The Big Brawl in Chaoyang Park
On one side is the Internet user known as Wu Fatian. His real name is Wu Danhong, and he is an assistant professor of law at the China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. He describes himself as an amateur in debunking fakery, busting rumors, explaining the law and defending rights. He says that he will tell the truth no matter how unpleasant that might be. This is the self-description on his microblog.
On the other side, there is "This is Yan Yun". Her real name is Zhou Yan, and she is a reporter on for Sichuan TV. Here is the self-description on her mcirblog.
The incident began this way with these exchanges:
Wu Fatian: I ask Fang Zhouzi to teach us about the science and/or dispel the rumors: Does the copper alloy project pollute the environment? Molybdenum copper and other elements are essentially present in the bodies of humans and plants. The molydenum copper resources are being processed using the most advanced technology and equipment available internationally. After recycle processing, there is "zero pollution." All waste products are processed and re-used without affecting the environment.
Internet user comment: To say something like this at this moment is to invite being torched by lightning? Will those who go against the people's will be finished?
This is Yan Yun: I can't believe that fucking Wu Fatian wouldn't be beaten into a pulp if he were to go out.
This incident continued with this statement from Wu Fatian:
(Translation) Due to a difference of opinion through microblogs, the Sichuan TV reporter Zhou Yan has been hailing invectives at me on several occasions. I refused to tolerate this and I replied in kind. As a result, she has challenged me. I do not know this female intellectual. Today, I checked the records and I saw that she was among the list of reporters who spread rumors on microblogs, and she has appeared in photos with other renowned microblog public intellectuals. She is also a fan of Zhang Ming and Li Zhuang. Tomorrow should be a good day to popularize legal knowledge. Let the slimy people be aware: those who obey the law have nothing to fear; instead they cause fear among lawbreakers!
This challenge was accepted by Zhou Yan:
(Translation) I sincerely welcome China University of Political Science and Law professor Wu Fatian to discuss the law at South Gate (Main Gate) in Chaoyang Park. I repeat: Don't stay away, be there on time.
Here are the three photos:
Thus, the appointment was made. But before the actual encounter, there was more verbal sparring.
Internet user comment to Wu Fatian: Little Tiantian, there are many pretty photos of Yan Yuan on her microblog. So why do you pick not-so-pretty photos, and you even picked a photo when she was hospitalized for a serious illness. This shows that you are slimy. As for those who criticize Yan Yuan's looks, I can tell you that Yan Yuan is very pretty, sharp and pleasing. Every smile of her is enchanting. Don't Bridget Lin and Maggie Cheung have bad photos too? Why don't you people look in the mirror? According to your own standards, shouldn't you people drop dead?
"This is Yan Yun": This shows what Wu Fatian's motives and character are like.
Internet user comment to Wu Fatian: Are you jealous of how pretty Zhou Yan is?
Wu Fatian: I am not jealous. I don't rate other people on looks. Someone says that it is a violation of image rights to post those photos. That is a joke. She posted those photos on her own microblog. I have not made her look ugly and I am not profiting from this. So which laws are being broken?
Internet user comment to Wu Fatian: It does not matter who is right or wrong. It is unfair for a guy to fight a woman. So you can skip the appointment because it is inappropriate to fight with a woman.
Wu Fatian: Don't worry. This will be a war of words, not a war of force. I guarantee that I will go, I guarantee that I will hold a rational debate and I guarantee that I will not fight with a woman. I will discuss all the controversial topics. Internet user friends can come and videotape.
Internet user microblog: A "universal values camp" pretty woman once debated with me in a coffee shop. I won my points again and again, and she lost her points again and again. She began to raise her voice, thus drawing the attention of those around us. She recommended that we switch to a different location. So we continued our debate in a hotel room. As we came out, I asked her: "Are the universal values of the United States of America so good?" She laughed and said: "I just listen to other people's babbling. Stop kidding me." Now I see that a pretty woman has made an appointment with Wu Fatian. I wish Brother Wu the best of luck.
Wu Fatian: A certain Sichuan TV reporter invites me to have a "contest" on Friday afternoon. I hope that the other party have the demeanor for a debate. When I teach, I won't tire even if I talk for three days. If there isn't enough time that afternoon, we can continue to debate over drinks. Spectators help themselves.
Wu Fatian: There is a rumor that you can become popular if you curse out Wu Fatian; and if you arrange a fight with him, you can become immensely popular. This type of bad rumor is seductive to the various demons and devils just as saying that the Tang Monk's flesh is good to eat. Sometimes I wonder if I should take pity on these democracy-freedom folks so that they will have the opportunity to show off their Cultural Revolution manners, as well as as let the spectators see the demons who wear the masks of public intellectuals for what they really are. On this occasion, the one who wants to eat the flesh of the Tang Monk is a female Sichuan TV reporter. I may just sacrifice myself a bit.
Now we arrive on the fateful day. Here are some of the reports.
The time is 12:45. The principal "This is Yan Yun" has arrived, but Wu Fatian hasn't arrived yet.
Famous microbloggers such as Wuyue Shanren, Yi Tian and others were at the scene to offer support to "This is Yan Yun."
At 12:56, Wu Fatian arrived. Then the big brawl started.
Here is Wu Fatian's own account of the incident:
Wu Fatian: Thirty to forty persons. Most of them men. They systematically surrounded and assaulted me, who is a mere scholar. I did not fight back at all. I am injured all over my body. The Sichuan TV reporter Zhou Yan and Ai Weiwei himself took part and attacked me. The video will record what this episode from the Cultural Revolution looked like.
Here is "This is Yan Yun"'s account of the incident:
Internet user "Bacanghai" comment: To "This is Yan Yun": Sister, the colleagues from our entire department are supporting you from in front of our computers!
"This is Yan Yun": Forward to my colleagues: two eggs on the face, three kicks to the back, three kicks to the lower body; soft; did not find out the results; too big a scene; the police and armed police are here; I withdrew intact and unscathed; I did not lose face for the young and old men of Sichuan!
Internet user "Bacanghai" comment: The office is filled with the voices of the workers. Congratulations to Sichuan TV's victory!
Another Internet user at the scene:
Wu Fatian kept wanting to use a debate to score a win.
Here is a detailed account from Internet user Huyanglin717 (via m4.cn)
I did not pay much attention about the meeting between Wu Fatian and Zhou Yan. I even made several jokes in tease. Today at noon, I put aside my work and I went to South Gate, Chaoyang Park. I had wanted to meet Wu Fatian all along. Although I studied law, I have not been involved in legal work and I am rusty. Recently a friend of mine ran into big trouble overseas and I wanted an expert opinion. Wu did not reply to my email, and I could not very well go to see him at the China University of Political Science and Law. So I wanted to take this chance to meet with him. Because I was not yet hungry, I did not have lunch. When I got there, it was already after 12:30. It was drizzling. I walked around with an umbrella hand. Because of the rain, there were not many people near the park gate.
