Monday, April 30, 2012

The rural Chinese peasant (well, in this case, lawyer) as "everyman"

This report on NPR seeks to explain the differing Chinese government reactions to (1) the Bo Xilai affair and (2) the escape (and ongoing saga) of Chen Guangcheng, the blind chinese activist/lawyer apparently now being harbored at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.  Specifically, journalist Louisa Lim compares the Chinese response to coverage of the two incidents on social media, such as the microblogging site Weibo.  With respect to the Xilai matter, the suggestion is that the government is "mixing it up" online, perhaps releasing false information so that the public will be confused about what is happening.  Given what Xilai is said to have done, the government is not concerned that he may be demonized online.  With Chen, on the other hand, the government "censorship machine has tried to deny his very existence."  Charlie Custer of the translation site, ChinaGeeks, org., suggests that this is because Chen's case is "more potent" because Chen represents China's "everyman"--poor and rural.  Lim quotes Custer:
The whole Bo Xilai thing is sort of like watching an opera or watching a movie.  It's very entertaining and very interesting, but it doesn't cause the average person to think, 'Wow, that could happen to me.'  Chen Guangcheng comes from a rural, poor background, so he strikes a chord with a lot of people.  Then seeing his family--these people who are completely innocent of anything--be arrested and held without trial or charges, that does resonate with a lot people.
Read more about the Chen Guangcheng matter here.  Read more about Bo Xilai here.

No comments: