A Chinese Pirate Unmasks

On the New Yorker’s website, Evan Osnos writes about an essay, titled “All of China is a Knock-Off,” which first appeared on the Chinese online forum Douban and said it was the translated version of a piece by someone named Steven Zuckerberg. The piece provoked debate by arguing that, “China is racked by a culture of imitation that stifles genuine creativity.” Osnos reports:

But the essay is a more subtle piece of work than you might think: A tip from a Chinese friend led me to contact Wang Hongzhe, a twenty-five-year-old graduate student in mass communication at Peking University, who acknowledged that he is the reputed Steven Zuckerberg. (He chose the initials S.Z. as a nod to shanzhai, the Chinese term for “imitation.”) His essay was an experiment: Would China respond differently to criticism from abroad than it would to criticism from home? It’s a long-running question that gets to the heart of China’s erratic appetite for dissent, and the same question that vexed Lu Xun, the famous social critic, who wrote seventy-five years ago: “Throughout the ages Chinese have had only one way of looking at foreigners. We either look up to them as gods or down on them as wild animals.”

DAnwei interviews Osnos about reporting from China here.

March 5, 2009 3:10 PM
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