This is the translation of an article published on China's website pincong.rocks
by user 与光同尘. He describes the distorted sense of patriotism that permeates today's Chinese youth:
I am a mainland (China) college drop-out. I was short as a kid, so I was often bullied. This made me more sympathetic to the underdog. Every time I saw a slogan-chanting crowd trample on someone’s dignity, I wanted to peel back the onion for a better understanding. Between an egg and the wall, I always side with the egg. Growing up, I didn’t have many friends; this gave me plenty of time to read and to think.
In college, I came across the books of Yang Xianhui and George Orwell by chance. They made me sad, angry, and put me in deep fear. The books described what had already happened and will continue to happen. I was afraid their censorship would eventually become mind control, dictating what you can think. If only one voice is allowed, then this voice can only be a lie. So, wherever there is censorship, I try to read the news with skepticism and rationality.
I come from a rural area. My family is poor. I worked real hard to get into a good university but decided to drop out. I haven’t told my parents, I don’t know what to do. I plan to re-enroll, and hope to go abroad eventually to see the outside world.
I want to describe the current situation in China, to reveal the truth. Forgive me if my language is rough.
1. Total hooligan-ization from top to bottom
Take a look at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' spokespeople. During the Hu-Wen period, although they kept repeating the same words, at least they were diplomatic. Now, the diplomatic corps encourages gangsterism. Individuals with the fiercest rhetoric receive the quickest promotions.
Argumentative phrases like “If you don’t like it, suck it,” “crap stirrer” were uttered at foreign press briefings that were touted by the propaganda machinery. Never mind hooliganism, at the minimum this was unprofessional.
Speaking of propaganda, it’s common to see rogues and fake victims billed as role models. Click on any mainland portal website. The first headline is always something like “Xi takes the suffering of the people to heart,” and then the trending news will be “Hong Kong's gangster youths obstruct tourists from returning home,” "The United States wets its pants and sues for peace in trade war,” etc. Just see for yourself at sites like hao123 or Netease, really.
Someone once said, “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” It’s true, as the patriotic masses turn into hooligans.
Just like a local villain who rapes and pillages a village during WWII, when the Japanese army comes, he hoists a patriotic banner and instantly becomes a hero.
There are so many people like that among the so-called “patriotic masses”. Those most vocal anti-American, anti-Japanese people are most guilty of exploiting their fellow citizens. I’ve seen these people on WeChat. They’re the most corrupt officials, yet they have the most radical rhetoric.
A few days ago, I saw videos of several Northeasterners scolding demonstrators in Hong Kong. Their language was profane and lude. They had no idea why people were protesting but wanted to beat them up “because Hong Kong belongs to China.”
The Internet is full of clamoring to kill the "Hong Kong separatist dogs." These people think they hold the moral high ground of patriotism but behave with such violence. Just who is smearing the good name of China then?
From the female reporter who made a big fuss in the UK to the aggressive international students, they apparently regard their ignorance-driven, so-called "patriotic behavior" as a ticket for promotion when they return to the country!
2. The CCP has hijacked China, and everything associated with China.
If you dare to criticize the Chinese government, you are unpatriotic. If you dare to criticize Chinese medicine, you will be scolded as a sell-out. If you say stinky tofu is unhealthy, people will accuse you of being an apologist for foreign fast food.
Whenever the CCP doesn’t like someone, it will accuse him of insulting China. It’s gotten so bad that a cottage industry has formed around the reporting of "humiliation incidents", as if China exists only to be humiliated.
If you dare to post a contrarian viewpoint on any of the major web forums, you will be singled out for insults, no matter how buried your post is on the page.
Over the past few decades, the CCP has succeeded in making territorial integrity an inviolable red line for every Chinese. However they intentionally confuse the concepts of political party, government and country. As a result, anything that violates the interests of the CCP gets labeled as “Hong Kong separatism”, “Taiwan separatism”, “Xinjiang separatism”, etc.
The Kuomintang in Taiwan is calling to reclaim the mainland. Wouldn’t you rather be ruled by Taiwan’s system of governance? So it’s not a question of independence, but who rules.
But because the CCP has made reunification this bright red line for everyone, you only need to accuse someone of being a separatist to rile up the entire country. This trick works every time.
3. 70 to 80 million people owe their livelihood to the bureaucracy. This is how the regime holds them hostage.
More and more people take the civil service exams every year, not because they all want to get rich as high officials, but a government job does provide something unavailable in the private sector, such as longer leaves and lower stress.
The CCP is the largest enterprise in China and controls all of the resources; only they can provide these perks.
The CCP controls everything, but it has been so integrated into people’s lives that it has become invisible, just like the air you breathe. It’s as if you see a wall blocking the road, yet no one questions why it’s there. They have accepted its existence.
For example, a relative asked me if I joined the Party. I asked: “Which party?” He looked at me like I was a fool.
People have subconsciously accepted the Communist Party to be the only legitimate power, not necessarily out of fear, but out of habit. They don’t question its existence; censorship and surveillance have become as natural as gravity. This is the true mentality of most mainlanders.
4. Most CCP critics are in their 50s and 60s; most of the young people are its defenders.
I just state the facts as I see them. .People in their 50s and 60s suffered the most under CCP’s rule, so many of them are anti-communist, but they’re not online to share their opinions with the next generation.
Let me talk about the mentality of young mainland Chinese by age group.
