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A Chinese writer’s cry for change
Phayul[Wednesday, November 23, 2011 16:45]
Chinese author Murong Xuecun at Asia Society in New York on Sunday, November 6, 2011.(Photo/Elsa Ruiz)
Chinese author Murong Xuecun at Asia Society in New York on Sunday, November 6, 2011.(Photo/Elsa Ruiz)
DHARAMSHALA, November 23: In a powerful article, popular Chinese novelist Hao Qun, writing under his penname Murong Xuecun, has taken a critically intellectual and thought provoking assessment of the reality of today’s China; its social, economical, and judicial systems and the sufferings of its people under the present regime.

Titled “Caging a Monster”, Murong calls the “rotting system” in China a “powerful monster” that needs to be caged and encourages the Chinese people to take part in the “honourable process” of improving the system and the country.

Introducing himself as a Chinese writer, Murong, who made to the long list for the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize, laments that living in China is “like watching a giant theatre.”

“The plots are absurd and the scenarios are unbelievable—so absurd, so unbelievable that they are beyond any writer’s imagination. My country manufactures powdered milk containing melamine, feeds fish and shrimp contraceptive medications to enhance their growth, uses industrial alcohol in fake wine, preserves beancurd with human excrement, and produces “gutter oil,” the product of a notorious practice in which waste oil from gutters outside restaurants is recycled for human consumption”.

Pointing out the deep-rooted political influence on China’s legal system, Murong says that judgements in Chinese courts are made “well before the hearing starts”.

“In my country, many innocent people disappear, and some people lose their freedom without ever being sentenced by a court.”

Taking a jab at the regular occurrences of judicial deaths, the author notes that Chinese officials come up with “creative” explanations for detention deaths, including, “died playing hide-and-seek; died while dreaming; died of psychosis; died sipping water.”

“But in all cases the bodies of those who die in custody are covered in bruises and wounds.”

Calling elections in China a “charade”, Murong accuses the government of deciding the results in advance.

“Very often people are asked to elect two out of two candidates. Other times, elections even defy basic math—three winners can be elected from two candidates.”

Lambasting the media in China for “promoting the government and not reporting the truth,” the novelist grieves that China’s education system is “tasked with instructing the people to be loyal to the government and keeping the people ignorant.”

“As a result, many people have never grown up intellectually even though they are adults. Some people still deny that the unprecedented great famine of the early 1960s ever occurred, and insist that the millions of deaths by starvation is a fabrication … There is almost no hope for the sons of ordinary citizens to move up. There is no possibility of them ever becoming an Obama or a Steve Jobs.”

Commenting on the disparaging gap between the poor and the rich in China and the country’s disoriented economic policies, Murong notes that China “takes delight importing the latest jet airplanes and providing aid to foreign countries, despite destitute beggars roaming the land at home."

“My country is capable of launching a satellite into space but not of building a safe bridge across a river. My country is capable of building palatial government offices yet condemns children to substandard schoolhouses. My country provides millions of luxury cars to government official yet few safe school buses for children”.

Remarking on the prevalent “atmosphere of oppression” and the lack of trust in the society originating from the government’s policies of spying and informing on its citizens, the author reveals that the government has a “secret dossier” on every single citizen.

“The atmosphere is oppressive—people do not trust the government, employees do not trust employers, students don’t trust teachers, and wives do not trust husbands.”

While warning that China’s rampant corruption if not checked would turn into a disaster, Murong says that China’s bureaucrats are “either bribing or taking bribes”.

“I believe that without reforming this rotten system, China will continue to be a nation that contributes few innovations and new ideas to mankind. It may have a lot of money but there won’t be much culture left. It may become a mighty military power but it will still be incapable of making its people feel secure.”

Encouraging the Chinese to stand up against the government’s injustices, Murong compares the “rotten system” to a “festering tumour” poisoning every drop of blood and every nerve cell of China.

“I believe there is a bottom line—we are the bottom line. This rotten system persists because we all have contributed to it, in one way or another— we are the system. If the system improves, that’s because we have worked on it. If the system gets worse, that’s also because we have contributed.”
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