Chairman Mee-ow!

I guess a bunch of Chinese foreign students are upset over the parody their New Zealand uni newpaper did on Chairman Mao (cover left) and communist China.

As such, there’ve been numerous protests from the Chinese students exclaiming they’ve been insulted to their core by such blatant defialment of their once great leader. In near tears (crying, not laughing like the rest of us), they exclaimed that it was on par with someone making a funny cartoon of…


George Washington

President Bush

Comparing Mao to George Bush and George Washington is fair (all being despots), but Jesus, really? I mean I’m no Christian, but in many circles he’s touted as “The Son of God!” And that’s a hell of a title; kick’s the ass off “Great Helmsman” no matter how you say it. The students also, through their tears of the travesty, said it’s an insult on par with the Muslim cartoon thing that was a hot topic a couple months back.

It’s part of Islam to not make cartoons of the prophet or Allah, as they could be misconstrude as false idols – best I can figure Maoism is NOT a religion and Mao is NOT a God – despite his devotees possibly believing otherwise. Besides, that ‘cartoons of the prophet’ thing was a farce. A well ochestrated one, but farce none the less. Just a great way to stir up some hate and up the reasons why the Islamic world should hate the West.

This cover issue though, is just stupid. I mean, we wouldn’t criticize anyone for making funny pictures of Hitler (and he killed less people). The REAL kicker is the paper’s issue was taking the piss out of China not having freedom of speech nor freedom to protest – two things this whole fiasco draws attention to. The students are protesting an insult to the leader of a party that doesn’t allow you to protest. Like time travel, this does my head in.

Besides Mao’s looking sexier than ever, don’t ya think? He didn’t look half as good in that wax rendering of him I saw in Tiananmen.

26 Responses

  1. Why do you have to labe Washington and Bush as despots? The language is a bit extreme. No American president has “absolute power” despite what you may think. Mao murdered millions of his own people. Bush, as fallible as he may be, doesn’t even begin to come close to that. And I’m not sure where you’re getting the Washington correlation.

  2. Hey!

    Wow! I am so amused that this has made it’s way all the way over to China! It was big news in the paper here – happened at the University right here in Wellington. Very interesting to me because Kiwis tend to get so defensive when people call them out for making fun of things that others might find disrespectful. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t necessarily agree with the Chinese students who found it upsetting, it’s just that whenever Kiwis poke fun at others and people get upset, they tend to say we (those who get upset) are “too politically correct.” It can be upsetting when they are constantly trying to get off the hook for disrespecting people by saying, “have a sense of humour!” Sometimes there should be a line. I was in NZ about 5 months after September 11 and had to endure constant ridicule of American’s “making too big a deal out of it” (amongst a barage of other off-colour remarks, cartoons, etc). When it comes down to it, more than anything I guess, I am just amazed by how different their culture and sense of humor can be from ours (speaking from an American point of view, don’t know if this applies to Canada as well).

    I found it especially upsetting though, that the publishers of the newspaper couldn’t seem to grasp WHY the Chinese students could possibly be upset. I don’t think people really understand how isolated China really can be (information-wise) – and by no means am I saying that I completely understand either; but from the little experience I did have there, I would say that you can’t exactly fault people for not knowing the truth when the truth isn’t very accessible to them.

    On a side note, there have been a lot of problems here recently concerning crime targeted at Chinese international students studying here, and I think people are very tense about the whole issue. These students seemed to interpret it as a threat and a direct disrespect – which isn’t so far-fetched when you see Chinese students being kidnapped and killed on the news. There is a lot of underlying racial tension here… 🙁

    Sorry to ramble… 🙂


  3. In the words of a Chinese colleague “I don’t understand Christianity, it all seems so stupid.”

    As well as studying overseas goes, never encountered such a bunch of ‘pian zi’ especially in China (private/university) organising it.

