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China: Writings on the walls

Back in the day, big character posters were mostly used for vile purposes, so when they started popping up recently on shop fronts in a remote corner of China's Yunnan province, it's no surprise mention was made at major Chinese forum Tianya. From Tianya blogger Big Reporter (大记者):

云南石林县惊现”大字报”

Shilin County, Yunnan province's shocking “big character posters“.

10月22日上午,在云南省石林彝族自治县县城,很多单位的门口出现了一张印刷精美的海报,大标题赫然写着:”十问柳文炜”。
云南省石林彝族自治县是世界著名的喀斯特旅游所在地,也是著名的阿诗玛的故乡,自1956年成立彝族自治县,至今已达50年,今年年初,该县决定举行一次隆重的庆祝活动,跟”县庆”配套的一项重要工作就是改造整个县城的建筑风貌。

On the morning of October 22, a finely-printed poster appeared on the doors of many workplaces of Yunnan province's Shilin Yi minority autonomous region county seat which the big flashy title, “Ten Questions for Liu Wenwei”.
Yunnan province's Shilin Yi minority autonomous region county seat is home to the world-famous Karst region, as well as the famous Ashima‘s hometown. Established as a Yi minority autonomous region in 1956, the region decided to hold a grand celebration at the end of this year. Accompanying the “county celebration’ is a work project aimed at improving the entire county's scenic structures.

“大字报”中所指的柳文炜,就是石林县委书记,也是这次”城市改造”的发起人,对石林所有临街建筑物的改造,就出自他的想法,同时他也是改造工程的总指挥。
据记者调查,本次改造,就是把石林县城及临近风景区的所有建筑物全部粉刷一新,加上装饰性的图象,用崭新的城市面貌,来迎接50周年县庆。全部工程计划投资2039万元,但被涉及的装修单位,都需要按一定的比例缴纳工程费用,如新加坡跟中国合资的石林大酒店,就需要为这个改造工程支付638400元的费用。

The Liu Wenwei referred to in the “big character poster” is Shilin County's Party Secretary; he's also the organizer of this “City Improvement,” which will see all the streetside buildings renovated, an idea he came up with. He's also the commander-in-chief of the project.
According to this journalist's investigation, this project will see all buildings in Shilin county and surrounding scenic areas completely repainted, with ornamental images added, giving the city a brand new look in preparation for the fifty years anniversary. The entire project is planned to cost RMB 20,390,000, but the workplaces involved will all need to foot a fixed portion of the work project costs, like the Singapore-China jointly invested Shilin Grand Hotel, which will require RMB 638,400 in construction costs.

另据了解,石林县2005年的财政收入仅有1.7亿元,经济支柱是旅游和烤烟,没有任何工业。部分乡镇的群众,生活还处于贫困线以下。
在”大字报”上,共有十个问题,其中四个问题就是针对”城市风貌改造工程”的,其他的问题,则是质问柳文炜都给石林人民做了什么实事好事,话题所指,都是跟人民群众生活息息相关的事。

Another way of understanding this, Shilin county's fiscal income for 2005 was only RMB 170 million, their economy mainstay is in tourism and curing tobacco; there is no industry. In some of the villages and towns, life remains at the poverty line and below. Written on the “big character poster” were ten questions in total, four of which were aimed at the ‘City Style Improvement Project”. The other questions, aside from demand to know what, particularly that of use, that Liu Wenwei has done to give the Shilin villagers, and all regard the fate of the mass of the villagers’ lives.

上午9点左右,县城里正在改造城市风貌的施工队接到通知,全部停工待命。
“大字报”出现之前,石林的居民看着画在建筑物上的牛头马面,无奈地说:石林在上演现代的”聊斋”,县城变成了鬼城。看见”大字报”之后,广大市民议论纷纷,部分经营户决定关门罢市,抗议柳文炜不顾实际情况,大搞政绩工程的行为。
记者前往县委采访,保卫人员称书记正在召开紧急会议,不接受采访。记者拨打柳文炜的手机,却始终处于关机状态。
上午11点左右,县城里的改造工作又恢复了施工。

At around nine in the morning the City Style Improvement Project work team received a notice to stop all work and stand by.
Before the “big character poster appeared, the Shilin residents had seen the cows and horses painted on the buildings and helplessly said, Shilin is re-enacting Strange Stories. The county became a ghost town. After seeing the “big character poster”, most residents began talking; some of the business owners decided to close shop and go on strike, to protest Liu Wenwei's disregard for reality with his extravagant work project.
This reporter went to interview the country secretary, but the security guards said he was in the middle of an urgent meeting, and not accepting interviews. This reporter phoned Liu Wenwei's mobile phone, but it was closed all along.
At around eleven a.m., the county improvement work resumed.

