Wuhan Diary #18: The Twenty-Second Day of the Wuhan City Closure — February 13, 2020

12 February 2020 Wuhan Evening News: “Ten Days After Her Miscarriage, a Female Nurse in her Twenties Returned to the Front-lines”. many of the reader comment are critical of her management for allowing this and for the propaganda organs for promoting it.

February 13 The Twenty-second Day of the Wuhan City Closure

Yesterday I dreamed of buying vegetables in a very big vegetable market. I bought tomatoes and looked for potatoes. After buying potatoes I looked for eggplant. After buying eggplant I bought cauliflower. After I bought cauliflower, I looked for cucumber. Ah, why couldn’t I find cucumber? I walked around and around but I didn’t see it, so I went back to where I started and looked again.

This is the second time I’ve dreamed about the epidemic. The first time was two days after the city closure. One evening I dreamed that I was sealed tightly in a protective suit (naturally I have never worn a protective suit). No matter how hard I struggled, I could not get out of it. There was less and less air in my suit. The more worried I got the more labored my breathing became. In the end I could only breathe in great gasps. In my the depths of my dream I really did feel I was suffocating and badly frightened as I got less and less oxygen. I suddenly woke up and took a deep breath. My whole body shook and tensed up before finally I could relax.

Today several news items shook me up.

The first was the news that Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong was transferred to Hubei to become the new Hubei Communist Party Committee Secretary. That new was the neighborhood chat groups and the chat groups of my friends on WeChat. Shanghai friends also talked about him. However I really don’t care about the rise and fall of officials. No matter whether it is Ying Yong or Jiang Chaoliang, they all belong to that army of poisonous bugs that have been taking over every level and every nook and cranny of the Mainland China bureaucracy for many years. This is a just a sleight of hand that addresses symptoms but not the disease. So what difference will it make.

The second item is that at noon today Hubei Province finally announced its long-delayed decision to delay the return to work. Now the February 21 is the day set to go back to work. That amount to saving me a week of vacation leave. The day to return to work had originally set to February 14. They only send out the notice today. They had not consideration for the many people outside Wuhan who were on their way back to the city.

A friend had originally planned to drive herself back to Wuhan today. She got up early and went out the door to go though the formalities for entering the city. “I had to take one piece of paper to four different places to get four different stamps!” Even more frustrating was she had to wait in line for half an hour or more at each place. When she was going get the third stamp it was time for the noon break in government offices so he had to wait for the workers to come back at 2:30. When I told her about the notice that the return to work had been delayed, you can just imagine at how angry she got. It is absolutely ridiculous that a place where people routing pay with their smartphones and where the electronic service delivery is so highly developed would, especially during the emergency, still have people standing in line to get documents their stamped.

The last news report I saw in my friends’ WeChat chat group. The protagonist is a acquaintance who was infected with the new coronavirus pneumonia. When his condition became serious, the hospital issue him a certification of critical condition. Now he has completely recovered. It is, in fact, an “upbeat” report. This grabbed my attention because we had met several days before he was admitted to the hospital. He told me then that he had had a low-grade fever for several days. I assumed it was a cold and so asked him to take good care of himself. Later, because the city closed, we didn’t have much contact and I didn’t know that he had been admitted to the hospital…. I don’t know how I should describe my feelings. Maybe I feel lucky, maybe I think it was miraculous. That today I can calmly sit here typing is something that I really thank my immune system for.

Yesterday evening several other news items also grabbed my attention.

The first is the “Wuhan Evening News” published a news story “Ten Days After Her Miscarriage, a Female Nurse in her Twenties Returned to the Front-lines”. Apart from that story, there was another similar type of story a video entitled “A Nurse in the Ninth Month of Her Pregnancy Insisted on Remaining at Her Post on the Front lines” circulated online. Those two brave women deserve our gratitude. Officials, however, should not encourage and praise that kind of behavior because it runs counter to humanitarian values.

“While Pneumonia Rages in Wuhan, A Nine Months Pregnant Nurse Stays on the Front Lines”
武漢肺炎肆虐 懷孕九個月護理師堅守防疫第一線 setn.com picking up on February 11 People’s Daily story.

Another WuhanNet article is entitled “While the Epidemic is Growing, Why Not Give the Wuhan Mayor Some Consolation”. The article is very vicious but also merely vulgar with nothing special to recommend it. That it appeared on the very same day of Ying Yong replaced the old Hubei Province Party Secretary its the only interesting thing about it.

