Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, Edited by Karen L., Written by Lewis Loud
Original: http://dadazim.com/journal/2014/04/holyshit/ 

When it comes to Chinese locust kids urinating and defecating in public, the strongest reaction is not given by the Hongkongers, but the CCP's media mouthpieces. Lu Xun, a famous Chinese writer in the early 20th century, once refuted, "Whenever someone criticises China, Chinese will always respond - 'We are in the same situation as the foreigners are'." It is a normal case for people to clean up the mess in their own backyards when it's dirty, but the Chinese way to make clean their own backyards is by saying "The others' backyards are dirty as well."

According to many CCP's media mouthpieces and mainlanders, a kid peeing or making a poo poo in public doesn't make he or she to be treated as an adult; and Hongkongers shooting the faux pas of them, is way worse. Don't laugh at the native media under the world-class party, who plays the 'primary school logic': "Sir, I am not the only one chatting in class. Siu Ming chats too. Why don't you tell him off?" Such way of thinking is supported by some educated youngsters in Hong Kong as well. Imagine: Mr. A, a lecturer in suit standing on the stage of the theatre in some university and speaking in a serious tone, 

"Mainlanders pissing and taking a shit in public space of Hong Kong, is a symbol of injustice under the 'Neoliberalism' and the 'Globalisation' context in our 'urban space'...

The urban space of Mong Kok is monopolised by consortium, therefore insufficient amount of public toilets are offered to tourists who join the Individual Visit Scheme (IVS). The kid shitting in public is a 'revolution towards the managerialism of a post-modern society'. It's just like the giant inflatable faeces in front of the hotel in the West Kowloon Cultural District, mocking 'the pseudo-delicate tradition of fine art in the strict structure of capitalism'. Doing toilet work in public, it presents 'the insistence of individual subjectivity in the tradition of existentialism from Nietzsche to Sartre'. In the moment that the kids' faeces coming out through his large intestine, there was a form of 'self-creation' and an emancipation from the ubiquitous 'capitalism disciplinary society'!"

The 99% undergraduates in the lecture theatre might think "WTF!", but they had to put on a "it's-very-inspiring" face. Surely, they didn't want to fail, therefore superficial stuff was a must. But one of the students, Mr. B Yeung, a 'genurine talent' was 'genurinely' inspired, and started his own philosophical thoughts after listening to Mr. A's theories, and it went, 

[Translator's note: Mongkok Sons/MK Sons refer to a category of teenagers who follow the trend that's similar to Alternative Punk]
"Why would many Mongkok Sons swallow their girlfriends' flow as a proof of true love? Why would there be an increasing number of insane guys to accept such behaviour as an acceptable sexual activity? Why would leaving rubbish on the street or even drinking down someone's Sally be accepted while pissing and shitting everywhere would be greeted with 'WTF'? Referring to some general biological knowledge, long time accumulation of faeces will cause toxin accumulation. And some child psychologists even suggested that holding the call of nature for a long time will extend one's Anal Stage, and it's likely for those children to become maniacs when they grow older. Therefore pissing and taking a shit in public should actually be accepted as a human right!"

Some young people love shit. They are no more than psychos, who simply want to be different and think that they really hold some 'unique opinions'; some old people love shit too, but love from a patriotic perspective. When you say shitting in public is a wrongdoing, citizen C, a patriot, would say: "I will probably urinate randomly when I'm drunk, what's the matter?" and citizen D, an outdated news commentator who is preparing for emigration, says: "Mainlanders have never enjoyed freedom under Communist party's rule. Even they defecate in Hong Kong, it's still a sort of 'holy shit' (神聖的屎, "holy" is in the meaning of sacred). Hongkongers should be more accommodating, and shall not lose our temper and virtue to blame. If we infuriated mainlanders, they will not support the democratic movement in Hong Kong anymore; without their sympathy, we can do nothing, not even to shit. And that's really the big deal!"

In the eyes of A, B, C and D, "defecation" is no longer defecation itself but represents the huge symbolic meaning behind. Defecation can be the ultimate way of a post-modern power disciplinary society, as well as a killer of the capitalism and the managerialism. By the time a piece of feces dropped, it equals to the Pope kissing this piece of sacred land, symbolising the integration of Hong Kong and China, and the eternal handover of the 'body and mind' of Hong Kong. Whenever IVS visitors shit, they are experiencing the epochs of democracy and freedom in Hong Kong. The kid defecating might be the next student activist leader in China, just like Joshua Wong in Hong Kong, how can't you bear it? In minds of many people, it is just superficial in fighting for certain rights as Hong Kong will need China to help itself to cross the Red Sea anyways.

