-promoting, children-protecting Net filtration system, which we lovingly refer to as the Great Firewall. And how great it is: no porn, because it can be eradicated like rats; no discussion of historical events, so as not to offend the sensibilities of certain mothers who would prefer to forget those things ever happened; no YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, New York Times, or Bloomberg, because screw 'em; and no dissent (and why would there be dissent?). Hadrian's Firewall, we'll call it. You'll love it, as we do.
On Tuesday, Tsinghua University law professor Yi Yanyou wrote on his Sina Weibo, “Raping a chaste woman is more harmful than raping a bar girl, a dancing girl, a sanpeinu or a prostitute." Because you know, in this world, some people just have it better than others, and deserve to be treated better because of it.
That Yi's statement was in relation to the Li Tianyi gang rape case quickly became lost in the outcry and massively loud sighs against Yi. How could a law professor -- at one of China's most prestigious universities, no less -- say such a dimwitted thing?
This fuckface. This fucking piece of shit is the new frog-eyed creepy rapist avatar for every foreign English teacher in China. I fucking hate him. As a reformed Catholic, I reserve vast reservoirs of contempt and genuine vitriol for authority figures who abuse their power at the expense of children. With all of my private and... Read more »
A mere two days after 21 were killed in violent attacks in Bachu county, Kashgar, including six police and six ethnic Uighurs, Beijing has politicized the incident, using it to call out the United States for failing to condemn the attacks as "terrorism." Reuters:
But the U.S. State Department on Wednesday merely expressed regret at the loss of life and urged China to "provide all Chinese citizens, including Uighurs, the due process protections to which they're entitled."
Just about anyone not holding a select diplomatic or South Korean passport can travel to North Korea. All it takes is money, which you give to a tour agency. They’ll even take you to the countryside if that’s what you’re after. It’s only the hucksters who try to dress up their North Korean trip as... Read more »
Anne Ishii, writer/translator in New York, writing in Slate: Martin Luther King Jr. said… Please stop. …we should be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin, but no one said anything about what’s in our pants. Oh fuck. There is an unspeakable fallacy that all Asian-American men must decide... Read more »