There was an outdoor store nearby. I waited inside for a while. At 12:55, I came out and immediately I heard crowd noise near the park entrance. I hurried over, and I saw a totally unexpected scene. A large group of people (and they emerged suddenly because they were not there before) surrounded Wu Fatian and cursed him. I heard shouts of "XX dog!!" "Hit him!" "Slap him!" Then someone rushed up to hit Wu Fatian who fell down on the ground. I was astonished. How did a debate turn into a brawl? Wu Fatian got up. But those people did not let off and continued to surround him, curse him and beat him. Without realizing it, I rushed it to defend Wu Fatian. I shouted loudly, "Don't hit him! Don't hit him!" Nobody listened. People kept rushing up and cursing him while pointing fingers at his nose. Another sneaky fellow kicked him in the back. I screened one side but I could screen the other side. It was a tight situation, but there was nothing much I could do except to ask people not to help him.
Someone kept howling: "Wu Fatian, you dare to hit a woman. I won't stop with you." I thought that this person must be blind, because this woman was leading a group of people to assault Wu Fatian. I was perplexed by the number of cameras in acdtion at the scene. These were not the family variety digital video cameras, because there were black professional cameras hoisted on shoulder. Who were these people?
During the chaos, I felt a sudden pain in my back. Fuck, someone hit me with a brick so hard that the brick broke apart. I turned around and grabbed the guy. But it was too chaotic and I could not handcuff him. Besides there were loud noises around Wu Fatian and I was worried about him. So I let loose a bit and the guy who hit me struggled free and quickly fled in democracy-like manner. I ignored the pain and I went back. At that moment, the female principal Zhou Yan was pointing her finger at Wu Fatian and cursing him out loud. Maybe she was not content with cursing, because she rushed up to kick Wu Fatian. I rushed up between them to intercede. I backed up under her assault and I kept repeating: "Don't fight! Don't fight!" Someone grabbed me and pulled away. I was kicked repeatedly on my legs and thighs. I was face to face with a person and we shouted angrily at each other. His face was next to mine. I am sure that this person did not study beyond junior high school, and he may not read microblogs. I really don't know why he hated Wu Fatian so much.
During the entire assault, Wu Fatian did not fight back. He kept retreating. The crowd circled him on the steps and by the curbside. Somehow we ended up in front of the iron railing of the front gate. I wanted to stay there, because I don't have to worry about people sneaking up from behind. I can anticipate the attacks from the front, but I cannot know the attacks from behind. But we could not hold our positions. They kept cursing and rushing us while swinging their fists. So we kept retreating.
A 16-year-old who claimed to be from Canada was the most aggressive. He shouted loudly but it was mostly empty talk. He must have been well taught by the public intellectuals. This young man rushed fiercely at us. I could even see his nostril hairs. His face was red from excitement, and he was foaming in the mouth. His saliva flew into my face. Frankly, it was quite disgusting even if the saliva came from a democratic country. I found it somewhat unbearable so I asked which of Wu Fatian's microblog post was rumor? He was at a loss of words, but he quickly abandoned any attempt to debate and resort to howling and roaring!
Wu Fatian explained futilely: "She cursed me out many times first. I never said that nobody starved to death during the hard times. You are distorting ---" But it was useless. Nobody wanted to listen to his explanations. Nobody was interested in what he had to say. They were much more interested in applying a punch or kick to him. I kept being punched and kicked, so I imagined that Wu Fatian must have been hit too. There were curses all around. They chanted in unison: "Wu Fatian! Big stupid cunt!" Their rhythm was uniform and their cadences were in step as if they had rehearsed it beforehand. By this time, I was panting from the effort. Fuck, it is said to be middle-aged and it is impossible to have democracy without being in good physical shape.
And then a new climax arrived. A fat man appeared. This is the legendary Fat Man Ai. Where did come from? Where was he hiding before? He seemed to have come from nowhere. I did not see him at all before. The Fat Man went up to Wu Fatian and shouted: "Do you see who I am?" or something like that. I did not hear what he said because I was still astonished by his sudden appearance. The Fat Man did not stop with speaking, for he rushed up and gave Wu Fatian a big slap. The people were excited and shouted out louder. I don't know if the Fat Man's slap stirred the crowd up, or whether they wanted to take advantage of the chaos. Wu Fatian was knocked down on the ground again. Many feet rushed in. I was worried that Professor may be trampled to death. So I hurried to help him get up and I encouraged him: "Get up, don't fall down before them." Wu Fatian's eyeglasses were knocked off. I helped him to leave. I knew that they had plotted this long ago, or else the Fat Man would not have shown up. I told Wu Fatian: "Leave, leave, this is pointless."
The people around us chased us and yelled. We retreated to the roadside. I was at the end of my strength. I was panting hard. I didn't know how much longer I could hold up. I didn't know what they really wanted. A man hoisting a camera kept chasing us and telling me repeatedly: "I am not hitting you. I am not hitting you." But there was no way for an interview to take place. I thought that these people are tasting blood and they are ready to pounce on us again. Am I going to be a martyr here today? Wu Fatian was injured in multiple places. His nose was bleeding, his hand was scratched. Worse yet, my shirt had a bloodstain. He must have bled on my shirt. After this is over, I am going to ask him to pay for the dry-cleaning.
Finally, the police showed up. They separated the crowd and began to question people. I looked around. I was puzzled that the Canadian young man who charged up to me, the guy who stood face to face with me, and Ms. Zhou Yan had all disappeared. Even more strange was that Fat Man Ai had vanished completely just as surprising as his appearance. I admire these people for being able to act so quickly. In retrospect, Fat Man Ai seemed to have the style of those student leaders 23 years ago when I was also in the movement. When they need to show up, they show up; when they need to leave, they leave. They just float away without disturbing anything.
As the police questioned Wu Fatian, my legal professionalism took over and I went over to pick up the brick which had made intimate contact with my back. At that moment, I got an after-scare. If this brick had hit me on the back of the head, I might be done for. The police chased away the spectators, and things grew quieter around us. I went into the police car to sit down. I was very sorry that I did not have lunch first.
There were many ecstatic spectators taking photos of us with their mobile phones. When I saw their faces, I was reminded the essay by Lu Xun about the cold-blooded Chinese spectators. Worse yet, these people had planned to be there. They did not plan to hold any debate. They only wanted a brawl. When Wu Fatian spoke, they hit him; when Wu Fatian did not speak, they hit him; when Wu Fatian retreated, they hit him; when Wu Fatian fell down on the ground, they continued to hit him. They wanted zealously to hit him.
