Tragedy goes on for the Deng family in Ankang, Shaanxi province, who has been forced to abort a 7-month-old baby earlier this month. Images of the mom and the stillborn baby lying on a hospital bed have angered thousands of Chinese netizens and ignited nation-wide condemnation of China’ one-child policy. One’d think a family that has earned the sympathy of the whole world should at least receive the fair treatment they deserve back home. Well…not if they are in China.
Despite the news that local government has apologized to the family and that 3 local cadres who were responsible for the forced abortion have been suspended from their posts, nothing else has been reported regarding the case….until yesterday.
“Shaanxi province Zhenping county. What’s more heart-wrenching than forced abortion is that when the victim family repeatedly showed their trust in the Party and the government and refused to be interviewed by foreign press, when they were left with no choice but to accept an interview by a German journalist, local villagers called them traitors and had these curses written on banners. The father of the stillborn baby was forced to flee his hometown. The wolf wants to eat the sheep. Yet other sheeps are trying their best to protect the wolf, blaming that sheep of ruining the wolf’s reputation. When can such absurdity end?”
“Thrash the traitors. Expel them from Cengjia county.”
“There is justice in the world.”
“Just took a look at the Zhengping BBS on Baidu. Local government has hired large group of commenters to spread curses and rumors of the victim family, such as that doctors have exposed that the Deng family gave consent to abort the baby, that the father’s sister has benefit from selling out her country and would soon be a “black horse” of Japan’s AV industry; that the Deng family has agreed to be interviewed by Japanese journalists – to expose domestic issues to Japan, national enemy of China, is no different from a traitor; that Feng Jianmei (the 7-month pregnant woman who was forced to take late-term abortion) received the best post-abortion care in the history of Zhenping county.”
Villagers with “traitor” banners heading to where the victim family lives.
The two posts have been shared over 20k times so far and attracted over 4000 comments. And apparently, Deng Jicai, father of the aborted baby was outrageous. Below are two most recent Weibo posts from a Sina Weibo account under the name of Deng Jicai. Though the account hasn’t been verified by Sina and it’s hard to tell whether it is truly Deng Jicai who is behind this account, the words may just as well express the desperation of a father who lost his baby and his reputation at the same time and was forced into exile.
“They have a lot of people, surrounding us and calling us traitors, with banners in hands. Whoever with the least common sense knows what a traitor is? Who is demaging the country’s image here? Whom does this country belong to? Where is justice? Where is equality? Where is our hope? Who can tell me what I can do?”
“Just because we accepted interviews by a German journalist, they hired so many people to call us traitors. We may be humble nobodies but we all have hearts. You are human beings, too. You have families, too, and kids. But where are your hearts? Where is your buttom line? Who gave you life?”
Not surprisingly, netizens are, once again, angered. If anyone of them has been looking for a telling example of the “worst of the times” in China, this may be one. For those who have been waiting for justice to be paid to the victim family, they got something no one has anticipated, like netizen 韩松 commented: “The whole story makes a perfect science fiction.”
诗胆史眼 pointed out the hypocrisy of the traitor-calling directly: “Sell out the country? Let me first ask this. Are you allowed to sell the vegetables you farmed at will? Are you allowed to sell the pigs you raised at will? Are you allowed to sell your own land at will? The bottom line is if you are a woman, do you have control over your own body parts? When you don’t even have control over your own body, what else are you able to sell out? You can sell out the country? This is the biggest joke I’ve ever heard. This country’s land, enterprises, machines, secretes and powers…you are lucky if you are allowed to just take a peek at these.”
“Thrash the traitors. Expel them from Cengjia county” banner outside the victim family’s home
The story gets even more ironic if it’s put into the context of China Daliy’s recent article titled “The Government Must Consider the International Implications When Dealing With Domestic Issues”, which specifically called out this force abortion case in Ankang as an example of bad representation of China’s image.
“Then there is the example of a woman in Ankang, Shaanxi province, who was seven months pregnant and forced to have an abortion. How can you calculate the kind of adverse impact a story like that has on China’s international image?”
The article exhorted China’s “grassroots level” cadres to be mindful of the international implications when they handle local incidents. [Find the full translation of the article on China Media Project]. According to the article, at the core of a “China voice” for “cadres at every level”, it’s the “ability to engage public opinion.” And “this so-called ‘ability to engage public opinion’ should first and foremost be about the capacity to negotiate the contrasts between public opinion and reality .” Leaders at various levels should “join the great harmony of ‘China’s voice’.”
The sad truth, at least in this case, is that there is no contrast between public opinion and the reality. The gap lies between the public opinion and the government’s opinion. It’s a “China’s voice” very clearly heard, domestically and internationally, just not one that the Chinese government wishes people to hear.