Wuhan Diary #40 The 44th Day of the Wuhan City Closure — March 6, 2020

March 6, 2020 The 44th Day of the Wuhan City Closure

Fang Fang’s latest Wuhan closed city Diary was deleted from her public Weibo account. In her diary she discussed the video circulating on social media yesterday — during Deputy Premier Sun Chunlan’s inspection visit to a community in the Qingshan District, many residents confined to their apartments all shouted “It’s fake, it’s all fake!”.

Fang Fang wrote:

For some years, whenever a senior leader came to make an inspection there has been all kinds of phony going-through-the-motions although that didn’t fool anyone. In fact, you can’t just lay the blame for that on the grassroots; fakery goes on at every level. If it was done at the grassroots then it won’t be possible to get anything done. Wuhan today is a closed city: what could have been the cause of that but the results of fakery.

The central leadership will hold an immediate meeting this afternoon and demand immediate solutions to the problems that the masses have called to the attention of the leadership. Just think about it, isn’t it a good thing that that happened? If all those people had not called out, however would the leadership know the difficulties they face? If they remain silent, if you just cooperate and pretend that things are fine, aren’t you just causing problems for yourself? Therefore when you should complain about things, then you should do it.

Wuhan writer Fang Fang’s Diary (serialized uncensored on Chinese service of Radio France International and censored within China)

Where I differ with Fang Fang is that I doubt that the leaders are really unaware of all the fakery? I don’t know when she writes that, if she really believe it, of if she is watering down criticism about a serious issue because she is only able to criticize by using subtle and guarded language.

One needs to understand that the high the ranking that officials hold, the more accustomed they are to cheating. Naturally when the emperor wears his new clothes he hopes that all the people will all tamely call out “what beautiful clothes!”. Fang Fang in calling on people to complain just follows the old logic of Chinese in the old days who would block the roads to protest against corrupt officials saying “The Emperor is good but those rapacious officials under him are very bad!”

From another perspective, when someone could report such a mild and empathetic words as Fang Fang’s and that they would be deleted, what would the reaction be to the kind of things I write. Just thinking about that frightens me.

Many of Fang Fang’s ideas and ways of thinking clearly bear the stamp of the 1950s, especially in what she writes about Traditional Chinese Medicine. Most of that I disagree with. However, Fang Fang when she writes about those things that she knows personally is being honest and brave. For Chinese people today that is not at all easy. I remember the poem Shandong Province Writers’ Association Vice Chair Wang Zhaoshan wrote after the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake.

When disaster brought desolation far and wide
The Party Secretary issued commands
The Premier conveyed orders
The Party manifested its deep love, the nation it’s love
Many rushed to the ruins
Over one billion cried as one
Even the departing souls now relieved of worries
Felt blessed

When you realize that kind of shameless stuff represents the mainstream of the literary world, then you can understand how valuable Fang Fang is.

Two days ago some people on Weibo social media reported a physician who had earlier reported a Weibo post about Chinese Traditional Medicine. Angry about shortsightedness and inattention to important matters, his words were perhaps a bit harsh. Someone took aim at him, claiming that “people online needs to be wiser and better-behaved. At this moment when regulation and management of the Internet is being strengthened, I want to help purge the Internet!!” Later I found out that the report was made by a middle school student. I don’t know whether or not that child knows what the word “purge” means.

I haven’t been writing about anything relating to the words “report” and “the Internet Firewall” lately probably because of the controversy surrounding fans of the pop singer Xiao Zhan had made reports against a fan fiction website. Only today I saw something from a Xiao Zhan fan that touched me.

I am confused and perhaps I am being naive but shouldn’t website from outside China be blocked? You can still use a VPN to get on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. How could it be that before this affair occurred that one could get on the Archive of Our Own fan fiction website without even needing a ladder?

I planted a flowering bush, just a small little bush. Every year it flowers beautifully in season. In Wuhan the winter cold penetrates right to the bone so when the weather turns cold I move bushes in flower pots indoors so the bushes can continues to grow indoors. Unfortunately, there isn’t much space for it in the room so when new branches and twigs grow, they the hit the wall, get twisted around and then grow back towards the plant itself.

When I saw those words, I thought of that bush. When it has unlimited space to grow, the bush develops in whatever direction is suitable; when moved indoors it starts to get deformed. The Great Firewall of China is like that; Chinese people become like a plant confined to a flower pot.

Some people realize that the flower pot is there and so right away jump over the firewall to enjoy the grand vistas of the outside world.

Some others notice the flower pot but for various reason, just stay inside the pot even as the feel space closing in on them. Even though they understand very well that they are becoming deformed, they cautiously putting the best face on matters that they can, avoid and resisting any discussion of the issue. The braver ones among them try to smash through the walls of the flower pot but they always end up tearing apart their own flesh and bones in the process. There are now fewer and fewer people like that.

Still others know that the flower pot is there but still don’t feel deformed or troubled in any way. “The water and the fertilizer is all the same both inside and outside the flower pot. Moreover, flowers bloom on both sides, so there isn’t any difference between the inside and the outside.” Some go even further, even writing articles arguing for “The superiority of the flower pot” or cursing the braver ones among the second kind of people: “If it were not for you, the flower pot would not be getting smaller and smaller!”

The last group has spent all their life in the flower pot. They have never enjoyed the air, the sunshine, and the rain of the outdoors. Conversely, they feel that it would be “dangerous” not to be in the flowerpot and to argue the contrary is a “great heresy and treason”. Growing up twisted only natural.

I don’t know which among the latter three groups of people is the most tragic.