The police took us to the Maizidian station to take down statements. They asked Wu Fatian to go in first. Then the other party also came. Apart from Ms. Zhou Yan, there were two men and one woman. The woman wore eyeglasses and looked very refined. I did not remember whether she was present at the scene, because it was very chaotic. She kept writing on something like an Apple device, so I guess that she must be making live microblog posts to publicize their feats. I don't know how to access the Internet through a mobile phone, so I was unable to appreciate their tallies. What a pity! The police went back and forth and asked us to go over to make statements and answer questions. I told the police that the brick was evidence because it was used to hit me. When the refined woman across me heard that, she made a lovely bell-like laugh. I don't know why she was so happy. I don't know her, but she was very happy to hear that I was hit. She was so happy that I got hit. It seemed that she was enjoying the happiness of the brick hitting me, even though she could not be there at that moment. Are all democracy lovers like that?
The police officers were astonished to see the brick which broke into pieces They asked the medical examiner to take photos of me. Although it happened three hours ago, the mark left by the brick was still clearly visible. At the time, I did not feel anything. But now the spots on my back, hip and legs which were kicked and punched were starting to ache. The police wanted Wu Fatian to undergo a medical examination. I suspected that his ears were injured, because I found it hard to converse with him when we left the scene. I had to either repeat myself or increase the volume. This was the first time that I ever met Wu Fatian, and I was beaten up along with him. I must be very unlucky.
A female Internet friend came in to see us. She even brought a bouquet of flowers. Can she foretell the future? Did she know that we would be beaten up? I thought that I was lucky because the guy had smashed the brick on my back instead of the back of my head, because a funeral wreath would be more appropriate then.
While awaiting for my statement to be taken and the medical examination, I felt very tired and I fell asleep on the chair. When it was all over, it was already dark. The news story had gone all around the Internet by now. I did not know how to access the Internet through a mobile phone, so I could not read the microblogs. I texted a friend. He said that a fat guy was protecting Wu Fatian at the scene, and he asked, "Was that you?" This broken my heart even worst than the brick slapped on my back. Since when did I become a fat guy? Where did that handsome man of yesteryear go?
Finally I made it home. When I thought about the faces that I saw today, I felt only disgust. I don't know any of those violent people could sleep well tonight. When they swung their fists against the weak, they must feel an indescribable delight. I graduated from law school, I believed in the law all my life, I believe in facts and evidence, I believe in justice. Am I being too naïve?
For making this blog post, the Internet user Huyanglin717 found that his identity, address and telephone number were published by the Deutsche Welle reporter Su Yutong and forwarded by Ai Weiwei.
Here are the animated excerpts from the videos. This is critical because there was much debate about whether Wu Fatian was faking it or exaggerating the case. You can form your own opinion.
Here are the YouTube video links:
Other Internet commentators:
If the microblogs should become the channel for setting up fights, it means that verbal violence has escalated to physical violence. This is not worthy for encouragement or advocacy!
With respect to the beating of Wu Fatian, I am shocked at the naïveté of the Fifty Cent Gang. It would seem that the Fascists are more practical in looking at the issues.
Han Han: A man insults a woman in public, and gladly agrees to go to an appointment for a fight. Such a man deserves to be beaten. Since this is World Kissing Day, he deserves to be beaten even more so. This has nothing to do with public intellectuals, democracy or the Cultural Revolution. There is no need to blame others and falsely claim to be surrounded and beaten. Rolling on the ground is the sure sign of someone faking it. It comes down simply to this: he deserves to be beaten. This has nothing to do with democracy. Even if you are Jiang Jingguo, you deserve to be beaten.
Zhang Fang: Since Han Han used "having insulted a woman" to publicly support the attackers, we should investigate further as to see how many women that Han Han has insulted, alright? Thanks.
Pan Shiyi: We should condemn all barbarity and violence.
"Tang Dynasty Wet Dream"|: A certain microblogger-public intellectual wanted to set up a fight date with me. I agreed. My cousin advised me: "Don't go. This guy said that it would be one-on-one, but he would surely bring a lot of others. These bastards are always like that." I said: "I am going alone." My cousin sighed: "I cannot dissuade you. Okay, where are you meeting?" I laughed and said: "In Shifang, Sichuan." My cousin paused for a moment and laughed out aloud: "Cousin, you are so smart."
Wu Xingchuan: To the habitual rumor mongering shameless liar Lao Rong: You claim to be an eyewitness who attest that Ai Weiwei did not hit anyone. If you are a man, will you look at the photo and answer whether Ai Weiwei hit anyone?
Peng Xiaoyun: Even in democratic countries, the opposition between scientism and environmental protection, the disagreement between nationalism and individualism and the debate between leftism and rightism will not disappear. Street thugs use violence to decide who wins; intellectuals use meticulous arguments to decide the outcomes of debates. In China, a bunch of so-called intellectuals employ the methods of street thugs. I applaud these thugs and hooligans.
Does winning a fight mean that you are right? This is jungle logic in society. China is becoming increasingly progressive. It is incomprehensible how so many so-called "righteous persons" are cheering. Meanwhile I am increasingly convinced that Land Reform and/or Cultural Revolution should recur every several decades. Do you think that anyone engaged in the Land Reform or Cultural Revolution wasn't convinced that he was "righteous"? Which one of them did not believe that he represents the progressive forces of his times?
Sister, you beat him well!
It is usual to fight. Let him go and get a medical examination. There was no way that he even suffered a mild injury. You said that you hit him until he was hurting all over ...
I oppose the use of violence against those who you disagree with. This is the same as the "armed fights" of the Cultural Revolution. Back then during the armed fights, all the young people were firmly convinced that their political views were completely correct. China does not lack respect for democracy; it lacks respect for the freedom of one's opponents.
Are you a hooligan or female reporter? You are a lawless woman! Are you slapping the faces of the Sichuan people, or the faces of reporters? You bring shame to your supporters ...
I object! This is too barbaric! Too dreadful! These people even demand to have democracy, rule or law and freedom! They have violated the basic rules of contemporary civilized behavior!
Ha ha, Teacher Wu wanted to enlighten the ignorant pro-democracy intellectuals. Instead he got surrounded and beaten by the masses who don't know the truth. So he must be counted to have made a sacrifice.
Fuck, he set up a fight date. He should bear the consequences no matter how it turned out. Everybody has seen the microblogs. He lost and he claimed to have been surrounded and beaten in an organized fashion. That stupid cunt Wu got what he deserved.
This is truly going too far. The most basic requirement is to respect people and human life. You don't hurl invectives or you shouldn't bother taking about democracy and freedom. These people will trample upon democracy while seeking their own freedom.
A bunch of idiots who went berserk in the name of democracy.
Throughout the whole incident, Wu Fatian was consistent: he was non-violent; he looked for proof; he sought to obey the law; he made no personal judgments. Some of the people on the other side were inconsistent: they mouthed words like freedom-democracy-equality and then swung their heavy fists. I don't think that he expected to leave unscathed today. Why else would he have the scene recorded?
