Politics Gets Personal in Left-Right Row

China Media Project has posted partial translations of two essays from an exchange between Wang Wen of the Global Times’ Chinese edition and the poet Ye Fu. Wang explains “the doubts and spontaneous disappointment I have felt in recent years as I’ve come into contact with a number of reformists (or they might be called the ‘liberal faction’ or the ‘right wing’)”. In reply, Ye asks why the “liberal faction” is the sole target of Wang’s complaints: “Perhaps all joy and anger you feel must be defined against the liberal faction. Can that make for a stable society?” From CMP’s introduction:

In his first essay, which prompted the exchange, Wang Wen issues a series of character attacks against academics and journalists he views as representatives of China’s so-called liberal faction, or ziyoupai (自由派). His words are what S.I. Hayakawa once called “snarl words,” full of emotional implications and associations rather than substance.

Pretending to a courtesy that masks a deeper nastiness, Wang chooses to identify none of the people he sets up as examples of the general churlishness and depravity of “liberal” or “reformist” figures in China. He speaks to the reader, as though in a whispered aside, of a certain “very famous professor from the Pearl River Delta” who verged on shouting at a forum on universal values. Then there is “the chief editor of a certain famous special ‘weekly supplement’ launched by a certain newspaper” who, Wang intimates (like the big-mouth gossip who vouches secrecy before spilling all), had possibly carnal relations with a female student from Taiwan ten years ago after delivering a “harangue” to adoring students.

Then, in a further act of pretended grace, Wang actually confesses that a couple of liberals are not so bad. By that point, however, he has successfully confuted moral righteousness and intellectual substance. And how can liberal thinkers possibly have valid points to make if their personal conduct is so odious?

Wang’s conclusion is the conservative mantra: “Let’s take our time.” China is a big and complicated place, after all. And what is needed, above all else, is stability.

In his rebuttal to Wang’s arguments, Ye Fu (野夫) tells the story of how he met Wang at a dinner hosted by a friend, how the two were amiable but had widely diverging views, so that he saw real friendship as impossible. Then, earlier this month, Ye came across an online video on China’s t.m4.cn website in which television pundit Sima Nan (司马南) and Wang Wen speak about the detention of artist Ai Weiwei (艾未未) ….

The story continues …

April 29, 2011 11:19 AM
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Categories: Politics, Society