China's angry youth





On the morning of April 15th, a short video entitled “2008 China Stand Up!” appeared on Sina, a Chinese Web site. The video’s origin was a mystery: unlike the usual YouTube-style clips, it had no host, no narrator, and no signature except the initials “CTGZ.”

It was a homespun documentary, and it opened with a Technicolor portrait of Chairman Mao, sunbeams radiating from his head. Out of silence came an orchestral piece, thundering with drums, as a black screen flashed, in both Chinese and English, one of Mao’s mantras: “Imperialism will never abandon its intention to destroy us.” Then a cut to present-day photographs and news footage, and a fevered sprint through conspiracies and betrayals—the “farces, schemes, and disasters” confronting China today. The sinking Chinese stock market (the work of foreign speculators who “wildly manipulated” Chinese stock prices and lured rookie investors to lose their fortunes). Shoppers beset by inflation, a butcher counter where “even pork has become a luxury.” And a warning: this is the dawn of a global “currency war,” and the West intends to “make Chinese people foot the bill” for America’s financial woes. A cut, then, to another front: rioters looting stores and brawling in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital. The music crescendos as words flash across the scenes: “So-called peaceful protest!” A montage of foreign press clippings critical of China—nothing but “rumors, all speaking with one distorted voice.” The screen fills with the logos of CNN, the BBC, and other news organizations, which give way to a portrait of Joseph Goebbels. The orchestra and the rhetoric climb toward a final sequence: “Obviously, there is a scheme behind the scenes to encircle China. A new Cold War!”

The music turns triumphant with images of China’s Olympic hurdler Liu Xiang standing in Tiananmen Square, raising the Olympic torch, “a symbol of Peace and Friendship!” But, first, one final act of treachery: in Paris, protesters attempt to wrest the Olympic torch from its official carrier, forcing guards to fend them off—a “long march” for a new era. The film ends with the image of a Chinese flag, aglow in the sunlight, and a solemn promise: “We will stand up and hold together always as one family in harmony!”


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