  4. @ Vanessa: I can always count on you to give me a long comment! haha. Thanks! Yeah, I’m a fence sitter when it comes to PC stuff. I hate overly-PC things, but at the same time I do agree that there needs to be sensitivity to be considered ‘cultured’. I can only shake my head that there’s been Chinese International Student Targeted Crime (CIST?) in NZ… the way things play out in the news here means that it’s very likely going to be cover stories across the country. Chinese newspapers LOVE when bad things happen to Chinese people abroad because they’re always aloud to print it, then can tout how great staying in China is, and Chinese people want to read about the horrible things that happen to those that dare leave these shores.

    @Stu: Sorry man, no intention to offend ya or your great leaders. My point was more actually to draw a connection to them all being “mere mortals” and though you may have taken despot too strongly, I truly believe Bush to be a tyrant and an autocrat. As for Washington, the victors write the history, and he’s a hero. But it is my opinion that no great man can be militaristically great and not have committed what in my books are sins against humanity. It’s a stretched argument though, so… let me change it to this: I can see the comparison between Mao and the George’s (all being political leaders, and largely considered ONLY human), but Jesus?… a’ight?

    @Anonymous: Who are you… I dig that this new system promotes non-anonymous posts … at least a name.

    @Nathan: Meh. Maybe not. But does or doesn’t, I’ve better things to do than go to it and comment how much it sucks. My bet is John is just a troll posting flamebait

    @All: Guys, I had to manually copy all your comments over – hopefully there’s not problem with them. If there is, lemme know..

  5. I can appreciate that you get pissed off with some things in China, but it’s not our country, and who are we to dictate to them? We are lucky that we live in countries where we can slag off our president/queen etc without fear of reprisal (now), but we aren’t living there now, and at the end of the day, can we say that everything in our country’s history is perfect and blameless? I also get so fed up with people repeating what they have heard or read on other websites or in books. The thing that particularly pisses me off is that I thought the mission of a journalist was to report fact that they themselves could verify. Anyone can spout things that they have read on other websites, or read in books – yes, we’ve all read Wild Swans, we’ve also read the Da Vinci Code and Harry Potter. It doesn’t make it true. Get the facts first hand.

    I sincerely believe that you could do more harm to human rights than good with this attitude.

  6. Phoebe, I think you missed that this happened in New Zealand, not in China. I’m not dictating anything to anyone (that’s the CCP’s job) – my Web site is 100% reserved for my opinions and I don’t at all force anyone to read said opinions. I also certainly wouldn’t say that anything about Western countries (neither now nor in the past) is perfect.

    Bit tough to get the facts first hand about Mr. Mao, but I don’t think that there’s any debate that the number of people that died in the Great Leap Forward was catastrophic, and the fault lied with the leaders at the time (granted, not all Mao, but it wasn’t exactly a wide distribution of power). Wild Swans is just one source of information about China, and a largely biased one at that. There are LOADS more books, biographies, Web sites, etc.

    And who’s talking ‘journalism’ here? There’s nothing “journalistic” about this site. That said, what’s not factual in this post? The protest happened in New Zealand, Mao initiated the GLF, in around 20 million people died because of this, the Islam stuff is all true (at least according to the book I’ve just read about Islam), I’ll give ya that the “wax” thing “might” not be true… but I believe it is (see above bit about 100% my opinion).

    I’m a little lost on the human rights comment. I’m not at all fighting for or advocating human rights in this post. It’s not to say I don’t support more human rights in China, but it’s simply not my fight. The above post was just meant to be a satirical kick at a bunch of rich kids from China crying about something they know nothing about. They look at Mao Zedong as equated to a god out of misinformation and a complete inability to admit to mistakes. If you live in China, fine. You don’t have access (or easy access at least) to the truth about things and it’s not your fault. But if you study abroad, you should at least attempt to get a rounder view of the world while you have access to it. If someone put John A. MacDonald in a dress on the cover of a STUDENT newspaper, I’d laugh – and rightfully so. In fact, I can’t think of a person someone could put in a dress that wouldn’t be funny to me.

