The Weibo message by Wang Rui, a host at CCTV’s English channel, triggered huge controversy. Last Wednesday, he wrote under his real-name account at Weibo that the public security office should clean out the foreign trash, behead the foreign snakes1), identify foreign spies, expel foreign shrews [or the shrew – the article’s wording leaves this open – JR]2), to shut those who demonized China up and to get them out [of the country]. Following that, an American living in China also posted a message, demanding that CCTV should dismiss Yang Rui. A small number of foreigners, the Wall Street Journal and other Western media supported this demand. (Quoted from Huanqiu Shibao, May 24, 2012.)
A public figure spoke his opinion on public affairs, on a microblog, and was then referred to as “talking a lot of nonsense”, or being “absolutely faceless” [or without qualities] – isn’t it strange that merely for being a CCTV host, he must not express his innermost feelings? A CCTV host, too, is just a mortal. He, too, may express his own views. This has nothing to do with facelessness. This author would rather think that someone who speaks the truth is showing real character. Try to imagine: some years ago, when microblogging didn’t exist, could Yang Rui’s expression of dissatisfaction have triggered so much attention? It is only now that those lines appeared on Weibo that it caught many peoples’ attention, and therefore, netizens “turned a mole hill into a mountain”, blindly expanding the issue’s impact. As Yang’s work unit, CCTV can’t be too harsh, and appropriate freedom of speech must be given. If CCTV “raised hell” every time after being heavily criticized, who among the hosts would still dare to speak the truth?
If this needs to be investigated or not, and he is blamed for acting inappropriately in his capacity [as a CCTV host], that Weibo message could affect CCTV’s image negatively. If we, ordinary people, published such a micropost, it wouldn’t cause such a dispute. This author believes that microposts are individual expression, unrelated to “ethnic discrimination” as stated by foreign media. There is only very few “foreign garbage”, and polite and civilized foreigners should not see this shoe as fitting to them.
Maybe our “expecations” about public personalities are too high, that they should always be able to show us a positive, uplifting face, and report “good” rather than “bad news”. But outside the workplace, they live their own lives, too, and to blindly turn them into opinion leaders and to turn their opinions into mainstream opinion is wrong.
Language, however excited, should not startle compatriots. Yang Rui only referred to “foreign garbage”, not to all foreigners. One has to see the essence of the matter, and not dwell on the appearances. The case of a British man assaulting a Chinese woman in the street in Beijing, and the “resting-feet” passenger who spat dirty language at a passenger in the row in front of him are those who Yang Rui attacked as “foreign garbage”. Yang also clarified his Weibo post in a media statement in that “after seeing those incidents, I called those foreigners ‘foreign garbage’, and I believe that when they violate Chinese law, they should be sanctioned by the law. I want to distinguish between them and the quiet majority in the foreign community who observe and respect the rules of Chinese culture and society. To identify those few garbage [people] helps to protect the reputation of decent Westerners.” His Weibo message of May 15 only had a function in reminding people that no matter if Western or Chinese people, neither were above the law.
Obviously, Yang Rui didn’t mean to attack foreigners. He only hoped that people would respect the law, that no special rights would be given to “foreign garbage”, that people would act as equals, and that immoral foreigners would be punished in accordance with the law. He also affirmed that “the majority of foreigners” were good people who “observe and respect the rules of Chinese culture and society”, and that with the expulsion of bad people, prejudices against all foreigners would be avoided.
[The following paragraph may not be correctly translated – just a try – JR]
China [needs?] more people with Yang Rui’s integrity. If he didn’t say the truth, maybe there would be more radical compatriots, but we just don’t encourage extremists’ methods to wake the common people with vain self-sacrifices. Up to now, the power of speech should be believed in.
On April 11, 2012, well-known CCTV host Zhao Pu was the first to publish the inside gelatin story, and advised people not to eat yoghurt and jelly, which, for the moment, was a great stir. The micropost triggered concern about poisoned capsules and everyone could see that the “gelatin inside story” did exist. He spoke the facts, but with the result that he “disappeared” from the microblog and from television. Many netizens guess that he was “blacklisted”, but he only says that he won’t comment. Hard to believe that the mistake [in his case], too, was that he was a “CCTV host”? Maybe because of [something] somewhere within the “regulations”, words like these shouldn’t have come from his mouth.
The people wants to hear the truth. If Yang Rui becomes a second Zhao Pu, the people may become even more disappointed.
1) “Snakeheads” would be the literal translation, but that is probably not what it meant in this context.
2) The “foreign shrew” (洋泼妇) is said to refer to Melissa Chan, until recently al-Jazeera‘s China correspondent, and 洋泼妇 has frequently been translated as “foreign bitch”. The translated article doesn’t refer to her specifically. What Yang really meant probably depends on his word power.
» Zhao Pu warns…, “Global Times”, April 9, 2012