On the first day of this New Year, our hearts filled with nagging worry due to the economic crisis, news blown by the cold north wind stirring the fallen leaves and snow, let us listen to a distant voice. Ten years ago today, this newspaper published a 1999 New Year’s message: “Let us lend strength to those lacking it, and enable pessimists to push forward.”
Today, when Southern Weekend is committed to the road of news professionalism, this slogan is still our spiritual standard, we are striving to inherit its ambition, and see it as a great tradition. China has spent a decade passing through the rapids, so much extravagance has already been the butt of jokes, but this precept still returns buzzing as every New Year approaches.
Therefore, today, let us meet in this simplest and finest spiritual tradition; let us draw on our inner strength to find the most fervent conviction. Let us journey on, because it is our responsibility, because we are the backbone of society.
This is why, when the earthquake occurred in Wenchuan, the whole country, whether at the scene, or a thousand miles away, felt the same grief; why, during the Olympic Games in Beijing, whether we were middle class or poor, we knew the joy brought by the splendid scenes; why during the melamine milk powder incident, whether we were parents, or still without heirs, we struck the table rising to our feet in anger. This is because China is a whole, we share weal and woe, and have never been isolated. This is because we are the backbone of society, because when we look within, we find our love for people and country to be beyond doubt.
When we look within, the warm love in our hearts for this country tells us to how to proceed. That is why we not only praise the country’s progress, but also criticise its imperfections; why, holding up “the truth” as if holding a candle, we maintain our independence in the face of mass opinion; why if we can only issue a gleaming light, it bears a noble meaning. This is why you bought a copy of this newspaper today, though it offered little of profit and no entertainment whatsoever.
This is because we are rational patriots. Living through the grief of the earthquake, the splendour of the Olympics, 30 years of reform and opening, we have come of age. Coming together in this newspaper on this New Year, we are the backbone of society.
At this time, let us recall, 30 years ago, at the start of the meandering path of reform and opening, how hard were the privations our fathers endured in pioneering; how complex was the era they experienced, how long was the way they had to come? Today, having completed their mission for the country, their hair now turned white, they think back to how their generation brought this world into being. Our children live in a better world than in the past, but don’t we think they have the right to live in a better world? If the day comes when they ask us to tell our story, could we say we never shirked our responsibilities or failed to take up the historical duty entrusted to us?
That is why we cannot be cynics, cannot complain that “it is irrevocable.”
That is why we have to find the most fervent conviction. That is why we look to the depths of history and recall this country’s century-long vacillation. Because we are the backbone of society.
The more we look to the depths of history, the firmer we are. Yes, we want to support those common human values unwaveringly. We support progress, democracy, freedom, human rights; we support China’s move toward modern civilisation. Do we not recall how, over a century ago, our predecessors found that being complacent in their own culture would not save them, so hiding their pain deep inside, they undertook a long journey to find a way to revitalise the country? Therefore western winds blew eastward, arsenals were built to ward off external humiliation, schools built with a view to the future, to build the newspaper for the opening of their wisdom, and Mr Democracy and Mr Science brought the light of rejuvenation to this ancient country. At this juncture of our long history, have we not thought about where this country’s hope comes from? Have we never thought about how to extend the hope, so as not get the future path of state and the people wrong?
That is why we insist that various social forces play a fair game. That is why we call for the road of China’s reform and opening up to transcend corporate interests. That is why we support continued deepening of reform. That is why it is justice and equity that are goals that we must achieve no matter what; why the trend of a wealthy state with poor people needs to be completely reversed, no matter how complicated the work to be done.
All of this is because the baton of history is now in our hands. We are the backbone of society, not because we are in high positions, not because we have plenty of funds, not because we are extremely smart, no, we are no better than any generation of Chinese; but we have this opportunity. We have an opportunity, indeed a responsibility, to change China for the better. We cannot whisper to each other, but must sing in chorus this song demanding the common well-being of state and people, reverberating for over a century and sounding again today. That is why we shall believe in our mission, to lend strength to those lacking it, and enable pessimists to push forward. That is why we must know the truth and cannot fall into a world of untruth. That is why when we can be calm, deep and firm in speaking about our love of country. That is why we do not drift with the current, nor dance on air; that is why we shall be realists, and seek what ought to be done.
Because this continent is to the west of the Pacific, when the pale light of New Year dawns over the earth, we must be responsible to this country. When we look to the vast heavens, beneath them we see land criss-crossed by row upon row of incredible, huge earthquake-folded mountains, land of prosperous cities and anciently productive of grain, and coming and going in this country, people immersed in dreams; when our children are born crying out in their weak but loud and clear voices in the night, we will know that nothing is more precious than a conviction, and also that there has never been an era as difficult, yet as hopeful as this.