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Don’t understand the actual situation

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不明真相 (bùmíng zhēnxiàng): don’t understand the actual situation

Invented character combining the four characters in the phrase “don’t understand the actual situation.”
“Braving a complex electromagnetic environment, a group that doesn’t understand the actual situation arrives at a strange maritime space to surround and watch. Currently, they are emotionally stable.” (Source unknown)
A stock phrase is often used by the government and official media to describe “mass incidents” (群体事件 qúntǐ shìjiàn) such as riots and protests. It suggests that those who participate in mass incidents do so not because of any real grievances, but because they have been duped by a few schemers with “ulterior motives.”

Even state-run media have questioned this demeaning term. In July 2009, Xinhua ran an editorial suggesting that this phrase should not be the immediate explanation for all mass incidents. The Southern Metropolis Daily commented in August of that year:

Whenever there is a mass incident, some government agencies will always issue statements to the effect that “people who didn’t understand the actual situation” were incited by “those with ulterior motives.” But this pretext is lifeless and unconvincing.
每有群体性事件,一些政府机关的文宣必定是“不明真相”的群众是被“别有用心”的人蛊惑的。可这套说辞却是最苍白也没有说服力的。 [Chinese source]

Netizens have since co-opted the phrase. On Sina Weibo, a user comments on the lack of transparency associated with the scandals surrounding Guo Meimei:

中青报曹林: A Tencent user asked me whether I feel sorry for Guo Meimei. My answer is: I don’t feel sorry for Guo Meimei. I feel sorry for those of us who don’t understand the actual situation, who have been fooled this entire time. In the beginning, we were fooled by Guo Meimei. Now, despite the fact that some people are telling us the truth, many still feel like they are being fooled.
一个腾讯网友问我,你觉得郭美美可怜吗?我的回答是:嗯,我觉得郭美美不可怜,可怜的是我们这些不明真相的公众,一直被人耍。开始是被郭美美耍,现在呢,虽然有人告诉我们这是真相了,但很多人还是有被耍的感觉。

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