Word of the Week: Believe It or Not, I Do

Editor’s Note: The Word of the Week comes from China Digital Space’s Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens and frequently encountered in online political discussions. These are the words of China’s online “resistance discourse,” used to mock and subvert the official language around censorship and political correctness.

If you are interested in participating in this project by submitting and/or translating terms, please contact the CDT editors at CDT [at] chinadigitaltimes [dot] net.

至于你们信不信,由你,我反正是信了 (Zhìyú nǐ xìn bú xìn, yóu nǐ, wǒ fǎnzhèng shì xìn le): Whether you believe it or not, it’s up to you, but I do anyway.

During a press conference held by the Railway Ministry on July 24, 2011, a reporter asked why the government had attempted to bury portions of the high-speed train that crashed in Wenzhou the day before. Ministry spokesman Wang Yongping gave the following response (as translated by ChinaGeeks):

Why was the train car buried? Actually, when I got off the plane today, the comrade who picked me up from the airport said that he already saw this kind of news online. I was on the plane so I didn’t have a good handle on things. I wanted to ask him, “Why would there be such a foolish question? Can an event that the whole world knows about really be buried?” He told me, “It’s not being buried. Truthfully, this news cannot be buried.” We have already tried though countless ways to broadcast this information to society.

But about burying [the train car], [the people who picked me up from the airport] gave this explanation. Because the scene of the rescue was very complicated. Below was a quagmire. It was very hard to perform rescue operations. So they buried the head of the car underneath, covered it with dirt, mainly to facilitate rescue efforts. Right now, this is his explanation. Whether or not you believe it; either way, I believe it.

Watch Wang make the statement that cost him his job here.

What is remarkable is Wang’s eagerness to engage in self-deception and accept such an absurd explanation. Whether the rest of us allow ourselves to be similarly fooled, Wang suggests, is our own problem.

“Whether you believe it or not, it’s up to you, but I do anyway” has become Chinternet meme. This statement has been translated literally from Chinese to English as “I negative positive believe,” implying that Chinese citizens have no choice but to believe what the authorities claim—even if it makes no sense.

Some online parodies of Wang’s remarks:

Housing prices must be raised until they reach reasonable levels. Whether you believe it or not, it’s up to you, but I do anyway.

一定要把房价抬升到合理的价位,至于你们信不信,由你,我反正是信了!

The Railways Ministry claims that several hundred people were picked up by a UFO. Whether you believe it or not, it’s up to you, but I do anyway. (There were doubts about the official number of those injured and killed, as it contradicted earlier news reports.)

铁道部称还有几百号人被UFO接走。至于你信不信,由你,反正我是信了

This crash was a drill! No one died! Whether you believe it or not, it’s up to you, but I do anyway.

这次事故其实是一次演习!~并没有人员伤亡!~ 至于你信不信,由你,我反正是信了