What is the difference between you people and the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution? The only difference is in the teams.
Wu Fatian was really too naïve!
You can disagree with what I say, but I will beat you up until you can't speak anymore!
I don't like naïve leftists such as Wu Fatian. But based upon my limited observations, he showed more self-restraint, tolerance and courage than these disgusting public intellectuals, and not just by a little bit. To set up a trap because of a difference of views and violently attack someone en masse is the true nature of the populism of these public intellectuals.
At the moment when Wu Fatian was knocked down on the ground, he won this round even though it was gratifying to hit someone.
Three thoughts on the Wu Fatian incident: (1) Fake democracy and public intellectuals cannot be trusted. These people are double-faced and can arouse many fools to be cannon fodder. We must be wary about them. (2) When you set up a fight, you must bring your allies and weapons. Different politics, different positions, different class backgrounds mean that this is a life-or-death struggle. Put aside all idle fantasies. (3) With respect to your political enemies, it must be: "If I don't agree with your viewpoints, I will do everything possible to deprive you of your speech rights!"
When leftists and rightists meet to fight in front of so many spectators, this is something that hurts your friends and pleases your enemies! For the interest groups, it was great that these two bums got into a fight with each other! When the leftists fight the rightists, the interest groups win and have less to worry about! Countless numbers of people think that the main conflict is between leftists and rightists, or that the clash between the leftist and rightist lines is crucial. In truth, it is nothing like that! The biggest enemy of the leftists, the rightists and the middle-of-the-roaders is the interest groups.
The assault on Wu Fatian shows: (1) The leftists are so naïve for not having seen that the rightists have lost their minds. The leftists do not have a fighting strategy. (2) The rightists are shameless. Just like the assault on Sima Nan last time, they let a bitch come out first ad then some hooligans spring out in a trap. Then they proclaimed a victory for democracy. Damn, they are shameless. (3) If the storm is coming, then lightning will come too. Let us wait and see how heaven and earth will rumble.
At 1pm this afternoon, it does not matter whether you are man or women, it does not matter whether you praised or advocated democracy, it does not matter whether you are a public intellectual and opposed the establishment, you are an enemy of democracy and a traitor of freedom if you took part in the assault on the so-called Fifty Cent Gang member Wu Fatian. Your actions today will provide ample justification for the righteous criticisms in tomorrow's edition of <Global Times>.
The Lies And Nonsense re: The Assault On Wu Fatian (Fang Zhouzi @ xys.org) July 11, 2012.
ïve enough to bring one or two persons along with him, they were vastly outnumbered by the people that Zhou Yan brought with her. I don't know why the public intellectuals want to talk about this point.
At 1pm on July 6 at the south gate entrance of Chaoyang Park, Beijing, China Political and Law University associate professor Wu Fatian was surrounded and beaten by twenty to thirty persons including Sichuan TV's Beijing reporter Zhou Yan. The assault lasted almost 20 minutes. Afterwards many renowned scholars, media workers, law professionals, entertainment celebrities and other so-called public intellectuals expressed their views on microblogs. They twisted the facts and lauded the assault. Apart from Tencent's "Topic of the Day," the other media reports and commentaries contained more or less inaccuracies. The worst was NetEase's "The Other Side." Fortunately, the history of the incident is documented by the microblogs, including videos taken from different angles by the numerous eyewitnesses. So we know the truth of the incident.
The public intellectuals thought that since Wu Fatian set up an appointment with Zhou Yan for a fight, he deserved to be beaten up. According to the microblog records, Zhou Yan has been saying on her microblog since January 6 this year that she wants to beat up Wu Fatian. On July 4, she asked Wu Fatian "to pick a location if you have the guts. I won't slap you to death. Don't be a turtle who hides his head." Wu Fatian selected the time and place, but he stated that he wanted "to debate"; "discuss and understand the law"; "this is a verbal struggle, not a physical struggle"; "I guarantee that it will be a rational debate, I guarantee that there won't be a fight with a woman"; "all controversial topics can be discussed"; "netizens can watch and videotape." On July 5, Zhou Yan posted on her microblog: "Very much welcome China Political and Law University professor Wu Fatian to debate the law at South Gate (Main Entrance), Chaoyang Park." That is, superficially she confirmed that Wu Fatian wanted to debate the law. Maybe Zhou Yan thought that "debate the law" is hidden code for "hold a brawl," but when Wu Fatian wrote about the "guarantees" and "all controversial topics can be discussed," he was not preparing for a fight. Even as the other party started to assault him, he kept asking to debate and he never fought back. Before he went there, he posted several times on his microblog that he was going to debate. But the public intellectuals claimed that he changed his mind once he saw that he was outnumbered by Zhou Yan's side.
According to NetEase's "The Other Side," Wu Fatian set up the fight and then wanted to have a verbal debate instead of a physical fight. Therefore Wu Fatian must bear major responsibility for changing the substance of the contract. But even if Wu Fatian wanted to set up a fight instead of a debate, he has the right to cancel the fight once he got there. For example, if Wu Fatian and Zhou Yan set up a tryst but Wu Fatian changed his mind once he saw her, does that mean Zhou Yan can rape him and make him bear the major responsibility?
Taking a step back, even if Wu Fatian set up a fight with Zhou Yan and this is irrevocable, then this is a matter between the two of them. So how can the people that Zhou Yan brought with her and the other spectators take the opportunity to assault Wu Fatian?
It is risible that Wu Fatian wanted to debate but Zhou Yan's people said that they were not there to debate. Instead they assaulted him. When the police showed up, these people changed their tune and said that it was a debate and not a fight. When they got back on the Internet, they changed their tune again and said that it was a fight and not a debate.
The public intellectuals think that since Wu Fatian cursed Zhou Yan as a "bitch," a man who insults a woman deserves to be beaten. At the time Zhou Yan and the people with her all angrily asked why Wu Fatian called her "bitch." Actually, Zhou Yan was the first to use obscene language in cursing Wu Fatian and she used far more obscene insults. On June 13, Wu Fatian criticized Li Chengpeng's essay on food safety and Zhou Yan cursed him this way: "Wu Fatian looked like a runt who wants to be cursed and slapped. It would be a waste of the stinking sperm that his father ejaculated not to curse him." Thereafter she insulted Wu Fatian as a "castrated man" and "useless material." Are women allowed to curse men with obscene language, but men cannot rebut in kind? When men rebut, do they deserve to be beaten up?
The public intellectuals think that Wu Fatian violated Zhou Yan's privacy by posting photos of her on his microblog, and therefore he deserves to be beaten up. Zhou Yan held Wu Fatian to account that day at the scene. Actually, Zhou Yan had posted those photos on her own microblog first, and Wu Fatian collected them for posting. Perhaps Wu Fatian had malicious intent (according to Zhou Yan, Wu Fatian concentrated on collecting those photos in which she looked bad). But since Zhou Yan posted those photos onto the Internet herself, this is not an invasion of privacy.
