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China: New York Charging Bull hits public

Critiques on Chinese tourists’ vulgar behaviors and ignorance of public rules on foreign land have been all-too-familiar. But this time, the Charging Bull sculpture in Wall-street aroused netizens’ different voices.

On 15th,Nov, Wang Fang (王芳) , an anchorwoman of Beijing TV, wrote on her blog about an image she chanced to see on Wall Street, NYC. Several Chinese tourists climbed up one after another the famous Bull sculpture there which has long been a landmark, riding on it in a perky manner, posing for pictures.

rider CH1

CH3
Meanwhile, Wang Fang recorded the amazement of onlookers at the Chinese tourists’ misbehavior. Here is an excerption:

看着这么一群人翻身上牛,很多老外摇头看热闹,有人问“Are you Chinese or Japanese?”这些人中的一位自豪的喊道:“我们是中国人!”

Gazing at such a group of people mounting the bull, quite a few foreigners around shook heads at the “stunt”. Someone asked “Are you Chinese or Japanese?” One of the tourists proudly called out “We are Chinese!”

She moreover quoted a cleaner’s remark who’s working nearby.

附近的一位清洁工人也过来看热闹,交谈中他告诉我,在这里工作快两年了,还是第一次看到有人骑在牛上。

A cleaner came to see such a shocking image too. On the talk he told me it was the first time he had ever seen someone riding on the bull since 2 years ago he began working here.

The post was soon put under focus in several main portal websites along with a lot of condemnations that tagged the riders “scum of a community”, “shame of Chinese”.

马蹄莲8628 commented:

在电视里看到了这个节目,真得很为中国人丢脸,中国人的素质不高,兜里有了几个臭钱,就到处显摆,典型的暴发户的嘴脸。

I watched this on TV, feeling it quite a shame of Chinese. Those vulgar people who show off after having a little stinking money in pockets are just ugly upstarts.

The Hong Kong-based paper Sun featured the incident with the topic “Mainland tourists ridiculed themselves by riding the bull, losing face on Wall Street” (骑铜牛拍照沦笑柄 内地游客华尔街出丑)

Big Turn

However, on 20th, Nov, the situation changed dramatically when a post on the largest overseas Chinese net forum MITBBS caught public attention. Blogger Kyasky posted many more pictures showing foreigners riding on the bull as well, mocking public’s fuss at a common stuff.

The post: Who said New York forbids bull-riding?
FR1
FR2
fr3

The first reply is a pointed derision:

发到国内的网站上,给那些土鳖们看看。别动不动就“中国人”怎么样的。国内崇洋媚
外的风气还是很浓厚的,尤其是媒体从业人员。

Post the pictures to domestic websites to show those bumpkins. Don’t irresponsibly say Chinese are this or that. In mainland the servility to western countries is still strong, especially among those media workers.

On the strength of the new “finding”, the voice that criticized Chinese self-debasement and servility boomed up.

Maxmin commented:

此举也算是约定俗成的习惯,和什么休养文明都挂不上边。围观的人肯定都是急不可耐准备骑牛的老外,所以大家尽管放心好了肯定没有给咱中国人丢什么脸,事情很简单,都EASY点好了,不要过于敏感和自尊,动不动上升到民族自尊心,民族整体素质的问题,甚至奥运会上。

Riding the bull is just a tradition that has nothing to do with courtesy and civility. Those foreigners who stood around must have just been eagerly waiting for a ride (not watching a stunt). So take it easy, no one is losing the face of China. Don’t be too sensitive and casually raise something to the height of national esteem and the quality of the whole race, even Olympics involved.

Netizen The-bull-is-made-for-ride said in scholar Xue Yong’s blog(薛涌):

好像骑牛的不只中国人啊!不要只对中国人说事!

It seems not only have Chinese ridden! Don’t put everything upon Chinese!

Dan Chun (但纯) furthermore questioned that Wang Fang fabricated the situation of the time:

北京电视台签约主持人王芳的博客是相当不负责任的……如此“第一次”的描述明显误导了大众,而且还煽情地写上外国人看见“摇头”之类的,即便作者不想诬蔑中国人,实际上,也造成了诬蔑的后果。这不是事实的真相,后来的调查证明,各国游客在此骑牛的不文明行为是非常常见的,而不是中国人独有。各国不文明人都有,可因为中国的少数不文明者,而扯上中国人的整体素 质的,恐怕就独此一件。……没有必要因为对某些国人素质的恨铁不成钢,而往自己头上泼粪。

Wang Fang is quite irresponsible for making up facts about the cleaner who stated that it was the first time for him to see such an image. Also, Wang deliberately added a sentimental account “some foreigners shook heads”. Even though she was not going to blacken Chinese, she did so nonetheless. The investigation later has proved not only Chinese but also many foreigners have done wrong. It is odd to involve the whole nation in simply for misbehavior of a few Chinese . We don’t have to splash shit upon ourselves simply because we hate a few Chinese savage.

Bach R on Nov 22 said

自己土包子一个知识浅漏,却对同胞指手画脚,这不对那不对.

The ignorant bumpkin herself made indiscreet remarks to her countrymen.

