Train Collision in Shandong

The train collision near Jinan killed 71, and injured 416.

Little flower for the victim in the accident

That is too bad. Not to mention those who were killed, I am horrified by the news story of a young man who broke his own arm to be able to escape from the train cart.

When I talked about risk of altitude sickness in Tibet, but to be fair, the risk of living anywhere in China is also high. I don’t want to count the long list of big accident country wide in the past, just to name a few that seems close to me:

A gas station near my home may exploded, killing 4, and injuring 40.

Maglev, which I am both a big fan of in terms of technology, and am writing against it for its cost, can catch fire.

The Metro train also kills. Not only this time, it happened once again, again and again.

If I keep counting the experience I had before I started blogging in 2002, I also can list some terrible accidents I feel very close to:

At the Christmas eve of 2000, fire in my home town, Luoyang, killed 309 – a number till now I cannot believe. When I was in middle school, that shopping center is the closest and the biggest in the area of my high-school.

In the summer of 1993 (July 10, 1993), just one day before I took train from Luoyang to Beijing to visit the capital for the first time, a passenger train No. 163 from Beijing to our direction collapsed with the cargo train in the front, killing 40 people (again, most of them comes from my city). I remember the sad face of the crew of my train after they hear about the news.

These are just few accidents that I feel pretty close to me. There are much more than that in the whole country, not to mention the frequent airlines disaster.

Transportation is a big thing everywhere, but how can I be assured that I am still lucky enough in the next accident? The key question is, who cares after so many accidents happening everywhere? Most of them are because of very stupid mistakes that are so easy to prevent.

I complained about sense of safety in the cyberspace (website can be easily shutdown at any time), it seems we need to move our focus to the safety of lives also.

The country needs some change to make it better. I keep thinking about it….

Wired Photos… Long Time Ago

On Jan 14, 2006, around 6:00 PM, Eric, Me, and Miss Tang gathered at Xujiahui, to take a series photos to be published on Trends Travel – the National Geographic partner in China. So here are the selected photo by photographer, Tang Wanli. The article I wrote for the magazine is called "Fall in Love with Shanghai with 6 Years" (Chinese version of the article).

Just now, received an invitation for an afternoon tea break this Saturday with old friends from Linda. Suddenly thought about these photos taken 2 years ago. Pretty weird photos, aren’t they?





I have to say, a really good (which often means, expensive) camera + an experience photographer can create an imagine that’s beyond our daily life experience.

P.S. It is the time to enjoy great night without burden of a laptop – I will go home without my laptop today.

Death and Religion in Tibet

Today, I want to share about the topic of Death and Religion in Tibet.

Caution before Deciding to Go to Tibet

Many people encourage others to visit Tibet by themselves to draw a conclusion. I also believe so, but before you go, I do want to put a very bold statement here:

    1. Be Aware of Altitude Sickness.
    2. Prepare for the Worst.
    3. Never Catch Cold in Tibet

Why? Because Tibet is  not distinct from other regions on culture, religions, the natural environment in Tibet is very unique – maybe the highest places with less oxygen than any place else.  Let me share my own story.

Death in Common in that Natural Environment

In Oct 2002, Wendy and I was very excited to visit Daocheng – the Tibetan area for the first time. We joined a group of 18 people, and experienced the most beautiful but worst natural environment in my whole life (see reports and pictures here). However, one man passed away during the trip. Seriously, he died because of altitude sickness. I wrote about the story briefly in my blog after we are back:

His wife, wrote a memorial article here.

I don’t want to mention it because it was so terrible, and everyone was horrified. Only in Tibet, people may feel how weak a man’s life is. In my original imagination, death is still very far from us – people may be ill, lasting for a long time, and finally, cannot cure, and die…

In Tibetan Plateau, death is so close to everyone. Under the beautiful snow mountain, and in the highest town in the world, the purest soul and the most dangerous threat to people’s life exist in the same place. Death arrives just at night – any night for any one.


"The Judge" is not the only one we know dead during the visit. In the same month, 4 persons in the village (of 100 or something people) lost their lives. I heard (which means I cannot verify whether it is the truth or not) one drove a motorcar and directly run down on the mountain. The other three went to forest to crop trees, and a tree collapse, and killed three (one of them is the head of local Party branch). I hope that only happened for the month of bad luck.

