Music Video: People of July - By Chuanzi (川子)

What happened in Chinese cyberspace around the tragic high-speed rail crash last month was a milestone in the rising power of the Internet in China.

The apparent government cover-up, the ruthless treatment of victims (terminating rescue efforts only hours after the crash in order to restore the railway line), and the arrogant attitude of the Ministry of Railways angered much of the country. As a result, protest messages overwhelmed the capacity of the world’s most sophisticated and technologically-advanced censorship mechanism, forcing an opening for free expression and political participation not only on the issue of railway safety, but also over demands for political reform to address the fundamental questions of China’s model of development.

Just weeks before the accident, Wang Yongping (王勇平), the spokesman of China’s Ministry of Railways stated:

“China’s high-speed railways that were built by the people under the supervision of the Party are a modern miracle. They are a symbol of this nation’s capabilities. Every Chinese person deserves to be proud of, and pleased by this.”

“中国高铁是中国人民在中国共产党领导下创造的人间奇迹,是我们国家实力的象征,每个中国人都为之感到骄傲和自豪。”

The questions raised by the crash are: Who benefits from China’s modern “miracle” and who pays the price? Is China’s breakneck speed of development worth the inevitable cost in human life and dignity? And most of all, why does the Chinese government behave as if it is not accountable to the Chinese people?

As prominent author and blogger Li Chengpeng stated:

This train is not really a train at all. It is the nation’s totem. This nation is after all, a “miracle.” This nation needs a constant series of miracles to prove its superiority. That is because it understands that in a nation where very few have seen the ballot box; where internet browsers often say, “the page your looking for does not exist”; where most rural people don’t know the difference between the courts and the prosecutors; where we watch movies the glorify the founding of the party but where we can’t follow the founders’ examples and establish another party . . . in this kind of a nation, the only way we can prove our superiority is by an ever-increasing GDP.

这列火车已不是火车,它是一个国家的图腾,这个国家本身就是个奇迹。这个国家需要不断的奇迹来证明优越性。因为它明白,在一个很少有人见过选票,常显示“你所搜索的网页不存在”,大部份农民说不清法院和检察院的区别,看了建党伟业却不敢向先烈们学习建党……的国家,只有不断创造GDP奇迹才可证明优越性。

The powerful message from the public can be heard through the nation’s increasingly non-compliant media, including print media articles (many of which are censored before being printed), but far more overwhelmingly on the Internet, through blog commentaries, micro-blog posts, jokes, images, artwork, lines of clothing, and endless form of creative expression by Chinese netizens, Without understanding this coded but widespread (thanks to the Internet) “Grass-Mud Horse Discourse” through the lens of censorship and resistance, one cannot fully understand the contradictions in Chinese society today, and the potential and the possibilities for tomorrow.

A new generation of Chinese musicians have also joined the chorus of this “cultural resistance” in the form of music and lyrics–which are widely spread with the help of the Internet. Examples include Zuoxiao Zuzhou, Re-TROS (Rebuilding the Rights of Statues), and Top Floor Circus.

Chuanzi (川子, chuan zi or real name 姜亚川 Jiang Yachuan) is a Beijing-based folk singer and songwriter. He became well-known in 2010 for his song titled “Zheng Qianhua,” in which he questions to what extent China’s rapid economic development has helped improve the quality of life for ordinary citizens. (See a CDT translation of the lyrics here.)

Chuanzi wrote the song “People of July” in response to the Wenzhou High-speed Train crash. This live version is so far the only available one on cyberspace. It is unknown whether there will be a studio version of this song in the near future.

CDT translated the lyrics of “People of July” and added English subtitles to the original version of the video.

七月的人民 People of July

by 川子 Chuanzi

七月的人民上车了 他第一次看天安门
People of July got on the train. This was his first time seeing Tiananmen.

七月的阳光把他晒黑了 带着羞怯的笑容
The sunlight of July tanned his skin; he wears a shy smile.

七月的人民上车了 他是传媒的大学生
People of July got on the train. He studies journalism at the university.*

梦想到CCTV里去 做一个牛B的白岩松
He dreams of working for CCTV; he wants to be a badass Bai Yansong.**

七月的人民上车了 他刚交完一笔税款
People of July got on the train. He just paid his taxes.

唱着红歌 心里红 唱着红歌 心里红
Singing red songs, his heart is red. Singing red songs, his heart is red.

七月的人民又上车了箱子里装了一堆方便面
People of July got on the train. He brings a full box of instant noodles.

七月的阳光真浩瀚 几百个人民 他失了踪了
The sunlight of July is so bright. Hundreds of people are gone without a trace.***

挖掘机它开来了 人民的手 被挖断
The excavator is coming. People’s hands are chopped off.****

人民的脸被挖成两瓣
People’s heads are torn in half.*****

我的人民 像泥巴一样软
My people are as soft as mud.******

媒体的手它伸过来了 它又一次温柔地抚摸着我们
The media reaches out its hands; they gently pat us once again.