Grassroots blog aggregator Bullog is expanding its focus, according to a post today from founder Luo Yonghao (罗永浩):

重要通知

Important Notice

文字最牛逼的中国当代小说家,我的文坛偶像,曾经英明地指出过”万物生长靠日”的冯唐老师从明天起将在牛博首发他尚未完成的长篇小说”万物生长三部曲”之三”北京北京”。冯唐老师会每周发表一章,边写边发表。

Starting tomorrow, the coolest contemporary Chinese novelist, my literary world idol and the man who once brilliantly pointed out that ‘all living things live to screw Japan’ [a play on the Chinese for Japan and ‘all living things depend on the sun’], teacher Feng Tang[zh] will publish the third part of his as yet unfinished novel ‘The All Living Things Trilogy’, ‘Beijing, Beijing’ on Bullog. Teacher Feng Tang will publish one chapter each week, publishing as he writes.

在电脑屏幕上阅读长篇小说是一件很痛苦的事情,但是这一次是冯唐的小说,牛博的读者们有福了。

Reading novels on the computer screen is quite painful, but this time it's a Feng Tang novel; Bullog readers are quite lucky.

冯唐写的自序见这里:

For Feng Tang's autobiography, see here [zh]:

Another new addition to the growing list of bloggers featured at Bullog is high-profile academic and sexologist, Li Yinhe. Here are two of her posts this week:

不敢相信这是真的

I can't believe this is for real

今天在网上看到一条消息:上海有一份高考作文因为写的是同性之间的爱情而被判零分。看了看那作文,文笔还不错,怎么也不至于得零分的。不敢相信这是真的。如果真有这样的事情发生,那反映出太多的问题:

Today I saw some news on the internet: one high school student in Shanghai received a zero on their university entrance exam for writing a same-sex love story composition. I saw the composition, it's not bad. How could it be worth zero points? I can't believe this is for real. If things like this really do happen, this suggests too many problems:

第一,同性恋恐惧症在公众中的严重程度。
第二,高考评分原则:评价一份作文,应当以语文程度为标准,还是以思想倾向、价值观为标准?这是典型的不公正评分。
第三,如果一个评卷者以个人的价值观或未必正确的多数人的价值观来评分,应不应当受到不公正评分的追究?有没有一个公正的机制来对评分标准的对错做出评判?被不公平评分的人有没有申诉的途径?看来当事人并没有这样的途径来提出抗诉。
第四,对待歧视少数族群的行为能不能追究其法律责任?在有反歧视法的社会,这样公开的歧视行为是要受到法律追究的,用以避免再犯。我们现在没有类似的反歧视法,也就不能避免这样的典型的歧视事件再次发生。少数族群的利益也就无法得到保障。
有正义感、有良知的人们应当站出来反对这样公开的歧视事件,提高国民素质,保护和团结少数族群,建构和谐社会。

1. The severe degree of homophobia in society.
2. The principles of scoring university entrance examinations: should rating a composition be based on a language standard, aptitude for thinking or set of values?
3. If a marker relies on a personal set of values or the not necessarily correct set of values of the majority in grading, should the reception of an unfair grade be investigated? Is there a fair mechanism for judging mistakes in grading? Does the person graded unfairly have the option of appeal? It seems the person involved here did not have the option to file an appeal.
4. Can discrimination against minorities be dealt with by looking into legal liability? In an anti-discriminatory society, this kind of openly discriminatory behavior would result in a legal investigation, to prevent it from occuring again.

We do not now have these kinds of anti-discrimination laws, and cannot prevent this kind of typical discrimination from recurring. The rights of minorities also have no means of protection. People with a sense of justice, with conscience ought to stand up and oppose this kind of open discrimination, improve our citizens’ character, protect and unite minorities and construct a harmonious society.

While things like this still happen in China without the resulting fury that would be seen in many other countries, strides are still being made in taking a soft and patient approach as seen in Yi's follow-up post with the news that students in Southern China have started up the first campus queer group in the country:

祝贺全国第一个同性恋社团成立

Celebrate the forming of the country's first same-sex association

今天从广州一位记者那里得知,全国第一个同性恋社团在中山大学正式成立并成功注册。这真是一件值得祝贺的事情,是一个里程碑式的事件,是历史的进步。他们在创造历史。他们的举动意义重大。
目前,应当尊重少数族群而不是歧视他们已经成为全世界所有文明国家的共识,也是知识界的共识。中国就是这样一步一步地走向文明,社会就是这样一点一点变得更加美好。

I learned today from a journalist in Guangzhou that the country's first same-sex association has been formed and successfully registered at Sun Yat-sen University. This really is something worth celebrating, a milestone, a historical step. They are creating history. The significance of their act is great.
At present, that minorities deserve respect and not discrimination has already become the consensus of all the world's civilized countries, as well as the consensus of the intelligentsia. China is thus moving towards civility one step at a time, and society is thusly becoming nicer bit by bit.

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