See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

When a Mother's Love Conflicts With Loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party

A caricature of Lin Yu Hong's love for China and her son circulated online.

A caricature of Lin Yu Hong's love for China and her son circulated online.

A Chinese Communist Party bureaucrat has become a controversial figure on social media for advocating against the spread of western values in Chinese classrooms even though she herself sent her son to study aboard.

Lin Yu Hong, the deputy head of the Internet multimedia department of China's Communist Youth League, has been using her Weibo account @XiaoLin (@小蔺) to spread so-called positive energy online and attack voices that are critical of the Chinese government .

Last week, netizens digging through her Weibo archive discovered that she had sent her son to study in Canada. The post, written on 3 August 2012, said (screen capture via Weibo user @ShepherdAtEmperorCity:

在機場。剛送完兒子,今天,小家伙一個人去加拿大留學,很瀟灑地和我擺擺手,走了。我的眼淚止不住地流了下來,他卻像沒事人一樣,仿佛怹以往的每一次開學。此去,不知何時會再相見。

In the airport. Just saw my son take off. Today, the little one went to study aboard in Canada alone. He waved his hand in a carefree manner and left. My tears kept falling but he looked the same, like the beginning of every other school term. I have no idea when we will see each other again.

Netizens also learned that before her son went aboard, he was studying in an expensive international school in China. In addition, two of her nephews are also studying in Canada.

After she became the target of scrutiny, Lin quickly deleted all the relevant posts, but netizens had screen-captured them and circulated them online.

The fact that her son went abroad for his education would be no big deal had Lin not been so judgmental of others for embracing western values or leaving China. Last year, she echoed the communist party's education policy on her Weibo (screen capture via online forum Sbanzu):

教育部部長袁貴仁昨天表示,加強對西方原版教材的使用管理,絕不能讓傳播西方價值觀念的教材進入我們的課堂;決不允許各種攻擊誹謗黨領導、抹黑社會主義的言論在大學課堂出現;決不允許反種違反憲法和法律的言論在大學課堂蔓延;決不允許教師在課堂上發牢騷、泄怨氣,把各種不良情緒傳導給學生。

The head of the Education Bureau Yuan Guiren stressed yesterday that the management of educational material had to be reinforced. Educational material that spreads western values should be banned from entering the classroom; speeches that defame party leaders or deliver a negative image of society should not appear in class; speeches that violate the law and constitution cannot be spread; teachers would not be allowed to complain and express frustration and pass negative energy on to students.

Lin's perceived hypocrisy triggered a huge amount of responses from netizens. While some defended her, arguing that she is a good mother for loving her son more than the party, others blasted her for not practicing what she preaches. Though the majority of the hostile reactions she received have been scrubbed from Weibo, the following comment been reposted in many online forums (via online forum Club.China)

蔺主任,你好!我也有三个问题想问你: 1、你送儿子到资本主义国家留学,是否对中国教育失去信心?2、加拿大留学每年费用多少?3、你们夫妇除了法定工资,是否还有其它收入?蔺主任能不能不拉黑我,直面回答我们群众问题,我们群众也会在纪委网站实名举报你的相关信息,谢谢。

Hi, deputy department head Lin. I have three questions to ask you: 1. You sent your son to study in a capitalist country, have you lost the confidence in China's education? 2. How much does it cost to study in Canada? 3. Do you and your husband have extra income apart from your regular salary? Department head Lin, instead of labeling me as part of evil forces, can you respond to people's questions? We, the people, can report you on the Central Disciplinary Committee's web platform. Thank you for your attention.

As netizens tagged her over and over again in the line of questioning on Weibo, Lin was compelled to answer:

我從未說過西方教材不能進課堂。袁部長的話是「絕不能讓傳播西方價值觀念的教材進入我們的課堂。」國外的教育水准比較高,把孩子們進國外讀段時間書很正常,他們是去學知識,不是去學價值觀去了,適當時候就回國了(兒子目前在國內學習)。家里有老北京,孩子去留學,賣套房就都夠了,羡慕嫉妒沒用。

I have never stated that western educational material cannot enter the classroom. Bureau head Yuan said, “We shouldn't let educational material that spreads western value enter our classrooms.” The education quality overseas is higher and it is normal to send kids to study aboard. They learn the knowledge, not the values. When the time comes, they will return to the country (my son is currently studying in China). We have an old Beijing resident in the extended family and can simply sell an apartment for the kid to study aboard. Don't respond with envy and bitterness.

