Slap on the face
From China Digital Space
耳光 (ěr guāng): slap on the face
In 2012, there were two famous “slaps on the face.”
The first became a pivotal moment in the downfall of former Chongqing mayor and Party chief Bo Xilai, and was revealed during the trial of fallen Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun, once Bo's close ally and deputy mayor. When Wang revealed to Bo that his wife Gu Kailai was a suspect in slain British businessman Neil Heywood's case, Bo reportedly slapped Wang on the face in front of his subordinates. This slap was apparently the tipping point that caused Wang, fearing his safety, to flee the U.S. embassy in an ultimately unsuccessful bid for asylum. Wang's flight drew Beijing's attention to the murder investigation and ultimately led to the ouster of Bo, his ongoing corruption trial, and the conviction of his wife.
The slap inspired visual Internet memes, and sparked rampant netizen commentary. Netizens dubbed the incident, which set forth a series of events shaking the highest levels of China's leadership, “the slap heard round the world”. One quipped, “The system couldn't change things, the people couldn't change things -- the only thing that changed things was a slap on the face.”
The other “slap on the face” refers to an event that occurred amid the 2012 anti-Japanese protests over Japan's claim to the Diaoyu Islands. During the protests, a pro-Mao faction emerged, shouting slogans such as, “We miss you, Chairman Mao.” An elderly man stepped forward and said, “It doesn't make sense to place our hopes for our country's dignity and nationalism on Mao Zedong.” Thereupon, well-known Mao-sympathizer and Beijing Aeronautical University professor Han Deqiang approached the elderly man and slapped him twice. The photograph of Han slapping the elderly man circulated widely on the Internet, and a national debate ensued. While many netizens were enraged and party mouthpiece People's Daily went so far as to publish an editorial urging Han's arrest, other members of China's New Left movement spoke in his defense. Han remained unrepentant, stating that the man was talking nonsense and deserved to be hit.