I Felt Afraid of Public Opinions Now

Recently, I felt more and more helpless. Once, when I was younger (around 20 years old, I think), I always classify myself into the group who represent the public opinions – we think exactly like the massive public. However, in the recent years, especially after I started this, and at some special events, I just realize that my opinions are often on the opposite side of what most of people are thinking. I felt pretty worried and felt afraid.

Like the recently, people really get angry of many companies, especially international companies, and public companies, for not donating enough money to the disaster relief in Sichuan. For example, Vanke and its CEO Wang Shi were attached like crazy, just because they only donate 2 million RMB to the earthquake at the night of the earthquake, and Wang Shi justified the amount by saying it is what the board authorized them to do. For me, I felt Wang Shi did exactly the right thing by stick to the principles by not abuse his right and donate something that does not belong to him. However, I am obviously on the wrong side of the camp from most of my friends – they said I am stupid, not to mention the massive attach on the Internet.

For most of the company CEOs, when I check their decision to donate tens of millions of dollars, people get very excited, and no one really check whether they are authorized to do it. Also, many companies where boycotted, just because they donate just several million Yuan, instead of tens of million. KFC was boycotted, and people are protesting before many branches, in many cities. What happened before Carrefour happened before KFC, and many other multinational brand companies, simply because they just donate 10 million RMB, not more. Like Wanglaoji, another local brand, who donate 100 million RMB to Sichuan, which is named the best company of China (according to Nanfang Weekend). Personally, I think emotionally speaking, there are some sense in it, but rationally, I don’t think most of the companies, especially public companies can donate more than what its share holders authorized them to do. The current donation (like crazy) is a very good thing for Sichuan, but it hurt the well being of China in long term – it is public abuse of their power, and if I don’t put it into the crime bucket.

Recently, around the earthquake, there are many opinions around donation amount, and many many issues. The really good thing is people start to discuss about it publicly. I do feel very happy about it, although I don’t agree with many of the reaction from the audience.

However, I really get depressed, that free speech is not pressed by the government, it is well censored by the public opinions. I don’t want to mention to much of it, just because I know I will be another Wangshi – being the target of most of people in China, and be called whatever bad thing people can think of.

So, I am really afraid of public opinion now. Inside myself, I often feel that I stand on the other side of the people in this country. You know that kind of feeling?

P.S. Ping Pong Game Resumes

I am resuming my Ping Pong game practice now. I played Ping Pong for some time at night, and finally get back to the status I am in many weeks ago. Now I feel much better, and ready to challenge many people tomorrow.

P.S. Met Christine, Elliot, and Thalia

Met Christine Lu from The China Business Network, Elliot from CNReviews.com, and Thalia from ChinaOnTV.com. Nice talk about blogging, business in China, classified a little bit, and the upcoming cnbloggercon.

28 thoughts on “I Felt Afraid of Public Opinions Now

  1. I agree with you. . As you say, personally we can give how much as we want as is our money but corporate money is not ours so we have to accepted up decisions. It is stupid and hipocrita.

    Well, 2 million rmb is money.

  2. It’s not a right decision to donate so little,what is proved by the angry people.

    People is always right,if you need their money.

  3. js, you have to accept that the majority of people can’t analyse an issue from multiple perspectives like you do.

  4. @siefried, I don’t accept the fact that people “cannot analyze an issue from multiple perspectives”. No matter I like it or not, my opinion is just one of the many opinions people may have (and the very rare one considering the large population). I don’t think I am titled to position myself higher than anyone – I am not. That is the reason I feel afraid, and lonely, instead of happy – I am trying very hard to grand my reasoning to solid facts, so at least I know what my opinion is, despite of what others say.

  5. JianShuo, I share your feelings!

    The Nationalism Movement raised by the ‘angry youth’ and ‘netizens’ makes everyone in China and beyond so venerable to criticism and the sources are usually anonymous. It reminds me of the era of Culture Revolution when everyone lives in fear and distrust. I really hope the government should put an abatement to it as it clearly violates human rights.

    BTW, donation is a result of compassionate behaviour and should be measured by the amount of money, got it?

  6. js, in a mature society, it’s normal that people have differing views. Our values change with time. Something we regarded as wrong in the past, we may regard it as right now. Holding a different view from the majority at one time does not mean it will always be. Perhaps you should be glad that China is on the way to more diversity of opinions.

  7. donation and willing to help is coming from the heart. Those who are judging a person by $$$ is such a hypocrite. For those hypocrite, ask yourself how much have you donate and how willing are you to help before condemning others.

