Han Deqiang and Patriotism


Radical Maoist professor Han Deqiang has become the face of Diaoyu Islands extremists after he slapped an 80-year-old man at a protest in September. At a protest against Japan’s plan to nationalize the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands, an elderly man took offense with some of the protesters’ pro-Mao slogans, and Han, a professor at Beijing Aeronautical Institute, slapped him on the face twice and accused him of being an anti-Chinese traitor.

The mainstream press, including Global Times, Xinhua, a number of CCTV commentators, and People’s Daily have condemned Han, but some radical leftists have rallied behind Han, with the leftwing website Multiple Text calling him a “national hero.” Han, who was a contributor to the Maoist website Utopia, has been criticized by some for his radical nationalism, including his having hosted a lecture titled, “Save China by resisting the US: start preparing for war.”

Blog Weekly, which published an op-ed in September taking issue with the radicalism" target=_blank>radicalism of some Diaoyu protesters, published an op-ed on the Han incident arguing that Han is representative of the hardline nationalism on display from some of the protesters.

Bao Limin’s op-ed, which originated in China Youth News on September 25, was republished in the October 5 edition of Blog Weekly. Here is it as it was published in the October 5 edition of Blog Weekly:

Guard Against the Specter of “Traitor” Slogans

At protests opposing Japan’s purchase of the Diaoyu Islands, Beijing Aeronautical Institute professor Han Deqiang thought one of his elderly comrades were selling out the country, so he slapped him on the face twice. Since then, he has forcefully proclaimed his just logic for hitting him: The old man was a traitor to China (“han jian”), so he was slapping some sense into him.

As the Diaoyu controversy gets progressively more heated, there are some examples of speech that should cause concern. “Unpatriotic,” “selling the country out,” “traitor,” and similar slogans, are being used irresponsibly by some people whenever they want to attack those who disagree with them, regardless of whether the targets of abuse are or are not actually taking action to hurt the country.

In the past few years, the language of internet debate has been turned into slogans, for example “brain-dead” (“nao can”), “50 Cent Party” (“wu mao dang,” a pro-government lackey), “Lead the Way Party [traitor]” (“dai lu dang,” a traitor who would help lead foreign armies into China). Included among these nasty words are “sellout thief” and “anti-Chinese traitor.” This kind of language doesn’t just vilify, belittle and unjustly attack people, moreover, it accuses them of wrongdoing, for no reason at all. With this logic, it is easy to for actions to evolve to the next step, and people can imagine that they are “acting as agents of heaven” (“ti tian xing dao,” a chengyu)–Han Deqiang thought the “sellout” old man deserved to be slapped. And on Weibo, some popular Weibo users have posted, “It doesn’t matter whether it is a female traitor or a male traitor, all traitors should be eliminated.”

Of course, these expressing these “rallying cries” and actually putting them into action are fundamentally different things, but with this kind of thinking building, citizens must constantly be on guard, because similar logic and ideology has already cause our countrymen to pay a great price, and we can see in front of our eyes that this kind of poison continues to accumulate.

Everyone is entitled to express their patriotism in different ways. You can aggressively oppose Japan, boycott Japanese goods, take to the streets and protest, and that is patriotism; those who don’t advocate for fighting Japan, those who oppose boycotting Japan, those who don’t protest on the streets, and even those who criticize the pro-Diaoyu protesters’ actions, are they “unpatriotic,” and “sellouts,” and “traitors”?

“Patriotism” isn’t a word or concept that anyone can use to monopolize and dominate. People who don’t take part in the protests can still be patriots; those who help support the countrymen, even if they don’t support the actions of the anti-Japan movement, can still be patriots; even those who do not sacrifice anything, but who work hard and pay their taxes, they too can be patriots… … [ellipses in article]

No one can stand on the high ground of “patriotism” and look down upon others, accusing them of being low down and “unpatriotic.” If it’s not black, it’s white. If it’s not this, it’s that. If he’s not a friend, he’s an enemy. This way of thinking not only uses “patriotism,” the two characters (“ai guo”), in the most narrow-minded sense, it furthermore uses the word to cause alienation among people.

In recent days, in some places, there have been violent incidences involving smashed cars. That is simply taking this logic to it’s extreme end: If you drive a Japanese car or buy Japanese products, not only are you a “sellout” and a “traitor,” don’t you also deserve to have your possessions destroyed? But isn’t the point of patriotism is to make your country better? To make the citizens lives happier? In today’s global economy, to buy a foreign product, and then to see that product smashed, obviously isn’t a better, happier life. Protecting territory and national sovereignty is serving the country’s interests; protecting your fellow citizens’ rights is also serving the country’s sacred and irreproachable national interests.