I once went to a psychiatric centre to pay a visit. I saw a male patient and a female waitress quarreling in the garden. The man kept on pointing a bowl of noodles and yelled "What I need is noodles! Noodles!" The woman kept on yelling back, "Your noodles is here! Here! Can't you see?" The man insisted it's not a bowl of noodles. And the two held on the same argument for a few minutes.

A city and a country has showed some criteria of mental illness on treating faeces and on that kid fouling in public places. There is a simple fact that won't be accepted by the more-educated. When you say it isn't right to do their toilet work everywhere, they will refute by claiming that there are no toilets or it's a peasant culture or kids can't hold it or YOU are not civilised at all... The entire country is mad, completely - from the street to the education institution and from some commoners to the middle class. All are lunatic.


Wing: What An Ungrateful Beneficiary!

What An Ungrateful Beneficiary!
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, Edited by Karen L., Written by 翼雙飛 (Wing Wing)
Original: http://www.passiontimes.hk/article/04-17-2014/14021 

[Foreword by translator: This article is related to a recent news about Betty Wong, a young adult and a stowaway from China, who has entered the Faculty of Medicine, HKU since last year. She recently wrote an mini-autobiography on her story. She feels that she was aggrieved as she was "heckled" by the immigration officers after she turned herself in. She wore a hoodie which reads "Holyshit" by the day she obtained the HKID card, and used a rather cocky tone in her status. Some think that her story is a positive one, but many criticise her for snatching the resources in Hong Kong, as well as her cockiness in the Facebook status. Her status will be translated on Hong Kong Columns (Translated) soon. Please stay tuned.]

Something happened today made me express my views, and I would like to hear fair comments.

When I was in Form 1, Ah Wai was sitting next to me. He was reticent, and often scribbled in his own sphere, so we barely had conversations. Until that day, when I walked past a bakery after school, I saw that the owner of the bakery was grabbing Ah Wai's hand, and shouted, "You thief! Dare to nick my stuff! I'm gonna call the cops!" Ah Wai was holding a sausage bun.

Being sympathetic, I can't help myself to rush towards the bakery and said to the owner, "He is my classmate, just cut him some slack!"

"What?! What will happen if everyone steals! I have to call the cops." said the owner, who then immediately tried to dial.

I stopped him. "He's only twelve, he's underaged! He won't be sentenced after arrest. You surely don't want to be bothered by policemen and giving statement, right? It will just affect your business. Say, what about I pay 10 times of the bun? He dares not to do it again. Show some mercy please."
The owner pondered for a few seconds, "Fine! Don't let me catch you red-handed again." He then released Ah Wai after getting my money.

Ah Wai started to talk to me after that time. It turned out that both his parents are pathological gamblers, punting each and every single day. Ah Wai did not have much to eat, and he was too hungry to bear, that's why he stole. I was a bit empathetic of his situation as I was poor too. I knew his plight, so I started to share half of my lunch from time to time. Although the portion wasn't enough for me, the way he glanced made me not hard-hearted but to share some food with him. I played basketball after lunch, and Ah Wai usually wrote on his notebook. I did not know what he was writing.

Ah Wai and I were in the same class for three years, but were separated by Form 4. Since then, we haven't contacted each other. Until a normal day in the summer of Form 5, while I was napping at home, my mum suddenly rushed in my room and pointed at the newspaper, "Do you know this Wong Ka-wai? The report says he is in the same school and the same form where you are in!" I took a glance. Yes, it's Ah Wai! He got a champion in a Hong Kong sci-fi writing competition! Oh! No wonder he wrote in his sphere all the time when he was writing novels! I was a bit shy to call him as we haven't contacted for so long, so I simply congratulated him by text, yet he did not reply. Well, just let it go! It's normal for a famous bloke being arrogant. I didn't take it seriously.

Then, in the next half of the year, he often appears on the media. Publishing houses keeps on asking him for his copyright, and even a director wants to turn his sci-fi into a movie. He will be loaded after that. Today, I read an interview of Ah Wai on the paper. When the reporter asked him what was the most memorable experience to him, he said,
"I was poor back in Form 1. I stole a bun in a bakery. My classmate sitting next to me walked past at that time. He heard that the owner told me off. I would never forget the disdain in his eyes and the sneer on his face. That is a mental torture that will last forever. A person cannot have a dream just because of poorness? I have been telling myself that I have to strive. I don't want to be looked down upon ever again."
Now I'm the one with all the rage. When did I tease and despise him? When did I ever look down upon him? Did he become a psycho after writing so much sci-fi and fantasising me to torment him? I helped him, and even gave him half of my lunch. And I have never asked for any return. How could he come and smear me? Give me a fair comment, what on earth this creature is?