    And of course, some donated a lot of money just for fame and publicity with an intention (e.g. boost company image, personal image, relationship, sales, etc). That is the reason now the public start questioning the accountability of the donated money. I just feel sad and disgusted with all these insincerity and abuse.

    JS, don’t worry about not representing the public. You are different and that’s why I am still reading your blog as a foreigner because you make more sense. I guess you’ve the right “rationale” and “mankind” thinking.

  8. Don’t feel helpless. A healthy society needs rational and courageous people to speak up. Sometime against the government, but most of the time against the popular public. You are a lot more influential than most people. Maybe even more influential than you think yourself. I envy Wang Shi’s courage and fell sorry he has to pull back what he said because he has a public company in his hand.

  9. You struck a chord with me on this one, Jian Shuo.

    I am with you regarding the “donation competition and condemnation”. I am sick of it myself.

    I don’t know what other popular public opinion troubles you. One thing that I personally felt a little uncomfortable with was the over reaction seemingly from so many people against Sharon Stone’s comments, not that I condone her obnoxious and ignorant activities. To me, she is just one of Hollywood has-been. Total indignation from so many people to such a pathetic, attention-seeking has-been do not reflect well on the former.

    Somethings change quickly, others do not. It is what it is. Cheer up and speak up in a respectful way. Things will get better, slowly but surely.

  10. JS – Even though I am not as high-profile as you, I feel the same way (I think). Right now, it’s hard to know when a crowd will turn against you, either for something you say, or something you do, or something you don’t say or do. This makes me question all my actions, and restrict myself.

    And it must be scary for the government right now, too, with all the crowds taking justice into their own hands, regardless of their understanding of the situation. Even for good causes like getting Rescue Relief Tents to go to the right people, people get carried away and violent. It must be hard for the authorities to make sure people stay reasonable. When they apply too much (perceived) force to keep people under control, the crowds turn against them and demonize them. How can they balance a crowd who is fighting for a good cause but in the wrong way? The same goes for all the other volatility in the past month or so…

    I don’t envy the powers that be right now.

  11. Two days after Sharon Stone made her unreflecting remarks on the earthquake, her advertisement in the shopping center in our building was removed from Dior boutique. In the past days, I was overwhelmed by the public criticism on this ” shallow , brainless, cold-blooded hag ” on internet. It reminds me of the Chinese saying , spits from all mouths can make a person drown. 1 month after what happened to Carrefour, again , I realized how prominent and overwhelming the ” public opinion” could be .

    The prevailing opinion in Stone’s case is that the meltdown of her career in China serves her right, while there were controversial views in Wang Shi’s case. I think more and more people began to realize that money was not the only measurement to evaluate people’s willingness to help. It just takes a little bit more time for them to regain the rationality. In this sense, you’re not standing on the opposite side, you just stand higher and look further than they do.

    Don’t feel helpless. It takes time for millions of Chinese netizens to practise rational thinking before they do passionate posting. With time passing by, we will gradually have a more mature netizen group with more diversity of views here in China. And by then, you may feel proud for taking the lead at one time.

  12. Hi , Just to let you know , China is getting free and free now.You can say a lot things about goverment. Try not to afraid of public thinking. That will make you exhausted.Just to remember, you can not control things like that, and you have to roll with things better. You just become that much more empaththetic, and your heart is getting bigger. I know it happens. I love China more and more after living in oversea, I don’t like to hear anyone says bad things about China at all. Shron Stone should keep her mouth shuts, just like most Americans don’t know anything about China, but they still make comments about China. May be Stone should remember cross her legs next time before she open her mouth again.

  13. Very insightful post WJS, thanks for sharing that. I hope that you never feel so afraid of public opinion and that you will be unable to continue sharing what is on your mind and from the heart. It’s important to have people on both sides of every argument, and I hope that’s what people will always strive to protect.

    In a country like China, because of the sheer number of people it can be very scary to be in the minority though, so I certainly understand your feelings. Hopefully you can be comforted by the fact that you won’t ever be alone in your opinions. You always have your loyal following here after all! =D

  14. Hello,

    I am French and I heard in the French news that China will boycott (again! ; ) France this summer in NOT sending tourists. Is that true? Did you hear about that? Do you know why?

    Seems like all travel agencies take France off their catalogs.

    Just want to know if it’s true and why…



  15. Indeed, for the most cases,you’re standing on the right side only if most of people think you’re right when you wonder if you ‘re right.

  16. @Diedier, I don’t know about boycotting French product after the boycott of Carrefour. I may be the extension of it, instead of a new one. Anyone knows it?