Imagine what this reality may influence your point of view to this world. At least it changed mine. In that plateau that is not suitable for man kind to live, the only thing a mother can do to ensure safety of her children is to pray for them – at any time, their lives can be taken away by the nature. What else can she do? When people’s life is not in the control of human, religion is the very powerful to help people. I don’t think people have the right to easily say "your thoughts is stupid"… It is the person who say it reveals his own limited understanding to the world.

Tibet is a Unique Place

Since I have so limited experience with Tibet, and I almost know nothing about the mysterious land. I just want to share my very limited experience to remind people about the tough natural environment in that place. It is not just from social side, it is also from the natural side. Hope it helps.

In the last few weeks, in response to what is going on in Tibet, and in Paris Torch relay, and many related events, I initiated discussion around Tibet. The result is
Tibet Issues Related Entries:
Mixing, Muddling, and Confusing
Four Types of Consciousness
Grace Wang Called a Traitor
Brief Chat with Andrew
"Love China" Blooms on MSN Messenger
Not Just Identify Problems for China – Solve Them!
What the Term China, or France Means?
Friends Started to Boycott French Products
My Experience of Culture and Religion in Tibet
Disturbed Lunch
More Discussion on Tibet
Error in Western Media Report about Tibet
Why I Didn’t Cover About Tibet

Many of them generate more than 100 comments from thoughtful readers. Not only the quantity, the quality of the comments are among the best during the last few years of my blogging. No matter which perspective people see the matter (as I always believe there are thousands of different perspective to see the same thing), there is something I think people share in the discussion – seeking for understand, and ready to understand.  

This is not a news site. I don’t pray for some "breaking news" so people can come to visit the site everyday. I am happy that the conflict didn’t get larger. If we can improve understanding and communication from this event, that is the a positive change, although I do worry that the event made the gap in communication between western and Chinese world even bigger…

I hope I wrap up the recent meaningful Tibet discussion with this post. I hope more people start to share their first  hand experience instead of just quoting some thoughts from book, or even worse, from eye-ball driven media.

Minpu Bridge Under Construction

After many bridges and tunnels, a new bridge over Huangpu River is under construction, without my notice. Today, in order to find a better route from our home to Zizhu Hi-Tech Park, where Microsoft is moving to at the end of this year, Wendy and I drove to the area, and found the huge poles of the bridge is already almost completed.

The East Side of the Poles


The West Side of the Pole


The Huangpu River in the middle – this is very different scene from in the Bund section. There is almost nothing on the east bank – Pudong was like this 20 years ago.


The Minpu Bridge will be a double-layer bridge. As you can see, the bridge is already in the shape of two levels. Since they need to build the bridge, and the arches anyway, to make it double-deck is a good idea.


Under the two bridge poles in Pudong and Puxi, a ferry line connects the two ferry station, with a ferry every 20 minutes. On the ferry, they also holds 5 cars in it, so I can drive to one side and pass the bridge with my car on the ferry.


On the Puxi side, the area is mixture of huge bridges, large cargo port, and the Wujing Coal-Electricity Power Station (highly polluted) with its two huge cooling-stations. (Pollution is another topic we discussed before).


The bridge started construction 2 years ago and will be completed in 2009. It will be the seventh large bridge on the Huangpu River. The other six bridges over Huangpu River are:

  1. Nanpu Bridge
  2. Yangpu Bridge
  3. Lupu Bridge
  4. Fengpu Bridge
  5. Xupu Bridge
  6. Songpu Bridge

The top level of the bridge will be part of A15, an expressway from Pudong Airport to Zhejiang Province, and the lower level will be like Nanpu Bridge or Yangpu Bridge – for local traffic.

I am looking forward to posting more pictures when it opens to traffic.

Metro Line M8 in Shanghai Under Construction

The most impressive experience I had during my first visit to Singapore in 2000 was a night ride of Singapore Metro – I basically went around the border of the city via Metro, and saw some remote but well-connected residential areas in the far north of the city.

I thought I saw the future of Shanghai – a city connected by Metro system. However, at that time, my imagination may well stop at what the Metro is currently like, and didn’t go far enough to imagine the future Metro system.

Wendy got the same conclusion when she is back from her Paris trip. She mentioned: because of Metro, where you live does not matter any more.

