Chinese academic Yu Jianrong has long since moved on from (and apologized for) using his popular Sina microblog to rally kids armed with smartphones to go chase down homeless families, and seems to have found a better use for his platform. (On a side note, Yu is one of the few Internet celebrities to have brought attention to Chinese artist Ai Weiwei‘s arrest earlier this month.)
On the night of Sunday 17 April, 2011, Yu posted a photo taken during a recent trip to the United States, along with a summary of the conversation he had there with several of his peers, seemingly spurred by the long string of recent arrests.
Yu writes [zh]:
Arrived back in Beijing. While in the US I met with Singaporean professor Zheng Yongnian
. I agree with the view he puts forth in “Society Must be Defended”
: To be sustainable, a harmonious society
can't be built through control or coercive force, but instead with voluntary cooperation between economic, political and social forces. To establish an institutional environment beneficial to the beginning and development of this kind of voluntary cooperation requires the government's commitment to leading social reforms. Photo: Zhang Wei
, Yu Jianrong
, Zheng Yongnian and Wu Guoguang
Here are a few pieces of the lengthy conversation following Yu's post:
码字工人赵野 新加坡民主么？我还真没看出来，典型的威权主义国家。(4月17日 22:56)
Is Singapore a democracy? It certainly doesn't look that way to me, rather a classic authoritarian country.
月湖无人区 大左派郑永年，又是俺们宁波老乡，不过这个大左派实在。(4月17日 22:56)
Zheng Yongnian is an old leftist, he's also from my hometown Ningbo. For a big leftist, though, he is pretty grounded.
呼吸大师 是呀，至少他不起哄认真地研究问题。//@月湖无人区:大左派郑永年，又是俺们宁波老乡，不过这个大左派实在。(4月17日 23:01)
Yeah, at least he doesn't make a lot of noise about the issues he researches. “Zheng Yongnian is an old leftist, he's also from my hometown Ningbo. For a big leftist, though, he is pretty grounded.”
蓝色特快之谜 压制越厉害，到时的反弹也越大(4月17日 22:56)
The more they repress, the bigger the eventual backlash is going to be.
本冈律师 //@律师联盟:自愿合作的和谐~(4月17日 22:56)
You have the harmony to voluntarily cooperate…
天蝎座的左手 吴国光…这个不是敏感词…(4月17日 22:56)
Wu Guoguang, how is this not a banned keyword?
北地凡客 支持。要走正路，失踪是无法走向和谐社会的。(4月17日 22:58)
Great. We need to stay on the right path. Disappearing is no way to reach a harmonious society.
颜炎岩 可惜zf不懂，官老爷们不懂，他们听不得也不愿听他们认为的对他们这个阶层的利益有触动有损伤的意见，有不同的意见就要扼杀掉。(4月17日 22:58)
Those old officials don't get it. They don't understand and they refuse to listen to any opinions they feel threaten their class interests. Anyone with differing opinions just gets knocked off.
王俊doctorwang 我们的官员会懂吗？(4月17日 22:58)
Can our officials understand this sort of thing?
风有声博无痕 就不能听一点意见。我爱我的祖国，希望她不要罗织罪名对提意见者。但我深深的失望。(4月17日 22:59)
No, they can't even handle the smallest opinion. I love my motherland, I wish she wouldn't cook up charges against those who make suggestions. But I'm deeply disappointed.
古老围脖 关键是，数以亿计的普通中国百姓能否成为合作的一方呢，强势集团会放弃排斥政策吗(4月17日 22:59)
What's key is whether or not the hundreds of millions of common Chinese folk can become party to this cooperation, and whether or not the power cartels can give up their exclusionary policies.
偶尔看书 蒋经国能重生大陆就好了。(4月17日 22:59)
秦汉射雕 新加坡就是一个专制社会。(4月17日 22:59)
Singapore's is an autocratic society.
看电影也看现实 一直对吴国光先生十分景仰。(4月17日 23:00)
I've always been full of admiration for Mr. Wu Guoguang.
高峰AIBJ 和谐就没有太多强制，太多强制会向相反方向发展(4月17日 23:01)
Too much coercion will have an adverse effect on development.
蔬菜tc 政府不愿意主导这种改革怎么办(4月17日 23:02)
If the government isn't willing to lead these kinds of reforms, then what?
bq行者 这样的和谐才是真和谐，不过个人觉得有点儿理想化了，至少在中国不大现实。(4月17日 23:02)
Harmony like this would be true harmony, although personally I find it a little idealistic. At least for China it's not very realistic.
喜喜V8 于老师 秀才造反十年不成 我说的对吗？(4月17日 23:03)
Teacher Yu, even if the most talented scholars revolted for ten years, they still wouldn't succeed, am I right?
途说道听2世 于兄，此次海南博鳌会上，又冒出来了一个“河蟹亚洲”裹脚布破旗迎着呼啸的海风胡咧咧作响，在举国强拆杀人、瘦肉精、染色馒头、乞讨儿童等河蟹中，好一阵阵恶臭扑鼻而来。。。你远在美国时，有闻到这从南海飘出那阵恶臭没？(4月17日 23:03)
China's too corrupt now, overthrowing the government is exactly what's needed.
It's nice thinking that authorities will change itself for the better, but also often disappointing, because the impetus for pushing for improvements is held in the hands of authorities themselves.
I agree. Harmoniousness is not about avoiding conflicts, but resolving them. Placing hope in avoidance of conflict is futile.
All said and done, don't you all have green cards?
Singapore is the least free place.
Well said. I agree, respecting civilians, reducing authorities’ power and maintaining means for public scrutiny are the best means for establishing a harmonious society.
Harmony has always been a natural state of things that springs automatically from freedom and willingness. It comes from within, spontaneous and natural. Any coercion, foreign pressure, pretense or artifice, even whitewashing, is all unharmonious!
Society is comprised of people, and morality, the law and basic development are the consensus of humanity. Consensus requires negotiation, and any victory which relies on means of violent suppression will only be temporary. Violence has only ever destroyed society.
Although theory sometimes exceeds reality, and maybe not be applicable in reality, it does however give us a possible way forward, a directional analysis. I hope we can just move out of the social progress predicament we're now in of Western contemporary society's linguistic hegemony.
Anything that enters China assumes Chinese characteristics!
Out of every ten officials, eleven of them are corrupt. Aside from corruption, there isn't anything else they're good at. Anything that doesn't help officials get promoted or rich, they don't worry about.
The government needs to take a leading role?? Is this that so-called socialism???
城市马帮 于老师，美国有访民村么？(今天 00:46)
Teacher Yu, are there petitioners in the United States?
Yu Jianrong: Not that I saw.