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“What The F*ck is Communism?” – Discussion on Communism Takes over Weibo

A discussion on communism has taken over Weibo, as opinion leader Ren Zhiqian publicly stated that communist slogans have deceived Chinese people for over 10 years. His post instantly became trending: “What the f*ck is Communism anyway?”

Manya Koetse

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After reports of an overall declining faith in communism, the Communist Youth League reiterated their strong believe in communism on Weibo, under the slogan: “We are the successors of Communism”. Chinese opinion leader Ren Zhiqian publicly critiqued their stance. His post instantly became trending, igniting a hot online debate on communism.

On the 21st of September, the   Communist Youth League (共青团) posted a China Youth Daily article about “faith” on their official Weibo account, claiming that communism is at the heart of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese nation at large. The article was written by famous Marxist scholar Wang Xiangming (王向明).

The Communist Youth League is the youth movement of the People’s Republic of China, run by the CPC.

 

“Let us hold up the flag of communism, because we are the successors of communism.”

 

“For us, communism is our highest ideal, and we are on the road to achieve it,” they write on their official Weibo page. “At the present stage, we are realizing the great rise of the Chinese people, and are building on modernizing the powerful and civilized socialism. Let us hold up the flag of communism, boldly and confidently, because: we are the successors of communism.”

With their Weibo post, the Communist Youth League use the hashtag #We Are The Successors of Communism (#我们是共产主义接班人#), referring to a 1961 theme song that has been used by the League since 1978.

Mainland China’s popular real estate entrepreneur and opinion leader Ren Zhiqian (任志强, nearly 34 million Weibo fans) publicly responded to the article with his own post titled: “Are We the Successors of Communism?” [Edit March 5, 2016: This post is no longer accessible since Ren’s Weibo account has been removed, but you can find a screenshot of his post here.]

In the post, he critiques the Communist Youth League’s article, saying: “We’ve been deceived by these communist slogans for years!” Ren’s post has been viewed over a million times, and has received messages of sympathy from thousands of Weibo users, instantly becoming the top trending Weibo message of the day.

 

“Communism, what the fuck is communism?”

 

A user called “Chinese Moviemaker” responds: “Red Guards, oh Little Red Guards, the young people of China have been fooled!!”

An employee of a Henan real estate company bluntly stated: “Communism, what the fuck is communism?”, while others stated that “Communism is the biggest catastrophe in human history”.

In his article, Ren Zhiqian explains his experience with communism in the past, and shares his views for it in the future.

I am responding to the ‘We are the Successors of Communism’ Weibo post,” he writes: “We have been hearing our elder brothers and sisters singing this “We are the Successors of Communism” song since childhood, and we grew up with it.”

When I was in the third grade, wearing a red neckscarf, I also learned this song. Every time we saw the five-starred red flag raised, we saluted it with our right hand, and sang this song. Our hearts were full of confidence and hope!

 

“We dreamed of being seen by Leader Mao Zedong: a real successor of communism”

 

When I went to Middle School in 1964, the first thing we did every day was practice marching,” Ren writes: “For the National Day parade, celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of the founding of the New China, I became a proud member of the Young Pioneers of China, as the young drummer. We dreamed of being seen by Leader Mao Zedong, a real successor of communism.”

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We lined up by the East Chang’an Avenue Beijing Hotel on the 1st of October, a bit over 5 AM, anxiously waiting for the National Day salute to go off. It was a moment of dreams coming true. On the sound of the drum, we walked to Tiananmen Square. Because I was a short kid at the time, I was the first in the row, and I felt proud that I would be nearer to Mao Zedong at Tiananmen’s City Gate than the others. My parents were also there, I wanted to see them, and I hoped they would see me.”

He continues:

But when the moment came, I was so nervous, that when we passed the eastern marble pillars, and the sound of the drums and cheers came up, I could only look down at the white line underneath my feet. I was afraid that it would affect the entire formation if I did not walk straight. I did not look up at all, not even at the Tiananmen City Gate. I just saw it from the corner of my eyes. When we finally reached the western pillars, and I stopped the drums, and it was already too late to look back.