Let me share some photos of the current construction of Metro Line #6. Below are the tracks (on the left) of Metro #8.



It is at the intersection of Puxing Highway and the future Pudong Middle Ring.


Below is the approximate location of the place where I took the photo. That is a long line!


Looking forward to more Metro lines in Shanghai.

Mixing, Muddling, and Confusing

This post is related to the last post about Grace Wang’s experience. What I want to say in this blog article is, mixing and confusing issues is not a good strategy (George expressed the same thing in a comment)

Disagree with One Side in a Debate does not Mean Support the Other Side

It is quite common for people to make this mistake. I made this mistake all the time.

Just like the media war between CCTV and CNN. When I say CCTV is not reporting the truth, I can guarantee that I will receive one comment or two claiming that “don’t you think CNN won’t do this?” The problem is, I do think CNN will also do this, but by stating CCTV is doing something wrong does not imply that I support CNN. The same thing happens when I said CNN is reporting something wrong, I didn’t imply that CCTV is always right. It is “you” who think I am implying something, not me.

For a much bigger topic of China, it is even so. I often comment on news and issues in China. When I wrote about the negative side (for example, my blog started to get banned by GFW these days from time to time, due to the “sensitive” topic we have discussed), some people claimed that I am biased, and gave me evidence to show the economic development. Again, the point is, talking about the existence of the GFW does not imply that China don’t have a good economy. The other example is topics like Mega-Projects. Describing the exciting highways, and bridges didn’t imply I don’t know the cases of abusing tax payer’s money. I admit I don’t know everything (who does?) but not mentioning everything in every article does not mean I don’t know the existence of them.

It is the same for the recent hot discussion I saw in many threads. It is just like this: one guy says: “This apple is red”, and the other disagrees and says “Why do you think banana is not yellow? Here is the evidence to show how yellow a banana is” or “No. I don’t think so, didn’t you see the farmer who grow the apple is experiencing economical crisis”. Both arguments may be valid, but they make people confused, or in a frequently used term: “out of topic”. So, sticking to the discussion itself may be more helpful.

Mixing Concepts

Not many people are interested in debating with Einstein about his theory of relativity, anyone can comment on the shape of a building. This is the reason why the life of an architect is more tougher than a physician, and pop-star is easier to be the daily topic than both architect or physician…

Just like that, everyone can talk about current international affairs, and everyone has something to say. So the concepts are often mixed, muddled, and confused. If most people (including myself) did it without a strong intention, media, organization, and governments did it very well intentionally. My reader George W. Shen commented about it better than I can:

My biggest problem with the Western media is that many issues are conveniently muddled. It applies to both sides of the propaganda but more so to the Western media outlets than to the Chinese side given the latest Tibet and Olympics chaos. There are many different issues involved and they should be debated separately. To name a few here, not in any particularly order -

The issue of Tibet

The issue of Dalai Lama

The issue of Western Media

The issue of Chinese Government

The issue of Olympics

The issue of Freedom & Democracy

The issue of Human Rights

Just because one supports freedom & democracy in China it doesn’t mean he/she must support the independence of Tibet. Just because one supports the autonomy of Tibet it doesn’t mean he/she must support Dalai Lama. Just because one supports Olympics it doesn’t mean he/she must support the communist party. And just because one supports freedom & democracy it doesn’t mean he/she must support the Western media. Similarly, just because there is free speech in the US, it doesn’t mean media outlets here are fair, unbiased, or even truthful. Just because there is no free speech in China, it doesn’t mean the government has no right to enforce the rule of law to ensure the safety of majority people.

These are totally different issues. It seems to me many people don’t get that. THE WORLD ISN’T JUST BLACK AND WHITE.

For the China side, it is the same. Among all the voices, the official way to call the whole group is Zangdu (or Tibet-Independence) since this is the most unacceptable thing people in China and can “unite” most of people to fight for the whole group. Just as I said, I disagree with this specific muddling strategy from both side, and I believe wise people should try to stand firmly at the side of truth, logic, rationale, instead of having to choose one from the existing two sides.

On Grace’s Case

So, based on the two stated reasons, I said “death threat” is not acceptable in any situation. Whether what Grace did was right or wrong is another issue, and please don’t mix it with the death threat or the illegal things happened in Grace’s home in Qingdao and please don’t draw a conclusion that Grace did everything right.

