Li Wenliang’s Wailing Wall, July and August 2022: “It’s Always the Victims Who Get Punished First.”

Two years and four months after whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang’s death from COVID-19, the “Wailing Wall” that emerged in the comments under his last Weibo post continues to serve as a repository for the hopes, dreams, worries, and opinions of countless Chinese citizens. CDT editors regularly collect and archive Wailing Wall content, including the selection of comments translated below.

Comments from July and early August covered a variety of topics related to current events in China and abroad. As always, there were expressions of gratitude and well-wishes to Dr. Li, interspersed with personal stories about job searches, business ventures, school exams, health issues, pandemic anxieties, travel plans, family life, romance, friendship, and more. In early July, commenters made reference to the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the outpouring of social media and real-world Schadenfreude that followed. Popular topics throughout the month included coronavirus outbreaks and lockdown fatigue, violent attacks on women in Tangshan and elsewhere, bans on commemorating the victims of the July 2021 Zhengzhou floods, and condescending attitudes toward so-called “small-town test takers” (小镇做题家)—individuals who, despite their modest means and lack of “social capital,” seek to improve their lot by excelling in China’s competitive educational system. 

In early August, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan prompted a wave of bellicose nationalistic sentiment across social media, a phenomenon which was also reflected on Li Wenliang’s Wailing Wall. Yet there were also voices of reason and moderation, calls for caution and circumspection, and wishes for a peaceful future.

The following Wailing Wall comments, selected and translated by CDT editors, were originally posted between late June and early August, 2022.

Comments from June 27-July 3, 2022:

Merylme:Dr. Li, your comments section has become a spiritual harbor for many of us. Three years on, the pandemic that claimed your life continues to transform the lives of countless Chinese people. I will never forget the courage you displayed three years ago in fulfilling your duties as a doctor. I wish you well in heaven.

行走的莲榴:I saw your name today in the hospital where I am studying to become a doctor:


(“We mourn our colleagues who died of COVID 19. Follow the rules, and help to overcome the pandemic!”)

扁舟有港:This city is too big, people are blinded by greed, and everyone feels insecure. Trickery is easy, making an honest living is harder, but seeing as we’re here, let’s give it a try. There are always certain things that should be held fast. I hope you can hold onto your integrity. You can’t change the world or other people, so just try to be your best self. [Chinese]

Comments from July 4-10, 2022:

你的头发乱了喔83097:Dr. Li, today in the city I saw a delivery driver get hit by a car. It wasn’t life-threatening, probably just a leg or back injury. An ambulance came with a stretcher. I suddenly felt so sad. Life is no easy thing. If they didn’t have to make a living, who would willingly spend all day out in the hot summer sun if they didn’t have to? They risk their lives just to deliver food, all for a delivery fee of just a few yuan. I hope we can be kinder and more understanding, and do less complaining.

暖暖的窝_:People aren’t willing to fight for their freedom, or to feel outrage about the injustices inflicted on others, but they’re congratulating each other on a job well done after a fabricated imaginary “enemy” was shot and killed. I feel deep despair for such a nation.

时云起x: Dr. Li, Abe got offed, and I’m so happy! Yeah, so what if that makes me small-minded—I really am happy about it! La-di-dah! I miss you, Mr. Li! [various emojis] //

半夏白画微:This has nothing to do with being large- or small-minded. You are fundamentally unable to distinguish right from wrong. You’ve been so deeply indoctrinated that you lack even the most elementary sense of good and evil.

天地不仁hkk:Observing this latest round of national gloating, I feel that a massacre cannot be far off. When China and Japan go to war again and the mainland becomes a bloodbath, I won’t be shocked if the Japanese devils use ruthless tactics, no matter how brutal.

花开满山红遍:@花开满山红遍: Lao Li, Shinzo Abe was assassinated, and a lot of people are acting like they won the lottery or something. And it’s no wonder, given all the anti-Japanese news broadcasts and nationalistic WWII dramas they consume, don’t you agree?

今晚来点舒芙蕾:I don’t know if the pandemic situation will improve, but our generation will never recover from the long-term side effects of the pandemic.

67Kg_-: Dr. Li, the Tangshan incident is over, and in a few days, we’ll have forgotten all about it. It’s like we can no longer even remember the things that used to make us so angry.

到处走到处画:Your comments section may well be the truest [record of] Chinese society. [Chinese]

Comments from July 11-16, 2022:

光是蒋丞:Dr. Li, between the Tangshan beating incident and mockery of “small-town test takers,” is our country even worth trusting anymore?

西米果912:Lao Li, it’s been a long time since my last visit here. Something that happened in my city recently has destroyed the faith I’ve held since childhood.

没了梦想-:Dr. Li, my wife is about to give birth, and I’m so nervous … I hope she has a smooth delivery and that our baby is safe and sound. 🙏

最爱的季节是夏天的刘颖:Dr. Li, I experienced a miscarriage last June, and this month, I became pregnant again. Every time I go for a check-up, I am so worried and scared. I hope this baby will be born safe and healthy. I’m going for a check-up tomorrow, and I’m so nervous I can’t sleep. Dr. Li, I hope that you will bless and protect my baby, and keep it healthy. And if it’s not too much trouble, maybe you could also look after the poor little thing that wasn’t destined to be, and tell it how much I miss it. [crying emojis] 

张宇宙kiro: I hope that the people who caused me to lose these three years of my life will get their comeuppance.

