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The adventures of Charles Dickens in China [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2011-7-28 15:50:49 |Display all floors
1. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness...Charles Dickens may be describing London and Paris before the French Revolution, but he might as well be bearing present-day China in mind. However, Mr Dickens clearly knew next to nothing about “Chinese characteristics” and failed to “keep abreast of the times” – to borrow two overused phrases of China’s party (you know, the party) talk – otherwise, he would definitely change his lines and substitute them for “It is the age of (accidental) prosperity. It is the era of unprecedented transparency. It is the epoch of unlimited freedom.”

2. If Mr Dickens could be resurrected today, and visit China, he would no doubt smile knowingly and nod in agreement with the alterations to his famous words. After all, not every nation gets to hold such grand games as the Olympics, or an even grander gathering as the World Expo, in a short space of just three years! Better still, almost all foreign journalists have been allowed into China to cover these events, and say whatever they like! But perhaps best of all, guess who has become the new hero in the past financial crisis? Yes, it’s China! It is China that has saved the asses of the US and the Europe alike.
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Post time 2011-7-28 15:52:20 |Display all floors
3. But wait, there is a catch (or a few catches): Mr Dickens could have perished again in China before he was able to spread the new words out. He could have been poisoned by drinking the melamine-tainted milk, which could still be easily found around China, or gnawed to death by the 2 million bacteria officially allowed in every liter of milk – or simply by any food he lays hands on; he could have been burnt alive in his high-rise apartment – China’s fire ladders are apparently too short for many skyscrapers; he could have been crushed into pieces when he happily stepped onto a crowded subway escalator which suddenly reversed directions; or he could have been hit by a flashy car racing at 70 miles per hour: if he wasn’t finished already, the driver would have stabbed him to death. When he tries to escape all these nightmares, he chose to ride China’s bullet train – you know what awaits him. Growing desperate, Mr Dickens attempts to buy his way out by using his massive wealth accumulated during his stay in heaven, but before he knew it, his money has been gone, swindled by none other than China’s Red Cross Society.


4. He would have preferred to find a lawyer for redress of all the grievances. However, nearly all bar associations and attorney offices – by implication, every lawyer – are sponsored by the authorities. Like the Chinese media, some of them really want to help and like the Chinese media, they are equally, if not more, “impotent”.
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Post time 2011-7-28 15:53:00 |Display all floors
5. Despite all the occurrences, Mr Dickens is probably still enchanted by this great country and hopes to have his experiences known to all who still care about it. He now thinks of wielding another weapon: the fourth estate.

6. Alas, now he is being sent into the abyss of hopelessness, since no one or few would have heard of his stories, or at least the true stories. As far as the official media is concerned, Mr Dickens will regrettably find out, unlike the media back in his home country, they are bound to toe the party (yes, the omnipresent party) line. Anything that runs counter to the party’s – apologies, people’s – interests will be at worst hushed up, and at best, be reported but in perspectives that are deemed conducive to the party’s – apologies again! people’s – interests. Quite a few who work for or “inside” the system – editors and reporters alike – do harbor a strong sense of justice and conscience.

7. The problem is that the system is corrosive, the deeper and the longer you are in it, the more so. Before you know it, you probably have been molded into the perfect model the “system” would like to see. Before you know it, you probably have already started “party thinking”:  whether this piece of news, which the party – oops, sorry again! people – may not like – should be reported or published or not.

8. This act of self-censoring is sometimes called “self-castration” or “self-emasculation”. Whatever the name, you got the underlying message. When Mr Dickens appears at the front door of Xinhua New Agency, or People’s Daily, or quite likely China Daily (you know, they both speak English), he is guaranteed to receive the same answer: “Sorry, but we are really impotent.”
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Post time 2011-7-28 15:53:25 |Display all floors
9. At this juncture, some one tells Mr Dickens secretly that he could register an account on Sina Weibo, a service which is considered far more influential than even Twitter, and could help him redress all his grievances.

10. Without any doubt, Mr Dickens is delighted. For a man who have experienced and suffered so much in this great nation, Mr Dickens thinks Weibo is truly a liberating and democratizing tool. He can post almost everything he wants to say. Even if some “sensitive contents” may eventually get deleted, he is not bothered: after all, many have heard his stories.

11. Slowly, Mr Dickens gets frustrated and even confused, increasingly so: While helping spread his miseries across the nation for all to be informed and aiding his efforts in seeking justice, a small number of those who pretend to be well-wishers are spinning twists and turns on Mr Dickens’ stories in as much a sensational and dramatic way as possible to elicit maximum attention: some say Mr Dickens suffered electrocution and waterboarding at the hands of government agents, some say Mr Dickens was almost strangled to death by the infamous chenguan (urban management officers), and some even say a few of his body parts have gone missing, apparently the accomplishments of the official agents, again…Indeed, they are actually advancing a secret (or not so secret) agenda, namely causing possible mayhem and chaos inside the country.
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Post time 2011-7-28 15:53:58 |Display all floors
12. On the other side, a so-called “rumor- crushing squad”, apparently working at the government bidding, and numerous Internet mercenaries – more commonly-known as the 5 cents army – try to do everything to discredit him. It is true that they have debunked quite a few myths as seen earlier, but they are doing far more than that: destroying the very foundation of all his claims. First, they say Charles Dickens is in fact not an Englishman, but a Korean, who is sent by the Korean government to stir utmost confusion, so that they can reclaim the land they lost to China! You know, Chinese hate lies, but they hate Koreans even more so. Then, they say they have found the “holy grail”: Charles Dickens is actually a fake – this man doesn’t exist at all!

13. Mud slung, angry words exchanged, names called, obscenities uttered…every side – well-wishers, meddlers, fact-finders, rumor-crushing squad and of course 5-cents army – is now engaged in a total war of words. Truth is no longer important now. Rather, each and every one of them is trying to score a point over the other. Those who can shout loudest normally prevail, instead of those who really hold truth in their hands. Total chaos, utter confusion.

14. Even Mr Dickens is confused, utterly confused. Is he real or isn’t he? Why was he embroiled in all this in the first place? After all, he is only a dead Englishman! He wishes he had never been resurrected. No, he wishes he had never been born to endure such an ordeal. Heart-broken, gut-wrenched, the only choice left to him now is to pray to God to bring him back to heaven. Wish granted, he now can rest in peace, for you know, there are obviously far fewer Chinese in heaven. Don’t be mistaken, it’s not that Chinese aren’t good enough for heaven. Far from it, the majority of Chinese deserve the highest order there. But you see, they are not allowed to believe in it…
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Post time 2011-7-28 21:07:51 |Display all floors
Let's save it and spread all the wine and baijiu, as the Chinese tradition dictates, for the victims of this accident and countless other accidents.

It's the least I can do.  Better than those who just sit behind computers and spew all kinds of excuses for their inaction and indifference.
We are all prisoners of our own device.

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Post time 2011-7-29 10:12:00 |Display all floors
Just received a message from one of my friends in Shanghai, saying that the subway train he took last night (July 28) was supposed to drive in one direction, but in fact went to another.

Anyone who knew about this? And potential collision in the making?

Still can't wake up??
We are all prisoners of our own device.

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