Tse: NSL / Article 23 - Matter of Having Pee or Poop

National Security Law / Article 23 - Matter of choosing shit or pee
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, Edited by Karen L., Written by Thomas Tse Lin-chung (謝連忠)
Original: http://www.passiontimes.hk/article/04-09-2014/13392 

RAO Geping, the legal "pundit", once said that it is practicable to introduce the PRC National Security Law (NSL) through the Annex III of the Basic Law. Alan HOO, the Director of Basic Law Institute and the member of CPPCC, has sided with Rao. He said the pundit wants to remind Hongkongers, that in the state of emergency,  if the NSL is introduced, the Hong Kong Garrison of PLA can work on a legal basis, so as to do their duty and maintain law and order. He even said if Hongkongers do not want the introduction of NSL, they should soon get the legislation of Article 23 (A23) done. It means Hongkongers must either drink some stinky urine or eat some shit, which is to put Hongkongers in jeopardy.

CCP is like ants in the pants for the legislation of A23. If the "neither-pee-nor-poop" logic of Alan Hoo stands, I think Hongkongers can adopt such tactic: "Scorched Earth Policy". We shall go against A23 still, and to live with Hong Kong. We need no pee or shit, and can bluff CCP. On what grounds can we bluff CCP? If ever Hong Kong have to use NSL due to the dire state of emergency, Hong Kong would be a cock-up! NSL is the harshest Draconian code. If it applied to Hong Kong, the territory would be completely controlled by China, and there would no longer have such a thing as "One Country, Two System". More than a mess as you could assume.

In China, CCP uses "Subversion of the Nation" in this code to frame dissidents. Even Hoo knows how poisonous it is, and Hongkongers all fear of it, that's why he chooses to intimidate Hongkongers by this. HAN Shubin, the Procurator-General of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, concluded his own work between 1998 and 2002 in 2003, he disclosed that there were 3,402 suspects of such "subversion", but the number of those who were prosecuted were 3,550. There are more people being prosecuted than arrested. Arrest and prosecution were conducted all year round. If NSL was introduced during to "riots", then it rang the knell of Hong Kong. Collapse of stock market. External flow of capital. Rich men away, not to mention the flunkeys of the CCP. Hong Kong will become a dead city with ruins and remains. The Central CBD will be nothing but a piece of scorched earth. It won't matter if PLA march into the city then.

CCP wanted to cull the financial hub in the south, but the biggest loser would be CCP itself, as the market value of Chinese enterprises are worth billions or trillions. China will then fall into the turbine of financial mess. Surely, you can easily get the picture when CCP has such amount of threats. Does CCP dare to play the game with such a high bet to its regime?

(Original photo source: Passion Times, English version: Chen-t'ang)

13: Tough Spot Caused by the Previous Generation's Refugee Mentality

Tough Spot Caused by the Previous Generation's Refugee Mentality
Translated by Choi Siu-wa, Edited by Chen-t'ang, Written by 13
Original: http://polymer.hkgalden.net/articles/2014/04/03/2248 

"Make money for emigration"

Those who were born and bred in Hong Kong often find it very difficult to understand the mentality of the previous generation. The previous generation identifies themselves as Chinese (not ethnic Chinese). They do not recognise the Communist Party of China (CCP) but accepted in silence that the country was stolen by the CCP thieves. They curse the CCP for causing countless Chinese people’s death and wish that they could brutally kill those corrupt officials who tunnelled China. They, however, show unlimited tolerance to the CCP thieves when those scumbag officials come out and make excuse by saying that “China is still a developing country. There are plenty of aspects to be improved”. If you scold the thieves, they will respond by asking “Why did you scold your country in such a way? Aren’t you Chinese?”.

