A common theme in Chinese netizens’ reactions to news from abroad is introspection, with stories often becoming lenses through which to view Chinese issues. The 2011 Japan quake prompted musings on Chinese nationalism and the government’s handling of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, while the death of Steve Jobs triggered furious soul-searching about China’s apparent inability to produce a Jobs or an Apple of its own. Chinese responses to two recent online sensations from the US have, in part, followed a similar pattern.
The ‘Kony 2012‘ video, which urged its audience to join the fight against Joseph Kony’s coercion of thousands of African children into paramilitary activity or sex slavery, has now been viewed over 100 million times. A backlash quickly formed, with critics questioning both the video’s content and its creators’ finances. (The organisation, Invisible Children, responds here). Naturally, the video soon reached China—one subtitled version on Tudou has now received a further 2.6 million views—and chinaSMACK has translated a range of Sina Weibo posts on ‘Kony 2012’. While some found the video convincing, others saw it as just another case of “Americans using the banner of humanitarianism for their own interests and benefit”, an accusation often levelled at Western governments or organisations which criticise China. But still others saw China’s own problems reflected in the Kony campaign:
黑曼巴与老男孩: The people is power, democracy is the future. After watching, not only am I heartbroken for Africa’s children, I’m even more heartbroken for our China…
嘟嘟佳艳: After watching this short film, I’m reminded of China’s abducted children, who are forcibly crippled to go beg. Who has cared about them?!
有关部门林时恭: I wish they would come to the Heavenly Kingdom and save those children in impoverished mountain areas, as well as spread awareness of the behavior of the Heavenly Kingdom’s corrupt officials to the entire world.
See more reactions to ‘Kony 2012’ translated by Tea Leaf Nation.
Meanwhile, Greg Smith’s scathing New York Times op-ed on the declining corporate culture of Goldman Sachs, his former employer, was also translated and passed around on Sina Weibo. Rather than laying into the moral failings of American capitalism, reactions gathered by Tea Leaf Nation express dismay at a similarly amoral business climate in China, and lament the absence of whistleblowers like Smith.
… Many agreed with @hi-李力华 that “Chinese companies are even more rotten.” @熌銧 saw Goldman as “a very good fit for China’s conditions,” perhaps because, as @圈圈CD wrote, “This is the atmosphere in the entire ‘celestial dynasty’…as long as you can make money, everything else is secondary. Look how we are killing ourselves!”
But it’s not quite as easy to burn one’s bridges in China. @你要麽样就麽样 explained that “these phenomena in China are absolutely not astonishing; to the contrary, [managers’] resignation letters are always the same form: ‘Thanks to the leaders for their care over many years …[something] made me suddenly discover [that] because of family reasons [I must retire].’”