（作者：Robert Foyle Hunwick 翻译：方舟子）
Robert Foyle Hunwick October 30, 2014 00:06
The Chinese president’s favorite blogger hates AmericaAnd he actually has no idea what’s going on in the United States.
BEIJING, China ― Did you know that in America, workers toil for alowly $3 to $5 an hour? And that’s hardly enough to live on when “ameal at a roadside cafe costs $20-$40 per person.”
These odd and erroneous claims are some of many made in “BrokenDreams in America,” an essay by Zhou Xiaoping. The 33-year-old hasbecome the official toast of Beijing since Chinese President XiJinping singled him out (along with fellow blogger Hua Qianfang) forspecial praise at a “Forum on Art and Literature” this month.President Xi hailed their work as possessing “positive energy.”
Zhou proved a particularly divisive choice.
One of his best-known pieces, headlined “Nine Knockout Blows”against America, claims that Hollywood is part of a plot to undermineChina and compares American attitudes toward the Chinese to Hitler’streatment of the Jews.
In fact, since the controversy generated by late-1990s films like”Kundun” and “Red Corner,” Hollywood has been skittish about losing apotentially huge market by criticizing China. Far from it: Thearch-blockbuster of 2014 was “Transformers 4,” a bloated andcritically panned sequel ridiculed for overt pandering to Chinesebrands and sensibilities.
But since Xi’s speech, arguing with Zhou’s version of the truth hasbecome an act of political defiance ― no matter how famous you are.
Fang Shimin ― China’s foremost anti-fraud crusader ― learned thehard way what happens when you trash the Chinese president’s favoriteblogger.
In a point-by-point rebuttal, Fang suggested Zhou had “sleepwalked”through America and wondered, “Does he think netizens are as easy tofool as politicians?”
In fact, Zhou has never laid eyes on what’s known in Mandarin asBeautiful Country. “I haven’t been abroad,” Zhou said of hisanti-America screed. “But I have many overseas friends.”
Fang’s takedown went viral ― then vanished. When he protested, hisWeibo (China’s version of Twitter) account was suspended. Thirtyminutes later, all his blogs were gone for good. Critics’ accountshave been suspended or functionally disabled in the past; this timewas different. As one blogger observed: “Quite literally, Fang Zhouzihas been erased.”
Fang, widely known by his pen name Fang Zhouzi, certainly had thegravitas for such a critique. In 2012, he won the prestigious Naturemagazine’s inaugural John Maddox Prize, awarded to individuals who“stand up for science.” In the past, he has discreditedbusinesswoman Peng Fu’s high-profile Cultural Revolution memoir “Bend,Not Break” for being flexible with the truth, called out Microsoft’sformer China CEO for having a fake diploma, and has even rendered theonce-outspoken writer Han Han virtually mute with a crusade accusingthe younger novelist of plagiarism.
That he’s done so at considerable risk, suffering both physicalattacks and online censure, is a testament to his credibility:“Attacking Fang Zhouzi is the same as declaring war on civilizedsociety,” journalist Xu Xiaoping (no relation to Zhou) once declared.
Zhou Xiaoping, then, was an obvious target. And despite the web wipeout,Fang’s debunking apparently worked. Soon, Chinese searches for ZhouXiaoping, as well as his nickname, “Belt Fish” Zhou, were producingthe all-too-familiar message that results could not be displayed,“according to relevant laws and regulations.”
Robbed of his digital existence in China, Fang switched to Twitter,where his following had almost doubled overnight. There, he soonwondered if the Los Angeles Times also “feared retaliation” forwriting about him: the newspaper’s article was bylined, “A TimesStaff Writer.”
The “wumao” army
Back in China, official media have gone into spin cycle. One editorialin Beijing’s Global Times detected intellectual snobbery in thecriticism: “[Zhou and Hua Qianfang] did not graduate from famousschools and haven’t received a systematic education. … Theirlanguage is coarse, radical and almost vulgar,” the writer admitted.“Respecting such young, immature, grassroots contrary voice is verydifficult.”
As the rebuttals for and against Zhou mount, and censors battle todelete them, the affair puts the spotlight on China’s ideologicallandscape. Some warn that Beijing is bent on waging ideological warwith “Western values.” Why else might China’s president, whousually likes to invoke an appreciation of classical philosophy,choose a na?ve and rather fallible writer for celebration?
A former People’s Liberation Army engineer who became a low-levelprovincial bureaucrat, then drifted into online gaming, Zhou’sprofile resonates with many: Born without privilege, not endowed withany natural talent, he once lived a life both itinerant and anonymous.As an online entrepreneur, he’s had to fend off allegations ofpeddling pornography, one of many types of media banned on the web.
“If common citizens really want to say something, there are only’praise-singing choirs’ on the internet for them to join,” saysRenmin University politics professor Zhang Ming. So Zhou instead foundhis niche as a “wumao.” Coined to describe China’s army of low-paidweb commentators ― who allegedly number 300,000 and earn a nickel acomment to “guide public opinion” ― the term wumao is commonlyapplied toward those who parrot the government line. “The wumao is acreation of the market economy ― many do it just to make a living,”explains historian Zhang Lifan. “And right now, Zhou is exactly whatthe party needs: young, politically correct and obedient.”
In fact, President Xi could have known that his endorsement of Zhouwas risky. In 2013, Zhou publicly attacked ex-Google China chief LeeKai-Fu for faking his own cancer and conspiring with “hostile foreignforces.” These erroneous taunts prompted disgust. Even the BeijingNews retorted that Zhou had “dropped [a rock] on his own foot” andsaid “debate should comply with the laws of evidence.” Unlike others,Zhou’s rumormongering didn’t earn him a prison sentence, but he didclaim to be quitting writing.
A year later, with China’s lively media environment brutally shorn ofdissenters, Zhou shows much less inclination toward putting down thepoison pen. When Liu Xuesong, a columnist at a Zhejiang-based newspaper,wrote a conciliatory plea entitled “This world should be big enoughto tolerate both Zhou Xiaoping and Fang Zhouzi,” both he and hisarticle vanished from the web.
In a sense, Zhou belongs to a long line of “courtly” writers inimperial China. Mao Zedong, whom President Xi has implicitly comparedhimself to, cultivated supporters like Guo Moruo and Hu Qiaomu. Thedifference is “they were hugely talented, sharp and full of literaryskills … people like them don’t exist anymore, so [the CommunistParty] has to do with folks like Zhou,” says the historian Zhang.
He adds, “I read a comment online: ‘Take a look at the pet and youwill know the taste of his master.’ I think it’s very meaningful.”
(XYS20141118)This site is supported by ebookdiy.com.