I also feel angry for the Chinese translation with analysis (thanks to lin posted the original Chinese here). The analysis is interpreting what Grace said to the worst extend,. Taking any article from my blog (or almost any article from any where), and adding sauces that way, you can demonize a person easily. Due to the ambiguity of language, there is no “right statement” under that kind of intentionally negative “analysis”, especially an article written by university student, not a seasoned politician. We did that for too many times during culture revolution, and anything can be interpreted to be evidence to show you are traitor of the country.

I agree that Grace is naive, or as in some comments, “politically naive“. Who aren’t? My question is, does someone have the right to be naive, or say something wrong? For sure, as adult, for anything we do, or we say, we need to be responsible for it, and accept all the consequences. Grace is of no exception. However, whether the consequence of “saying something incorrect”, or “standing on the wrong side of a perceived political movement” is criticize, or death thread is a question we need to discuss.

The reason I feel Grace was treated unfairly is because I clearly know that I will be treated the same way one day in my country, and so does many people who dare to show his/her opinions. The other reason is, although we have every reason to say Grace didn’t do everything right, she is doing great for her age. For the guess of her motivation of getting refugee status in US – a key reason many people don’t like her – this is not something worth debating. The chance to get famous by this way is lesser than winning a lottery. For the opinion that by publishing an article on newspaper, she did something that negatively impacted China’s image. I agree that it has negative impacts, but it is not all her fault. I would rather fight to make things right in the systems in China and remove mob mentality from people, instead of pretending those don’t exist. I hope my country can be better by solving all the problems we have, so we can be more confident to face the world, instead of complaining a girl who happened to be used as an ideal case to reveal the existence of these problems.

P.S. Before someone asks about my statement of whether I am at the side of Grace Wang (as I am often asked), I want to clarify – in case there are misunderstanding for this post – that I try to avoid simply saying: “I am on this side or the other side”. Just as I am not on the side who claim Grace is a traitor, I am not on the side of Grace either. What I can say is, I agree with Grace on this, or disagree with her on that, instead of simple statement like “with her or against her”. To be more exact, in this post and in the last post, I even didn’t specifically tough the topic of what Grace did, or write. I just stated the fact that I don’t agree with how she is treated.

I have past the age to claim whatever some person said (Grace or whoever) is what I believe in… In this sense, I am not on her side.

Subscription Enabled on This Blog

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Four Types of Consciousness

As we have discussed the top for many times, the world is not black and white. There are so many gray areas (different degree of gray) in almost everything. In foreign media, and people’s mind, Chinese government is the extreme side of irrationality, and Chinese people are on the same side, while the media is in the middle. However, this is not always true. I tried to draw a GRAY level chart. The chart is according the the dimension of consciousness or rationality (unfortunately, the world has more than 1000 dimensions you can take). Please add if you saw more people that can be hardly put into any of the four buckets.

