18 August 2011

Translation: "What is This Thing Called 'Street Crime'?"

I'm easing back into this blogging thing, so no extensive commentary to accompany my translation of an opinion that first appeared in the 16 August edition of the Beijing Evening News under the name Zhen Yan (which, incidentally, sounds exactly like "the truth" in Chinese). Since then, it's been republished widely newspapers and website around the country.

I'm no media critic, so I'll just say that I'm hopeful that its appearance on the opinion page of the normally liberal Beijing News indicates that at least some of the reprinting is being done on direction from above.

But you never know.

How is There Such an Offense as "Street Crime"?
Zhen Yan
Beijing Evening News
16 August 2011

In early August, social unrest broke out in London and several other English cities. The British government mobilized thousands of police to suppress [the riots], and more than 2,000 “criminals” were arrested. British Prime Minister Cameron announced “zero tolerance for street crime” and appointed Bill Bratton, an American expert in fighting “street crime,” as a consultant for British police responding to urban street-gang culture and large-scale rioting.

This kind of news leaves people confused. What sort of crime is “street crime”? What sort of culture is street-gang culture? It seems this only exists in Western countries’ definition of crime and, when the same type of thing occurs in other countries, Western governments and media don’t seem to talk about this kind of offense. Rather, they glorify it as “democracy movement” or “anti-tyranny,” something with absolutely no relation to criminality. Dressed up as “democracy” or “human rights,” it then becomes an excuse for Western governments and media to pressure other countries.

This is a strange way of judging the difference between right and wrong. Whenever social unrest or incidents occur in developed Western countries, they are called extremism or violent behavior. But when the same incidents happen in non-Western countries—especially China—a completely different judgment is reached, with talk of human rights violations and suppression of “peaceful protest.” The 14 March [2008] incident in Lhasa and the 5 July [2009] incident in Urumchi were unquestionably violent crimes that caused ordinary citizens to incur serious death, injury, and property damage. But Western governments and media incredibly stood on the side of the rioters, criticizing the Chinese government for upholding social order and lecturing [China] while wearing the guise of a human rights defender. Is Cameron’s “zero tolerance” applicable only to England, or is it “universal”?

Most incomprehensible and illogical is that whenever hideous incidents occur in Western countries like England, the United States, or Norway, they are treated as random and apolitical or else isolated individual cases. Even when riots break out in several British cities, they cannot be called political rioting. But in other countries, even incidents involving individuals get inflated into problems with the political structure. And it’s not only Western media and governments who repeatedly say these things. Following their lead, some media in China have begun to parrot these things and chime in with their own excuses, becoming wholesale mouthpieces of Western government and media and losing their fundamental value judgment and standard of right and wrong. Have they forgotten the ugly performance by Western governments and media at the time of the olympic torch relay processions in London and Paris? Or the farce of the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize? The standpoint of Chinese media should be firm, clear, and uniform. This is seeking truth from facts and reflecting the desires of the entire Chinese people.

Each can draw his or her own conclusions about what’s right and wrong. The world is complex and there are differences between cultures and national circumstances. But there should be a common standard for judging right and wrong. “Don’t do to others what you would not have them do to you.” If you, yourself, consider it to be a crime but insist on packaging it as “justice” to attack others, you’ll just wind up shooting yourself in the foot. Why don’t you talk in “universality” now? You use one standard for others, and another for yourselves. It seems that “universality” is nothing more than a fraud, the emperor’s new clothes. With control of the world’s resources and opinion, Western countries have sailed along for several hundred years. But now they’ve encountered hard times and keep making fools of themselves. The “superior political system” that Americans always boast of is now shown to be full of defects and has become the biggest obstacle to the ability of the United States to weather the [economic] crisis. Europe is deep in the mire of debt and has lost control over social order. Without reform, there is no solution. History and practicality tell us that the road is ours to choose. History and the facts will judge whether or not the path is correct. Today, the Chinese people have the confidence to take their own road. Faced with the current fluctuations in the world, we must be even more resolute.

1 comment:

  1. mainstream media sounds as much of a waste of time in china as it does in any other country in the world ..

    thanks for translating