The growing stories of these “previous generation of Hongkongers” are most likely as follows:

The parents of the previous generation grew up and married during the world war. Therefore, quite a number of them were separated from their families or even died in the war. They sought for shelters everywhere with their young children, and many of them chose to settle down in the Pearl River Delta region. They considered three cities, including Hong Kong, Macau and Canton (Guangzhou), and opted for the one where they could make a living easier. Some of them eventually chose Hong Kong and their children became the first generation of Hongkongers. These children watched the process of the Cultural Revolution across the border when growing up. On the other hand, some settled down with their parents in Canton were lucky enough to flee to Hong Kong with their chilling memories in China. These memories, which even the devils in the hell find it frightening, later became a part of Hongkongers. These two groups of people who were deeply influenced by the war became the main constitution of the “previous generation of Hongkongers”. Moreover, as only those who put “money makes the mare go” into practice were able to flee to Hong Kong, Hongkongers have an intense concentration on making money.

They worked hard to make money in the 50s because of uneasiness.
They still worked hard to make money in the 60s because of uneasiness.
They were still absorbed in making money when they had opportunities in the 70s because of uneasiness.
Hong Kong became an affluent city in the 80s, but a stock disaster woke many Hongkongers up and they realised that they actually had nothing, leading to a soaring increase of their uneasiness.
They stayed in Hong Kong because of uneasiness originally, but in the 90s they realised that Hong Kong would be taken over by the evil regime northern the border.

The previous generation of Hongkongers suffered from the war because of their Chinese identity. They will think that their suffering, which lasted for decades in their lives, worthed nothing if they deny their Chinese identity. This kind of strange mentality makes them never wake from the nightmare of being a “Chinese refugee”, and therefore they have been saving for a rainy day. They did all they can to make money so that they could flee from the war. Those who were eligible fled from Hong Kong after the Tiananmen Massacre, leaving spaces for those who could not flee at that time to climb. Later, when they became eligible, people who were inferior replaced their places. This cycle continued until there were only the shameless who just know petty tricks and betrayal left in the top level of Hong Kong’s ecosystem, and also a number of those called “greater Chinese morons” who cannot flee from Hong Kong and separate their emotion from the CCP left in Hong Kong.

I emotionally understand that the reason why their mentality is so twisted: they are all war victims. It is, however, these traitors and greater Chinese morons’ fault that the democratisation of Hong Kong has faced so many obstacles. Moreover, the biggest problem is that many of these people are the parents and elders of today’s localists. They have been imposing family pressure on the localists and hindering the development of localism on a certain level. How do we get out of this tough spot? Do we really have to break off our ties with our parents and elders? I don’t have a single idea.

(Photo: 膠登時報 Polymer)


Suen: Radical Change in China - Get Prepared, Hong Kong

Radical Change in China - Be Prepared, Hong Kong
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, Edited by KC Cheung, Written by Suen Chun (孫進)

The missing flight of MH370, CSSTA in Taiwan, the universal suffrage solution... whenever CCP is a stakeholder, things become a mess. The year of Chia-wu symbolises changes and revolutions, along with the fierce competition within the CCP, it seems that a radical change is revelated. This is an unstoppable fact that Hongkongers must face. [Translator's note: The last Chia-wu year was 1894, the year of First Sino-Japanese War]

The most obvious evidence is that weird things happen right after the slower economic growth in China. Besides the failure of Zhou Yongkang's attempt, Chinese Yuan (Renminbi) stopped appreciating is also a sign. This is because the US has reduced holdings of bonds, and gradually quitting QE. It implies that as the real impetus and driver behind China's economy, United States has given up in keeping the economic stability of China, or even destroying it now. It is definitely a blow to China, where cities are on the verge of bankruptcy and high-ranking officials are escaping.

And the judgement of CCP recently makes people doubt its ability. Tackling incidents like MH370 and CSSTA revealed how rash they were within the party. Mainland Chinese took up most of the passenger on the flight, yet the CCP seemed to be apathy to the victims' relatives. Now we estimate the flight is fraught with grief, yet the CCP allow its own people to attack the Malaysian government, causing deterioration in the Sino-Malaysian Relationship. Now both parties are attacking each other on the media or social networking sites, and some even call for anti-China or anti-Malaysia campaign. Chinese government did nothing on what they should do - seek for a reasonable explanation, compensation and investigation on this issue. How can one trust such government?

As to CSSTA, it is more than peculiar. What kind of agreement did KMT (or the Ma Ying-jeou cabinet) sign with CCP? Why both parties are so in-a-hurry that CSSTA must be carried forward? Ma sacrificed his own image and that of KMT's, as he was "standing firm" towards people who occupied the Legislative Yuan and the Executive Yuan. As to mainland China, the mouthpiece even said it is "treasonous" to approve CSSTA clause by clause, not to mention the critics from the official Chinese media. This is against the gradual infiltration policy to Taiwan (including meetings with VIPs of KMT and DPP, investment and immigrant infiltration). People might doubt that whether this is done for preparing a large scale of population and capital migration.