Under the intense pressure, Wang Fang had to respond. On 21th, she cited a journalist’s report:

昨晚,记者联系到美国纽约公园与休闲部门的发言人克里斯蒂娜,她表示,该机构禁止任何人攀爬安放在纽约市内五个城区的1600个纪念物。但是该机构目前 还没有收到任何关于攀爬华尔街铜牛的投诉。在看了网上的攀爬铜牛照片后,该发言人表示,铜牛塑像属于1600个被保护的纪念物之列,请广大观光者予以尊重。

The spokeswoman of New York City Department of Parks and Recreation , Christina, stated that the agency forbids anyone climbing all the 1600 monuments in 5 boroughs in NYC. But recently no complaint on riding the copper bull has been received. After watching the pictures, the spokeswoman said the bull is one of the 1600 protected objects that should be respected by visitors.

But the controversy showed no sign of going down; now the focus shifted to why Chinese should be tagged “uncouth”, “vulgar” while doing something many others have long been doing.

Novosti replied in English:

I am upset because it is so ironical that when Chinese in America are fighting against discrimination, this stupid bitch from China proper is trashing the Chinese for doing the same thing many Americans or world people have been doing and she wouldn't apologize for her stupid wrongdoing!–

A netizen named Chinese said

如果在中国,有老外游客骑在一头牛的雕塑上照相,薛涌这样的中国人一定会说:“你看人家老外,真有创造力!骑在牛背上照相!”
如果在国外,有中国人骑在一头牛的雕塑上照相,薛涌这样的中国人也一定会说:“你看中国人,真没素质!骑在牛背上照相!”

If in China a foreign tourist ride on a bull sculpture to take picture, Chinese such as Xue Yong (a scholar that cited Wang’s article in his blog) would say, “Look! How creative the foreigners are that they ride on a bull for pictures! ”
If in western countries a Chinese does so he would then say, “Look! How vulgar the Chinese is that he rides on a bull for pictures!”

Many more netizens have also said since many western visitors have also done vulgar things in China such as unrestraint revel at the foot of Great Wall and naked basking on public meadow of Summer Palace, we don’t have to always keep the spear head to ourselves, an immature attitude of self-contempt.

Now the controversy is going more and more twisted when the problem people can or can’t ride the bull has been put to lesser position. Finally, I would like to cite an editorial of Southern Metropolis Paper (南方都市报) to finish my article, an opinion that accords with my personal idea the most.

事实上,争辩中看似对立的两面,却有着同样的虚弱,那就是,当我们评判自我表现的时候,却失去了自我的文明坐标,而不得不仰仗于外在评价,才能树立起码的文明自信。因此,比中国人在华尔街骑牛是不是丢人更紧要的,是我们的社会已经无法独立地完成最细节的文明判断。我们既没有十足的底气,宣称中国人爬上塑像有悖于自身的文明准则,我们也无法自信地解释,文明的中国人之所以爬上塑像,只是缘于当时当地的误导。面对如此情境,我们只是急切地问,他们允许我们这样做吗?又或者,他们也和我们一样做吗?这才长长地舒出一口气。问题是,我们自己允许我们这样做吗?正是在这层意义上,妄自尊大与妄自菲薄同出一源,中国社会的文明虚弱和自我迷失当下立现.

Actually, the two sides on the debate are weak in common. We have lost the self-coordinate for judging ourselves so that we have to rely on the outer reference to erect the basic self-assurance.
Therefore, the thing more important than losing lace or not, is that we can not even judge our civilization independently. We have no confidence either to say that mounting the bull is against our self-rules, or to explain that we ride simply under others’ misguidance. Facing that, we just anxiously ask whether they allow us to do so. Or, have they done what we did. Only after that could we have a soothed breath.
But the problem is, do we allow ourselves to do so? The fact that the arrogance and self-contempt co-exist has instantly showed the weakness and self-lose of our civilization.

7 comments

  • Come come. Its a bit of fun. People like to sit on statues of animals. They do in the Lions of Trafalgar Square in London.

  • sid

    So throughout this blog post, whenever anyone refers to foreigners (laowai) they are referring to the “other” i.e. anyone who is not of Chinese racial descent – am I correct?

    Now it may be that all those caucasians in the photos above are all from Europe, but the more plausible assumption is that at least some of them are from the United States.

    I just find it odd that Chinese people (at least all the ones who commented on this story above) refer to non-chinese who happen to be in their own country as “foreigners” strictly to denote them being “not Chinese.” I think this illustrates the **importance** (lets not say racism) of race that is prevalent in mainland china today.

    oh – and I live in NY – if anyone wants to ride the bull, foreign or domestic, knock yourself out.

  • Fondy Ma

    It is indeed not an event, what draws the media’s attention is the critics at first and then a big turn .

  • DavidBee

    Sounds like a storm in a teacup.

    Note to self: Must ride bull when I visit New York.

    David, Sydney.

  • TRUST

    This is a very good entry.
    Thank you for this report, Bob.

  • BobC

    With pleasure!

  • […] Two years ago, there was a big fuss in China about the Chinese climbing the bronze bull of Wall Street a Beijing TV reporter posted […]

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