For those born in the 1980s, they may be dissatisfied with the CCP and can scale the firewall, but they have a family and a mortgage, so they wouldn’t casually reveal their thoughts. Many of them are complacent, happy to keep their noses clean and stay out of trouble. After all, they’re getting close to 40 and have too much to lose. They can’t be counted on to oppose the CCP.
Here I’m only talking about those people who are dissatisfied with the CCP. They are a minority. The majority just mindlessly support the CCP.
Youngsters born in the 1990s and 2000s are most prone to be the “pinkies” (xiao-fen-hong, young fans of the Party). I don’t know how many would bother to scale the firewall.
I have a high school classmate, Li. His parents are senior county officials, so he grew up in luxury. His parents bought him two condos in Shanghai before he even started to work.
He goes abroad to study and gets into conflicts with Hong Kong students. He tore up their posters, obstructed their protests, and filmed himself having a shouting match with the protesters. He shared his video on our high school chat group and everybody praised him as a real man, a patriotic man, and scolded the "Hong Kong separatist dogs.”
But no one has ever thought to ask how he could afford to study abroad. All his father had to do, was to sign a couple of documents to get the money. Did that cause harm to other families? Are there kids in the county who could not afford to go to school because of his father’s actions? Nobody thought about that as they praised his actions.
And this is a guy who got out. He doesn't care about democracy and supports the firewall. Imagine what the rest are like.
I went out to lunch with a friend the other day. He’s currently enrolled at a top university in Shanghai. During the meal, I overheard a number of students discussing current events in Hong Kong. One said: “It’s all America’s doing. Those HK separatists deserve to be shot.” I was so upset I couldn’t eat. These are students at the best university in China! One day he would probably go abroad as well. Why does he think this way? I can’t comprehend.
5. Favorite goats: “anti-China foreign forces” and so-called "capitalists".
The first one is obvious. I’ll talk about the ridiculousness of the second one.
Take housing prices as an example. Although the government manipulates the market, inevitably someone would put forth a commentary such as: “this is the original sin of filthy capitalism.” These 50-cent pinkie propagandists are very eager to redirect public opinion away from criticism of the Party, and would always create diversions to distract the attention of the masses.
6. I used to think that society would improve after the passing of the Red Guard generation. But this generation growing up behind the firewall have exceeded them in their ideology.
This kind of brainwashing is irreversible for most people, and it will be passed on to the next generation. I am very pessimistic about the future.
I’m afraid these pinkies’ minds can only change when their families become targets of the state. Only a hard slap to the face will wake them up.
If you support the Cultural Revolution, you better pray that you’re at the bottom rung. Otherwise as you vent your hatred on your victims, someone with even less will come and revolutionize you.
7. "People’s opinion" are always the CCP’s opinion, made to oppose whatever the Party opposes and promote whatever the Party wants to promote.
Although People's Daily had printed headlines such as “Millions of kilos per acre” in the past, people still revere it as gospel. They regard it a high honor to be mentioned in People’s Daily, and would even appeal to the People’s Daily or the Communist Youth League for help.
8. Pinkies' selective blindness and ridiculous logic.
For instance, someone would claim a certain Hollywood film to have content disrespectful to China. A crowd would soon gather to insult the movie and its fans. When the studio decides to pull the film's release in China, the crowd would turn around and say: "United States is so afraid of us, they have no cultural confidence.”
They claim American freedom and democracy are fake, yet they have to take care to use homonyms when typing out “freedom” and “democracy” online to evade the censors. They live in extreme censorship, yet they don’t see it.
9. Have you noticed, the only safe way to protest in China is to use the flag as your shield?
For example, to protest your land being seized, you can only march in the streets with the portraits of Mao or Xi. This is just like the Cultural Revolution, when intellectuals could only quote Mao Zedong as a way to protect themselves from persecution by the Red Guards.
By doing this, they’re again acknowledging the emperor is always right, only his underlings could have made the mistake. You wave the flag as a stick to beat others, and wave the flag as a shield to avoid a beating. Either way, you reinforce its legitimacy and perpetuate the Party's grip.
10. We are the few.
After so many years, it is still the same. Chinese people have never felt the dignity and freedom of being a person. A house mortgage will tie up the lives of one or two families. China may have many Einsteins, Beethovens, or Messis. But we’ll never discover them because they’re only scraping by like dogs and pigs.
To paraphrase Mr. Wang Kang, he hopes to see a moral reconstruction and a cultural renaissance in China, and effect an irreversible structural transformation.
I hope that the Chinese people can be delivered from such a hard life without a bloody, bitter revolution. Rather, use humor and optimism to deconstruct the autocratic regime and tear off its veil.
At first they barred all criticism, and then they detected sarcasm in our tone and banned those too. Now you don’t even have the freedom to remain silent and must express your approval. We are required to compete to see who claps the loudest and sings the most effusive praises.
I'm afraid that in the end, they will control your mind. Not only must you sing their praises, you must do so willingly!
The above is what I see and feel. If I don’t have the courage to stand up and rebel openly, I have at least the courage not to cooperate with evil.
I will not defend the darkness just because I am used to it. I believe our words and deeds will be remembered, and some people, no matter what they think, their actions will eventually be exposed by history.
No matter how capable you are, without conscience, without thought, you’re just a walking dead. Throughout the ages, many bad things were accomplished by a bad X leading a group of stupid X. I hope this article will help you understand the real situation on the mainland.