人民日报摸得最好 人民要向党感恩
The People’s Daily pats us the nicest. We people have to thank the Party. *******

七月的阳光真浩瀚 我的人民真TMD的软
The sunlight of July is so bright; my people are so fucking soft.

七月的阳光真浩瀚 七月的人民真TMD的软
The sunlight of July is so bright; the people of July are so fucking soft.

7月的人民你走好 8月的人民天堂里见
People of July, please take care. People of August, see you in heaven.

9月的人民你走好 10月的人民天堂里见
People of September, please take care. People of October, see you in heaven.

11月12月的人民你走好 全TMD的天堂见
People of November and December, please take care. See you all in fucking heaven.

这真是一个奇迹啊 至于你信不信 反正他说他信了
What a miracle this is! Doesn’t matter if you believe it or not; he said he did anyway.

这真是一个奇迹啊 至于你信不信
What a miracle this is! Doesn’t matter if you believe or not;

傻逼信了!
There are fools who do!

* These lyrics refer to Lu Haitian, who was a victim of the Wenzhou hi-speed train crash. Lu was a Journalism student at the Communications University of China. Instead of going back home for the summer, Lu was on his way to Wenzhou TV station for an internship. [Many thanks to longguo00 for the information.]

** Bai Yansong (白岩松) is a well-known Chinese news anchor and conscientious media personality affiliated with China Central Television (CCTV). Bai also questioned the reliability of the Chinese high-speed railway system after reporting the Wenzhou high-speed train crash. On Aug. 9th, 2011, an in-depth investigative report on the Dalian PX factory was taken off the air at the last minute. Bai Yansong is the host of the program.

*** From Sinaweibo, a netizen asked: July 25 17:40 How many people really died? Let’s read a report from the Party (sponsored) paper in Hong Kong! A total of six cars, at full capacity with 600 people, fell off a 30 meter high bridge, and so far we know 210 plus people were alive under the bridge. The Xinhua News agency reported death toll is 35. If we believe the numbers provided by Xinhua, then 600 (total) – 210 (wounded) – 35 (died) = 355. Where are these 355 people?

7月25日 17:40,到底伤亡多少人:看下香港党报报导吧! 共6节车厢满员600人掉到30米高桥底下。桥上车厢里有多少人伤亡先不算,桥下已知活着的为210多人,而新华社报的 亡者 为35人。照新华社数据,那么,600(总)-210(伤)-35(亡)=355人,这355人 去 哪了?

**** From Sinaweibo July 25, 22:50: Mr. Yang lost four family members in this accident: wife, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and three-year-old niece. His wife was five months pregnant, so it can be considered that a total of five family members were lost. He wore mourning clothes and invited officials to visit the remains of his family members, caused by the ruthless excavator. The official backed off several steps: I bow to you. I am sorry!

7月25日 22:50,@新民周刊杨江:杨先生此次事故失去四名亲人:妻子,岳母,大姨子及三岁外甥女,其妻怀孕七个月,所以也可以说失去了五个亲人!他身穿孝衣邀铁道部官员一起参观他因野蛮铲车导致尸体残缺,头部不齐的亲人遗体,该官员连连后退:我给你鞠躬,对不起!

***** From July 25, 21:39Sinaweibo: Mr. Yang Feng revealed many details on the spot: he arrived at the Wenzhou South station at 1 am, July 24. He had to go through much trouble, finally arrived at the crashed car at 2:30 am. At the time the rescue had already stopped. Staff told him that no signs of life had been detected. Bodies of his wife and his mother were dug up by the excavator on the afternoon of July 24. His wife’s body had no face. He asked in tears: Was this caused by the crash or by the excavation?”

7月25日 21:39,杨峰在现场透露了多个细节:24号凌晨他一点就到达了温州南站,但由于种种阻饶,2点半才到达出事车厢,当时现场已经停止救援,工作人员表示没有生命迹象。他的妻子和母亲是24号下午才被挖土机挖出来的,妻子已经没有了脸部,他流着泪问:这是动车撞的还是被挖的?

****** From Sinaweibo: July 25 15:45 At 4 am, [The Ministry of Railways] already announced that no more signs of life were detected, and there was a child rescued 14 hours later. What has happened between these hours included: crushing the bodies of the cars which fell off the bridge, internal coordination, planning to restore the train line at 6 pm….. I am convinced: they never really tried to rescue people.

7月25日 15:45,凌晨4点宣布已无生命迹象,14个小时后又救出小孩儿,其间发生的事情有:碾碎掉落的车厢,内部协调,拟于 下午6点通车……我相信了:他们根本就没有尽力救人。

******* From Sinaweibo: July 26, 12:25 Today on the front page of People’s Daily: “The Party’s Kindness is Higher then Tianshan Mountains.”

7月26日 12:25,今天《人民日报》头版:“党的恩情比天山高”。