I [Suen Chun] listened to Wan Chin talking about the Realpolitik of Hong Kong few weeks ago. He said, "Besides confrontation, Hongkongers must get prepared for their own power in order to regain the loss. When the "Pan-democrats pricksters" are playing old tricks like "hunger strike for universal suffrage", they actually want to have backroom deals with CCP, which will likely face its drastic change soon. Hongkongers who wish to seek change and survival in the long term should stay strong and "hide their strengths and bide their time". For the "Pan-democrats", they will rest in peace in the history if they refuse to face the truth and stubbornly reminisce their good old times.


Wing: Rain dance together

Rain dance together
Translated by Karen L., Written by 翼雙飛 (Wing Wing)
Original: http://www.vjmedia.com.hk/articles/2014/04/01/68016

There was village called Hong Hong, where its water supply had relied on a river nearby, however, the amount of water there was extreme rather than stable. A severe drought hit the village another year, driving the river to run dry. Some villagers decided to drown a couple of virgins, a boy and a girl, as sacrifices to the River God after several discussions. Luckily, the rain poured down a few days later following the ritual. The river was swollen and saved the rest of the villagers out of water urgency. Since then, these villagers stipulated to have a couple of virgins drowned each year, acting as the lifeblood of the village. And it worked, at least for many years.

This year, once again, the water level descended. Villagers (now were aged) who brought up that suggestion, played the same old trick. Only for this time, it made no difference carrying out ritual one after another. Facing the crisis, the whole village stood and nonplussed.

That’s when a few young villagers returned home after studying in the city. As soon as they saw that the village had come to this predicament, they criticized the old villagers’ superstition being no help at all while they tried to apply their knowledge on developing underground water.

These young men had planned the entire blueprint of well-digging, and they had also arranged enough equipment and manpower. Yet the time when they were on the point of work, the old villagers stepped in and stood in the way. Those old villagers shouted “You can’t be that aggressive! If you dig randomly, it will not only affect the feng shui of our village, but also offend the Mountain God and the Earth God! The outcome of it is far more severe than drought!”

The “aggressive” approach was literally killed. And the lack of water was still going on. Some villagers heard that the village of Colombia and the island of Formosa suffered from water insufficiency before. But the village of Colombia was far away, and had to take 3 months to be there, so, they decided to send a villager to the island of Formosa seeking for experience, which took only 3-day walk.

After a few days, the young men brought back some sketches and notes from the island of Formosa. He said, “The island of Formosa have built a reservoir for many years to collect rainwater in Winters. That’s why they have sufficient water supply." And the other young men followed by, “Then we should probably build one for collecting water.” But all the old villagers shook their heads and said, “No, no, no, the situation there and here are different, as well as the ground. We can’t simply copy from them.” That’s how the reservoir planning was banned.

The lack of water supply had not been solved, then what should they do? After discussions by the old villagers, they decided everyone in the village to wear glass skirts and do rain dance outside the ancestral hall, to declare determination asking the God to rain. They also mentioned that there was no limit of time for rain dance, and if it doesn't rain, they shall dance continually till their bodies can't bear such burden anymore. The young villagers was in an uproar hearing such worthless methods, and they tried to stop the others. Yet the old villagers didn't even give a damn, "What do you know? Don't tell me you have better ideas! When the time we succeeded sacrificing virgins to the River God, you were still in short pants!"

Wing: Unlimited duration of hunger strike for DESSERTS!

Unlimited duration of hunger strike for DESSERTS!
Translated by Chen-t'ang 鎮棠, Edited by Choi Siu-wa, Written by 翼雙飛 (Wing Wing)
Original: http://www.passiontimes.hk/article/04-03-2014/12626 

I was kind of hungry yesterday, so I went to a restaurant downstairs. The menu reads, "Dessert of today's lunch set: Ice-cream". So after my main course, I asked the boss as he walked past, "Hey, is there ice-cream for desserts?"

"Ice-cream isn't good. It causes tooth decay and obesity. Be obedient, eat Jung." says the Boss. [Translator's note: Jung, the glutinous rice dumpling eaten during the Tuen Ng Festival, in memorial of Wat Yuen/Qu Yuan(屈原), a Chinese patriot in the Kingdom of Ch'u)]

I was like thinking "isn't he nuts?". I replied, "I don't want Jung, I want ice-cream."

At this moment, Mrs Lam from the next table said, "He won't give you ice-cream. Listen to him, Jung is the same, they are as well food, right?"

