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And another thing…

In Chinese blogs,Han Han,Most popular on April 21, 2010 by chinascribe Tagged: , ,

Han Han followed his original posting on Han Feng with this… as of today, 330,429 votes have been cast in Han Feng’s poll, 96% agreeing that Han Feng is a good cadre. Compared to other corruption cases that have recently attracted attention (see the recent anti-corruption campaigns in Chongqing led by Bo Xilai, for example via China Digital Times), Han Feng is a very small fish indeed – but Han Han’s point – that corruption eats away the livelihoods of China’s poorest, even if creates no headlines at all – is an important one.

Where would I find people as good as you? Han Han, March 14, 2010 original post

In my last post but one, I set up a poll, and so far votes have come from a total of 210,000 unique IP addresses. The result is clear: 96% of you – 200,000 people – felt that Han Feng is a good official and should stay in post; only 4% – fewer than 10,000 – felt that he was a bad official who should be severely punished. Of course, I can do many more polls, to make up for everyone’s sense that they have elected so many representatives to the National People’s Congress without ever seeing a ballot paper. From today, I will set up strategic, unilateral co-operation with all major government websites, so that when they set up a votes on some question or other, I will be able to reflect that here; I won’t write anything, so as to avoid influencing the outcome – we will see how the results differ.

Among the voters were people who felt in their hearts that Han Feng was all right that his appetites were rather modest – and others who felt sincerely that he was more civilised than the average official; others who jeered or who mocked him. But everyone was pretty resigned… And we all know now that China has good officials and bad officials. The result of the Han Feng poll shows that we have reached formally a point where almost all our officials are corrupt – the only distinction is between good corrupt officials and bad corrupt officials. Clearly, everyone believes that Han Feng is a good corrupt official.

Although Han Feng has just been arrested for taking a bribe in a land transaction, as we read the press reports we shouldn’t just pay attention to the stuff about his mobile phone, misuse of powers, and petty corruption. In an interview with New Century Weekly, Han Feng’s boss said, “Guangxi’s spending on tobacco is low by national standards, and Laibing district’s spending is lower still. One of Han Feng’s achievements in Laibing is that in 2007 he raised spending on tobacco… above the national average.”

In this fine place, people originally smoked relatively little, but the state set up an organisation in which an official made the local people, who never used to spend much on tobacco, smoke heavily, so that they spent more, and this became the mark of a good leader. Somehow, getting people to smoke became a political or bureaucratic achievement. In any decent country, maybe you don’t ban smoking – but how can you also set up a government department dedicated to making people smoke more? How can you trade people’s health for this minute fraction of your GDP? But when I think about it, it’s quite normal, and this is how it has always been done.

As the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee meet, the media often asks me to suggest proposals for them, or to contribute to documentaries, or even to go to Beijing to be near the congresses, but I always refuse. What would be the point of that? I have my laptop, and I don’t perform like that.

But as the two congresses end, I feel like saying that in fact, our government really is very fortunate. Most people have always believed that the high-ups’ policy is right and only gets distorted when it’s handed down for implementation. After several decades, they still believe that the high-ups’ policy is right – but wonder how it always gets distorted at lower levels. They have never doubted the first proposition, and they still have an instinctive trust in the ‘high-ups’. When they see a problem, they can always, as a last resort, report it to the capital… If they are bullied by the village chief, they think of the township chief; when the township chief turns a blind eye, they turn to the county chief; when the county chief does nothing, they think of the mayor; but they can never get hold of the mayor, so they dream of finding a minister at the centre, or someone even higher up. They think the only problem is that these lower officials have prevented the truth of the injustice being passed on – it never occurs to them that they irritate the hell out of the people they’re trying to see… They just keep chasing their fragile rights, without asking what rights they really have; they remain convinced that it’s no more than a problem with local officials, and if an official in an Audi asks after them at New Year they feel all warm inside. Of course, these people aren’t just poor – they’re the very archetype of poverty. They feel that officials like Han Feng are all right; they have no expectation that officials will serve the people and are happy as long as they don’t make their lives harder. You live in your big house, drive around in your smart car, nurse your petty corruptions – we just don’t care. As long as you don’t trample on the few rights we have, demolish our little houses or mess with our good name, you’re a good official. If netizens despise you, posts can be deleted; if writers despise you, that can be smoothed over; if journalists despise you, all it takes is a word, and nothing untoward need be reported.