Once I returned to school, I regretted not seeing Mao Zedong and I secretly cried. But I felt very proud to be successor of communism.”

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But then Ren’s happy memories of communism change as the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) begins, and his parents are accused of being capitalists.

I never thought that when the Cultural Revolution began a few months later, my parents would become ‘capitalist-roaders’, and I would be the child of criminals, and get the glorious title of a ‘son of a bitch’. My dream to grow up to be a next generation communist changed to being a child who had to be rehabilitated.

 

“We have been deceived for years.”

 

We’ve been deceived for years. The Cultural Revolution only let me know the class struggle under a proletarian dictatorship. And that there is no next generation of communism.”

Ren writes how him and his parents turned from city people into farmers during their rehabilitation. Despite the hardships, people still had trust in the nation:

We were more determined to join the Communist Party of China, and had confidence in rescuing people in need. We remained convinced that the great leader Chairman Mao was correct. All the problems in China were caused by those people hidden in the Party who were on Khrushchev’s side, and were doing bad things.”

 

“The invincible Mao Zedong thought has let thousands of people starve to death.”

 

But when Deng Xiaoping resigned, weeks after the Tiananmen events, the society started thinking. It was not until the overthrow of the “Gang of Four”, and the Third Plenum of the CPC and the ‘70% right 30% wrong’, that we got to know more errors from the once Great Leader.

Ren tells how China changed after the death of Mao:

Rightists who were overthrown were politically rehabilitated. The People’s Communes were dissolved. Farmer’s land was redistributed. The errors caused by the Cultural Revolution were corrected. The ‘Four Olds’, that were first knocked to the ground, were put back on their feet, and we again had a comeback of tradition (..) The capitalist class, that were first overthrown by the revolution, now became an important force in China’s economic development.”

The invincible Mao Zedong Thought has let thousands of people starve to death, and we don’t even know who many people died through persecution during the Cultural Revolution. Maybe even more people died because of wrong political policies than because of the war.”

 

“The Communist Youth League who now wants to welcome communism – are you joking?”

 

But China’s reform and opening has completely freed people of any food and clothing problems. The Reforms and Opening of China has re-established the confidence and trust in the Chinese leadership and the Communist Party. It also let the world know China. Everyone hopes the Communist Party of China will realise its promises of democracy, freedom, equality, and the rule of law, and lead the Chinese people to prosperity. They hope even more that they achieve the great ideal of communism. I also hope that communism can be realized. But what is the path to achieve it?

History has taught us that a violent revolution does not work. It has also taught us that public ownership does not work. That planned economy does not work. And that the absence of democracy and rule of law does not work!

Deng told us that China is still in the primary stage of socialism. It make take several generations to go to an intermediate stage. And it might take who-knows-how-many generations before we reach the higher goal. Deng Xiaoping also told us that it might take many generations before the wealth of some people turn into common wealth. If there is no step-by-step expansion of the middle class, it is impossible to achieve common prosperity.”

However, the impatient Chinese people cannot wait for generations without results , and want to achieve the goal of common prosperity.(..) It took 1000 years to go from feudal to capitalist society. It has not even been four decades since China’s primary stage of socialism. The Communist Youth League who now wants to welcome communism – are you joking? The only way to possibly ever achieve the ideal of communism is a long, long road, taking the effort of dozens of generations.

 

“Without democracy and freedom, how can we achieve equality under the law?”

 

Ren concludes his article by emphasizing the need for democracy: “Without democracy and freedom, how can we achieve equality under the law?”, he writes.

Perhaps there are many theoretical and institutional issues that gradually need to be reformed and resolved. Perhaps we need to understand that achieving communism is a very far-reaching and hard goal. But most of all, there needs to be a clear understanding that reaching communism is not just a very far-reached and ambitious goal, but that it will not be realised by this generation, or the ones after.