宇宙无敌你天哥:Dr. Li, you must love this country too, right? But the dark side of the system is gradually emerging.

他又来改名字了:China’s hope rests on the shoulders of the people who comment here.

Cute_ilil: Doctor Li, why do people have to get married and have children? I don’t want to get married, let alone have children, but no one understands. In their eyes, I’m just an “unnatural woman.”

兰土豆:Dr. Li, today I saw the “Notice of Political Rehabilitation” that the county government  issued to my grandfather in 1983. He was accused of being a counterrevolutionary and died of malnutrition in 1961 … at the age of 66. [Chinese]

Comments from July 17-24, 2022:

SYYY63549: Dr. Li, there’s been another beating incident in Tangshan, but it disappeared from the “hot search” list in a matter of seconds. There wasn’t much media discussion of the beating incident last month, but a clarification issued a few days ago by a movie star got over 200 media reports. Is this really the kind of country we want?

大棚西瓜便宜了:My classmate had their Weibo account banned for reposting about societal “incidents.” There are so many bad people here, but it’s always the victims who get punished first.

有事钟无艳丿无事夏迎春:Didi is going down, and it is such a joke: people are being randomly issued red health codes, and they’re worried about some company’s customer data breach? They’ve already chased off almost all of the Internet moguls. Soon there will be a new leadership term, and another round of welfare for “second generation red elites.” Ordinary Chinese people have a rough future in store.

Yologin: I tossed my book aside and ran out to see the rainbow:

沐雪霖雲:Dr. Li, today is the one-year anniversary of the June 20 floods in Zhengzhou. I took a quick glance at the various Henan and Zhengzhou official media outlets, and none of them ran memorials or commemorations. And they’re not even allowing people to place flowers at the Shakou Road subway entrance [where people drowned]. Sigh …

一个人涅槃:​​Dr. Li, I came here to your treasured place to light a candle for our compatriots who died in Zhengzhou last year. 🕯

长大之前:Dr. Li, today I saw a picture of you tattooed on a patient’s forearm. Then I came here and saw so many people wishing you a good night. Amid these turbulent times, we have not forgotten you. [Chinese]

Comments from July 25-31, 2022:

吖吖吖轩222222:I hope China can stay away from war forever. // NI一抹微笑如茉莉:Dr. Li, Pelosi is getting ready to visit Taiwan.

Only丶凝宸22192:Dr. Li, I have seen too much injustice in the past six months. Why are public servants taking the opposite side of the people they’re supposed to be serving?

Tea358_: Yesterday’s sunset:

居居不美:Hello, Dr. Li. This is the first time I’ve left a message for you. We’ve had three [COVID-19] outbreaks in Lanzhou in the last half year, and we are still in lockdown, but we’re going to reopen soon. I just wanted to leave a record of it. Here’s wishing good health and smooth sailing to all the lovely people!

晓山晨雾谷清风: Dr. Li, the pandemic isn’t over yet, and our small town, the county seat, has been under static management for half a month. “Static management” is their new watchword.

Onelastconfession: Our community just sent out emergency food packages. I got three bags of “snail rice noodles,” two ears of corn, five carrots, two onions, and a few potatoes. I want to eat meat. [Chinese]

Comments from August 1-5, 2022:

姿姿不倦的小耳朵:Xiao Liang, Pelosi is going to Taiwan, and I don’t know why our reaction is so huge.

鹏哥的BGM:Dr. Li, a mob of people shouting for war is going to push China into an abyss from which there is no return.

起司炖狐狸:I have an inkling that my generation will face war, destruction and confrontation. I’ve thought it over, and I’m not going back. I’ll just muddle along, and if I have to live the rest of my life as an expat, so be it.

南京-老王:Dr. Li, in just three short years, the world has changed beyond all recognition. If you were to come back, you’d find it unfamiliar.

Zkkkkkzzzzkk: Dr. Li, the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Pelosi, is going on a sneak visit to our precious island of Taiwan. I hope our nation can complete the great task of reunification in one fell swoop. I also hope you will be able to see that from Heaven. //yushennnnnn: Dr. Li, if you are still here, you must be, like us, looking forward to Taiwan’s return to the Motherland.

林远方阿:Dr. Li, Pelosi visited Taiwan today. Everyone is very nervous. We don’t want war. We want to resolve this conflict in the most peaceful way possible. Are you watching, too? I hope your life there is better than it was here.

车号648320:Good evening, Doctor Li! On today’s Qixi Festival, are you doing well in heaven? In that vast starry sky, which star are you?

揍瓦鱼:Today I saw a remembrance of Dr. Li at the National COVID Memorial Wall in London. The people of the world give their sincere thanks for everything you did for us.

我的小小宇宙_W:To everyone in the comments section that I’ve never met, be happy and healthy—come on, you can do it, strangers! [Chinese]

CDT’s Wailing Wall archive, and selections here, compiled by Tony Hu.

 

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