Boss: "Right! Or I can make you a vanilla flavour of Jung, or chocolate flavour will do, or flavours you like, we can talk and achieve consensus, but we won't have ice-cream. Don't be so picky, can't you see other diners are just eating ordinary Jungs?"

A seemingly mainland individual visitor behind my table (with a big trolley case next to his legs) said: "Ludicrous is the ice-cream, we don't want any, though we haven't got one." I took a look at him, who was full of Jung in his mouth.

Next to the visitor was a pastor. He saw me looking at him, and said, "It might not be good if you can have ice-cream. You see eaters over there at the ice-cream shop? They have stomachache along the way."

After listening to them, I turned back and found out the boss was already away. Instead, a waiter was standing there.

Waiter: "Asking for ice-cream is just like asking for the Kingdom to come in glory. It is not pragmatic."

Me: "Wow! A 100% match with Mrs Lam! Are you implying that eating Jungs are more pragmatic?"

Waiter:" No, we staff members also fight for desserts for lunch sets! Jungs are not desserts!"

Me: "How will you fight for? Quit your job, huh?"

Waiter: "We will insist the principle of Peaceful, Rational, Non-violent, Non-profanity (PRNN), and to let our boss be moved by love and peace. Quitting our job is SO RADICAL, we won't do it. We have started a hunger strike for unlimited duration, and to move our boss with sincerity."

Wow, people from the entire restaurant are very peculiar. I hate eating Jungs, so I wanted to dial to a friend of mine, who is a lawyer. I asked whether I can sue the restaurant if they provide Jungs but wrote ice-cream on the menu. When I was finding the phone number, I witnessed the waiter having his meal break.

Me: "Chap, you said that you are having a hunger strike for unlimited duration for desserts! Is the boss willing to supply desserts NOW?"

Waiter: "I suffer from hypoglycaemia, and I have to stop my hunger strike. Besides, I have broken my last record of hunger strike, and there are my colleagues who would take the baton in hunger strike. So I can eat." He was talking and eating and staring on the girlies on his iPad.

The boss asked the waiter, "Hey Albert, there will be two days of holiday in mid-April. All our staff will go to Shanghai, are you in?"

Albert: "Yes! I am in! I love Xiaolongbao and Shanghai dishes!"

I felt I was watching an extremely ludicrous farce as they talked to each other happily. But the strangest thing of all: I was looking around, and people were just eating and playing with their phones, with some taking selfies. It seems that nobody gives a damn. Am I the only one who find this very satirical? Am I abnormal or are they abnormal?


Acknowledgement for Chen-t'ang's metaphor of "Jung and Ice-cream", and encouragement to me in writing this article.

(Photo source: Chris Hsi via Flickr)
Chinese references:

A Recent Viral Article: The Chinese-style Dignity

A Recent Viral Article: The Chinese-style Dignity
Translated by Choi Siu-wa, Edited by Chen-t'ang, Written by Anon.
Original: http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s?__biz=MzA3MjA3NzMzNQ%3D%3D&mid=200699625&idx=3&sn=33aee17edd45144d974c9d342456a938 

[Translator's note: The story happens in China]

One of my university classmates took office as a town mayor of a county of near 100,000 population when he was 28, five years after graduation. Three years later, he was promoted to the head of the Propaganda Department of that county, and later the vice county executive with chauffeurs and chartered cars. He had strong political ambitions and took to it like a duck to water in the official circles. One year, I returned to China to visit him. The first question he asked me was, “Why don't you come back to China? There should be professional positions and opportunities that suit you better.”

“For living with my dignity,” I responded without second thought. He looked at me for a while with a baffled face but did not ask any further, instead, he asked his chauffeur to be on call and personally drove me to hang around the region where he worked and governed. “I haven't driven for many years. But today I'm your driver!” he joked. Although I understood that he meant “you are my special guest today”, I realised that he thought himself condescended to be a driver once I heard it. A driver is an inferior servant in his eyes.

We were always greeted by a crowd with obsequious smiles every time we arrived in a place. When we had a meal in a restaurant, the owner served us in person courteously in every possible way. I experienced the honour of a king's royal progress as if the donkey hide in the lion's skin, which I did not ever experienced in the US.

