In the aftermath of the Weng’An (Wengan) riots, most newspapers are running with Xinhua’s short three paragraph report on the issue. I believe in keeping with recent trends, we will hear a much more detailed analysis and explanation from Xinhua shortly. In the mean time, there have been several online editorials from various newspapers, in some cases perhaps bending official rules on independent reporting by highlighting netizen comments rather than their own story. Many of these editorials are focusing their attacks on the local government, while insisting that the central government desires something else. I hope their interpretation proves to be the case. I translate two editorials below.
First, an article from the online site of the Jiangsu Communist Party newspaper Xinhua Daily, which is not directly related to the national Xinhua: (“How hard is it to give the masses the real picture?”, 原文)
… Article begins with a repeat of the first paragraph of the Xinhua story on the incident …
The incident’s cause is simple; it’s all because of dissatisfaction with the county public security office’s determination on “cause of death” for a female student. Emotionally, it’s very difficult for people not to place their sympathies with the weaker party. The majority of people are logical and rational, and that’s a point that no one, not even the national leadership or officials of every level would try to argue. So, unless it’s reached the point of extreme desperation, no one would risk everything to surround and attack the government. And from a logical point of view, it’s not difficult to determine that the people might have had good reason to rush into action.
This should have been a simple case. It shouldn’t have been difficult for the local law enforcement authorities to give the masses a satisfactory answer, to give the masses the truth. But very clearly, both the local authorities and related media appear to be dodging the nature of the question itself. In both the explanations of the local authorities and the media’s reporting, it only roughly described the actions of the masses surrounding and attacking government offices. But the actual fuse that led to this incident, the details on the actual case involving the death hasn’t been explained or described. The short description that “some people are dissatisfied with the determination of ’cause of death'” isn’t enough of a conclusion. This is no different than wrapping gunpowder with paper (ed: similar to the English idiom walking on land-mines), and will lead to guesses and assumptions, and the people’s dissatisfaction is completely understandable.
Based on online searches, the media controlled by the local government hasn’t given any sort of reporting on this story. But in contrast, on Baidu and other internet forums, there are detailed descriptions and analysis of all the events erlated to the incident. Although the credibility of the messages on these forums can be debated, but they all largely agree that the girl might have been raped, and that the evil-doers avoided the appropriate punishment because of links to the county government. Although the sources of this information isn’t completely reliable, but because it’s the only information available, the direction this information is leading the masses can be easily imagined. English politician Charles James Fox has a famous saying: “When people are persecuted into exchanging thoughts secretly, only then can speech bring danger to the nation.” (Ed: Anyone know the actual quote? Mine is a translation.) In reality, regardless of whether the female victim’s case involves a conspiracy or improper legal enforcement, local security and government offices should all immediately publish the truth, and let the masses learn the truth. The only result of sealing off news will be pushing the masses into the dead-end of listening to “rumors”. If the masses aren’t clear on the truth, then a momentary angry reaction is difficult to avoid.
Numerous recent similar events have been able to raise a huge reaction, stimulate so many different voices, all because local governments have been unable to reveal the real picture to the masses. Instead, in this combination of truth and evasion, all types of speculation and doubts will not cease. As long as this type of information is restricted, the necessary result of not understanding the truth will be the masses not believing in, and holding hostility for the government. This sort of confrontation between the masses and government offices is of course not something we enjoy seeing. And to the government itself, this is not a good thing.
In reality, giving the people the real picture isn’t difficult. Comrade Hu Jintao in his report to the 17th Congress clearly said: “development socialist ideology and democratic government is the unswerving goal our goal is struggling for”. But socialist ideology – democratic government’s basic characteristics should be open fairness. It’s important for government at all levels to hold firmly to the principle of open fairness, and allow both administration and law enforcement to become increasingly transparent. Letting the masses understand the real picture during actual work isn’t just the basic request of the spirit of the 17th Congress, but also the best method of resolving problems. And only this way, can we avoid a repeat incidents similar to this.
Second, an “online comment” published on Caijing (“Will the central government please fully investigate the hitting/smashing/burning incident”, 原文).
The official media recently issued a report titled “Guizhou Province Weng’An (Wengan) Prefecture Had A Hitting/Smashing/Burning Incident”, and logically speaking shouldn’t be a big deal. I’ve never even heard of this place Weng’An.
But unexpectedly, this common piece of news is followed with so many follow-on posts, with a tone very different from the official media version. During the follow-on replies, we can see that popular opinion is that of extremely outrage. Will this become another “South China Tiger Incident”? Is the local government using its control over the media to control the situation? I don’t know, but I ask that the central government completely investigate this issue.
Reading the official report carefully, there are many suspicious points: “Some people instigated the masses ignorant of the truth into attacking the public security and government buildings. Subsequently, a small number of criminals took advantage of the opportunity to smash the office, and also burnt numerous offices and some vehicles.”
I’d like to ask: who are these “some people”? In China, the vast majority of citizens are “obedient people”, how can “some people” instigate them? Is it that this group of “some people” really that skilled, or is that the government has done something inproper?
A “Hitting/Smashing/Burning Incident”, the use of this keyword deserves some deep consideration. Are the people of Guizhou really such trouble-makers (刁民)? Is it possible that the local government is using our country’s propaganda policies, knowing that if they escalate this issue to a “Hitting/Smashing/Burning Incident”, then the propaganda ministry is allowed to interfere and seal off all discussion of this issue?
Since ancient times, the majority of these cases involve officials forcing the people into action. So-called trouble-makers, that’s only the government’s version.
Luckily, Weng’an (Wengan) county is a low-ranking government office. Even if the problem involved Guizhou province as a whole, the central government can also handle it.
Central government, please thoroughly investigate this incident, so that we can welcome the Olympics as a completely peaceful China!