Now is not the time for patriotic demonstrations

April 19, 2008 — riot police disperse protesters inside Carrefour store

Han Han (韩寒) is a novelist with a huge and dedicated fan base. He is also a racing driver and a blogger.

On his blog he has recently been discouraging his compatriots from getting too passionate about their patriotism. Here is a translation of a blog post he published on April 25:

If you are a student

by Han Han

If you are a student, a university student, I have a suggestion for you. If you like something, buy it; if you don't like something then don't buy it, but don't demonstrate on the streets.

Protests and rallies are addictive. Today you carry the flag of patriotism against the outside world, tomorrow you carry the flag of patriotism against...

So you won't get support. During the whole process, all you can do is face the Chinese people and the Chinese riot police. You won't even see one blonde hair [i.e. foreigners]. Don't let pointless injury or death happen. Patriotism is not a golden talisman that will protect you from dying. In fact patriotism can be the death of you.

May 4, 1919 — student protests in Beijing

In an era of peace, radical patriotism is no different from a fan's adoration of his idol. But because people don't choose the object of their patriotic love, it's bound to be ever crazier. Previously, I thought inciting the masses was just government rhetoric, a pretext, but now I realize that people can be stirred up rashly. Of course, it's not easy to incite people but when they are determined to be cannon fodder, it's easy for them to blow up. Don't equate the current situation with the May Fourth movement [when patriotic students protested the Versailles treaty in 1919]. The two situations are totally different. Right now what we need is stability. Don't cause disturbances or stir up trouble, it's pointless.

To repeat: that's not the way forward, now is not the time.

I am willing to be called a traitor or a running dog, if only to give you this message: hold back your passions and show a gentle face, accept different voices. It's not yet the time now.

Links and Sources
There are currently 7 Comments for Now is not the time for patriotic demonstrations.

Comments on Now is not the time for patriotic demonstrations

"It's not yet the time now." Interesting implication. Any guesses on when 'yet' is?

jg, you are reading to much into this. 现在还不是时候 is translated "now is not the time." and "It's not yet the time now." in the article.

The "还" in "现在还不是时候" is problematic.

Does he know that the riot in the picture led to the forming of the Chinese Communist Party, the civil war and the PRC ? When it first started, it was just like the riots by the Tibetans. Everyone would say it won't come to anything. It was hopeless. It was doomed to fail, and won't have anything to show afterwards. Just like all the talk about the protests against China now.

If not now, then when. If not patriotic, then what. If you've no idea, it's better to keep quiet. Otherwise, use a little bit of your initiative to think for your countrymen.

The "还" in "现在还不是时候" is problematic.

Even w/o it, it still implies that the time, though not now, will come later.

Jung, how can you compare China in 1919 (weak, dominated by foreign forces and torn up by internal conflict) to China in 2008. Have you learned your history only from PRC textbooks?

"If you know your history,
Then you would know where you coming from,
Then you wouldn't have to ask me,
Who the heck do I think I am."

Bob Marley

The way the post reads in English, it seems steeped in propaganda writing. It is honest though, and that is enough.

China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
From 2008
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!
Danwei Archives