The following piece is a response to a May 29, 2012, editorial in the Chinese-language Global Times called “Fighting Corruption is a Crucial Battle for Chinese Society”. The article created a sensation last week on China’s internet, where some portals used an altered headline: “China Must Permit Moderate Corruption, the Public Should Understand”. The term “moderate corruption,” or shidu fubai (适度腐败), quickly became an online buzzword, drawing scorn from many Chinese.
On the Global Times take on the issue of corruption, response to Web user 1: It is all true to say [as the Global Times editorial does] that, to varying degrees, all countries in the world have corruption, that in China it is relatively serious, and that at present there is no way to utterly root it out. Some web users believe that the Global Times . . . has spoken the truth, that it is like the courageous child pointing out that the emperor’s news clothes [are a fraud]. But this isn’t where the problem lies. The problem lies in the conclusion the paper comes to after it has pointed out that the emperor is wearing no clothes — that the naked emperor is pleasing to look upon. They have broken through the floor of universal human values.
On the Global Times take on the issue of corruption, response to Web user 2: Some official media go even faster and farther than the authorities in challenging universal values, as though they are testing the intelligence and patience of the people. Monopoly media that go unchecked are not an outgrowth of freedom of speech, but rather brainwashing propaganda, a hotbed of fascism. If we do not refute them, they will someday reach the following conclusion — that in fact rape exists in all countries, that it cannot be utterly eliminated, and therefore a moderate level of rape is reasonable, something that women who are raped should understand and accept.
On the Global Times take on the issue of corruption, response to Web user 3: We must remember that there are certain lines that humanity must not cross. All countries in the world have corruption, but our official media, the Global Times, is the only to have put into words the idea that the people should understand and accept corruption! There are cheats in every nation, but no cheat harmed more people than [the official] People’s Daily newspaper during the Great Leap Forward, when it printed fake news about historic harvests. There are some lines that our official media must respect, otherwise our country and our people have no hope!
On the Global Times take on the issue of corruption, response to Web user 4: If our country is to jumpstart political reform and take to the road anew, then this must begin with freedom of speech. Only if the people are permitted to speak can consensus values emerge from among the people. Over the years, value concepts that are generally accepted by humanity have quietly and steadily found a place [in China], and even Party and government leaders have increasingly accepted them, but still time and again we see words that challenge the basic threshold of humanity emerging from our official media, always anonymously. Really, who are they?
On the Global Times take on the issue of corruption, response to Web user 5: There are also tabloid newspapers in the West that publish unreliable information and sensational accounts, but these newspapers cannot become the mainstream, and even less can they obtain the support of government, having a monopoly on discourse power. The key of course is that their readers are few. But in China the Global Times has a massive circulation, and some young people take to it like a drug. So ultimately we cannot entirely blame the Global Times. The readers determine the nature of the medium. Happy Children’s Day.
[This is a translation of a post Yang Hengjun made to his blog on June 1, 2012.]