  17. I gave some money.

    But I still think that it is government job to do so. Why have a government if he can not even put some money (increase tax if necessary or take with the 1500 billions USD foreign reserve) to help in case of disaster.

    I am also more and more sorry when I see these “angry youth”. They are numerous and lead the mass of “normal” people who often follow… They do not construct or improve things, they attack, boycott, destroy… and are over nationalist (when are they going to start a war? with who? USA? Japan? France? who is next who will be their target? )

    I always believed that young people where the most open people… but in China, I really feel that many are close minded, angry, and over react. while many older that I disscuss with (who have suffer the cultural revolution) are much more calm, take distance.

    Is China going the good way?

  18. Translation: French » Chinese

    资料可能似乎令人惊讶,但不会微笑,旅游专业人员法国在今年夏天开始,这个星期,目的地,法国将消失,所有目录旅行社pékinoises 。警告对外交政策的法国呢?



    事实上,他们没有具体说明在何处,他们采取他们的指示,旅游经营商在北京已经下令法国撤回其目录的旅游目的地,包括在几个欧洲电路country 。






    FRENCH: from: http://www.chine-informations.com/actualite/tourisme-un-boycott-preventif-de-la-chine-contre-la-france_9572.html

    L’information peut paraître surprenante, mais ne fera pas sourire les professionnels du tourisme français cet été : dès cette semaine, la destination France disparaîtra de tous les catalogues des agences de voyages pékinoises. Une mise en garde contre la politique extérieure de la France ?

    On aurait pu penser que la tension entre la France et la Chine était enfin retombée suite au drame que vit la Chine au Sichuan. Il n’en est rien, et il semblerait au contraire que l’Empire du milieu ait décidé de passer à l’action pour punir la France de ses critiques et mises en garde suite aux émeutes au Tibet en mars et au fiasco du relais olympique à Paris.

    Coup bas ou non, le géant asiatique n’hésite pas à jouer avec toutes les armes qu’il a sous la main actuellement. Et pour contrarier les intérêts français, il semblerait que le gouvernement ait choisi de boycotter la France comme destination touristique cet été.

    En effet, s’ils ne se permettent pas de préciser d’où ils tiennent leurs consignes, les tours opérateurs de Beijing ont reçu l’ordre de retirer l’Hexagone de leurs catalogues de destinations touristiques, y compris dans des circuits européens de plusieurs pays.

    Alors que Carrefour et d’autres marques françaises avaient été les cibles d’une fronde sur l’internet chinois, il semble que les autorités qui auparavant voulaient calmer le jeu, aient décidé de frapper là où ça fait mal. En effet, alors qu’ils représentent un public en hausse, les touristiques chinois devraient se compter sur les doigts de la main cet été.

    Comment peut s’expliquer une telle mesure alors que les relations semblaient se réchauffer tout doucement entre la France et la Chine ? Il pourrait ni plus ni moins s’agir d’un moyen de pression supplémentaire sur la politique de Nicolas Sarkozy, lequel n’a toujours pas assuré de sa présence à la cérémonie d’ouverture des Jeux Olympiques en août.

    Ni assuré qu’il ne rencontrerait pas le Dalaï Lama, de visite en France pendant la période des JO. A ce sujet, l’ambassadeur de Chine en France avait été très clair : une rencontre entre le numéro un français et le chef spirituel du Bouddhisme tibétain serait plus que malvenue pour les relations sino-françaises.

    N.J. pour Chine Informations


    Translation: French » English

    The information may seem surprising, but will not make smile french tourism professionals this summer starting this week, the destination France will disappear from all the catalogues of PEKIN travel agencies. A caveat against the foreign policy of France?

    One would have thought that tension between France and China had finally fallen following the tragedy that saw China in Sichuan. It is nothing, and it would seem contrary to that of the middle Empire has decided to take action to punish France for his criticism and warnings following the riots in Tibet in March and the fiasco of the Olympic relay in Paris.

    Bad action or not, the Asian giant does not hesitate to play with all the weapons it has on hand now. And to thwart the french interests, it would appear that the government has chosen to boycott France as a tourist destination this summer.

    Indeed, they did not specify where they take their instructions, tour operators in Beijing have been ordered France to withdraw their catalogues tourist destinations, including in several European circuits country.

    While Carrefour and other French brands had been the target of a sling on the Chinese Internet, it seems that the authorities wanted to calm down before the game, have decided to hit where it hurts. Indeed, as they represent a growing public, Chinese tourist should be counted on the fingers of one hand this summer.