  1. Angry Youth. Simple minded, and ready to die or kill or do whatever asked to do, if someone tells them this is the right thing to do for their country. There are plenty of them. They are typically young (I was once one of them, which I don’t want to hide), and don’t understand how complicated the world yet. If not because of the policemen, they are the first to burn a Carrefour store, or rush into US embassy with sticks in hand. Even with policemen guarded, they successfully throw a stone into a French, or Japanese, or US store, depending what is "hot" in TV. <–> In US, they are the individuals who never been to any other country, and even cannot draw where Tibet or Darfur is, and just join whatever protest group the saw and shout for something, as long as the evidence people show to them seems reasonable.
  2. Conscious Patriot. They know how to love the country, and take actions they believe can do good for their country – only their country, not anyone else. Conscious patriots also argue with each other (because they started to think independently), and if you look close enough, there are many sub groups within this group of people. Some believe boycott is the most effective way to show feeling, while others think putting Love China is cooler, and can engage millions of people already. Some may love both action, while others don’t like either. They just forward patriotism articles tireless on all major BBS, and even buy millions of email addresses to spread the emails (they don’t think they are spammer, because they are in the name of Patriotism). Some people form hacker group to attack targeted web sites; other completely disagree with any hacking behavior (also for many different reasons. Some may think hacking is illegal in any country, while others think to quietly use his power to disconnect a foreign company web site which happens to be in his IDC is more practical. Let me stop here without digging further.). I just listed very limited number of types of the different behaviors in this group. You may get the idea. They are thoughtful, and they believe in whatever they believe to help the country. Most of all, they know what they are doing, which is the key to distinguish this group from the Angry Youth.
  3. God-like Analyst. With the whole country full of patriots, there are still some calm guys who tried to tell people to cool down, and do everything in the framework of the current law. They remind people of consequences, and they call for stopping boycotting, stopping burning French national flag (especially not to burn German flags by mistake in some occasions), and call for communication. They try to provide a solution that benefits not only China, both also the world (or in many countries, not only world, but also China). They didn’t take any action other than thinking and writing (and not many dare to talk face to face with Angry Youth yet, because of the risk of injury) behind Internet. They tried to pull down the flame while others try to raise it. These guys are often called traitors in any camp, and their voice is seldom heard. They are often accused as "pretending to be the God, who don’t have a motherland".
  4. Careful Balancer. People who make decisions in the Chinese, and other government may below to this group. On one hand, they try to show to the people that they are fight back on behalf of the people hard enough (otherwise, they have really internal problems. The Qing Dynasty was overthrow partly because of it) while don’t want to cross the line, and cause real trouble with International world. The US and French government is the same. It is a political crisis for both China and France, and both governments have to be very careful to handle this hot potato. On one hand, they have to react the way its own massive people want (for China, request apology from CNN, and for France, the president has to throw away his Olympic opening ceremony ticket), and other the other hand, they have to maintain a level of good relationship for the interest of both people (for China, keep the real diploma relationship going, and carry out the signed big contract with France, and for France, the same, plus a letter from the president to Jin Jing). For Angry Youth, it is so simple to say "I want to die for this country". For Conscious Patriot, it is easy to boycott anything, for as long as they want. For God-like Analyst, it is even simpler – just type a word or two. However, for the government, any action causing death is called a war, which surely cause humanity disaster; any boycott from government means millions of worker lose their jobs in their own country, as well as the opposite country, or any careless word can cause a consequence that no one can take. Not everyone can take the job, and very few can handle it well. We already saw some really bad examples.

Above are just some of the groups of people I saw. Where am I in the groups? I don’t know. I used to be the Angry Youth, and I sometimes act as "Conscious Patriot", and often, I am God-like Analyst (like in this post). Anyone can shift from one side to the other side a little bit depending on what they see, and what they think THAT day.

Interestingly enough, when Angry Youth types of people from two opposite camp met, who knows what may happen! Most of the times, Angry Youth just follow Conscious Patriots and do whatever they tell them to do. Let’s pray for the Conscious Patriots to make good decisions!

The real situation is far more complicated than this analysis. I just try to imagine some of the scenarios in this whole mess: the Conscious Patriot type of Pro-Tibet people may strongly disagree with Angry Youth type of pro-Tibet protester who were so wrong to try to get the torch from Jin Jing (a PR disaster for the camp), but they are also strongly against those God-like Analyst, who ask them not to leverage Olympics. God-like analysts in Pro-Tibet camp may claim that they don’t like what the Chinese government did in Tibet, but when they see how scary the behavior of the Angry Youth type of people in the Chinese camp, they may (my guess) think the government is more rational. It is the same for the Chinese camp. For God-like Analyst in China, they tried to ask Angry Youth to start to think before behave, but when they saw what the Angry Youth type of pro-Tibet guys did in Paris, they may be easily turned into Conscious Patriots, or Conscious Patriots may turn to Analyst, when they saw the consciousness of some people in the other camp. Wow. The combination is endless. Even people with the same type in the same camp may argue for a long time. That is the reason there are so many articles around this issue everywhere, including the one you are reading.

In both camp, there are some God-like analysts try to help the own camp to understand the other side, and find some way out for the both camp. Some God-Like Analysts even sit completely in the middle, like Grace Wang – the most dangerous position to take.

However, "history is made of People", and the history has repeatedly show us, the people is made of Angry Youth, and Conscious Patri

ots, but very rare is made of God-like Analyst, just because there are so few of them. The history in the combating world (like in the long history of China) is always written by the winner, and no matter which side win, God-like Analysts never get mentioned.

How sad it is.