    I think this comment is longer than my initial post. The result, no doubt, of me being really unclear on what you’re talking about and so just randomly defending myself. There’s just a lot of vague referrences, but nothing substantial. A lot of finger pointing, but nothing else. What do you disagree with? You are offended because you read Wild Swans and something in this post (not about Wild Swans in anyway) seems to be about Wild Swans? I’m happy to list any number of sources for anything in this post (with the exception of that George Washington being a despot thing… I appologized previously about that… I don’t know much about him really. Wooden teeth, African American son… liked boats and tea parties?) and not include Wild Swans in that post. I read Wild Swans in my first couple months in China and haven’t seen a copy since. Nor have I read Mrs. Zhang’s new book about Mao.

    Anyway… hopefully you’ll post more about specifically what you disagree with, and not just that you rather heatedly disagree.

    I should really edit this comment… it’s far too long.

  7. Just out of curiousity…I’m wondering how the Chinese newspapers conveyed this “protest” – because it was, in fact, about 30 students at most. There were also a number of Chinese students and professors who came out to say that they were not bothered by the cartoon. Just curious if the Chinese newspapers made this seem like a HUGE protest…?


  8. I’ll check it out with Maggie and see if they said anything in the papers. I’ve largely managed to convince her to get her news online and not bother buying the isolationist promoting propaganda in the daily rags. To be honest, this wasn’t in anyway to try and get the “truth” to her… not at all. I just got REALLY tired of hearing these horrible stories of what happened to Chinese people in America (ie. all American police are HORRIBLE, VIOLENT, CORRUPT people because a Chinese woman was abused in the US).

    I did a quick search of Xinhua and China Daily (EN versions) and didn’t see anything.

  9. Yes Ryan, sorry, I was pissed (up not off) when I wrote the comment. Maybe I didn’t express myself very well. I think the thing I took exception to was the comparison to Mao and Hitler, how do we know the truth of the matter in terms of numbers? Anyway, forget I mentioned it and have a nice day!!!

  10. Haha.. No worries. I dig having a bit of debate on here. My blog was quiet for a long time when it came to comments, and this is a welcome change.

    As for the numbers – I agree, they do vary. However, largely the agreed upon amount sits in the millions. The debatable part I guess with Mao and Hitler is that Hitler systematically tried to remove a group of people he deemed unfit from the face of the earth, whereas Mao ignorantly believed his own myth (something I’ve noticed China is amazing at causing for some reason) and thought he was infalable, even when the lower ranks were blatantly making up projected figures.

    Here are some resources I’ve read in the past when quoting GLF death tolls:
    “China’s agriculture was so disrupted that about 20 million people died of starvation from 1958 to 1962.” – Encyclopedia Britannica

    “Great Leap Forward: 31-33 million (median of 14 estimates)” – Twentieth Century Atlas (this also contains figures for the other ways in which people died under Mao’s watch).

    Now, I get what you’re saying about not believing everything you read (or hear), but at some point you have to distill the info and see what you’ve got. And I think for the purposes of my little blog, those figures’ll do. 😉

  11. Hi Ryan,

    Yes, I agree with what you say. It’s not that I’m trying to ‘diss you’ (as you younger generation say). It’s hard to explain what I mean, but I’ll try. My Mom joined of the Communist party in the 1950’s. It wasn’t, strictly speaking, illegal, but she was certainly subject to police scrutiny. She was one of the kindest and most altrusistic people I have ever met, but she got a lot of hassle for it. My old geography teacher had been in the Womens Suffrage movement and had endured a spell in prison. A friend of mine was taken from school and chucked in the slammer (in Australia) for peacefully protesting Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war.

    What I’m trying to say is that all countries have gone through what China is going through now (to a greater or lesser degree) with regard to freedom of speech etc. In our eyes the Chinese students have over-reacted, but you can’t blame them for the way they have been brought up and even indoctrinated. I say, just give them time and they’ll catch up with the Western world – I don’t even know if that’s good or bad.

    Anyway, cheers mate. See you soon.