Naturally there are also some people who, living outside the flower pot, who just love to boast about the superiority of life inside the flower pot.

Recently a list was published of “Advanced workers on new coronavirus prevention and control within the Chinese public health system”. Thirty-four of the names had black borders around them including 21 from Hubei province. I felt unbearably sad as I read those names.

On that list I saw also saw the name of Wang Guangfa. He was one of the experts sent to Wuhan with the second expert group by the National Health Commission. At the time he said that the epidemic “can be prevented and controlled”. I can’t accept the fact that his name is on that list.

On that list are both Dr. Li Wenliang, who was reprimanded for telling the truth, and Wang, who is getting the award for lying to hide the truth. Both are being celebrated as advanced workers. I can’t imagine how the citations for those awards will be written.

Chinese text

3月6日武汉封城第44天

方方最新一篇封城日记在微信公众号上被删了,日记中提到了昨天全网转发的视频:副总理孙春兰到青山区一个小区视察时,关在楼内禁止外出的居民纷纷在楼上高喊“假的,都是假的”,方方对此写道:

“多年来,凡上级视察之处,各种形式主义横行,却是众人皆知的。其实,不能单怪基层,因为层层作假,基层不做,一天都混不下去。武汉有今天的封城,何尝不是做假的结果?”

“中央领导下午当即开会,要求马上解决群众反映的问题。看看,这样不就挺好吗?如果没有那一声声的喊叫,领导人又怎么知道你的苦处?你沉默不语,你配合做假,吃亏的还不是你自己?所以,该喊的时候,还是要喊出来。”

我跟方方想法不同的是,这些领导们真的不知道是做假吗?我不知道她这么写,是真心如此认为,还是一种淡化尖锐的春秋笔法。要知道官越大越是惯常做假,穿上新装的国王不过是希望子民配合齐呼“衣服真漂亮”而已。而方方鼓励的“喊出来”,归根结底也是古时拦轿喊冤的思维逻辑,“皇帝都是好的,底下的奸臣太监们太坏了!”。换个角度想想,方方如此温和体恤的措辞也会被人投诉、删文,我写的这些……想想就害怕。

方方的很多观念和思维方式有着鲜明的50年代生人的烙印,尤其是关于中医的内容,大多都是我不认同的。但是方方在她的认知范围内已经做到了真实、勇敢,这在中国文人里实属不易。我到现在还记得08年汶川地震时山东作协副主席王兆山写的那首词“天灾难避何所诉,主席唤,总理呼,党疼国爱,声声入废墟。十三亿人共一哭,纵做鬼,也幸福“。如果你知道这种无耻才是”文坛主流“,就会明白方方的可贵了。

前两天微博上有人举报了一位医生,这位医生之前发微博反对中医被举报,大概是愤怒于苟且麻木,言辞上犀利了一些,就被这人盯上并举报了,此人还发微博称“当下网络环境是要更好才行,趁着加强网络管理政策,我要帮助肃清!!”,后来发现,这个举报者只是一个高中学生。我不知道这个小朋友到底知不知道“肃清”是什么意思,仔细想想,不管ta是知道还是不知道,都挺可怕的。

大概是因为肖战粉丝举报同人网站的事情,最近关于“举报”和“墙”的争论很多,大多与疫情无关,所以我没有记录。只是今天在网上看到肖战粉丝发的一段话,格外有感触:

“我有些迷惑,就单纯的迷惑,外网被墙不是应该的吗?ins、Facebook还有推特,不都是要VPN才能上吗,为什么这个AO3以前不用梯子就能上“

我种了一棵花树,小小的一棵,每年到季节会开出漂亮的花儿来;武汉的冬天阴冷刺骨,所以天凉下来我会连盆带树移到屋里,花树在室内会继续生长,可惜屋里空间不够,新生的枝桠触到墙壁会变得蜷曲、盘旋。

看到上面那段话,我就想起了我的这棵树,当它有无限空间的时候它会自由舒展的生长,移到大盒子里就开始变得畸形起来。防火墙就像是这个盒子,中国人就是盒子里的植物。

有的人意识到了盒子的存在,迅速翻墙跑了出去,享受外面的天地高远。

有的人也意识到了盒子,因为种种原因,只能蹲在盒子里感知空间的收缩,他们虽然清楚的知道自己正在变得畸形,却只能小心翼翼的回避、抵抗。他们中的勇敢者会试图冲破盒子的边界,往往只能换来粉身碎骨,这样的人现在越来越少。

还有些人也知道盒子的存在,却不觉得畸形有何不妥,“盒子外面和里面都是一样浇水施肥,反正都要开花结果,没有什么差别”,更有甚者,还能挥洒出一篇“论盒子的优越性”,或是咒骂第二类中的勇敢者:如果不是你们,盒子不会越变越小。

最后一种人从小生活在盒子里,从来没有享受过室外的空气、阳光、雨露,反而觉得没有盒子是“危险”“大逆不道”,蜷曲才是正统的生活姿态。

后面三种人哪个更可悲呢,我也不知道。

当然也有一种人,身在盒子外面,却热爱吹嘘盒子里面的优越。

最近公布了一批“全国卫生健康系统新冠肺炎疫情防控工作先进个人”,其中有34人的名字上有黑框,湖北省有21名,看着这些名字,忍不住的难过。

我还在这个名单里看到了王广发,他是1月8日来武汉的第二批国家卫建委专家之一,也是他说的“可防可控”,我无法接受他在这个名单里。

因为说真话被训诫的李文亮医生和因为说假话被表彰的王广发,这两个人一起评先进,不知这个颁奖词会怎么写。

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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