Grace Wang Called a Traitor

GN posted an article on Washington Post about the recent indent of Grace Wang.

Caught in the Middle, Called a Traitor (I think it is important to readers on this site to read this.)

By Grace Wang
Sunday, April 20, 2008;

I study languages — Italian, French and German. And this summer — now that it looks as though I won’t be able to go home to China — I’ll take up Arabic. My goal is to master 10 languages, in addition to Chinese and English, by the time I’m 30.

I want to do this because I believe that language is the bridge to understanding. Take China and Tibet. If more Chinese learned the Tibetan language, and if Tibetans learned more about China, I’m convinced that our two peoples would understand one another better and we could overcome the current crisis between us peacefully. I feel that even more strongly after what happened here at Duke University a little more than a week ago.

Trying to mediate between Chinese and pro-Tibetan campus protesters, I was caught in the middle and vilified and threatened by the Chinese. After the protest, the intimidation continued online, and I began receiving threatening phone calls. Then it got worse — my parents in China were also threatened and forced to go into hiding. And I became persona non grata in my native country.

It has been a frightening and unsettling experience. But I’m determined to speak out, even in the face of threats and abuse. If I stay silent, then the same thing will happen to someone else someday.

So here’s my story.

When I first arrived at Duke last August, I was afraid I wouldn’t like it. It’s in the small town of Durham, N.C., and I’m from Qingdao, a city of 4.3 million. But I eventually adjusted, and now I really love it. It’s a diverse environment, with people from all over the world. Over Christmas break, all the American students went home, but that’s too expensive for students from China. Since the dorms and the dining halls were closed, I was housed off-campus with four Tibetan classmates for more than three weeks.

I had never really met or talked to a Tibetan before, even though we’re from the same country. Every day we cooked together, ate together, played chess and cards. And of course, we talked about our different experiences growing up on opposite sides of the People’s Republic of China. It was eye-opening for me.

I’d long been interested in Tibet and had a romantic vision of the Land of Snows, but I’d never been there. Now I learned that the Tibetans have a different way of seeing the world. My classmates were Buddhist and had a strong faith, which inspired me to reflect on my own views about the meaning of life. I had been a materialist, as all Chinese are taught to be, but now I could see that there’s something more, that there’s a spiritual side to life.

We talked a lot in those three weeks, and of course we spoke in Chinese. The Tibetan language isn’t the language of instruction in the better secondary schools there and is in danger of disappearing. Tibetans must be educated in Mandarin Chinese to succeed in our extremely capitalistic culture. This made me sad, and made me want to learn their language as they had learned mine.

I was reminded of all this on the evening of April 9. As I left the cafeteria planning to head to the library to study, I saw people holding Tibetan and Chinese flags facing each other in the middle of the quad. I hadn’t heard anything about a protest, so I was curious and went to have a look. I knew people in both groups, and I went back and forth between them, asking their views. It seemed silly to me that they were standing apart, not talking to each other. I know that this is often due to a language barrier, as many Chinese here are scientists and engineers and aren’t confident of their English.

I thought I’d try to get the two groups together and initiate some dialogue, try to get everybody thinking from a broader perspective. That’s what Lao Tzu, Sun Tzu and Confucius remind us to do. And I’d learned from my dad early on that disagreement is nothing to be afraid of. Unfortunately, there’s a strong Chinese view nowadays that critical thinking and dissidence create problems, so everyone should just keep quiet and maintain harmony.

A lot has been made of the fact that I wrote the words "Free Tibet" on the back of the American organizer of the protest, who was someone I knew. But I did this at his request, and only after making him promise that he would talk to the Chinese group. I never dreamed how the Chinese would seize on this innocent action. The leaders of the two groups did at one point try to communicate, but the attempt wasn’t very successful.

The Chinese protesters thought that, being Chinese, I should be on their side. The participants on the Tibet side were mostly Americans, who really don’t have a good understanding of how complex the situation is. Truthfully, both sides were being quite closed-minded and refusing to consider the other’s perspective. I thought I could help try to turn a shouting match into an exchange of ideas. So I stood in the middle and urged both sides to come together in peace and mutual respect. I believe that they have a lot in common and many more similarities than differences.