After the meal, he brought up the previous topic. He extolled me by saying that I would be even more successful than him if I stayed in China, and asked “Why do you think you don't live with dignity in China?”. I did not answer his question but asked if he would have such a courteous reception if someday he became a commoner. “I've never thought I will become a commoner in the future but if so, I guess I won't,” he responded. “Right, actually it is not necessary for you to be a commoner to experience the distinction between the dignity people have. The only thing you have to do is to change your perspective. Can you respect your drivers like you do with your seniors? The only difference between them is only the occupations," I said. He then frankly admitted that he couldn't, but he suddenly understood what I meant. "Even though I'm here like a boss, surely I'll just be a brown nose or even be deemed a flunkey if I go to the provincial capital or Beijing," he sighed.

Correct. In China, whether and how much a person is respected depend on your social status or wealth.

In the US, I am a typical commoner. I rarely have a feeling of being disrespected every place I go although my English is accented and not fluent, and I have a non-mainstream face. The only several times were from my compatriots and new immigrants. I have never been discriminated publicly in my personal experience whether it was a learning, working or consuming place; whether I dressed decently or dressed in rags. However, I feel disrespected and discriminated everywhere all the time in China because I do not dress expensively, I have a non-mainstream or superior accent, or I have a face like the poor. Some people say that the Americans are hypocrites that they do not act like they think. However, at least they are civilised to a certain degree that they will not belittle, discriminate against or even humiliate the others brazenly.

I also told my classmate that I have been proud to be the driver for myself and my family everyday, and sometimes I also drive my colleagues and friends. My boss or the boss of my boss often drive us to go out for a lunch. The mayor of the city I live in, even most of the ministers, congressmen and governors drive themselves to go to and get off work. They treat their drivers courteously even if they hire ones. The reasons are being respectful is the basic values in the western world and, on the other hand, the drivers have the votes.

Similar to my classmates in power, my wealthy classmate does not understand why it is hard for many people in China to live with dignity. When loopholes could still be found everywhere in China's economy and justice, he found his way to become rich in the real estate industry, which was a definitely profitable industry, through his special guanxi in the government department. When the moral standard in China started to fall to a level that people felt honourable to “update” their wives and keep mistresses, not only did he change his wife to a young and beautiful one following the trend, he also never concealed his mistress from his classmates and friends. He is hiring two domestic helpers and a chauffeur in his family now, which is a part of his way to demonstrate his wealth. In short, he always steps up with the times. He often sighs that it is only worth to born to be a man in China. Having such favourable turns in life, dignity is not a problem to him for sure.

The reason why the topic of “dignity” was raised is that he did not understand why I refused to come back to China. It was a gathering among our old classmates which my rich classmate treated us a meal in a restaurant. Once he waved his hand, four waiters approached him in swift steps and bowed to him when it was time to place an order. It was a special box with four waiters standing at the four corners and waiting for orders. He drove the waiters outside the door as he thought that it was not suitable for them to talk secret subjects with the waiters present. Everytime he wanted to place an order, what he needed to do was to wave his hand or shout towards the outside “waiter, one more menu!”, “waiter, drinks!”, “waiter, light the cigarette!” and so on. Moreover, he placed orders with a sonorous and forceful voice. Later, when he waved his hand again, he did not notice that there was a waiter holding a glass of beer behind him and preparing to hand it over to him. That glass of beer consequently was broken on the ground, and some beer was spilt on him. He glared at and scared the waiter. The waiter then apologised with a pale face. I was sitting aside with great interest “enjoying” how he acted in a prominent position like manoeuvring a big situation. I just could not imagine he was once a big boy who would have his face turned red when he saw girls, and would even cry his eyes out helplessly when his first lover was stolen. Money, it can turn a coward into a valiant.

When he eventually placed all the orders, I told him "I also served up and washed dishes in restaurant when I was studying in the US, but I have never been yelled by customers. I often delivered the wrong dishes to my customers as my English was poor back at that time but most of them threw me an understanding smile and asked for a change politely. Those diners who are more humourous thanked me for giving them a chance to taste a new dish. Moreover, they would give me extra tips if they were satisfied with my service." He stalled and did not say a word for a while. This made me thought that he was feeling guilty for his behavior. Unexpectedly, he said "It"s hard to get along in the US. Why don't you come back?".

This time it was my turn to stall. I realised that he was still insisting his thought that waiters are inferior to him, a wealthy person, leading to sympathise his old classmate who worked as a waiter. “I spend my money for service, and therefore it's part of their jobs to be ordered,” he said. I want to tell all rich men, however, you pay for the service but it only includes their responsibility to take orders, serve dishes up and put away plates gently. It does not include extra efforts to bear your arrogance, disrespect, belittling and even humiliation. In this society, people directly or indirectly provides service for the others regardless of what occupations they have, from Chairman and President to porters and cleaners. Different occupations are deemed superior or inferior just because of the unequal distribution of division of labour, opportunities and some other factors. The remunerations have already been realised by money and social status. There is no difference between the dignity of living as a man and the dignity of occupation.

