Posted by Julian Smisek on Monday, September 13, 2010 at 12:56 PM
China's balls? (Wikipedia)
Han Han, China's bad boy novelist, editor, blogger and race car driver recently posted his thoughts on the unfolding Diaoyu Islands spat between China and Japan.
Protect illegal charactersby Han Han/ translated by Julian Smisek
A friend asked me how I haven't commented on the Diaoyu Islands incident, and suggested I take a few shots at Japan. I told him that while I myself may not have my own land to stand on, I care a lot about issues of territory. I first read about the incident on an online forum, and quite righteously posted, "Protect the Diaoyu Islands." However, this resulted in the forum telling me that my attempted sentence contained illegal content, and suggested that I change it. After puzzling over this for a while, I changed the sentence to read, "Protect the Senkaku Islands [the Japanese name for the Diaoyu Islands]," and the message was published without a hitch.
This is indeed a major event. The Foreign Ministry worked overtime this weekend, pouring out condemnation. In my opinion, if everyone and everything is doing well – life is as one wishes, the wife, kids, home, car, work, leisure, health – are all ok, one can – under the guise of national sentiment - go and make a fuss about protecting the Diaoyu Islands. But if you have something of your own that you haven't protected, first protect that and then we can talk. Don't worry yourself about something so far off. Perhaps you'll say that in this major issue of right and wrong, how could your small misfortune matter? True, but everyone has the right to decide what's considered a major issue of right and wrong. Take this incident for example.
I think one should first look at the government's attitude. Who are you to cut in front of the leaders? When the leaders express condemnation, it means that you're allowed to express condemnation. When the leaders express regret, it means your time for expressing condemnation is over. The leaders want to condemn, but you want to take action. There lies the limits of the leaders' tolerance. If you really take action, the leaders will have to punish you. This is because they've played a big chess piece and it would be inappropriate for you, a little chess piece, to jump off the board. Moreover, in this game of chess, you're a black piece and the leaders are a white piece. Firstly, this is because workers are always a little more black [tan], and secondly, it's easy for you to become a black household [citizen without a hukou]. Really, black is the color that most suits you. But, the crucial thing is that when it's time for the assault, you run out singing black face [crying bad guy], while the leaders sing the white face [play the bad guy]. Don't be surprised when after the battle, you, mortally injured, see the leaders and the invaders cheerfully discussing a big business deal.
On the Diaoyu Island question, I believe our officials care most about their own internal stability. The oil underwater isn't all that important. That's just what Japan wants. Since the 70s, it's been the reason for their wicked renewed interest in the Diaoyu Islands. In contrast, China's government just wants stability and doesn't want to risk its foreign relations or military. Therefore, this once uncomplicated question will certainly become an extremely complicated one.
In our country, there are similar disputes that could cause friction and war. As long as the piece of land isn't so big that it changes our country's resemblance to a chicken [China's shape resembles a chicken], as long as the public doesn't quite understand what's going on, the government might feel that giving away a bit is just giving away a bit – just like selling real estate. It doesn't actually matter whether China is a rooster or a hen [whether its balls are sold away].
Because the Diaoyu Islands have always been famous, the degree to which the public cares about them is comparatively high. This is especially true after the many years of news coverage given to leaders receiving guests at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. If you spend half a day at Diaoyutai, you comeback a different person. Losing the Diaoyu Islands would be an unbearable loss of face. So, their preservation has become tied to the government's image on territorial sovereignty.
At a minimum, I believe that they should not be given to others. For the Chinese government, the best solution would be to drag this problem out until the Earth's crust shifts, embedding the islands on the coast of Fujian Province. Then we can worry about whatever oil lays under the ocean. Anyway, I'm not worried about the Diaoyu Islands getting captured by Japan –though they soon will take the them. As for this most recent incident, the best outcome would be for the boat's captain to be incarcerated for ten days. Then, after we spend nine days intensely condemning and protesting, Japan lets him go. Thus, we get to say that our protests finally met with success.
As for the people screaming "bad guy," there's no harm in doing it, so long as you don't get too caught up in the drama. Don't let it influence your own life. Don't forget your family and those other personal things of yours that certainly deserve more of your attention and protection. You do not want to find yourself heartbroken, standing there with an empty cup when the leaders hasn't even opened a bottle of wine. Also, don't mistakenly believe that you're really anxious about this nation's most pressing worry. In this nation, there is always something more urgent.
September 13th, 2010
Links and Sources
Jobs in China
Henry on The Eurasian Face
Caroline W on Big in China
Michael on Julia Lovell on translating Lu Xun's complete fiction: "His is an angry, searing vision of China"
Brandon K. on Clueless academic takes on popular fantasy novels
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The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.