We can have ambitious goals, but it is more important that we live in reality. We first need to solve the system’s immediate problems. First, Chinese people should be confident in a system that allows people to share democracy and freedom. First, stable incomes need to be achieved. First, we need laws that can really protect people’s lives and property. First, the Chinese people need to join the system of values shared by the world. Otherwise, how could communism be ever reached?

Ren’s article has caused much commotion on Weibo. While some criticise communism and the system in general, others call for more a more nuanced discussion on the future of communism in China.

User Luo Qiang says: “After reading Ren Zhiqiang’s brilliant text, I am overwhelmed with emotions. I can’t help but also want to ridicule the system.” Weibo netizen Qinghua Sun Liping says:
“It’s good to say that communism is our ideal. It is better to have some ideals than to have none at all. (..) But to achieve communism, we need to concretise our targets.”

Ren’s article has got over 1 million views, was shared on Weibo over 13,780 times, received 8850 comments, and got over 15,000 ‘likes’.

By Manya Koetse

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Insight

From Hong Kong Protests to ‘Bright Future’ – The Top 3 Most Popular Posts on Weibo This Week

These are the most-read posts on Weibo this week.

Manya Koetse

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The three most-read posts on Weibo over the past week – an overview by What’s on Weibo.

The protests in Hong Kong have been dominating Chinese social media throughout August, and the past week has been no different. Two out of three most-read posts on Weibo, one of China’s most popular social media platforms, were about Hong Kong this week.

A wrap-up:

 

#1 Hundreds of Hong Kong Taxi’s Flying Chinese National Flag

Image shared by CCTV on their Weibo account.

While Hong Kong is gearing up for the 13th consecutive weekend of mass anti-government demonstrations, there are no signs of the protests fizzling out any time soon.

The Hong Kong protests started in March and April of this year against an extradition bill that would allow local authorities to detain and extradite people wanted in mainland China, and have intensified over the past weeks.

Although authorities in mainland China initially remained quiet on the topic, the Hong Kong demonstrations have been dominating the trending streams on China’s popular social media platforms for all of August.

Through videos, online posters, and slogans, Chinese state media have propagated a clear narrative on the situation in Hong Kong; namely that a group of “separatists” or “bandits” are to blame for the riots that aim to “damage public security” in Hong Kong and are “dividing the nation.”

News outlets such as People’s Daily and CCTV are sharing many stories that emphasize the One China principle and praise the Hong Kong police force. Those voices in Hong Kong speaking up for the police force and condemning protesters using violence have been amplified in Chinese media.

One story that became the number one trending post on Weibo this week is that of dozens of Hong Kong taxi drivers hanging the Chinese national flag from their cars (video).

On August 23, the taxi drivers reportedly formed a rally against violence at Tsim Sha Tsui, waving the flags and putting up signs saying “I love HK, I love China.”

The hashtag “500 Hong Kong Taxi’s Hanging up Chinese National Flags” (#香港500辆的士挂上国旗#), hosted by CCTV, attracted over 700 million views on Weibo. The CCTV post reporting on the event received over half a million likes and 47000 shares.

The commenters mostly praise the Hong Kong taxi drivers for “standing up for Hong Kong” and flying the Chinese flag.

In English-language media, it has mostly been Chinese state media reporting on the rally. Xinhua, Women of China, ECNS, and Global Times all reported on the August 23 peace rally.

CNN only shortly reported how “a number of taxis have been spotted driving around the city displaying Chinese flags — something that has not happened on this scale during previous protests” (link).

 

#2 ‘Bright Future’ Title Song for Upcoming Movie ‘The Moon Remembers All’

Over 266.000 Weibo users have been sharing a post by Chinese actor Li Xian (李现) on the title track for the new Chinese movie The Moon Remembers All or River on a Spring Night (Chinese title: 春江花月夜).

The upcoming movie itself is a very popular topic on Weibo recently, attracting 430 million views on its hashtag page alone. The movie just finished shooting and will be released in 2020.