The public intellectuals think that Wu Fatian had said that nobody died during the Great Leap Forward and the molybdenum-copper alloy project in Shifang carried no pollution, so he deserved to be beaten. Actually, Wu Fatian only said that nobody died in his village during the Great Leap Forward and he never denied that many people died during the Great Leap Forward. He re-posted the Shifang government's open letter on the molybdenum-copper alloy project and he asked for help in rumor busting and/or scientific assessment. He had his doubts and he sought help in clarification. Even if Wu Fatian denied that anyone died during the Great Leap Forward and claimed no pollution came from the molybdenum-copper alloy project in Shifang, these are not reasons to beat him up. Don't those experts who made the environmental impact assessment for the molybdenum-copper alloy project in Shifang deserve more to be beaten up?
The public intellectuals think that nobody hit Wu Fatian and he faked falling down and being injured. This is inconsistent with both what Zhou Yan said and what the videos show. Zhou Yan personally posted on her microblog: "Two eggs in the face, three kicks in the back, three kicks on the lower body." The videos showed Zhou Yan throwing an egg in Wu Fatian's face, and kicked his lower body at least twice. Wu Fatian was knocked down on the ground three times. After he fell down, several persons rushed up to kick him. While debating with someone, a woman in black sneaked behind him and kicked him. At the climax of the incident, a "big bearded man" suddenly jumped out to hit Wu Fatian in the face. There were loud cheers at the scene. A 16-year-old middle-school student from Canada who said that he does not hit people jumped out to grab Wu Fatian by the neck and wrestled him to the ground. Someone in the crowd yelled "Strangle him to death! Strangle him to death!" When the police showed up, the "big bearded man" took refuge in the park while saying: "He won't dare to show up in daylight, fuck!" The woman in black said: "Beat him to death next time!"
The public intellectuals think that Wu Fatian brought a bodyguard with him. At the scene, one man was protecting Wu Fatian the whole time. This man was hit in the back with a brick. Someone said that he was Wu Fatian's bodyguard; some even said that he was a plainclothes policeman. But this person later clarified on microblog (Huyanglin717) later that he was a spectator who stood up to defend Wu Fatian. He has been interviewed by the media, and he also been subject to the human-flesh search by Wu Fatian's opponents. His work information, home address and telephone number have been posted on the Internet. This man is neither bodyguard nor plainclothes policeman. And even if Wu Fatian was na
NetEase's "The Other Side" not only prettified the fight but it also prettified Luo Yonghao's threat to dump feces on me. They said: "This is actually a rational decision, even a courageous decision." "Why not if you balance defending your rights against the legal consequences?" According to NetEase's position then, all crimes are rational decisions, even courageous ones. I wonder if the NetEase managers are willing to be beaten up and have feces dumped on them? If they were attacked and had feces dumped on them, would they still think that it was a rational and courageous decision?
Someone said that Wu Fatian set up a trap. I don't know why he would want to entrap an unknown such as Zhou Yan. Could he have known that famous pubic intellectuals such as "The Big Bearded Man" and "Wuyuesanren" would be there? If Wu Fatian set up a trap, then he not only fished out the violent nature of his attackers, but he also fished out the bloodthirstiness and hypocrisy of the public intellectuals. The microblog coming out under the name of "Han Han" typically realizes two characteristics: distorting the facts and admiring the violence:
"A man insults a woman in public, and gladly agrees to go to an appointment for a fight. Such a man deserves to be beaten. Since this is World Kissing Day, he deserves to be beaten even more so. This has nothing to do with public intellectuals, democracy or the Cultural Revolution. There is no need to blame others and falsely claim to be surrounded and beaten. Rolling on the ground is the sure sign of someone faking it. It comes down simply to this: he deserves to be beaten. This has nothing to do with democracy. Even if you are Jiang Jingguo, you deserve to be beaten."
When you have a verbal disagreement with someone on the Internet, you call for the person to be beaten up. You don't even spare the long-since-dead Jiang Jingguo. Obviously these are "stinking public intellectuals" who have nothing to do with democracy and law. Looking at a public incident that has so much written and video evidence, the public intellectuals nevertheless make irresponsible remarks. What would they say about incidents that are less well-documented? Would anyone dare to believe what these public intellectuals say hereafter?
(Sushi's blog) July 12, 2012
With respect to his incident, I would like to express some viewpoints.
(A) It is the totalitarian style of ruling to apply force against persons with different views. As such, this is the opposite of liberalism. Even if liberals have not promised not to use force, the fact is that force is a final resort and only under certain circumstances.
(B) Liberalism is related to character traits such as objectivity, rationality and honesty. Regrettably the liberals were not very objective in their evaluation of this incident. This is manifested in:
1. They deliberately conceal the obscene and provocative sentence that Zhou Yan used to trigger off the incident.
2. They deliberately presented the incident as Wu Fatian setting up a fight with a woman. The fact is that Zhou Yan made the proposal first and Wu Fatian named a location. Although an intent to fight might be inferred, there is no clear statement to fight.
3. They behaved like rascals. Apart from being sleazy about what was said and done during the incident, they were the same in the comments. When they felt like it, they said "Good trashing" and "Fifty Cent Gang persons deserved to be beaten up." When they didn't feel like it, they said "Nobody got hit". They are completely oblivious of the facts.
4. When they start losing the argument, they bring up conspiracy theories. This is actually just embarrassing themselves. After beating up Wu Fatian, they were giddy and they showed off their feat. They acted as if this was a huge victory for freedom and democracy. When they ran into stern criticisms, they said that this was a minor matter that had nothing to do with freedom and democracy. When they could not stem the criticisms, they bring up conspiracy theories.
First, they tried to divert attention by coming up with a photo-illustrated case that Wu Fatian had the support of the authorities and set the whole thing up. But apart from admitting that you were stupid -- you were stupid but you tried to say that your opponent was too crafty -- what else can that prove? Besides that analysis was mostly subjective speculation. So a bunch of fans start cheering as if they had just caught Wu Fatian in the act, but they are actually quite shameless.
Next,they said that Wu Fatian set things up. But who instigated the incident? Could you have been fooled by your own lies? How can such a description of events convince people?
Thirdly, they dared to act but they did not dare to accept responsibility. When the police came, those active participants just left their female fellow warrior on her own? How come no one shared responsibility with her? They didn't have any sense of justice and righteousness. When they gang-assaulted Wu Fatian, they were righteous; when the police showed up, they were like mice in front of the cat.
Fourthly, they do not know how to reflect and they take bad for good. In my view, this incident has serious blackened the image of liberalism. In any case, this incident has made plenty of room among public opinions for the forces that oppose liberalism and democracy. Not only do they fail to reflect upon themselves, they went ahead and treated all criticisms from those who follow liberalism and democracy as also "Fifty Cent Gang"-talk and use extreme politically-correct talk to pillory these critics.
