The New York Times just published a profile of China’s most popular blogger Han Han. What’s more important than Han Han’s outspoken writings themselves is the fact that his words resonate with a huge, mostly young, population, creating a “Han Han phenomenon.”
For example, while Twitter is blocked in China, sinaweibo, a microblogging service hosted by China’s internet portal sina.cn has dominated the microblogging market in China. Han Han opened his account on sinaweibo on February 4, 2010, and, before he had even sent one message, he had gathered 30,000 followers. Three days later, he simply typed one Chinese word “Wei” (Hello). This single-character post immediately generated a frenzy on sinaweibo, with more than 6500 reposts, and over 13,900 “comments” from other sinaweibo users. In Han Han’s signature combination of humor and a sharp tongue, he then said: “I meant to type ‘Hey’ instead of ‘Wei,’ but I made a typo. I didn’t correct it for fear people would blame the ‘relevant agencies’ [ie censors].” [Han Han’s blog posts are often targeted by censors, and each time, such censorship generates protest from his fans, and more netizens repost his censored text in other forums.]
On March 4, Han Han wrote a post on his blog titled, “Han Feng is a good cadre.” The post commented on the online leak of the personal diary of Han Feng, the Tobacco Bureau chief in Guangxi, which became the hottest topic in Chinese cyberspace. In Han Feng’s diary, he recorded, in a matter-of-fact way, activities such as his sexual encounters with several of his female subordinates, bribes taken in his work, and some other personal hobbies or work-related matters. (Han Feng was subsequently arrest for bribery, which was announced in a brief statement in official media after his diary became public.) Han Han’s post says that according to what Han Feng’s diary reveals, Bureau chief Han should really be considered a “good official”, since the amount of bribes and number of sexual relationships he had was peanuts compared with so many other officials in China today. Han wrote, “If his diary is true, I dare to say he is a good cadre. In six months, he only accepted bribes of 60,000 RMB. This is the first time in recent years I have seen a five-digit number after the word “bribery.” Where can you find such a clean bureau chief?”
The following are excerpts of Han Han’s new post, entitled: “Where can I find people as good as you are?”, translated by CDT:
In the post before my last post, I set a voting function (The two options are: 1) Han Feng is a good official, I hope that he will stay in his position, 2) Han Feng is a bad official, I hope that he will be punished severely according to the law) Over 210,000 independent IPs have voted, and the results show that 96%, which is to say, 200,000 voters, felt that Han Feng is a good cadre and hope that he will stay in his position. Less than 10,000, 4% of voters, felt that Han Feng is a bad cadre and hope that he will be punished severely according to law.
Of course, from now on I will set up the voting function more often, in order to compensate everyone’s dismay that no one has seen a ballot but somehow so many representatives in National People’s Congress have been elected.
From today on, I made a unilateral decision that I will be the strategic collaborative partner of all the main government websites. When they start to vote on some event, I will do the same on my blog. I will not write any text about those events to avoid misleading or indicating voting results, and we will see how different the results will be.
Among voters this time, some from the bottom of his or her heart felt that Han Feng is not a bad official, since he was not that greedy. Some others sincerely felt that Han Feng was actually relatively better stock among officials; some others are just being sarcastic, and then some are only following the crowd. Nevertheless, everyone feels quite powerless. In my grandfather’s time, when people knew things were difficult, if you went to the officials, they may have even more difficulties. Later on, everyone knows that there were good cadres and bad cadres in this country. The result of the vote on Han Feng tells us that we have officially entered the era in which there are almost no cadres who are not corrupt, and the only difference is between good corrupt cadres and bad corrupt cadres. Everyone obviously thinks that Han Feng belongs to the good corrupt cadre category.
…. (Ordinary people in this country’s) expectations for cadres are not that they will serve the people, but that they don’t make trouble for people. You can have your fabulous house, drive your luxurious car, have your mistress, we will not bother you as long as you do not step over my son, evict me from my house, or take my girl; then you are a good cadre in the eyes of ordinary people. If netizens have a problem with this, just delete their posts; if writers have a problem with it, just harmonize them; if journalists have a problem with this, just one sentence instruction — “do not report negative news.”