People are born with dignity. In a normal society, one should be respected as long as he or she is a person. In China, however, one has to obtain his or her dignity by gaining something external, such as money, power or social status. This is why most of the people in this country climb towards the top by stepping on the others. They step on those of lower status, looting the dignity of them and at the same time enjoying it when they have climbed to a certain level. As the old Chinese saying goes, “Being an erudite is above all trades”. However, it is only a subjective view from the intellectual in ancient China. There is only “power and money are above all trades” throughout thousands of years.

Originally, living poor does not necessarily degrade a person; being humble does not necessarily deprive one's dignity; and being powerful does not necessarily equal to having dignity. There are many people who lives in poverty with dignity in the world, but in China, poverty does mean no dignity. This is where the Chinese saying “Poverty is more shameful than prostitution” sprouted from, and is the best explanation of the values that money is more important than dignity.

Actually it is not accurate to say that people living in China do not have dignity because those who lack dignity are only the ordinary people. Those who are powerful, influential and wealthy are not in lack of dignity. Government officials are superior while civilians are inferior, the upper class is superior while the lower class is inferior, and the rich is superior while the poor is inferior. This is what we call the Chinese-style dignity.

In the past decades, the Chinese government repeatedly mobilised its people to respond to the slogans, including "follow the examples of Lei Feng and do good deeds", "five demands, four beauties and three loves", "eight honour and eight disgrace", etc, in order to advocate the virtue of mutual love and respect. [Translator's note: These are empty slogans proposed by the CCP Propaganda Department; also refer to P.S.]. It turned out that these slogans, which people have been chanting since they were in kindergarten, could not stop the moral standard in China from lowering, and the trend that people live without dignity from developing. Our officials and moneybags took the lead turning "eight disgrace" into "eight honour". Our moneybags "followed" the example of Lei Feng that they donated money to the poor and the disaster victims so brazenly. Those who donated a certain amount of money even proudly had their names listed in the front-page news in newspapers or announced in radio like declaring themselves saviors. The poor were not able to express their sincere appreciation in time because the money donated would continuously come back to the moneybags’ pockets by initiating several jerry-built projects, several products glorified in advertising, several performances and several "service for the people” frauds. In the spring festival of this year, our leaders who have the common touch finally discovered that our people are not living with their dignity, and then a new slogan was given birth -- “Let the people live with dignity”.

Leaders, how can the people live with their dignity? Those who are slightly kind-hearted and do not possess “three loves” were jailed under improper judicial processes which originally are not fair though. Want to say something that should not be said or petition? Do you know the police have guns? The least forcible action is still done by batons. Even the urban management force, chengguan, who are only armed with wooden sticks, have the right to beat people at their very own will. When there are more and more people disobeying the government and the army comes, will you tenaciously resist? With the vanguard, machine guns and tanks, approaching, those who die under the gunfire are all lawbreakers. They are guilty when alive, thus they have no dignity when dead. It is guilty to memorise them of course! Don't agree on housing demolition and relocation? Are your house and grave harder than my steel-made bulldozer? We are hosting the Olympic Games and World Expo, and the foreigners are coming. You dirty, ragged workers dishonour our city's image and disgrace our international image. Get out from the city and get back to the country. Be sure to come back to the city to take care of your hard, exhausting and dirty job after our precious foreign guests left. Are these the efforts done by our leaders in order to let the people live with their dignity?

In fact, it is not hard to let the people live with their dignity. If the people have the decision whether a person can be a government official and the control of the officials’ careers, will the officials dare to abuse their power and trample the dignity of those controlling of their careers? There will not be a permanent relationship of superiority and inferiority when there is no permanent officials. Will there still be the problem of “superior upper class and inferior lower class”? If we are provided a society that allows fair competition and possesses a fairer judicial system, which everybody has the opportunity to become wealthy by efforts instead of power, will the rich still show off their money?

What will it remain if we remove the coat of power and money from Chinese people? How long do we ordinary people have to await until the day that we really live with our dignity finally comes?

P.S. Five demands: civilised behaviour, politeness, hygiene, discipline, and morality
       Four beauties: pertaining to the soul, language, actions and environment
       Three loves: love of motherland, socialism, and the Communist Party