A July 31 People’s Daily overseas edition editorial simultaneously called for internal reform and warned against U.S. efforts to undermine China from the grassroots. Netizens have latched on to this passage in particular:
…with ‘Internet freedom’ as its slogan, they [the Americans] will attack ‘top down’ governance in order to push forward the traditional model of liberal democracy; through the use of ‘rights lawyers’, underground religion, dissidents, internet heroes, and disadvantaged social groups as the core forces, they will push for a ‘bottom-up’ approach to Chinese governance from the grassroots to lay a foundation for changing China…
Cui Weiping, an outspoken professor at the Beijing Film Academy, gave an especially piquant retort to this editorial on Weibo:
BeijingCuiWeiping: Everyone can relate to at least one of these: “rights lawyers, underground religion, dissidents, internet heroes, and disadvantaged social groups.”
Others have compared the article’s list of five bad influences to the five black categories of the Cultural Revolution:
GuoOldStudent: The old five black categories: land owners, the rich, anti-revolutionaries, bad elements, rightists. The new five black categories: rights lawyers, underground religion, dissidents, internet heroes, and disadvantaged social groups.
LittleKe: First comes family, then country, then everything else. Average Chinese are just trying to get by in their daily lives. They won’t be able to help the country until their own situation is stable, and after that they’ll naturally consider everything else. The people of Shifang and Qidong are doing just that: protecting their own. They’re perfectly capable of protecting the interests of the country. Whether you believe it or not, I firmly do.
HeBin: I’ve heard those American devils plan to use rights lawyers and online activists to destroy our Communist society. But how come, to this day, I still haven’t gotten any secret signals from a female spy?
C_thun: Top-down change? We of the disadvantaged social groups have never seen such a thing.
CrazyApe: So you admit the U.S. is the one addressing the most basic, urgent demands of the Chinese people, huh?
SecondGenZhengjiuFutian: Aren’t the five types of people this People’s Daily articles points out the targets of the government’s security and stability maintenance projects?
PennyNerd: Liberal democracy is traditionally advanced with the “top down” approach? Did Puyi or the Nationalists pave the way for building the New China? The People’s Daily is talking crazy again.
ChenYoshi: So this is where this article originally comes from. A lot of people haven’t been able to find it because it’s being posted under different titles. Man, they actually put ‘rights lawyers’ in the five black categories… All you lawyers out there, take warning.
SanXiaAncientTea: What this article really means: ‘rights lawyers,’ underground religion, dissidents, Internet heroes, and disadvantaged social groups are the least stable elements of Chinese society, and the Party will take action against them when needed.
Via CDT Chinese. Translation by Little Bluegill.