‘They talk about ideology but think about business’

Ja Ya, a current affairs observer, saw Lin as a typical figure in today's China. He examined Lin's social media profile, concluding that Lin had undergone a “radical change” in her online personality beginning in 2012:

观察蔺主任的微博,2012年是个分水岭,2012年前她以小女人的姿态示人,挺生活的妈妈生活,调侃人生,吃吃火锅、谈谈足球、说说儿子,时不时吐槽一下北京的交通、国航的服务,而关注的粉丝是李开复、邓飞这些所谓的公知、大V,大致感觉是岁月静好,安之若素。

但2012年后,文风陡变,表现出其攻伐性,关注的对象就是小红粉们了,互为呼应,对一些人开始“群殴” […]

Take a closer look into deputy department head Lin's Weibo account, and you'll see that 2012 was a watershed year. Before that, she was a ordinary woman, talking about the daily life of a mother, having hotpot, talking about football, her son, complaining about Beijing's traffic, Air China's service. She followed Big V [those with verified accounts] and public intellectuals like Lee Kaifu, Deng Fei. She enjoy a peaceful and stable life.

But after 2012, she has changed her writing style, became very aggressive. She has followed the tiny pinks [people who echo the party line] and started mimicking them, launching “collective attacks” against some specific targets […]

The year 2012 marked the full transition of power from former Chinese President Hu Jintao to current leader Xi Jinping, who views ideological battle as one of the most important ways the Chinese Communist Party can hold on to power. In the past two years, Lin has joined several attacks against online celebrities, including a nail technician named Luo Yufeng who tried hard to make her way to New York. Lin suggested that Luo had relied on someone else to buy her ticket (subtly implying that she was a sex worker).

Lin also called on web censors to take a closer look at online video celebrity Xiao Papi, who mixes different Chinese dialects in her online show; Lin accused her of spreading vulgar content. Most recently, she attacked Christoph Rehage, a German living in China, for criticizing his country of residence over a vaccine scandal in which doses of outdated or improperly stored vaccines were given; Lin told him to leave China and go home.

Ja Ya argued that Lin's change in attitude was indicative of the times and that she is not alone:

这也是很多人的心路历程,简单地说,就是为了一口粮罢了,能够像陶渊明那样不为五斗米折腰的人毕竟是体制内的异类。只不过现在,有太多的人把爱国当作一门生财之道,当作晋身之道,嘴上全是主义,心里全是生意啊,他们是聪明,太聪明了[…]

Many people have gone through this. To put it simply, they just want to make a living. Within the establishment, there are those who act like ancient poet Tao Yuanming and refuse to bow for a living. However, nowadays, so many people see “patriotism” as a business and as a path to get a promotion. They talk about ideology but think about business. They are smart or too smart […]

Another current affairs commenter, Wang Haitao, however, saw a “good mother” in Lin's hypocrisy:

我既相信蔺主任对国家的爱,更相信她对自己孩子的爱。至于哪一种“爱”更真实一些,根据我的观察,一个人有了孩子之后,才会真正懂得什么是“真爱”——那就就是给自己真正爱的人自己能给得起的最好的东西。基本上,为人父母者,都愿意尽自己所能,给孩子提供最好的一切,尤其是教育。[…]

I believe that deputy department head Lin loves the country. And I believe that she loves her children more. Which love is more real, according to my observation, when one has children, they learn what is “real love” — they would give the best to the person they really love. As parents, they would try their best to give their children the best, in particular the best education […]

按照“妈妈总会给孩子最好的”这个逻辑,那么,我们可以认为,在蔺主任看来,遍布着可怕的西方价值观的加拿大有比中国更好的教育,否则,她不会让自己的孩子冒着被西方价值观腐蚀的危险而依依不舍地把孩子送到那么遥远的地方。[…] 这大概是她被一些人诟病“精神分裂”的原因之一吧——但我坚决不会如此指责这位好妈妈,因为我一向相信,当一个妈妈“对自己孩子的爱”与“对其他事物的爱”相抵触的时候,后一种爱是是可以忽略的。

According to the logic that “a mother would give the best to her kids”, we can say that for deputy department head Lin, Canada, a country where western values are widely spread, has better education than China or she would not have let her kid take the risk of being poisoned by western values and send him abroad. Like her, I would not be worried about her son being polluted. They have grown up and know how to distinguish what smells good and what stinks. […] Some criticized her for having a “split character”. But I would not attack this good mother because I believe that when a mother's love for her kid is in conflict with other love, she would ignore the latter.

Our work building bridges across cultures, languages and perspectives is more urgent than ever before.

Learn more about Global Voices »

Donate now

Close