Finally, I say, "Stop coming up with conspiracy theories! This is too embarrassing! No matter whether you were entrapped or not, you cannot cover up your own shame. You are only making things worse."
Here are the mainstream media reports:
(Global Times) Weibo blogger allegedly beaten July 6, 2012.
In a potentially stunning turn of events, it is alleged a meeting between two rival and high-profile microbloggers on Sina Weibo at Chaoyang Park in Beijing turned violent on Friday. Rumors are swirling that one of them, accompanied by 30 friends, beat the other over their online spat.
Wu Danhong, 33, an assistant professor at China University of Political Science and Law, and Zhou Yan, a female reporter from Sichuan Television Station, agreed Thursday to meet at 1 pm Friday at the park to "settle" a spat on Weibo.
Wu made a controversial post on Weibo on Tuesday saying that a molybdenum copper plant project in Shifang, Sichuan Province, later cancelled after protests, was not harmful to the environment, as molybdenum and copper are necessary elements for the human body. Wu's opinion was lambasted online including by Zhou Yan, who was supported by certain self-claimed democracy activists.
Wu has been nicknamed by netizens as "the chief representative of the 50 cent party," a pejorative unofficial term for Internet commentators hired by the government to post comments that favor government policies and who are reportedly paid 5 mao (50 cents) a post.
"Both Ai Weiwei and Yao Bo, a well-known columnist and affairs commentator came," Wu told the Global Times on Friday. "About 30 or 40 people were with Zhou Yan while I was alone." Wu then claimed that "Zhou Yan, Ai Weiwei and Yao Bo beat me, and I suffered many cuts and bruises."
The Global Times reached Ai Weiwei by phone but the artist refused to comment. A Weibo post by Zhou Yan saying that she threw two eggs at Wu's face and kicked him was quickly deleted.
One netizen, Meng Haoran from Shanghai, confirmed some elements of the story. He told the Global Times that he witnessed an altercation between Zhou and Wu which turned violent, including Zhou pelting Wu with eggs. However, he did not see either Ai or Yao take part in the fracas, adding that somebody was protecting Wu and that the whole incident lasted 10 minutes until the police arrived.
"I do not speak for the government and I just voice out my opinions. I do not have a personal grudge towards Zhou and I had never met her before," Wu said.
Wu is considering taking legal action but this is not the first such incident. Last October, a purported public settling of a spat with Yao Bo never happened as both sides accused the other of fleeing the scene.
(Global Times) Weibo showdown bruises egos and shins alike July 11, 2012.
A bizarre brawl broke out between Wu Danhong, a law professor and blogger under the name of Wu Fatian, and Zhou Yan, a journalist from Sichuan TV and frequent critic of the authorities, in Chaoyang Park, Beijing, last Friday. The crowd, mostly supporters of Zhou, cheered as she kicked and threw eggs at Wu. Controversial artist Ai Weiwei was also present. Wu claims he only intended to give a public lecture and wasn't expecting a fight. Global Times invited two commentators to write about the incident.
Graceless brawls degrade name of public intellectuals
By Zhou Sitian
When I saw the video showing Wu Danhong being beaten up by a group of people, as onlookers cheered, I was reminded of the scene when the red guards were spreading chaos across the country some 40 years ago during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76).
At that time, supposed "rightists" were labeled as counter-revolutionaries and attacked while nowadays, pro-government bloggers known as the "50 cents party" (referring to the 5 mao reportedly paid by the government to fake posters) face fierce insults online and may even be physically attacked, as in this instance.
It is astonishing that the two main figures in the issue are a professor of law and a journalist. Freedom of speech is regarded as basic common sense both in the law and media. Given their professions, Wu and Zhou should have a better understanding that the right to speak should be defended.
But although the issue is a personal incident between Wu and Zhou, it reflects recurring problems among Chinese intellectuals.
The popularity of Weibo, China's microblogging service, has greatly expanded the participation of pubic intellectuals in social affairs. Many public intellectuals have gained their own popularity through commenting on hot issues on Weibo. In order to attract followers, public intellectuals advanced unique and eye-catching ideas. They even fight with each other while their followers queue to support them.
For example, in the flame war between Fang Zhouzi, an anti-fraud campaigner, and best-selling author Han Han early this year, the two celebrities weren't the only parties involved. People found a vicarious sense of satisfaction through being involved in the fight between two well-known public intellectuals.
This incident is much more severe than Fang and Han's fight. The irrational sentiments of the public have been stimulated, which resulted in the confrontation between the two camps.
Public intellectuals, especially with an academic background, should have a critical spirit and the proper values to help the public and improve society.
And they should promote social rationality through their own actions. Those public intellectuals who only aim at attracting attention are in fact public entertainers. They should stop misusing the name of public intellectuals, otherwise, the term will become a purely derogatory one.
Manichean values weaken purpose of public discourse
By Peng Xiaoyun
The rapid development of the Internet, particularly the rising popularity of social networking sites, has provided people with an open domain to discuss public affairs.
However, we haven't been educated as to how to participate in proper discussion. Since childhood, we've been told Manichean fairytales about how there are "good guys" and the "bad guys."
And when we discuss public affairs and politics on the Internet, we are often dominated by our own political correctness, believing that criticizing the authority is always morally right while defending it is always morally wrong.
For instance, by using political labels like "50 cents party," one group of people can easily disqualify those with different opinions from participating in a discussion and cancel their ideas' legitimacy.
In this playground scrap between Wu Danhong and Zhou Yan, with figures like Ai Weiwei on the sidelines, people were predominately influenced by their political stances and made their judgments purely based on their own existing prejudices.
They labeled Wu as a "50 cents party member," and thus claimed that Wu's defeat was "just," and that he "deserved to be punished." Their rhetoric reminds me exactly of the class warfare in the old days.
Yet the duel was triggered over a discussion of the Shifang factory project. Wu's view on the seriousness of the factory's pollution somehow offended Zhou. They had a fierce debate about the issue, but the online discussion eventually ended up with a real fight.
Whatever our differences, we need to be mutually respectful so that our discussion can be carried out within a proper frame and manner.
Mutual respect requires more than tolerance, as it asks people of different ideas to show appreciation of others' thoughts. This can help put aside conflicts and enable the coexistence and exchange of divided ideologies.
Unfortunately, for people who can't even decide which moral conflicts can be respected, asking them to become mutually respectful to different ideas is too difficult. They cannot tolerate doubt of their stance.
This indicates that our society lacks respect for different opinions. To avert this, we need adjustment to both our system and our own individual mindset to provide a more tolerant environment for different opinions.
The people involved in the incident are all intellectuals who have received good education. But their poor tempers and lack of emotional intelligence have really shocked me. It seems our education system has only taught them how to survive, but nothing about social morality.