But the Chinese protesters — who were much more numerous, maybe 100 or more — got increasingly emotional and vocal and wouldn’t let the other side speak. They pushed the small Tibetan group of just a dozen or so up against the Duke Chapel doors, yelling "Liars, liars, liars!" This upset me. It was so aggressive, and all Chinese know the moral injunction: Junzi dongkou, bu dongshou (The wise person uses his tongue, not his fists).

I was scared. But I believed that I had to try to promote mutual understanding. I went back and forth between the two groups, mostly talking to the Chinese in our language. I kept urging everyone to calm down, but it only seemed to make them angrier. Some young men in the Chinese group — those we call fen qing (angry youth) — started yelling and cursing at me.

What a lot of people don’t know is that there were many on the Chinese side who supported me and were saying, "Let her talk." But they were drowned out by the loud minority who had really lost their cool.

Some people on the Chinese side started to insult me for speaking English and told me to speak Chinese only. But the Americans didn’t understand Chinese. It’s strange to me that some Chinese seem to feel as though not speaking English is expressing a kind of national pride. But language is a tool, a way of thinking and communicating.

At the height of the protest, a group of Chinese men surrounded me, pointed at me and, referring to the young woman who led the 1989 student democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, said, "Remember Chai Ling? All Chinese want to burn her in oil, and you look like her." They said that I had mental problems and that I would go to hell. They asked me where I was from and what school I had attended. I told them. I had nothing to hide. But then it started to feel as though an angry mob was about to attack me. Finally, I left the protest with a police escort.

Back in my dorm room, I logged onto the Duke Chinese Students and Scholars Association (DCSSA) Web site and listserv to see what people were saying. Qian Fangzhou, an officer of DCSSA, was gloating, "We really showed them our colors!"

I posted a letter in response, explaining that I don’t support Tibetan independence, as some accused me of, but that I do support Tibetan freedom, as well as Chinese freedom. All people should be free and have their basic rights protected, just as the Chinese constitution says. I hoped that the letter would spark some substantive discussion. But people just criticized and ridiculed me more.

The next morning, a storm was raging online. Photographs of me had been posted on

the Internet with the words "Traitor to her country!" printed across my forehead. Then I saw something really alarming: Both my parents’ citizen ID numbers had been posted. I was shocked, because this information could only have come from the Chinese police.

I saw detailed directions to my parents’ home in China, accompanied by calls for people to go there and teach "this shameless dog" a lesson. It was then that I realized how serious this had become. My phone rang with callers making threats against my life. It was ironic: What I had tried so hard to prevent was precisely what had come to pass. And I was the target.

I talked to my mom the next morning, and she said that she and my dad were going into hiding because they were getting death threats, too. She told me that I shouldn’t call them. Since then, short e-mail messages have been our only communication. The other day, I saw photos of our apartment online; a bucket of feces had been emptied on the doorstep. More recently I’ve heard that the windows have been smashed and obscene posters have been hung on the door. Also, I’ve been told that after convening an assembly to condemn me, my high school revoked my diploma and has reinforced patriotic education.

I understand why people are so emotional and angry; the events in Tibet have been tragic. But this crucifying of me is unacceptable. I believe that individual Chinese know this. It’s when they fire each other up and act like a mob that things get so dangerous.

Now, Duke is providing me with police protection, and the attacks in Chinese cyberspace continue. But contrary to my detractors’ expectations, I haven’t shriveled up and slunk away. Instead, I’ve responded by publicizing this shameful incident, both to protect my parents and to get people to reflect on their behavior. I’m no longer afraid, and I’m determined to exercise my right to free speech.

Because language is the bridge to understanding.

Grace Wang is a freshman at Duke University. Scott Savitt, a visiting scholar in Duke’s Chinese media studies program, assisted in writing this article.

GN thought it is important for readers on this site to read  this article. I also think so. So I copied the article in this entry to share Grace’s thoughts.

Called a Traitor? Don’t Worry

It is so common to be called a traitor in China. I, myself, was called a traitor many times in BBS or blogs. There are many versions of the story. No matter what you do, the easiest way to get everyone to get to the same side of the line is to tell people the guy betrayed  China. Just to list the logic of the criticizer who said I am a traitor.