So I’d say that this government is lucky – people are so simple and gentle, so easily satisfied – although they have many discontents, they do have a basic trust in the government. They do protest, sometimes, mostly when they get less than they feel they deserve – deal with that, and they will go home happy. With people like that, I would hope that the government could forget the glories of GDP, cut the flowery talk at congress time, take the pressure off people and allow them some dignity – you don’t do that with a Xinhua press release. You can starve, poison or crush these people, let them die of illness, drink or poverty or a hundred other things, but you will find none more honest then they are.

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How you get 1,022,191 readers for a blog post

In Chinese blogs,Most popular on March 22, 2010 by chinascribe Tagged:

Han Han post from a couple of weeks ago… This case has been covered elsewhere, but it will bear a fair amount of attention. Official corruption is always a hot topic, but in Han Feng’s case – as Han Han points out – the level of attention goes some way beyond the level of corruption that had been uncovered at the time of this post. If you look at some of the highest profile cases of recent years, even the official accounts point to much more greed and greater harm (embezzlement of pension funds, anyone?) Han Feng, though, had much more modest desires – if you look at young consumers in any eastern Chinese city, they arguably take for granted much of the stuff that Han Feng funded by illegal means (how does that influence the way he is presented?) and in that he resembles an eighteenth-century local official getting by on meltage and wastage, and what we see of his diary makes him appear naive, Pooterish… Is this some of the fascination of the case? So much of the corruption that makes the papers seems to involve harm to vulnerable people, and despite official insistence that a tireless war is being waged against the corrupt it is easy to feel that many more are getting away with serious abuses. Han Feng in himself, though, does not pose a massive threat; it is easy to present him as a bit of a hick; he seems almost to have been begging to get caught – is it a comforting thought that you can sometimes just despise corrupt officials, rather than fearing them?

Han Feng is a good cadre http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4701280b0100h7b2.html March 4

The diary of Han Feng, director of the Guangxi Tobacco Agency, has become a hot topic recently. I think that it’s a breath of fresh air to see literary description in a web that is teeming with images and videos. This will be – in its literary and social value – the work of 2010. After I read the director’s diary, I felt we should not prosecute him. If we believe it is genuine, I feel confident in saying that he is a good cadre.

  1. This is a cadre who, in the last six months, has accepted a mere Y60,000 in bribes. That’s the first time in the last few years that I’ve seen the words ‘accepted bribes of’ followed by a five-figure number – where else will we find a director of such probity?
  2. Not one of his women – past, present, regular or intended – is actually kept by him.
  3. This is a director who doesn’t gamble, doesn’t consort with prostitutes, doesn’t bribe his bosses.  If he’s out and needs to get a mobile phone card, he queues up, even if it takes hours.
  4. In his diary, we saw a national cadre who shows real frugality: as other cadres were giving their mistresses houses and cars, he gave his own women no present worth more than a mobile phone or MP4. This doesn’t just show he’s a good guy – it also tells us his women are OK too. How much would we save for China each year if we had more men and women like this?
  5. He only accepted 89 banquet invitations – I know of many village cadres who eat out over 365 times a year. But he often got drunk, and doesn’t have a great head for for alcohol, so in this he didn’t measure up as a national cadre – this was his greatest crime, and it severely damaged the image of our public servants.
  6. He’s had a lot of women – but he was also seen out with his wife on 25 occasions; he bought a mobile for his father – but he hasn’t been discovered using his official position to advance his relatives’ interests.
  7. He can install his own computer software, likes digital gadgets, photography, sport, and writes his diary in micro-blog format – he’s a leader in touch with the times.
  8. In his diary, I didn’t see a single mention – not even a hint – of the hankering after flash cars, art or antiques that’s typical of a national cadre; he just plays quietly with his mobile and his computer. In the diary, he even mentions buying an earpiece for Y160. He’s so easily satisfied – it’s fantastic!
  9. As for work, although we haven’t seen this leader do any work, all that a so-called cadre needs do do is to manage his people and that fulfils the job description.

