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Don't understand the actual situation

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不明真相 (bùmíng zhēnxiàng): don’t understand the actual situation

Invented character combining the four characters in the phrase "don’t understand the actual situation."
"Braving a complex electromagnetic environment, a group that doesn’t understand the actual situation arrives at a strange maritime space to surround and watch. Currently, they are emotionally stable." (Source unknown)

A stock phrase often used by the government and official media to describe "mass incidents" (群体事件 qúntǐ shìjiàn) such as riots and protests. It suggests that those who participate in such incidents do so not because of any real grievances, but because they have been duped by a few schemers with "ulterior motives."

Even state-run media have questioned this demeaning term. In July 2009, Xinhua ran an editorial suggesting that this phrase should not be the immediate explanation for all protests. The Southern Metropolis Daily commented in August of that year:

Whenever there is a mass incident, some government agencies will always issue statements to the effect that "people who didn’t understand the actual situation" were incited by "those with ulterior motives." But this pretext is lifeless and unconvincing.

每有群体性事件,一些政府机关的文宣必定是“不明真相”的群众是被“别有用心”的人蛊惑的。可这套说辞却是最苍白也没有说服力的。 [Source]

Netizens have since co-opted the phrase.


Zhongqingbaocaolin (@中青报曹林): A Tencent user asked me whether I feel sorry for Guo Meimei. My answer is: I don’t feel sorry for Guo Meimei. I feel sorry for those of us who don’t understand the actual situation, who have been fooled this entire time. In the beginning, we were fooled by Guo Meimei. Now, despite the fact that some people are telling us the truth, many still feel like they are being fooled.