The third article is “I Would Much Rather Hear “Go Wuhan” than “We Share the Same Winds and Skies” that appeared in the Changjiang Ribao which like the Wuhan Wanbao belong to the Chiangjiang Ribao Newspaper Group. This worse than dogshit article of course conveys the angry voice of a Wuhan resident. In particular the words “After Auschwitz, it is cruel to write poetry”. This demonstrates that all the people involved from the author, to the editor and the leader who signed off on the article are ignoramuses. Not they I am surprised that they would write such a thoroughly rotten piece. Anyone knowledgeable about the major media in Wuhan, however, will know that, unless they have good connections, that in the open examinations for jobs with this newspaper group, that Journalism Department students who graduated from Wuhan University or Huazhong University of Science and Technology, among the weaker students at their schools, do not do well. It is not unusual for the newspaper group to hire students from polytechnics instead.

Screen capture of top of now censored off PRC web article mentioned above. Archived here-> “I Would Much Rather Hear “Go Wuhan” than “We Share the Same Winds and Skies

What I found interesting is that from that article one can try to figure out the current orientation of propaganda work. These past two days on many official media WeChat accounts and marketing company public accounts there have been articles like “Russia Why Did You Just Dump Your Supplies and Take Off? Are You Going to Write Some Poetry?” that intended to criticize Japan and flatter Russia. This is probably because recent Japanese assistance to China is appreciated by many in Mainland China. Any significant trend in public opinion will be noticed and guided by the Chinese Communist Party. I can tell whether the author of this article was assigned the task of fathoming what the hierarchy wanted. Too bad the result was so poorly done that everyone on line laughed at it as unreadable rubbish.

As a Wuhan resident I am very grateful for Japan’s help. “The mountains and rivers divide us but the same wind, moon and sky bring us together” is the most heartfelt blessing I have ever heard. As a “person”, I have a naive and unsophisticated sympathy for the Japanese people. When in 2008, after the Wenchan Earthquake in Sichuan Japan sent a rescue team the most common keywords found in articles about them were words like “spy”, “real story”, “entering military restricted area”.

Nonetheless this time they still gave us their most considerate and sincere assistance. I believe it is only a matter of time until Mainland China has its next “The Flesh-rending Knight”-like anti-Japanese film. The “nationalist feeling” this kind of film stirs up is for the Chinese Communist Party just another tool of governance. It makes me very sad. History should not be about teaching hatred and conspiracy theories. Instead, history should teach us not to repeat the mistakes of the past. “Good” rather than “Evil” is what we need engraved in our memory.

What a shame that in the logic of Chinese Communist Party rule, adherence to the Party always trumps humanitarian values.

The nominations for the latest Hong Kong Film Awards have come out. For someone who was once crazy about Hong Kong films, seeing the Golden Rooster Awards Venue Style I am torn by complicated feelings.

Mainlanders always like to say “Don’t let politics affect film making. Keep movies pure.” They talk as if politics don’t influence movie making in China. There is nothing in life that is not tied into politics somehow. Didn’t the decline of the Hong Kong film industry began with Hong Kong’s “return” to China?

Without spiritual freedom, how can creative works be open and independent? If you want to preserve independence and freedom, you definitely need to have a political order that recognizes the dangers and is wary of anything that could erode that freedom.

Fortunately, there is still the Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards that carries the last torch of hope for Chinese-language film-making. Oh Taiwan, don’t you repeat Hong Kong’s mistakes!

Chinese text

2月13日  武汉封城第22天

昨晚梦到买菜,在一个很大的一个菜市场里,买了番茄找土豆、买完土豆找茄子、买完茄子找花菜、买完花菜找黄瓜……咦,怎么找不到黄瓜呢,我转了一圈又一圈就是没找到,急得原地打转。

这是第二次做跟疫情有关的梦,上一次是在封城后那两天,有一晚梦到自己被密封在防护服里(我当然没有穿过防护服),无论怎样挣扎都出不来,防护服里的空气越来越少,然而越紧张我的呼吸就越急促,最后只剩大口大口的喘着粗气,在梦里好像真的能感受到氧气越来越稀薄的窒息和恐慌……从梦中惊醒的一瞬我深吸了一口气,全身惊恐绷紧的肌肉才轻松下来。

今天被几个新闻刷了屏。

一是上海市市长应勇调任湖北省委书记,本地人的微信朋友圈和本地微信群里全是这个消息,上海的朋友也在讨论。不过我对官场沉浮之道不太关心,不论是应勇还是蒋超良,都是浸淫大陆官场多年突破重围层层厮杀的蛊虫,换汤不换药、治标不治本,能有什么区别呀。

