National emergency, military vs. civilians, dead protesters. Egypt’s bloody crackdown on Wednesday which already resulted in more than 500 deaths so far feels very much like yesterday-once-more for anyone older than 24 in China. More than 20 years ago in Beijing, there were also curfews, there were also uses of brutal forces, and there were also dead bodies of protesters. And both countries are built on an ancient civilization.
One netizen 倩烨归来 commented: “In an article on Egypt in the Financial Times, a journalist wrote down what a dying protester said to him: ‘He told me they were being shot at from a plane. They take our planes and our money and use them to shoot us. ‘ When I read that sentence, I couldn’t help but feel that it actually described China.” Another netizen 总是隔夜醉 commented: “Crackdown. How familiar. Freedom. How unfamiliar.”
Many condemned the violent crackdown and applauded the courage of the Egyptian people to fight for democracy. For example, one netizen MNI_MrPz commented: “There will always be blood in the pursuit of freedom.” Another netizen 罗妹穷开心 shared the same view: “Doesn’t freedom always start with violent clashes?”
Much of the criticism is also directed at the Chinese media which have been in full gear reporting the news. One netizen 练德禄 commented: “These official media are all hyping up the news in Egypt. How about reviewing our own crackdown some 20 years ago?” Another netizen 入魔窟 asked: “How do you have the guts to blame another country [for a crackdown]? 20+ years aren’t very long ago.” Netizen 两广总嘟 bitterly pointed out: “Egypt is much better. At least their government didn’t censor out the news.”
Condemnation, however, is but only one stream of voices. Comparing Egypt with Beijing, many netizens questioned the different reactions from other countries, especially the US. One netizen 杜彦南有人抢 commented: “If this happened in China, then it’d be called a huge human rights violation and China would be sanctioned. Now it happened in Egypt, it’s a hiccup on way to democracy. WTF?”
Some netizens even directly pointed out the hypocrisy of the US government, hinting that the US may be inviting troubles for itself again. Netizen 钓鱼捣主2013 suggested: “If the US truly supports democracy, it should allow Egypt’s elected president to go back to his post.” Another netizen JohnRoss431 commented: “What is Obama doing now? Continuing to give $1.5 billion aid to the Egypt military.”
Mostly interestingly, some netizens saw the current chaos in Egypt as a result of a blind promotion of Western-style democracy. The rhetoric that Western-style democracy doesn’t work in China given China’s unique history and culture has been the official argument against more radical reform by the Chinese government for years. Now seeing what has happened in Egypt after the Arabic Spring, many seem to be finally convinced.
Netizen 共富传记 asked: “Western-style democracy failed to solve Egypt’s problem. How could it solve China’s problem? I don’t think it’d work.”
Another netizen 老油条的围脖 commented: “I’d say let’s ship those public intellectuals (commonly used to refer to liberals in China) to Egypt to experience a zigzagging democracy with military rule, loss of social order and economic decline. I guess the chaos will probably last a few years. Let those public intellectuals sacrifice their youth for the Egyptian people. I’m not as stupid.” Netizen 偶是淫民 held the same thought: “A spasm of pain in the process of building a democracy? Let other people have the pain, I don’t need any.”