Rachel Lu

Provocative Blogger Says Chinese Masses Not Ready for Democracy

Han Han, the provocative blogger cum novelist cum race car driver cum high school dropout, has done it again. Only this time, he has drawn heavy fire from some of China’s liberal intellectuals with his most recent blog entries “On Revolution” and “On Democracy.” The long, rambling “On Revolution” offers a rather pessimistic view of the outcome of any potential revolution in China, predicting that “the ultimate winner will be ruthless and unscrupulous.”

More troublesome were Han Han’s characterizations of the Chinese masses, for whom he believes “freedom does not have anything to do with journalism, the arts, free speech, elections or politics, but rather the freedom to be rowdy, to jaywalk, to spit in public and, for people who are more connected, the freedom to break the rules, freedom to exploit legal loopholes, etc.” Any revolution, Han Han laments, will lead to civil war between the haves and have-nots over the distribution of wealth and eventually to the emergence of an iron-fisted dictator.

Many have interpreted Han Han’s article as a condemnation of the Chinese masses’ “fitness for democracy,” long a sore spot for the Chinese intelligentsia, and as an endorsement for the current government’s repressive agenda and focus on stability at any cost. Popular essayist Wang Xiaoshan, editor  Zhou Bin of 21st Century Business Herald, and poet Bei Cun blasted Han Han’s writing for “weak logic” owing to his “lack of education” and for confusing old school revolutions, e.g. the French one, with new age revolutions like the mostly nonviolent Colour revolutions that swept through states in Eastern Europe.

The backlash was so strong that Han Han followed up with a second blog entry titled “On Democracy” on the same day, which has done little to clarify his position but further fueled the debate. Extremists even imply that Han Han has been turned by the government into a “50-cent poster“, which refers to an Internet commentator in the pay of the government.

Excerpt from “On Revolution”

“Perhaps many believe that China’s most urgent need is for an election where everyone can vote for the president, but that’s really not what China needs. On the contrary, with one person one vote, the Communist Party will win in the end. Who has more money than the Party? RMB50 billion will buy 500 million votes. Not enough? Make it RMB500 billion. The annual tax revenue is a few trillion. Can you compete with that kind of money? You think the people around you are all independent and fair-minded; well, those people will probably account for a few hundred thousand votes. The intellectuals you like can probably get one hundred thousand votes if they are lucky. The only one able to go up against the Party is Ma Huateng [the CEO of Tencent], because he can make a pop-up window on the log-in page of QQ [a popular social networking service] that says whoever votes for me will get five hundred in QQ money. That will probably get him two hundred million votes. But the problem is when that time comes Mr. Ma will definitely have already joined the Party.”

Censorship Watch

@deerinwinter: “Even if there is censorship on the Internet, even if there is Internet police, shouldn’t there be some rules? Even the Mafia has rules. Prof. Guo Yuhua [Sociology Professor at Tsinghua University] can’t use any of the functions [of Weibo] except sending private messages, and was not given any justification [for the restrictions]. This is truly uncivilized of Sina Weibo. Everyone please help retweet this.”

Jump To Comments

Rachel Lu

Rachel Lu is a co-founder of Tea Leaf Nation. Rachel traces her ancestry to Southern China. She spent much of her childhood memorizing Chinese poetry. After long stints in New York, New Haven and Cambridge, she has returned to China to bear witness to its great transformation. She is currently based in China.