A few people issue “eliminate traitors” slogans, viewing it as a non-mainstream ideology, and believe that it can’t cause large scale harm to society, but behind the narrow-minded and extremist specter, we must constantly raise our guard and be vigilant and rethink these kind of words.

  1. Silly old man, he doesn’t want trouble with the Japanese or foreigners.

    So he rather have China looking weak and not fight back, he wants the Chinese to let it be so he can live a long live.

    I would slap his mother too for having such a Japanese bastard child.

    1. if it wasn’t for CKS, china would be nothing at all. and mao is the biggest han jian of all, no one asked him to be a leader and oppose CKS. CKS had to fight Japan and Mao at the same time, I wouldn’t call that brave for Mao. mainlanders suck so much, if it hadn’t for taiwan calling the coast guards of japan, those ship’s crew would have died.

  2. This old man, Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and Ai Weiwei are all this “dai lu dang,” (a traitor who would help lead foreign armies into China).

    China has to “start preparing for war.”

    Because the US navy and the US army are already surrounding China on all sides.

    Old men in China like him are just living too long, there should be no country for old man and they are too scared to fight against foreigners but they will fight with other Chinese.

    Chinese people who do not side with their own are the “unpatriotic,” and “sellouts,” and “traitors”.

    Like Bush have said, you are either for us or for them and then the US went to war with the enemy.

    1. One day you will be the old man and young liberals will be the dominant ones in China, just like in every civilized country

  3. Yes “eliminate traitors” and kick all the foreigners out, that’s all the whitey english teachers and black rapers in China.

  4. Wow, incredible comments here.
    We are talking about an 80 year old man that gets slapped by a 45 year old professor.
    How can an “educated” person even think about slaping helpless old people. Why is he still allowed to have this position? The old man helped to build this country. You should shake his hand and thank him for it and also consider his advice.

    The old guy wasn’t oposed to the protests, he was oposed to the pro Mao slogan. He is 80 years old and lived through all the bad times that Mao was responsible for. He is not against China he just wants people to think about what they are chanting. But I guess people in China do not really think about what they are chanting these days or even in the past.

    What do u guys wanna go to war for? Invade Japan and do all the horrible things you are blaming them for to the Japanese population? That is how it would end. All the hatred of the past would unload and you wouldn’t be a bit better than the Japanese 70 years ago.

    Start using your brain China!

    1. Unfortunately it’s very “human” to vent anger towards someone else. Wether it’s justified or not is another discussion.. human’s aint logical.. and never will be.

  5. Chinese people are so ingrained with losing face that their mentality is shaped by that one thing. They will never surpass Japan. That’s a fact.

    1. I have a question for you.. in what way do you mean surpass? Is there even a measurement to dictate how “well” a country is doing? Is it about economic growth? population growth? suicide rate? child abortion rate? do tell.. i would love to know

  6. He’s quite the hero battering the elderly to “slap some sense” into him. What kind of learning theory is that. You learn something when I hit you? He’s not much of a teacher. Battery: Law- the crime or tort of unconsented physical contact with another person, even where the contact is not violent but merely menacing or offensive. See also assault and battery.

    This crime, and it is a crime against the man and the state, shows us and tells us much about the batterer, none of it complimentary and many of the comments here show a crude and brutal side.

    Under what theory of “heroism” does battering someone for their words come? I am unfamiliar. If I don’t like what you say about what I say I can hit you? The “professor” should be criminally prosecuted for his unprivileged violence and he shows himself unable to control himself. He has shamed himself and brought shame upon the institution employing him. A Russian was fired and deported for mere words [objectionable no doubt] but he never hit the woman, yet he was fired. What should the school do to protect its reputation?

    1. “Police in Britain have used a stun gun to subdue an old blind stroke victim mistakenly thought to be carrying a sword.”

      Just shut up and keep walking.

  7. only in china would slapping an old man be called a national hero. 5000 years of culture should say respect your elders, but instead 5000 years of culture tells you to slap any old people that dont agree with you. remember to slap your elders twice

  8. “In today’s global economy, to buy a foreign product, and then to see that product smashed, obviously isn’t a better, happier life.”

    Myopic world view, no different than the tea party in America. Many foreign companies operating in China are joint ventures, automakers in particular. The majority of the cars are made in Chinese factories by Chinese workers. They’re only shooting themselves in the foot by trying to drive foreign investment out of China and boycotting their goods. GDP growth in China is largely based on foreign export and real estate speculation.

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