A Beijing netizen who goes by the name of Fisherman recently brought Marxism professor Chen Xiankui at Renmin University a Chrysanthemum. But the flower wasn't meant as a gesture of love or gratitude for the scholar. In traditional Chinese culture, Chrysanthemums are an for offering to the dead. In popular online usage, it also means “ass kissing.”
Fisherman and his flower were protesting Chen's opinion piece in Chinese Communist Party (CCP) mouthpiece Global Times stating that “patriotism and loving the party is the same” in contemporary China. Chen argued that treating love of country as separate from love of the communist party is a western idea that undermines the foundation of the one-party regime in China.
Chen's opinion is unacceptable to liberal-minded mainland Chinese people, like Fisherman. Twitter user @minshenguancha reported on the protest:
— 民生观察 (@minshengguancha) September 11, 2014
Netizen shows protest placard in front of Renmin University to condemn the propaganda of “loving the country is the same as loving the party”.
The placard says: “Chen Xiankui: Fisherman is here to deliver the Chrysanthemum to you. Lick it hard. And remember to bring a lightning rod with you whenever you go out.”
One of the major fronts in the ideological battle launched by the new leadership of the CCP under President Xi Jinping is convincing Chinese to accept the idea that loving the country is equal to loving the party. Twitter user @xinyouqingbo explained the implication of Chen's patriotism theory:
— 心有清波 (@xinyouqingbo) September 10, 2014
One can alway find a group of intellectuals who are willing to act as shield and insult one's ancestor by licking [the party's] ass. They debase the term patriotism. And when judging from the perspective of political tactics, they are destroying the construction of a united front. Professor Chen has turned people away from their country so easily. A new crime will soon emerge: Not loving the party = treason.
On Twitter-like Weibo, Chinese netizens also spoke out against the blurred line between country and party. Below is a selection of comments from caijing's Weibo news thread:
Zhang Yaohui: […] “Party” is a term from the west. Political party only has more than a century of history in China. According to Chen's argument, I wonder how people in the past loved their country.
“Winter moon 1976″: How can you compel me to love a corrupted interest group? Russia still exists after the Soviet Communist Party lost power. Romania still exists after the Romanian Communist Party lost power. Cambodia still exists after the Cambodian Communist Party lost power. Shameless [theory].
hitrust: I suggest that people born in mainland China automatically sign up as Chinese Communist Party members so as to make this kind of patriotism a reality.
“Weekend mood”: The party is the same with the country? This is so stupid. The country is home, the party is just a housekeeper. You don't need to love the housekeeper for loving your home. Can't you change the housekeeper?
Both “Sitting on the floor 2013″ from Weibo and @leo3194 from Twitter pointed out that Chen just described the reality:
“Sitting on floor 2013″: What he said is true. You could not love Germany without loving the Nazis in Germany during second World War.
— 奥哥–leo (@leo3194) September 11, 2014
The person who said loving the party is the same as loving the country just told the truth. In the eyes of the CCP, anti-party and anti-China are no different.
Chen's notion of patriotism is in line with mainland Chinese top official Li Fei's explanatory remarks on Beijing's framework for political reform in Hong Kong, a special administrative region of China. The mainland requires that candidates for Hong Kong's chief executive be endorsed by the majority of a pro-Beijing nominating committee before being allowed on the ballot for the city's first direct vote of their leader in 2017.
Li stressed that the ruling role of CCP is established in China's Constitution and thereby it goes without saying that the chief executive of Hong Kong should embrace the party-state. Pro-democracy activists are planning to challenge that thinking with a massive sit-in in the city's financial district to demand the right to choose the candidates.
The imposition of such an unpopular party-state patriotism onto the election system in Hong Kong will inevitably escalate the political conflict in the pearl city, where “East meets West”.