Online Poem: “You, Us”

The following poem has circulated throughout Chinese cyberspace since 2009. The original author is not known, and various netizens have added to and changed it so there are now numerous versions floating around. It has been repeatedly deleted by censors. The original title was “You, Us” (“你们,我们“) [Translation by Don Weinland]:

 
Blizzards you said happen once ever hundred years;
Earthquakes you said are natural disasters;
The Olympics you said added to the country’s prestige;
Tainted milk powder you said was an exceptional case;
High housing prices you said were the workings of the market;
Stock market collapse you said was the international climate;
A bad economy you said was due to restructuring;
Trouble finding work you said was historical inheritance!

You needn’t struggle to find work, nor live under high real estate prices,
You needn’t pay for your medical expenses, nor piteously rush about.
You eat at banquets, live in villas, drive nice cars, receive plush benefits, and travel abroad.

You spend our money and monopolize our dreams with power,
Daily you curse us uncultured, implacable commoners.
You have cannons and bayonets, but develop our waters with others,
And you use them [weapons] only against your own people who give birth to and raise you.
You have high walls and iron fences, yet evil-doers remain far outside the law,
Those who speak loudly in the name of justice are put in prison.

Your office buildings are first-rate and extravagant,
Your cars dart about madly,
Your wife and child are abroad,
Your mistresses are arrogant.

Your home is guaranteed by the state,
The growth of your income is always under discussion,
Your food and drink are on the public’s tab,
Your entertainment is the offering of bribes.

You can play Mahjong on the job,
Police cars accompany your villainy on the road,
Your power expands by the day,
Your government offices are forever looming above us.

Our housing resembles that of slaves,
Our cars must yield to yours,
We are busier and busier at work,
Our pay is unchanging year after year.
Our doctor’s fees are more and more expensive,
Our food is filthier and filthier,
Our taxes are heavier and heavier,
Our days pass tenser and tenser.
Our injustices have already nowhere to appeal,
Our power has already been forgotten.

Our migrant workers are driven like beasts of burden,
Our miners face death daily,
Our parent heartlessly lose their jobs,
Our children find work under straightened circumstances.
We know of your hypocritical guises,
Please refrain from passing us off as fools!
Are all your words simply drunken misconduct?
Are all your actions only momentary debauchery?
Are all your children the pillars of the elite?
Is all your corruption isolated phenomena?

Was the South China Tiger all Zhenglong’s* impropriety?
Were the mining disasters caused only by unqualified management?
Was the tainted milk power the milk industry’s misconduct?
Were the Yang Jia killings* no more than nonsensical conceit?

Were you monitoring appropriately when the stock market crashed?
Were you severely wronged by huge banking losses?
Your punishment was no more than the changing of official posts,
Was it not us who solely footed the bill for your mistake?

Your policies pay our assertions no mind,
Your lives are unlike our!
Because your power comes only from the institution,
Our vote is no more than a rubber stamp.

We have no fanciful hopes,
We have always been so patient,
You say we are all already comfortably off,
What more could we possibly want?
We say we are different from animals,
Other than eating, drinking, pissing, shitting, we are thinking,
And the hopes of equality and justice,
You once advocated this too.

If you were to ask us what we are missing?
Perhaps it’s revolutionaries like Chen Sheng and Wu Guang*.

*Zhou Zhenglong’s photo of a South China Tiger in the Shaanxi wilderness became a media craze in late 2007. The photo was eventually deemed fake and Zhou, along with local government and forestry officials, were reprimanded.
*Yang Jia, a 28-year-old resident of Beijing, killed six police officers in Shanghai in July 2008. He said bullying and beating from police in Beijing provoked the attack. Yang received unprecedented sympathy from Chinese bloggers and media.
*Chen Sheng And Wu Guang were leaders of the Daze Village Uprising in 209 BC. The uprising is called the Chinese people’s first revolt against authoritarian power.