  • Anyone who  writes in English forgot their motherland already. He is a traitor. Sometimes, people may call people who can read English as a traitor. I saw this situation, although not common.
  • Anyone who didn’t boycott Japanese goods is a traitor
  • Anyone who didn’t show strong emotional reaction to Torch Relay is called a traitor
  • Anyone who said there are true report in western media is a traitor.
  • Anyone who said Chinese government is good is a traitor, or in other cases, anyone who said Chinese government is bad is a traitor.
  • Anyone who think the Party has done something wrong is a traitor.
  • Anyone who tried to help foreigners is a traitor
  • Anyone who work in a foreign company is a traitor…

The list is endless. The point is, if you have anything to do with something "foreign", or you talk about politics, you are called a traitor by someone, publicly, with name and, in Grace’s case, private information. For many people, if they heard from any source that someone is a traitor, they will try everything to fight against this person, including personal attack, forward the mail/post to other places, add a comment to condemn the person, even threat to kill the person.


I don’t know Grace, and I don’t know whether I agree with what Grace said or not – I agree for most part, but I worry that I only hear one-sided story. Grace is just 20 years in age, and she may also did something immature in the sensitive time, which is completely acceptable and understandable. But it may cause strong reaction from the Chinese student group and netizen in China, which is also pretty understandable. However, I feel so bad and ashamed that she got death threat, and rude personal attack (and physical attack in her home). How I wish I have a country that is more open  to different opinions, and tolerate diversity. To follow the law is the basic way to show one’s love to his country.

I know if I post the entry in Chinese, and if I am lucky, I will be called traitor again, just for this article. Even in English, I believe I will receive many critics for this entry, and the next entry I am planning to write. It is OK. I never expect everyone agree with me. Call me whatever people want to call. A blogger needs some courage, right.

PS. When you attack, please just attack the opinion, not the person hold the opinion. Even if you want to attack a person, attack myself (and I am pretty tolerate, and understand that is the cost of running a blog), however, I will take action if I saw personal attack to other readers (and they shouldn’t be insulted).

Social Environment in Central China

I am in Nanyang for 3 days. Some observation of the social environment:

  1. People have plenty of time
  2. It is very family oriented
  3. Food is the center of people’s life

Let me explain them one by one.

People have Plenty of Time

I guess it is the impression only for people like Wendy and me who just came from Shanghai. We are not not tourist, and we live in part of the family. So we saw normal people’s life. Some one only go to work for half days, and many of them don’t have work. When it is sunny, people bring chairs to the public spaces, and talk, or just sit there. When it is cloudy, people get back to room, and sit on small chairs, chatting. One out of several days, people may be busy enough to get a table to play Mahjong.

For people who work, the schedule is quite different. They go to work at 8:00 AM in the morning , and get back to home for lunch at 12:00 in the noon. The afternoon session starts at 2:00 PM and ends at 6:00 PM. In summer, people can have a good sleep during the noon time, since they need to go back to work at 3:00 PM.

This is not something new to me. That is how life should look like when I was in Luoyang, and I believed everyone in the world lived the same life. It changed a lot after I moved to Shanghai 13 years ago, and this trip just refreshed my memory. It didn’t change in the last 20 years.

It is very Family Oriented

Family is the center of many people’s everyday life. In the last few days, we have lunch together with 6 – 12 people, on the same table, or in rotation. Rotation means the dishes are on the small table, and 6 of us eat our lunch, and someone finish lunch first and gave room to other family members. That is the life of big family. Two or three families (with parents and their one two two children, and even grandchild, Yifan) gather together, and have lunch and dinner happily. The life is waved by the family relationship net, and by "family", we mean the "big family" or the family with the same grandfather. In Shanghai, and many other countries, the same family may already been split up to smallest unit (parent and children), and bigger family (aunts, uncles, grandparents…) only gather occasionally. In many places in China, the gather of bigger family is the day to day life. 

So is the family property. I use other family members electricity-powered motor is just as I use Wendy’s. :-)

Food is the Center of People’s Life

Food is great here. People spent enough time on food (if not 100% of time). Most things people eat are hand-made by family members themselves. In the morning, aunts prepared the breakfast, and we had them. Then they started to prepare lunch already. At night, people prepare the food for the next day. Food cost is a major cost of people’s salary.

This is China

To be more exact, this is still not China. Life in Shanghai is part of China, and life in Nanyang is also part of China. Many people try to find only one type of life that represent the whole China. I don’t think there will be such a "China lifestyle".