To Be Blind Is To Be Callous
|Alice Poon||May 21, 2008|
“I’ve recently discovered that whenever I re-post news stories from the mainland, someone would leap into action on the same day and cut off the original news source. So, from now on I will not quote the source of similar reports. It’s just so strange that when there are numerous complaints from the earthquake victims in the disaster area and from mainland netizens, all the Hong Kong media only focus on reporting the positive but not the negative. If we want to read negative news, we have to turn to news reports from the west, Taiwan and Japan.
The oddest thing is that these Hong Kongers on the outside, not having seen anything, can go on and on about how superb and touching China’s rescue operations are, and the TV screen shows nothing but tear-jerking images and rescue efforts; no pilfering, no mayhem and no disorder – she can’t be anything but the world’s role model. It’s ever so touching. Not being seen means it doesn’t exist – it must be the Chinese people’s virtue.
It’s no surprise that the Germans love Hitler so much, because human beings love single-track thinking – they don’t ask questions, they don’t criticize and they don’t meditate. They like to conflate two totally unrelated facts and treat them as one, just like supporting human rights is equal to boycotting the Olympics. So the end result becomes: to involve in rescue efforts, the only way is to be united without criticizing, without opposing, without making suggestions, not even constructive ones (if you are anti-government, anything you suggest cannot be constructive anyway). You must stand in solidarity, be united, and be united; if you believe in your government and support your government, all problems will be solved.
Examples of single-track thinking are innumerable. For example, if we want to critically analyse Nazism, should we base our analysis on what the Nazis did, or on their propaganda materials? If the historical records were erased and only the Nazis’ propaganda materials remained, in two thousand and five hundred years’ time, people will probably come to this conclusion: that Hitler was a saint.
If we think about the conduct of the Confucians, other than reading those Analects, we should really look at what the Confucians actually did. Confucius had numerous philosophical theories, but did his disciples transform any of these into national policies? Do they support the theory of ‘heaven and people united as one’ (that the emperor is sent from heaven) or do they believe in Confucius’/Mencius’ theory that ‘the people should be held in higher esteem than the emperor’? Has the latter theory ever been put into practice? Or is it just jibberish? Have the Confucians done anything to reform society?
And then one famous Confucian 叔孫通 established a set of ‘Court Etiquette’, which required all the ministers to kneel before the emperor. From then on, based on the principle that ‘the emperor is superior to his subjects’, emperors became more and more distant from the people. This ‘ritual gap’ widened further and further as time went by until it became unbridgeable. Chinese people have been trapped ever since in the tradition ‘ordinary people are not entitled to self-esteem’.
So, it is natural to expect this to happen: in February we have to be united because of the snowstorm disaster; in March we have to be united because of the splittists; in April the Olympics Torch; in May the earthquake disaster; in June the reconstruction; in July the welcoming of the Olympics; in August the cheering on of Chinese athletes; in September the reinvigoration of the economy; in October the National Day anniversary; we need to be united every moment, every hour, every month, every year. Whom we oppose are the traitors, treasonists and sinners of thousand years.
I have never denied that the mainland has improved a lot compared to the past, or that there are truly passionate people out there who are totally immersed in the rescue efforts. But when you also look at how the Hong Kong media madly join in the chorus of praising Chinese people’s virtues and one-sidedly reporting positive news and neglecting negative news, would you be worried about the media and the intelligence of Hong Kong people?”
The blogger has listed out a total of ten essays which tell disturbing tales in the disaster area.
Here is one of the ten stories that I’ve translated in brief:-
“The writer of this report is a non-resident Sichuanese.
Li Hong arrived in Chongqing at 10 pm and went to stay at a relative’s. His aunt had lost two family members in this disaster. But he was still unable to get in touch with his father who was working in Guangdong. His first mission upon arrival in Chongqing was to surf the internet, send emails and post on QQ, conveying what he found out here to the outside world. He said there are many peasants from the disaster area working in the south and who are still unable to make contact with their families and are very distressed.
When the Boxun reporter saw Li Hong, he had already been in the internet bar for 3 hours. His eyes were bloodshot. But the reporter had not expected that Li’s first words would be: ‘F**k his mother. Look at these Chinese people, what a shame!’.
He explained to the reporter that he had intended to look for some information on the internet, but as soon as he was online, the news websites that he was looking at made him so mad. Almost all the news coverage was on how the Party and the leaders were doing their best in the rescue operation, and on how brave the People’s Liberation Army soldiers and the police people were. On a youth website he found an eye-popping headline saying ‘Long Live the PLA’. Li said he was totally perplexed. With every hour passing, there were still people dying. He had lost contact with more than half of his family and friends. It was estimated that about one-third of the quake victims were still buried underground waiting to be rescued. But when you look at the news, is there a single report about these victims? The media space is all taken up by the officially controlled, gratitude-inducing mainstream report. He said that if he wasn’t one of the victims, he would be emotionally touched too. But people were dying, and those who got rescued were not being properly cared for and many were even starving. The government simply is not capable of taking care of them. When they pleaded with the government rescue workers, the workers said to them: ‘You’re lucky to be alive.’ One can see they are not only incapable of helping the alive, they also cannot save more lives.
Li said that the government has used the huge propaganda machine to take care of the remaining majority of people – the 1.3 billion who are not affected. When he saw the netizens getting all emotionally worked up, he felt disgusted and angry. They know nothing about what’s happening in the disaster area and only get their news feed from official sources, and they begin to feel tearfully grateful. Can’t they see that not one disaster victim feels grateful?
Li Hong said he was really shocked. Those Chinese people, don’t they feel ashamed? Can’t they see what’s wrong with the official media reports? 15,000 people died and no voice of their relatives can be heard in the media. Thousands are still buried beneath the ground. Their voices cannot be heard, but it doesn’t mean they are not there. All the newspapers and internet forums were making a big fuss over the story of a policeman on his knees begging to be allowed to save one more person. Indeed the TV image moved the whole nation to tears. But when they get emotional, they forget about the victims.
‘Do you want my family and friends who are dead or are dying to kneel down and thank the Party and the PLA?’ Li’s eyes turned red when he said this. He said he did not mind the official media giving praise to human virtues, but the thing was, people were dying by the hundreds per hour.
When the reporter asked Li why he was in Chongqing, he answered after hesitating for a bit that one of his friends who is working in Dujiangyan 都江堰 had told him that the place had a major crack and if there were aftershocks of 5.0 points Richter Scale, there would be serious problems. And Chengdu is just below Dujiangyan. Of course the official media would not report this, he said. Even if 1 million people will die, they will probably make seventy-year-old Wen Jiabao come out again and find some touching PLA stories to move the nation. When the nation become touched, what do a million deaths matter to them? Chinese people will only understand when death comes to themselves.
He then asked the reporter to report more on the victims. He said most of those affected by the earthquake were not getting any help.
There are people who believe that the Sichuan disaster will be hurtful to the Communist Party’s hold on power. But according to what the Boxun reporter understands, in reality the contrary is true. This disaster in which 15,000 people already perished and tens of thousands more may end up dead has made those unaffected stop thinking and extend their total support to the Communist government. This is what the government wanted to see. Whether the government is giving its best effort in the rescue operation is not important.”