Han Han (韩寒): Bash CCTV When It’s On Fire

hanhan1China’s young and hottest blogger Han Han (韩寒) took fire at CCTV once again. This blogpost, written on Feb. 11, has once again been deleted from his Sina blog, but remains on the recently “resurrected” Bullog International website (hosted in United States.) The witty, sarcastic content is being re-posted by thousands of netizens within the Great Firewall, translated by CDT’s Linjun Fan:

I’m happy to hear that the experts from the Beijing Public Security Department have found out the real cause of the fire in the CCTV Tower. It was not a mysterious self-immolation; it was not started by some residents that lit firecrackers in the neighborhood or some migrant worker that smoked in the building. It was caused by CCTV employees themselves. They played with fireworks imprudently and burned their own fingers. What saddens me is that firefighter Zhang Jianyong sacrificed his life during this accident. Otherwise it would have been a comic event.

After a while CCTV apologized, saying that the accident took place because a department director it employs illegally lit fireworks, without permission from his bosses.

Thus a CCTV department director might leave his name in history books for his fondness for lighting fireworks. These fireworks cost nearly a million RMB. The whole lighting process was controlled by computer and recorded by several cameras. It’s surprising that that decision was made only by an office director himself. What does it mean that he lit the fireworks “without permission from above”? Was it possible that he paid for the fireworks himself? Can we infer then that a CCTV department director doesn’t need to get permission before he decides to spend millions on lighting fireworks?

Obviously not. Of course some higher-ranking official hopes that the investigation would stop after a subordinate was blamed for the misconduct. Go to jail with a peaceful mind, my brother. We will take care of your parents. We will take care your kids. And we will “take care” of your wife as well.

Clearly CCTV lit the fireworks and recorded the images to use them on future programs. They may have wished to use the spectacular images in promotion clips for the new building, or insert them into the Lantern Festival Gala which was put on that night. Unfortunately these images would end up only circulating inside the company, since the fire took place. The cameramen who were assigned to shoot the fireworks must have been shocked when they saw the fire. They might have asked the director in disbelief through their walkie-talkies: Hey boss, did you arrange this on purpose?

To my surprise, most people around me gloated over CCTV’s “self-immolation” incident, except for feeling compassion for the firefighter who sacrificed his life. I tried to suppress my own “dark thoughts” and to look at the incident with sympathy. However, I have to admit that I gloated over it as well. Of course, many people I don’t know might feel sad about what happened. You can just take me and those around me as a “small group” that has some “dark thoughts.” All right, I don’t mind exposing some of my “dark thoughts.”

First, one pays for the injustice he does. If you play with fire all the time, you will get burned. This is a rule of history. It often takes a long time for the rule to manifest itself. But in the case of CCTV, it took effect immediately. Although it is a news agency, CCTV has no journalistic standards or morals. It would have been an illegal entity in many other countries in the world, if it did what it is doing now in China. Here it is not only illegal, but it also represents law and justice. How many evil things has CCTV done in the past decades, such as supplanting truth with lies, manipulating public opinion, persecuting intellectuals, abusing facts, concealing wrongdoing, covering-up problems, and creating fake images of harmony? Of course, I am only asking a question. I can do nothing if you (CCTV) deny these wrongdoings, for you are in control of the media resources.

Normally the people would be sad when state-owned assets suffer such a huge loss, since the money that’s been spent on constructing the building came from taxpayers’ wallets. But the taxpayers are not bothered much by the loss this time. The money would have been wasted in other ways anyway, why do we bother to care about it? It doesn’t matter much for a high-rise to be built twice. CCTV has always given us this image of being arrogant and pompous. Only when it got burned by a fire, did it let go of some of the arrogance. CCTV is just a quasi-monopoly agency, and if a quasi-monopoly agency can be this arrogant, we cannot even imagine how incredibly arrogant a power with total monopoly can be. So what? They are that arrogant. People are just a fart to them. If you bother them, you will end up as part of a “small group” of “shit.

Thus CCTV needs to think hard about itself. Of course CCTV would never self-reflect. Its credibility has fallen below zero while the information technology and development of the society make advances. Its news coverage could be interpreted as being upside-down. We can understand that CCTV can not do what it wants to since it is a state-owned TV company and the mouthpiece of the Party. But things could always be improved, and it should not have done such a pathetic job. Nothing could have been worse. As a media company, it has lost its credibility completely. Not only has it not been closed, but it has been protected as the No. 1 news agency in the country. It only demonstrates that the country has lost its credibility.

Unfortunately CCTV has revealed its problem once again. In terms of the amount of state property loss, this fire could be one of the most damaging since the founding of the nation. It should be reported as a breaking news incident by any measure; however, it appeared to be as plain as a little house caught on fire in CCTV’s coverage. If the BBC Building or even the building of Hunan Television Company caught on fire due to lighting fireworks, CCTV would have jumped on the news. It would have aired the footage repeatedly. However, such a big incident, which was once on the headlines of news coverage all over the world, didn’t appear in the news programs of a state-owned broadcasting company. What perfect harmony it has achieved! This reflects the real situation of China’s pathetic media. All the news we see have been purposely selected and filtered, based on the needs of scripts and the demands of directors.

What we need to reflect on this incident is not only whether fireworks should be prohibited or not. This is a minor issue, and it’s just a small climax on the long road of CCTV’s self-immolation. What we need to reflect on this incident is whether CCTV should be prohibited. The government needs to think about a serious issue: its mouthpieces such as CCTV, the People’s Daily, Guangming Daily, Xinhua News Agency have damaged the image of their master, when they operate under the current mechanism. Even a truthful story could appear fake when it comes from these media agencies. A positive policy could appear negative when reported by them. The younger generation has been maturing, and they will ridicule what these state-owned media agencies produce more and more. The society and the government have changed a lot in the past half-century. But the media is still being controlled by the Propaganda Department, in the same way they were fifty years ago. It has only added the fifty-cent party and some other incompetent assistants. No wonder they are being left behind by the times.

People were much more naive fifty years ago. If the People’s Daily told them Mao’s Quotations were disseminated in the United States and caused the country’s demise, 98% of the people would believe it and light fireworks in the evening to celebrate the good news, just as CCTV did. However, this is an era during which you can not convince people unless you have virtue. Thus I hope this fire will compel the government to really consider dropping CCTV’s monopoly over the news.

February 13, 2009 12:53 AM
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