Sunday, August 13, 2006

Check out Non-Violent Resistance Blog

I've been meaning to recommend the Non-Violent Resistance Blog (Uleewang on my blogroll), by a Chinese journalist writing in English. He did great on-the-ground reporting about the benzene spill in Harbin. Now he's unleashing his righteous anger and disgust at the government's proposal to sell hunting rights to some of China's rarest order to, well, fund protection for endangered species — and making some important points about the role of "the internet masses" on government decision-making:
This is yet another perfect example of an unbelievably stupid government policy getting ripped into pieces by the Internet masses and on popular media, with the mandarins backing down shame-faced in the end. The difference is, this time around the skepticism and criticism is almost unanimous: At this very moment, CCTV is running an interactive news commentary program, "discussing" but mostly condemning it. Indeed, it's almost a textbook case of bureaucratic incompetence with factors offensive to every actively outspoken group on the Internet:

To environmentalists and animal rights sympathizers: putting up some of our rarest animals to be gunned down, for a price? Are you f****** kidding me? And to be done by the Ministry of Forestry, the governent agency supposed to be protecting them? What kind of a world am I living in?

To nationalists: the bidding is open only to foreigners? What the hell? Like my RMB doesn't smell as sweet as your US dollars even though mine is appreciating, under "international pressure"? Like we are going to tolerate foreigners (Americans, NRA members, probably; oh, and don't even get me started on the Japanese!) with their big guns roaming free on OUR land, slaughtering OUR animals?

To the not rich and cynical: so, if you're filthy rich enough, you can kill whatever you want. And the more you pay, the bigger and rarer the prey. So am I gonna become your game one day if you can pay the price?

To the legal-minded and detail-loving: several natioinal laws and regulations, as well as nobody knows how many local ones, eh, will have to either be amended or broken to accomodate your stupid Chinese safari. What about wild life protection laws providing jail terms for killing exactly those kinds of animals? What about gun control laws strictly forbidding firearms crossing the border? The Ministry says old instead of young, male instead of female animals will be picked in the actual hunting. So what do you do if some schmuck "accidentally" shoots a doe instead of a stag? Ship him right off to prison

To me: like I am gonna pass up this opportunity to vent more venom against shit-for-brains government officials?

OK, enough for the fun part. My point is, as lots of foreigners correctly point out, we Chinese don't have any sense of political correctness (the Sam Adams brand, not our domestic Eight-Honors-Eight-Disgraces brew). We don't have the luxury for that, one might argue, when some government officials can't tell the difference between salary and bribery. But the current government has also proven itself increasingly "sensitive" to, or downright scared of, strong opinions of the Internet masses. To a lot of reform-minded liberals, that's not necessarily a good thing -- there are even conspiry theories that concervatives, disguised as outraged ordinary netizens, use the Internet to foil some of their hardest-gained reform policies. But at least at times like this, the massive outcry helps drill some basic sense into some high-ranking heads, or brutally strips away the veneer of lies by special interest-controlled, corrupt government officials. Common sense is all we want, and sometimes we do get it.

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