Our blog has been around for 5 months. Judging from our site traffic and the comments we get (over 12,600 and counting, plenty of them insightful), we are doing quite well.
However, some readers’ comments paint a very different picture.
On the one hand, we have some Chinese thinking “there is no use to play music to a cow.” On the other hand, we have some westerners (Joel) saying “you guys still have a ways to go before you’re able to actually engage mainstream Westerners in an intelligent exchange of views.” We also get comments from Youzi, who accused us “doing a disservice to both sides,” from Berlinf, who advised us to “keep a low profile” as we are foreigners here, and finally from EugeneZ, who suggested it might be the time to close this blog once and for all.
Those comments made me think long and hard. I consulted with our regular writers and I went back to read the early entries of this blog. One is them is “Who is Tang Buxi,” in which he explained why he was contributing to this blog. So I think maybe it’s time to explain why I am here by sharing my life experiences and perspectives.
Politics doesn’t run in my family. Before the PRC era, my maternal grandfather was a small businessman in Shanghai and my paternal grandfather was a customer official worked in HongKong. When CCP took control over China, they had the option to leave but chose to stay because to them and to their generation of Chinese, the CCP represented genuine “hope” and “change,” Needless to say, much of their energy and potential were wasted in the following years. My grandparents and their children would also personally pay a heavy price for staying, especially during the cultural revolution. However, what really amazes me to this day is that, despite their sufferings, as far as I know, they never became bitter. None of them regretted their choice.
“An astounding fact, one that is largely either ignored or unseen by Westerners, is that the Cultural Revolution was an “all-people movement.” … There was often no clear divide between victims and victimizers, and people took turns to be in both positions. “
Well, in a sense, she is right except some people were only eligible to be victims and my family unfortunately belonged to that group. My grandma would recount how my grandpa was savagely beaten by the Red Guards and was expelled from his own home. My parents would recall how they were not able to get jobs in big cities because of their “wrong” family background despite them graduating from one of the best universities in China. I remember my father talking fondly about flying between HK and Shanghai during weekends as a kid. But after 1949, he would not board another airplane again until fifty years later when he visited me in the US.
My family’s story is hardly unique nor extraordinary, I bet you can find thousand of Chinese of older generations, who, despite endured all those political upheavals and economic hardships, have made their own contributions to China and are proud of that.
When I started to remember things, the CR was near its end. But I still remember the song (无产阶级文化大革命就是好) because half of its lyrics is a repetition of the same line “The cultural revolution is good, just good, just good…”
A lot of political changes occurred soon after Zhou and Mao passed away. Life became more colorful. Stalls that rented picture books for Children (连环画小人书) sprinkled up along the streets. One of our neighbors bought a 9” black and white TV, and his home soon became a community entertainment center. My parents talked to my brother about the newly installed College entrance exam. People everywhere started to learn English.
Curious about the outside world, I often turned to the Voice of America and the Voice of Free China (Taiwan). At first, it was in secret. My dad would always ask me to turn the volume down to an almost inaudible setting for fear we would get in trouble (The strong Chinese interference signals didn’t help). Gradually, it would become not a big deal anymore.
Fast forward to May, 1989, a pair of lines of poetry (duilian, Chinese antithetical couplet) was pasted on the sides of entrance of our college dormitory building.
Community party’ bikini, one focus, two points;
News Media’s underwear, many layers, same fiber.
(Background: “One focus, Two fundamental points” policy. The “focus” is economic development. The two “points” are to continue “reform and openness” and to adhere to the “Four Principles,” which are socialism, the thought of Marx, Lenin, and Mao Zedong, the leadership of the CCP, and the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” 的确良(Dacron), trademark for a polyester fiber. It is widely used in men’s shirts at that time. )
Suddenly all was lost. We were furious. We wanted blood for blood. We knew the whole world was on our side but we were also powerless. Then the communist regimes fell across the Eastern Europe, we were jubilant and I thought CCP’s days were numbered. I was wrong. (For what it’s worth, I left a few comments (as CLC) on this topic two years ago.)
Several years later, I came to the US to study and to work. I consider myself fortunate to be able to visit and live in a democratic society. Regardless of its faults, the US is a great country. I hope all Chinese citizens will one day enjoy the same freedom and human rights as Americans do today.
Despite my fondness of the West, I also became disillusioned at some levels with some of the media in the West in the advent of the 3/14 Lhasa riots and the subsequent protests. So when I saw the distorted coverage of the 3/14 Lasha riots and the 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay in Paris and London, when the story of five girls (including one Tibetan) who were burned to death in the Lasha riots apparently not “news enough” in the English newspapers I read, when Jin Jing had to defend her torch in a wheelchair, I was left wondering, where can I find Chinese perspectives in English? There are the China Daily, a mouthpiece for the CCP, and the Epoch Times, which is basically an anti-China Daily. I don’t read them either, and for good reason. In the China related blogsphere, ESWN is a resourceful destination for Chinese views but it doesn’t allow comments. So I thought, “why can’t I start one?”
I don’t consider myself an intellectual and I had no idea how far can this blog go. Luckily, Buxi stepped up early and was soon joined by DJ, Allen and Nimrod. Together, they made this blog a huge success.
We have set a very high bar for foolsmountain. With initial passions from us fading away and the spotlight no longer on the Olympics, it may not be easy to maintain the same energy and quality level this blog once had. However, I think the original rationale to have a blog like this still stands, and we stand committed to building a community that pride itself on having civilized debates.
Despite our success so far, let’s make foolsmountain an even better place. For Chinese writers who have signed up but never write a post, and for all others who are willing and able, please start to share your experiences and perspectives. For non-Chinese who care about China and the role she should play on the international stage, please also contribute.
Foolsmountain is a two way bridge; please help us to build it. I especially thank people such as Joel, Damai, Otto Kerner who have submitted/translated posts, and also people like FOARP, S. K. Cheung, skylight, and The Trapped!, who hold views that are often opposite from mine or our writers’. While we often don’t agree, we are all citizens of the world. I hope we will all be here discussing, arguing, debating, and exchanging ideas – for many years to come ….
Note: I would also like to thank Allen for his suggestions and help in writing this post.