Drawing the News: Chinese Dream, Chinese Nightmare

Last week, Luobowang (“Carrot Net”) invited readers to satirize a public service advertisement in the state-run Global Times [zh]:


How did China get strong? Because of the Communist Party.


The newspaper has added a “Chinese dream” chop to the “father of Chinese cartoons” Feng Zikai’s original painting:

The children did not know of spring / and asked why the grass was turning green.

儿童不知春 问草何故绿

As his son Feng Huazhan wrote in A Sketch of Feng Zikai:

During the Cultural Revolution, my father was convicted under charges fabricated by Lin Biao and the Gang of Four. He was severely persecuted both physically and mentally. At the beginning of 1970, he was critically ill and was confined to bed for half a year. After his recovery, he carried on drawing and engaged in translation work despite persecution from Lin Biao and the Gang of Four. But because he had suffered for so long, he fell ill with lung cancer. September 15, 1975, under a cloudy sky, my father died unavenged.


Feng was rehabilitated in 1978, and a children’s book award was created in his honor in 2009.

Badiucao, a cartoonist active on Twitter, takes up Luobowang’s challenge in light of the death of watermelon farmer Deng Zhengjia at the hands of city management officials (chengguan):

How did China’s chengguan get strong? Because of the Communist Party.


The kind teacher who taught the children why the grass turned green must now explain how her little red book could draw blood from a melon.

Chengguan are municipal patrols administered separately from the police, and technically have about as much power as a parking officer in the United States. But chengguan have made gained notoriety for their violent attacks on street peddlers. The official media have often blamed chengguan violence on a few bad apples, rather than the system itself. But Deng’s violent end–a “Chinese nightmare“–has further weakened an already struggling argument.

Learn more about Feng Zikai from this exhibit review by ArtAsiaPacific. CDT readers may also be interested in An Artistic Exile: A Life of Feng Zikai by Geremie Barmé, professor of Chinese history at Australian National University.

Via CDT Chinese. Translation by Mengyu Dong.


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