Building up a democratic society isn't about setting up a set of high moral standards, but a set of appropriate rules that the public can recognize and agree with. Thus, the whole logic of idolizing people who call for democracy and demanding they become morally flawless, then blaming them for failing to achieve those high standards and accusing democracy of being a failure is completely groundless. And if people switch views because of this, it only shows they lack faith.
Whatever society an individual is with, the obligation of a citizen should always be honored. This is especially the case for liberals. However, even though some people who participated in the mass brawl in Chaoyang Park claimed that they are liberals, they unfairly overwhelmed one man and physically assaulted him. And they just escaped when the police arrived, leaving a woman to shoulder all responsibility. What kind of liberals are they? Where is their sense of responsibility? Where are their obligations and duties?
(FT.com) When the virtual world enters the real realm – Chinese style July 9, 2012.
In China, as is doubtless the case elsewhere, the distinction between online and offline is blurring. That presents the Communist party with a potentially dangerous problem. Online comment can serve a useful official function, allowing people to blow off steam and giving them the impression of freedom of expression. So long as it never leaves the realms of hyperspace, no harm done.
Of course, protesters are also using sites like Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, to organise demonstrations and share information that might stimulate others to act in the real world. A semi-farcical incident last Friday – a rumble in Beijing’s Chaoyang Park – illustrates the point in miniature.
The strange case of Wu Danhong, a 33-year-old assistant professor at the China University of Political Science and Law who blogs under the name of Wu Fatian, starts with an online spat. Mr Wu is derided by many online as the “chief representative of the 50-cent party”, a derogatory expression referring to those allegedly hired by the Communist party to make posts attacking protesters and dissidents. Mr Wu founded the “rumour-busting alliance”, dedicated to debunking anti-government myths flying around the internet.
As a result of his online activities, Mr Wu has become involved in a number of online brawls with China’s lively netizens, many of whom accuse him of being a government apologist and helping to cover up inconvenient truths. But last Friday that online fight was transported from the virtual to the real world when one of the objects of Mr Wu’s attacks challenged him to an offline debate in Beijing’s Chaoyang Park.
Mr Wu’s adversary was Zhou Yan, a liberal-leaning journalist who has written approvingly about the demonstrators in Shifang, in the southern province of Sichuan, who last week persuaded the local authorities to back down on plans to build a metals refinery. In online commentary, Mr Wu used a very unkind word to describe Ms Zhou and suggested that demonstrators’ claims about the plant’s environmental dangers were unfounded. Molybdenum and copper were necessary elements for the human body, he wrote reassuringly.
That’s when the online slanging match entered a different realm, in what used to be called “real life”. Ms Zhou challenged Mr Wu to meet her in Chaoyang Park and to have it out in an old-fashioned verbal debate. As this video shows both turned up – Ms Zhou with several noisy supporters – and a vigorous exchange ensued. Even non-Chinese speakers will readily appreciate that the two sides were not exactly seeing eye-to-eye. There was much shouting and not a little shoving.
Fast forward 12 minutes and 55 seconds and a bearded, hulk of a man – like an internet troll made flesh and blood – steps forward and roughly pulls Mr Wu’s ear, before retreating. The bearded giant in question is none other than Ai Weiwei, the dissident artist who spends much of his time online. Mr Ai’s sudden appearance has the look of some bizarre video game.
Naturally, all the participants had their iPhones out and filmed the confrontation from all possible angles. Equally naturally, the whole thing has now gone viral, re-entering the virtual world – whence it came.
(Telegraph) Chinese bloggers embroiled in park brawl By Tom Phillips. July 9, 2012.
The "brawl" set the country's blogosphere alight, was seized upon by state media, and underlined the increasingly polarised online debate over democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
The confrontation took place last Friday in Beijing's Chaoyang Park and involved Ai Weiwei, the dissident and world-famous artist, and Wu Danhong, a 33-year-old university professor, who online activists accuse of being a government stooge, paid to post pro-Beijing messages online. Zhou Yan, a Chinese journalist, and Yao Bo, a writer, restaurateur and pro-democracy activist, were also present.
Details of the so-called Chaoyang "Rumble in the Jungle" are sketchy but the "brawl" appears to have been sparked last week when a feud between rival bloggers erupted over comments Mr Wu made on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, relating to the controversial construction of a copper refinery in Sichuan province. A heated debate between Mr Wu and Ms Zhou ensued and the two agreed to settle their differences the following day in Chaoyang Park. Several dozen other online activists accompanied Ms Zhou. At some point the rendezvous turned violent. Accusations, swear words and, according to one report, eggs flew.
One online video showed Mr Wu, reviled by many activists as a member of the "50 cent Party" – bloggers who are paid to publicly promote government policy – lying on the ground surrounded by a crowd. Another showed Mr Ai being cheered on. In an interview with the Global Times, Mr Wu alleged he was set upon by Mr Ai, Mr Yao and Ms Zhou.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Ai confirmed he had been present but denied attacking Mr Wu. "It makes no sense to lie. I did not beat him," he said. "The crowd called my name when I approached and Wu panicked a little bit when he saw me. He walked a few steps and fell over. There were a few people standing by his side protecting him. "I only pulled his ear saying, 'Who is this?' for less than a second because his ear was quite slippery," added the 55-year-old. "I'm not the kind of person to beat people up."
Mr Yao also denied involvement.
Mr Wu, from the China University of Political Science and Law, said he had arranged to meet rival bloggers for a "verbal fight, not a physical one"and had turned up "alone, without helpers [and] without weapons." "A dozen people laid their hands on me. I also got kicked in the back by Zhou, Ai Weiwei and some [other] guys. I never expected that such a thing would happen," he added, claiming Ms Zhou had broken his umbrella in half. Mr Wu denied being paid to post positive comments about the government online. "Who can prove [that]? Is there any evidence?"
The altercation was seized on by state-controlled media. In an editorial the Global Times claimed the incident had humiliated "all Chinese cyber intellectuals." "Physical fighting over conflicting political thoughts is the most vulgar behaviour yet carried out by a few online intellectuals," it said. "Resolving political disputes should be done in a civilised manner."
(Bloomberg) China’s 50-Cent Feud Leads to a Rumble By Adam Minter. July 13, 2012
At 1 p.m. on July 6, two well-known Chinese microbloggers arrived at the south gate of Beijing’s Chaoyang Park to settle their differences. The encounter was publicly pre-arranged on Sina Weibo, China’s most popular microblog.
No (uniformed) police arrived, despite the fact that in the 48 hours after the challenge was issued and accepted, the event's details were re-tweeted thousands of times on Chinese microblogs.
