Han Han (韩寒): Why China Cannot Be a Cultural Power

ChinaHush has translated a speech that blogger and race car driver gave recently at Xiamen University:

Leaders, teachers, and students: Hi. Do you know why China couldn’t become a cultural power? Because in most of our speeches, “leaders” always come first, and our leaders are all illiterate. Moreover, they are scared of culture (or knowledge), but their job is to censor culture, so they can control culture. How can a country (controlled by these people) become a cultural power? What do you say, leaders?

Actually China has the potential to become a big cultural figure, let me tell you a story. I served as a chief editor for a magazine that couldn’t manage to publish until now. The constitution bestows us with the freedom of the press, on the other hand our laws bestow our leaders with the freedom of preventing you from exercising the freedom of the press. Something in the magazine couldn’t pass the — there is a cartoon, about a man, who doesn’t wear any clothes—of course this is unbearable, because relevant laws and regulations specify that we can not put the private parts on public magazines, I understand this, so I cover the illegitimate part with a super big logo of the magazine. Suddenly publisher and people from the censoring team say it’s not okay either, they say “now you covered the middle part of the person, it is a parade to our party central committee (挡中央=covering the middle, 党中央=party central committee, both pronounce the same). My reaction was just like you guys – hit by thunder. I thought to myself, my friend, it would be so much better if you invest such brilliant imagination into literary and artistic creation instead of censoring.

The story tells us that people are full of imagination. Of course lots of things can only stay in our mind, we cannot carry them out, we cannot write about them, most of the time we cannot even talk about them. We bear too many restrains, this is a rated country (like rated movie), how can it be possible for a rated country to foster abundant culture? I am a comrade with rather few self-restrain, however when I write I still cannot help but keep in mind avoiding writing this policeman, this leader, this policy, this regulation, and this legislation; skipping many histories, Tibet, Xinjiang, demonstrations; not touching fads, pornography, boycotting, arts, but elegancy is what I am incapable of. I am really incapable of that field, I am not Yu Qiuyu (also writer).

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