All of which tells us that, as things are now in China, he’s definitely a better than average cadre. Cadres like him can amuse themselves and are easily satisfied; they don’t harm the people and they don’t harass them; and they do less harm than others do to state and nation. In the diary, we saw a national cadre who was perfectly happy with only a few thousand yuan; when he bought a mobile phone, all he wrote in his diary for three days was ‘stayed home and played with mobile’ – he didn’t even bother with his women. There are so many cadres in the same position who are guilty of worse than he is. I urge all netizens to leave him and his women alone – they’re the smallest fry in this.  Their greatest crime is that they snapped up a few creatures floating by. We can hope that they be dealt with according to the law – but we must not take them to be the model of official depravity. In these degenerate official circles, they are the greenest and least harmful. Let’s allow this director to continue his research into digital products from the job that he has. If he left it, his replacement could do far more harm to everyone – the main difference would be that he might not write a diary.

Poll, 254332 respondents [as at March 22]

Han Feng is a good cadre: hope he will remain in post: 244704 votes (96%)

Han Feng is a bad cadre: hope he will be dealt with according to the law: 9628 (4%)

Readers: 720,157

Comments: 9297

Diary in Chinese at: http://news.ifeng.com/society/special/juzhangriji/ziliao/201003/0302_9642_1560934.shtml

ChinaHush translation at: http://www.chinahush.com/2010/03/05/han-hanhan-feng-is-a-good-cadre-in-china-and-97-surveyees-agree/ though I prefer my own translation.

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And the runner-up is…

In Chinese blogs,Most popular on March 1, 2010 by chinascribe Tagged: ,

Xu Jinglei, actress and director, is Sina.com’s second most popular blogger. This recent post, translated below, has so far received over 200,000 hits and 8,500 comments – such is the power of celebrity blogging. And this makes it quite hard to get a handle on the everyday blogosphere: if there are über-blogs out there that can attract hundreds of millions of visits (no exaggeration – Xu Jinglei is currently on 269,568,103), how do we decide how much traffic a blog needs to count as interesting?

There are two strands to the blog. The first focuses on fairly traditional PR matters, covering sponsorship events, promoting her lifestyle magazine Kaila, and talking through her latest film’s progress towards release. The second has a Xu-Jinglei-next-door flavour: see the self-deprecating tone of the post below, the super-cute babypix in other posts (very clean baby, too), and the post from March last year that begins ‘It is unbelievably cold in the house, and my typing fingers are frozen…’)

Dumbing down on holiday http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_46f37fb50100gsco.html March 1

After 22 days on holiday, in these dull rainy days in this tropical city, I sleep until I wake naturally – after sleeping 5 or 6 hours a night for the past year, I started sleeping 9 or 10 hours; I’ve finished the 6th season of 24, become obsessed with television, and watched as much television on holiday as I have over the last five years put together.

Just as this blog was about to space out completely, news came from the team that they wanted me to put the final touches to the film to smooth preparation for the release, so the airhead took half an hour to finish packing her already overweight bags, book a ticket and rush back to Beijing!

The night I got back to China, I couldn’t sleep until nine thirty the following morning; I knew I had a meeting at midday and the more I worried about it the harder I found it to sleep. And all this in my desperation to change the airhead back into superwoman.

When I got back to China, airhead-superwoman went to work immediately at the Huairou centre. The greatest thing is that the technology is now so advanced, you have perfect freedom to adjust the colours in the print. Airhead-superwoman loves high tech .

It’s a real shame but I’ve taken no photos since my last post.

What is even more airheaded, the last two times I’ve been through the airport, on both occasions I’ve nearly lost my hand luggage …