Han Han (韩寒), a Shanghai based twenty six years old popular young writer, race car driver and leading blogger, immediately posted a comment on his blog when he heard about the CCTV fire, before any news had been reported about the cause of the accident or the death of a firefighter on the scene. Han writes in his typical witty, sarcastic style, translated by CDT’s Linjun Fan (the post has already been censored, but is still being reposted by many of his fellow bloggers. As one of China’s leading bloggers, Han’s blog enjoys more then one hundred forty thousands page views per day) :
1. It’s said that the building had not been put into service when the fire took place, which was a fortunate thing in this disaster. I hope nobody got injured or killed in this accident.
2. The most important and toughest question is: Who lit the fireworks that caused the accident? Was it some ordinary residents or CCTV employees themselves? The government must give the public a truthful answer. It should not equivocate, or avoid responsibilities, or use a scapegoat.
3. We must be careful with safety issues when setting off fireworks.
4. The burned building has always being called “the thing underneath the Big Underpants.” Now CCTV burned its own “thing,” such self-castration just perfectly fits the image of CCTV being the world’s number one eunuch media. For sure, the present CCTV does not deserve to have one.
5. When I turned on my TV to watch a CCTV news program immediately after the fire, there was no mention of the fire. The anchor’s emotion was stable.* News footage of the Australia Fire was being aired repeatedly.
6. If CCTV’s premium evening news program started airing at that time, the cameramen could move their lens toward the window after news anchors introduced what was happening with the fire —they would get the images of the fire and produce the first unedited news story in CCTV’s history.
7. I asked my friends to check out news about the fire on the Internet. They accused me of lying and told me they saw no news coverage on the accident.
8. I checked again and indeed found all the coverage gone. It turned out that the “order from the emperor” had come, which said, “all the news websites, please publish only the stories provided by Xinhua News Agency on the fire at the CCTV Tower North Addition. Do not publish photos or video. Do not publish investigative stories on the incident. Put the news articles under domestic news section, and close the public commenting function under the articles. Do not place blogger discussions on the incident on the top. Do not post them as recommended articles.”
9, Thus our officials make big incidents appear insignificant, and hope the public will ignore them. It might not be a big deal to lose the valuable state property, since our taxpayers’ money is being wasted anyway. It either gets burned or eaten away [by government officials]. I just wish the construction workers and the firefighters won’t be injured and can go back home safely. I admire and respect firefighters very much, especially when I see them at a fire or car accident scene.
10, As for CCTV, this is so hard to imagine, such a always truth-speaking media, how could it be hit by such a tragic event? The gods must have been blind.
* “the emotion of the family members of victims is stable” is a standard CCTV broadcasting cliche when reporting disasters.
Update: Han Han was recently elected by a netizen group called “Citizen Alliance” as one of three recipients of the “2008 Citizen Responsibility Award.” Han gave his acceptance speech by text message, translated by CDT:
“I want to thank the Citizen Alliance for giving me the Citizen Responsibility Award. I know I have done very little. How could I deserve this? This must mean that more people actually did even less. I am humbled. I hope that I, more importantly, we, can do better in this new year. I hope that a few years from now, it will be difficult to decide who to give this award to [because there will be too many outstanding candidates]. Then … let me just thank everyone for now.”