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Han Han on the Diaoyu Islands incident

China's balls? (Wikipedia)

Han Han, China's bad boy novelist, editor, blogger and race car driver recently posted his thoughts on the unfolding Diaoyu Islands spat between China and Japan.

Protect illegal characters

by Han Han/ translated by Julian Smisek

A friend asked me how I haven't commented on the Diaoyu Islands incident, and suggested I take a few shots at Japan. I told him that while I myself may not have my own land to stand on, I care a lot about issues of territory. I first read about the incident on an online forum, and quite righteously posted, "Protect the Diaoyu Islands." However, this resulted in the forum telling me that my attempted sentence contained illegal content, and suggested that I change it. After puzzling over this for a while, I changed the sentence to read, "Protect the Senkaku Islands [the Japanese name for the Diaoyu Islands]," and the message was published without a hitch.

This is indeed a major event. The Foreign Ministry worked overtime this weekend, pouring out condemnation. In my opinion, if everyone and everything is doing well – life is as one wishes, the wife, kids, home, car, work, leisure, health – are all ok, one can – under the guise of national sentiment - go and make a fuss about protecting the Diaoyu Islands. But if you have something of your own that you haven't protected, first protect that and then we can talk. Don't worry yourself about something so far off. Perhaps you'll say that in this major issue of right and wrong, how could your small misfortune matter? True, but everyone has the right to decide what's considered a major issue of right and wrong. Take this incident for example.

I think one should first look at the government's attitude. Who are you to cut in front of the leaders? When the leaders express condemnation, it means that you're allowed to express condemnation. When the leaders express regret, it means your time for expressing condemnation is over. The leaders want to condemn, but you want to take action. There lies the limits of the leaders' tolerance. If you really take action, the leaders will have to punish you. This is because they've played a big chess piece and it would be inappropriate for you, a little chess piece, to jump off the board. Moreover, in this game of chess, you're a black piece and the leaders are a white piece. Firstly, this is because workers are always a little more black [tan], and secondly, it's easy for you to become a black household [citizen without a hukou]. Really, black is the color that most suits you. But, the crucial thing is that when it's time for the assault, you run out singing black face [crying bad guy], while the leaders sing the white face [play the bad guy]. Don't be surprised when after the battle, you, mortally injured, see the leaders and the invaders cheerfully discussing a big business deal.

On the Diaoyu Island question, I believe our officials care most about their own internal stability. The oil underwater isn't all that important. That's just what Japan wants. Since the 70s, it's been the reason for their wicked renewed interest in the Diaoyu Islands. In contrast, China's government just wants stability and doesn't want to risk its foreign relations or military. Therefore, this once uncomplicated question will certainly become an extremely complicated one.

In our country, there are similar disputes that could cause friction and war. As long as the piece of land isn't so big that it changes our country's resemblance to a chicken [China's shape resembles a chicken], as long as the public doesn't quite understand what's going on, the government might feel that giving away a bit is just giving away a bit – just like selling real estate. It doesn't actually matter whether China is a rooster or a hen [whether its balls are sold away].

Because the Diaoyu Islands have always been famous, the degree to which the public cares about them is comparatively high. This is especially true after the many years of news coverage given to leaders receiving guests at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse. If you spend half a day at Diaoyutai, you comeback a different person. Losing the Diaoyu Islands would be an unbearable loss of face. So, their preservation has become tied to the government's image on territorial sovereignty.

At a minimum, I believe that they should not be given to others. For the Chinese government, the best solution would be to drag this problem out until the Earth's crust shifts, embedding the islands on the coast of Fujian Province. Then we can worry about whatever oil lays under the ocean. Anyway, I'm not worried about the Diaoyu Islands getting captured by Japan –though they soon will take the them. As for this most recent incident, the best outcome would be for the boat's captain to be incarcerated for ten days. Then, after we spend nine days intensely condemning and protesting, Japan lets him go. Thus, we get to say that our protests finally met with success.

As for the people screaming "bad guy," there's no harm in doing it, so long as you don't get too caught up in the drama. Don't let it influence your own life. Don't forget your family and those other personal things of yours that certainly deserve more of your attention and protection. You do not want to find yourself heartbroken, standing there with an empty cup when the leaders hasn't even opened a bottle of wine. Also, don't mistakenly believe that you're really anxious about this nation's most pressing worry. In this nation, there is always something more urgent.

September 13th, 2010

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There are currently 14 Comments for Han Han on the Diaoyu Islands incident.

Comments on Han Han on the Diaoyu Islands incident

blah blah blah... blah blah blah... so many words, so little sense


The Diaoyutai incident is pretty much inconsequential

They're going to let the guy go, neither side will back down or take any action, stalemate continues until god knows when

It's probably for the better, they're just a bunch of rocks not worth ruining diplomatic relations for

At times I wonder why does people take him seriously.

No. Don't buy Japanese goods. It's my pleasure to not do so and will continue to be until the end of time and I will teach my children to do so. It's a point of self-esteem as well as simply logical. It is much more satisfying to fight them in intelligent, useful, effective ways including financially fight them than it is to express self-compromising advice to choke it down and pretend it's not bad at all. It's poison and it's not my turn to drink.

Yeah, I'm gonna save my "fight" for actual enemies over things that have value. Sure your 'point' isn't one of emotion?

If it's not a fake crisis altogether, it's probably been exploited to see the reaction of the upcoming Naoto Kan government and set the terms of the Sino-Japanese relationship for the next few years.

I'm always so surprise and worried about the extrem nationalism still occur in 2010, and especialy with young people.
Nationalism has always been in history a usefull tool for gouvernement to slave their people, and make them looking anywhere esle.
How can nationalism can still be a value when ti brings so much horror in the past (fashism, communism, and hundred of million off dead civil poelple always for the power of so few pleople.
Nationalism has only one END : War. and massacre in the name of gouvernement.

This Han Han really is such a dull writer - and has a trait typical of many Chinese commentators of being obscure to the point of meaninglessness. I just don't get why anyone listens to him.

Takata and pug_ster, if you don't get Han Han, congratulations. That means you are profoundly ignorant of how a dictatorship works. You find Han and many other Chinese commentators obscure or meaningless, because you have never had words grabbed out of your mouth or shoved down your throat by the iron hand of a censor. No secret police is stealing your gmail account password through their pals at major telecom monopolies.

I think we can all agree that censorship hurts clarity. And sometimes the evasions and obfuscation are intentional. Since autocracy discourages logical thinking and reasoning, Han and other satire writers take the illogic to an extreme to show up its absurdity sometimes. They are also lampooning official propaganda, and folks who did not have to suck it up as kids can have no appreciation for the hogwash. Finally, many subtleties are lost in translation.

I am sure you already know this, but it doesn't hurt to review the fact for those who may be new to him: Han Han has 400 million clicks on his Sina blog to date. Clearly many people in China find what he says of interest.


Oops, mea culpa. I posted Han Han's micro-blog by mistake. Here is his official Sina blog address:


I would second Cinnabar. Tatata, Crystal and pug_ster, a Chinese person can easily understand what he means. You have to think in a special Chinese way. That is unless you've collected your 50 cents. Does that make sense to you? :)

New York Times op-ed on Han Han by the famous sinologist, Perry Link

why japan have to come down near the china and taiwan teritory to claim the lsland?.every chinese people have to see that they play politic,their claim that piece of rock come out of the ocean, and control the ocean around it,and is backup by u.s. to control china.any intelligent chinese aready understand that.any claim of right by the japan over the island is bunch of crap.

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