It was an inevitable clash, with the parties representing either side of China’s deepest online partisan divide: those who allegedly blog on behalf of the government and those who allegedly debate free of any taint. The former group is known pejoratively as “the 50-Cent Party,” or 50-Centers, an Anglicization of the .5 yuan ($0.08) fee they are rumored to receive for each pro-government post or tweet. (Though the name has stuck, several government agencies have denied that this is their actual salary.) One doesn’t need to be in the employ of the government to be a 50-Center -- it’s enough to simply act like it. Of those who act like it, few are more reviled than Wu Danhong, a 33-year-old professor at Beijing University of Political Science and Law, who blogs under the handle Wu Fa Tian and denies he's paid by the government. Even the pro-government Global Times newspaper publishes the sneering occasional nickname China’s microbloggers have given Wu: “chief representative" of the 50-Cent Party.
Wu takes every opportunity to defend or rehabilitate the government or to advance a pro-Party line. Last year, he helped form an online Anti-Rumor League primarily concerned with debunking antigovernment gossip. More recently, he questioned the widely-circulated suggestion that 30 million Chinese people died of starvation during Mao’s Great Leap Forward in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He went so far as to set up a poll where netizens could vote on a variety of mortality estimates.
And then, early last week, he aggressively supported the construction of a controversial copper and molybdenum refining plant. Concerns about pollution sparked protests in Sichuan province, and by mid-week, the local government gave in and halted construction. That still didn’t erase the memory of Wu’s tweets, one of which pointed out that copper and molybdenum occur naturally in the human body, and thus maybe the copper-molybdenum plant wouldn’t be a polluter, after all.
Wu’s support for the refinery caught the attention of Sichuan TV reporter Zhou Yan, who had recently gained a following for her empathetic coverage and tweets about the protests. In a set of tweets that quickly escalated into insults, she and Wu attacked what they characterized as each other’s ignorance. The exchange (many tweets have since been deleted, making the full narrative difficult to reconstruct) culminated on July 5, with the two parties agreeing to settle their differences in Chaoyang Park.
It is not clear what precisely was to be accomplished in Chaoyang Park. Zhao doesn’t indicate much more than a desire to do something about Wu’s “big mouth.” Wu is not so restrained. Tweeting on his Sina Weibo account shortly after accepting the challenge to the rumble, the professor announced: “Let the scum take heed: law-fearing people aren’t alone anymore and those who break the law have reason to fear.”
If Zhou was intimidated by Wu’s antics, she did not cower. According to a video of the entire encounter (there are several others that offer different angles) that has circulated widely on the Chinese Internet, she showed up at the south gate of Chaoyang Park with what appear to be some 20 friends to back her up. Wu, on the other hand, seems to have arrived with two friends (at least, that’s how many people whisk him away at the end of the video) -- not a very scholarly approach to gang warfare.
Perhaps emboldened by her sizable posse -- and the dozens of cell phone cameras deployed in and around the perimeter of said rumble -- the diminutive Zhou attacks with her umbrella (which she then flings aside) and then slaps the professor on the face. He responds with a slap at her midriff before somebody pulls her away.
What happens next is a matter of controversy. In some videos, an unidentified man in a white shirt appears to rush up and strikes Wu so hard he hits the ground -- though other camera angles -- and bloggers -- suggest Wu took a melodramatic dive. Nobody, however, disputes how this opening round is finished off: Somebody rushes up and lands a kick on the 50-cent professor’s rear end.
At this point, Wu’s friends -- if they can be called that -- decide to step in and protect him. The rumble evolves into a debate on Wu’s ethics, Zhou’s ethics and whether morality trumps the law -- all salted with a rich selection of Beijing profanity.
This goes on for over 10 minutes until, quite suddenly, a bearded gnome-like figure -- better known as the artist, activist and provocateur Ai Weiwei -- enters the picture and makes a grab for Professor Wu’s ear. The crowd howls, delighted at the appearance of the international celebrity, and then does its best to restrain him from taking off Wu’s head. It’s not easy: Ai raises his arm, threatening to tomahawk the spectacled professor with what looks like a smart phone. When he realizes he can’t get close enough to do it, he breaks away from his impromptu guards, makes an end run around the crowd and dashes after Wu, who is in full retreat with his friends. Ai is twice restrained in the process.
Ai, too, has a history with Wu Danhong and the 50-cent crowd. Last August, after Ai was released from an 81-day detention for alleged tax evasion (though it was widely believed to be in connection with his activism and recent protests), Wu offered an interview to the Global Times, the nationalistic offspring of the official Communist Party mouthpiece, People’s Daily. His quote, and the paper’s commentary, was consistent with what other 50-Centers were saying -- and continue to say -- about Ai:
‘Ai's case has been used by the Westerners,’ Wu Danhong, an assistant professor at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times. Wu is another critic who says Ai may be in cahoots with an unseen international conspiracy. ‘By condemning China's repression of dissidents in the name of democracy, foreign countries that don't want a stronger China intentionally attempt to descend China into turmoil by hyping Ai's case.’
Was that the reason Ai looked ready to rip off Wu Danhong’s ear? There’s no way to tell. Nonetheless, when interviewed this week by the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph, Ai downplayed his role in the fight (to the point of contradicting video evidence): “I’m not the kind of person to beat people up.”
For all his antics, Ai is obviously aware that many of his supporters -- especially overseas ones -- will be uncomfortable with evidence that he behaved violently toward one of his critics. That is not, after all, how internationally renowned dissidents are supposed to go about their business. A brief scan of the thousands of tweets on Sina Weibo in the wake of the park incident (it's been a top trending topic for most of the last five days), reveals a Chinese public willing to forgive this transgression, if only because it involves Wu Danhong. “Beating someone up is wrong,” tweeted a microblogger in Hangzhou, an affluent city in Zhejiang province. “But beating up Wu is an exception. Fatty Ai [a nickname used for Ai because his name is a censored term on Sina Weibo] is so handsome.” A microblogger in Fujian province echoed that sentiment: “Fatty Ai looked so happy, but beating others is not right. Of course, if you want to beat him [Wu], that’s OK.”
Still, neither China’s microbloggers, nor its newspaper editorialists, view this incident positively. In a Tuesday editorial, Cao Lin, the independent-minded chief commentator for Beijing-based China Youth Daily, sees it as the inevitable outcome of a divided society:
First, the problem is a breach in the social fabric, and Weibo is just an amplifier of it. Hostility was fomented online and then came to life in reality. The gap between rich and poor, the different class positions, different ideological positions, and identities were divided and then sharpened into irreconcilable differences. The two parties have obviously different class positions, factions, and viewpoints. They didn’t fight for themselves, but for the factions they represent.
For now, the only faction that appears to have suffered from the battle is the one represented by Zhou Yan, the journalist. According to the Beijing Cream blog, she’s rumored to be spending five days in detention. Meanwhile, Wu Danhong remains free to tweet. As for Ai Weiwei, he was last seen Friday afternoon, taking a stroll in Chaoyang Park.