  12. PS: I just loved this I read on the China Daily discussion board re. the Great Helmsman:

    Mao is a great man. He is the man who united China from past 100 years wars, forgein invasion, and starvation. and the new country defeated all the foreign powers. Look at Mao Ze Dong, we have to look at the time he experienced, we can’t blame him base on the standard of 21th centure. The same way that we can’t blame why Juses didn’t drink coca-cola.

    Obviously a Future School student!

  13. Hahaha… wait, lemme say that again… hahahhaha… I’ve cruised through those China Daily discussion boards, but obviously haven’t spent enough time there! That’s fantastic. Personally I think Jesus is a bastard for not drinking coca-cola. Should the second coming ever happen, I hope drinking Coke (I will, if he’s in a pinch, accept Pepsi) will be high on his priorities. Screw the salvation of humanity, this is COKE we’re talking about.

    I absolutely agree regarding the indoctrination of China’s youth. And I also agree a time will come. It’s scary to think that they’ll “catch up”, but it’s even scarier that they’re going to do it China Style… it’s going to make for some really weird belief systems. I read somewhere how China is quickly adapting Western ideas into Chinese life, but they skipped out on all the fundamentals that Western ideals were built upon – things we just take for granted as past knowledge assimilated into our collective through everything we know about our culture… that’s all missing. Like most thing built in China… shakey framework… :-S

  14. you son of bitch!

    Don’t be upset. When you insult a great man to who you can never be comparable but many other people really respect, you deserve this.

  15. It’s hard to believe that those students are so deeply brain-washed by the communist party. Only in China, a man who butchered millions of people (in culture revolution) can be considered “a great leader.” Apparently higher education didn’t free their minds.

  16. Wow, this post sorta came alive again in the last day or so. I guess it was via Blogger’s site… as I just fixed that there and this was my last “official” post under the blogger system.

    @Howard: Dude, educate yourself. Mao did a lot of good things for China, I’m not debating that. And I’m not debating that his ideals initially weren’t good. However, as history has judged him in every country but China, he turned out to be a megalomaniac who made decisions based on this that caused many, MANY of his own people to die horribly slow deaths. May I never be like that. I may be a son of a bitch, but you’re just ignorant.

    @Ching-huei: Damn… MIT on my blog. It’s an honour. And yeah, I agree. Being a teacher I see first hand just how “high” that education is. Read and repeat. University instructions in China are largely like shampoo instructions.

  17. Hi,
    I am a Chinese. But I think that those angered Chinese are really stupid. As you know, there are some radical young patriots. They are extremists. But they have no true gut . Their speech is harder than their act and their heart is even harder than their speech. They want the government to do anything to “liberate” Taiwan, Japon, America and Europe. Judicious Chinese call them angered youths. As anger and shit are homophones in Chinese, we give them another nickname—fitter of course—- angered shit.

    The Chinese authorities are cruels. I am a Chinese. I know what the truth is in China.

  18. Really, Lemme is ubiquitious… An atom of the angered shit of China….

    As I know, his Father is communist and well corrupted.

  19. As a Hongkong chinese, I ve seen their kind, they are the products of the propaganda education in the mainland. In chinese, they are known as `fengqing` (angry youth). Their anger are probably out of inferiority complex. The are usually very loud but seldom act. For example, they hate Japan a lot, yet they seldom act. Their government been teaching them to hate Japan or US thru the textbooks form day 1 yet their government forbids them any kind of anti-Japanese protest in fear of worsening the relationship with Japan. Mao is Jesus to them yet Mao killed more chinese than any1 and Mao destroyed more chinese culture than any1. To say that making fun of Mao is making fun of chinese culture is itself an insult to the chinese culture. Mao, fengqing does not represent chinese culture.

  20. To hker Says:

    However, the Chinese communists are really [guess what he said – RM]—-I cite a Christian term. As I know, they have reddened HongKong too. At least the HK media are used for the communist propaganda.
    The Chinese communists are always doing their own propaganda under the colour of the Chinese civilization.

  21. Hey Resnonverba, sorry – but I had to edit your post… I think people will still get the point, and it’s not that I disagree… as I’m still based in mainland China, and the feds are continually cracking down on such things.. I have to look out for me and mine, eh?

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