The song titled “Bright Future” (前程似锦) is sung by Taiwanese singer Chen Linong (陈立农) and Li Xian, who are both the leading actors in the fantasy movie. The song was released on August 29.

The Moon Remembers All is produced by Edko Films and directed by Song Haolin (宋灏霖), also known for Mr. Zhu’s Summer (2017) and Fatal Love (2016).

 

#3 Interview with Hong Kong Pro-Beijing LegCo Member Junius Ho

The third most popular Weibo post of this week comes from Xia Kedao (侠客岛), a popular commentator account for the People’s Daily Overseas Edition, and concerns a live broadcasted interview with Hong Kong lawmaker and Legislative Council (LegCo) member Junius Kwan-yiu Ho.

Junius Ho (何君尧) is known as being ‘pro-Beijing’ and stirred controversy earlier this summer when a viral video showed him shaking hands with men wearing white T-shirts who allegedly were linked to the mob attacking people at the Yuen Long MTR station on July 21.

Xia Kedao describes Junius Ho as a “straightforward” politician who “speaks out for justice” and denounces “reactionaries.”

In the August 28 interview, that was live-streamed on Sina Weibo and later also written up, the Hong Kong legislator discussed the background of the protests.

Ho argues that the people with “ulterior motives” used the extradition bill for their own power struggle, distorting and exaggerating the facts behind the regulation.

The politician also partly links the protests to a “weak national consciousness” in Hong Kong due to its education curriculum and says that there have not been enough legal consequences for those participating in illegal activities and riots.

Thousands of commenters on Weibo write that they appreciate Ho for speaking out against the “pro-independence riot youth” and praise him for his “deep understanding” of mainland China.

By now, Junius Ho, who is also active on Weibo with his own account, has gathered more than half a million fans on his page.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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China Insight

Exchange Student to Be Deported from China for Harassing Young Woman at University

An exchange student studying at the Hebei University of Engineering has been expelled and will soon be deported after harassing a female student.

Manya Koetse

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An exchange student from Pakistan who was studying at the Hebei University of Engineering (河北工程大学) has been expelled and detained after harassing a female student at the same university.

The incident, that is attracting much attention on Chinese social media this week, adds to the wave of recent controversies over the behavior and status of overseas students in mainland China.

On July 31, a female student at the Hebei university filed a police report against a Pakistani student who allegedly harassed her and attempted to forcefully kiss her and touch her breasts.

Screenshots of a supposed WeChat conversation between the exchange student and the female student, in which the man apologizes and claims the interaction is a “requirement for friendship,” are being shared on social media.

According to various reports, the police initially tried to mediate between the two students, which the female student refused.

Together with the school principal, the police then further investigated the case and found ample evidence of harassment after examining the university’s surveillance system.

On August 1st, the Hebei University of Engineering announced that they had expelled the student and that he will be deported from China. The announcement received more than 14,000 reactions and 150,000 ‘likes’ on Weibo.

The student is now detained at the local Public Security Bureau and is awaiting his deportation.

A photo of two officers together with a man in front of the detention center in Handan is circulating on social media in relation to this incident.

At time of writing, the hashtag page “Exchange Student to Be Deported after Molesting Female Student” (#留学生猥亵女学生将被遣送出境#) has been viewed over 310 million times on Weibo.

Among thousands of reactions, there are many who praise the Hebei university for supporting the female student after she reported the exchange student to the police.

“This may not be the best university, but at least they stand behind their students!”, some say, with others calling the university “awesome.”

Many say that the Hebei university should serve as an example for other Chinese universities to follow, with Shandong University being specifically mentioned by Weibo users.

Shandong University was widely criticized earlier this summer for its “buddy exchange program,” which was accused of being a way to arrange Chinese “girlfriends” for male foreign students.

Another incident that is mentioned in relation to this trending story is that of an exchange student who displayed aggressive behavior towards a Chinese police officer in July of this year. The student was not punished for his actions, which sparked anger on Chinese social media.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com

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