二是湖北省继续延迟复工开学的通知在今天中午终于发出来了,现定时间2月21日复工,这样一来约等于拯救了我一周的假期。原定复工时间是2月14日,今天才发出通知,对很多外地返汉的人实在不太友好。我的一位朋友原本计划今天自驾回武汉,一大早就出门办入城手续,“一张表要到四个地方盖四个章!”,更郁闷的是每个盖章的地方都要排队半小时以上,盖到第三个章恰好到了政府部门午休时间,只得就地等到两点半工作人员上班。当我把延期复工到通知发给她的时候,简直能想象到她的恼火。一个惯常吹嘘手机支付、电子服务高度发达普及的地方,在这个特殊时期,居然还要排队盖章,实在好笑极了。

最后一个,是我在微信朋友圈看到的一篇新闻报道,主人公是我认识的一个朋友,他感染了新型肺炎,最严重的时候医院给下了病危通知书,现在已经痊愈出院。其实是很常规的一篇“正能量”报道,我之所以在意,是因为在他住院前几天我们曾见过面,那时候他说已经低烧好几天了,但我们都以为只是感冒,只提醒他注意休息,后来因为过年、封城没有太多联系,也不知道他住院……我不知道该如何形容自己现在的心情,也许是庆幸,也觉得神奇。

我之所以现在还能如此平心静气地在键盘上打字,可能真的要好好感谢自己的免疫系统。

昨晚也被几条新闻刷了屏。

一是《武汉晚报》发布的《流产10天后,武汉90后女护士重回一线》,除了这篇,昨天还有个相似风格的《女护士怀孕9个月仍坚守战疫一线》的视频在网上流传,这二位女性是勇者,值得我们所有人感谢,但官方不应该鼓励推崇这样的行为,因为与人道主义精神相违背。

另一篇是汉网文章《“疫”流而上,何不多给武汉市长暖暖心》,文字非常恶心,却也只是庸常恶心的水准,连“恶心”都没有特别出彩之处,只是结合今天宣布应勇调任湖北省委书记的时间点,这篇文章就格外有趣了。

第三篇是评论文章《相比“风月同天”,我更想听到“武汉加油”》,出自《长江日报》,与《武汉晚报》同属长江日报报业集团;这当然是篇狗屁不通的文章,在本地人中也是骂声一片,尤其是那句引用“奥斯维辛之后,写诗是残忍的”,暴露了从作者到编辑再到签发领导全体不学无术。不过他们写出这么烂的文章我倒不意外,但凡对武汉本地几大媒体有所了解就知道,如果没有特别靠谱的关系,这几个集团的公开招聘考试中,武大、华科正牌新闻学毕业生考不过三本、四本、专科学院是司空见惯的事情。

我觉得有意思的是,可以从这篇文章揣摩到现在的宣传风向,这两天我已经在不少官方媒体的微博、营销性质的公众号看到诸如“俄罗斯你咋把物资扔下就跑了?不写两句诗吗?”之类的暗戳戳踩日本捧俄罗斯的文字了,大约是因为近段时间日本援助赢得了国内大范围的民间好感,任何成气候的舆论都会被CCP关注和引导。这篇文章的作者,不知道是被指派了任务还是揣摩到了上意,可惜水平太差写了篇狗屁不通的东西落得全网嘲讽。

作为武汉人,我非常感激日本的帮助,“山川异域 风月同天”是我听过最温暖的祝福;作为一个“人”,我却有些同情日本民众的天真淳朴,08年汶川地震后日本派来的救援队当时在国内被全网黑成“间谍”,直到今天我在百度搜索“汶川地震日本救援队”,关联项的前几条还是“间谍”“真相”“进入军事禁地”等词,但是这次他们依然提供了最贴心真挚的帮助。我相信距离内地下一轮“手撕鬼子”也只是时间问题,因为对于CCP,所谓“民族情感”不过都是统治工具。我很难过,历史的意义不该是教唆仇恨和阴谋论,而是时刻警醒不再重蹈覆辙。相较于“恶”,“善”更改被铭记。

可惜,对于CCP的执政逻辑而言,党性永远高于人性。

最新一届香港电影金像奖的提名名单出来了,作为一个曾经疯狂热爱过香港影视的影迷,看到这样一个金鸡奖分会场风格的提名名单,心里五味杂陈。

大陆人总喜欢说“不要让政治影响电影,保持电影的纯粹”——说得好像大陆电影不受政治影响似的——生活中哪一件事会与政治全然无关呢,香港影视娱乐业的衰落不正是开始于“回归”吗。

没有精神的自由,何谈创作的开放与独立。想保有独立与自由,就一定要通过政治去认清险恶,警惕任何蚕食这份自由的可能。

万幸还有金马奖,才让华语影坛保有了最后一丝希望的火种。唯愿台湾,不要重蹈香港的覆辙。

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

After retirement translated,with wife Jessie, Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and have been studying things 格物致知. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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