    How can explain such a measure while relations seemed to warm up slowly between France and China? He could neither more nor less be a means of pressure on policy Nicolas Sarkozy, who has still not assured of his presence at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in August.

    Neither provided it does not meet the Dalai Lama, visiting France during the period of the Olympics. In this connection, China’s ambassador to France was very clear: a meeting between the number one french and spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism is more than inappropriate for Sino-French relations.

    N.J. Information for China

  19. @Myself

    I don’t think it’s just government’s business to do the job. I don’t want to mention corruption, bureaucracy existed. Yes, government can raise tax. But other people may be angry. People push huge companys to donate more, because they think these top guys have more responsibility naturally.

    It’s ture that no laws force rich people to donate more. But people think, you are so powerful, great, and richer than us. Why can’t take more responsibility? You said you are responsible, sympathetic and strong. That menas You can do more.

    Every company propagandize it’s value, culture, and contributions everywhere. Show us please.

  20. Jianshuo,

    I wrote some comments this morning, but it did not show. I appreciate your independent thinking, which is always a good thing and soley lacking during this crisis.

    Incidently I also wrote my 2 cents at my blog.

    Companies donate different amount because of the difference on their culture, management judgement, and ownership structure. I can understand that, and I think the one important thing, is each company should give what they feel comfortable (money, material, resource) back to the community. Because without the community and consumers, they won’t make money at all.

    Tolerance and appreciation of others thinking in Chinese society is still precious from time to time, so don’t feel discouraged. Keep up your good work.

  21. @STLPlace, if there is any comment that does not show up, don’t worry. I check the “pending” queue frequently (once every two days at least), and will release comments like yours. There are also many spam comments in it as well. So don’t worry.

  22. I hate to see tyranny of the majority, or its softer cousin groupthink, stifle independent thinking and minority views. If the government allowed true “free speech” I fear there would still be tyranny of the majority. It seems that there needs to be first, the development of a culture that celebrates the idea of diversity of thought and speech, and only then will true free speech be achieved.

    It seems that right now, there are allowable channels for expression within certain boundaries, and that those boundaries change from time to time. People who feel the need to speak out conform to those allowable boundaries and then amplify the ideas and thoughts within those boundaries.

    The culture of blogging and self-expression can be one way in which a subset of bloggers interested in such matters to equip each others to practice free speech, respect for others opinions, and the responsibily and acceptabiliy of dissent.

    Hope this comment is not too general as to lose the point. The point is that if someone with your blogging talents and professional standing, the elite of the next generation of China, can not feel safe, then there must be some changes made to insure that this outcome doesn’t have a long-term bad effect on tjhe country.

  23. The decline of number of tourists in France is not a new boycott . It’s just the subsequence of the boycott in April, after the fiasco of torch relay in Paris and the city mayor conferred honorable citizenship to Dalailama.

    The Chinese central government did not ban travels in France. It was Bei Jing municipality which sent a message to its major travel agencies that all Chinese tourists in France should pay special attention to their own safety as they may confront hostility from local French considering the subtle Sino-French relationship at this particular moment. The message has been well received and ardently responded by both the travel agencies and most citizens, and as a result, France as a tourism destination was removed from all the catalogues in June in Bei Jing travel agencies .

    However, if you want to travel in France , you can still choose travel agencies in other cities, like Shang hai or Guang Zhou, which will deliver service as normal. The boycott of travel in France only took place in Bei Jing.

    When Chinese people protested after Paris boycotted the torch relay and honored Dalailama, the French president told them that it was a decision made by the city hall of Paris and the government could not interfere with that. So this time, the Chinese government asserted it was the spontaneous behavior by Bei Jing municipality and its citizen, the central government would not get involved or force its people to travel in France.

    What I wrote above is not a confirmed report from any official sources, just a narration of one of my friends working in travel agency in Bei Jing.

    I learned that some French netizens had already began to call for a vindictive boycott to all Chinese products, including MP3, LCD, computer , clothes…. . And in response to this proposal, their Chinese counterparts claimed they would boycott French Aircraft, nuclear power station and Private car afterward.

    I am just wondering if all this will eventually lead to a cold war between France and China.

  24. Just a note… Vanke has a sales revenue of 35 Billion yuan (US $ 4.5 Billion), and a net profit of about 5 Billion yuan (US $680 miilion) in 2007. Their initial offering of 2 million yuan is shameful to say the least.

    It says alot about the social responsibilty of a company that has profited so much from their business in China, but offers so little in return at a time when much is needed.

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