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





















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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