There is probably no one more hated by Chinese netizens than Fang Binxing, the name behind the organization and development of China’s nation-wide Internet censorship system known as the Great Fire Wall (GFW). The system literally sets up a wall between Internet users in China and the outside world, blocking sites that the Chinese government deem “bad”, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Yesterday, Fang announced his resignation from his post as the president of the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunication during the university’s 2013 graduation ceremony:
“I used to have good health, easily finishing a 2000-meter freestyle swim without a break . But due to overuse of my body, I lost the ability to work overnight after a serious illness. I can no long shoulder the responsibilities of academia and school management at the same time. That’s why I submitted my resignation to the authorities.”
That’s a pretty sad message from a “hardworking” university head, if we don’t consider the fact that he transformed the Inter-net in China into an intra-net. Chinese netizens don’t forgive easily. A quick skim over comments left to his resignation news is more than enough to tell how much Fang is hated.
By far, the most popular comments that have been shared by thousands of netizens on Weibo (China’s Twitter) are “Wish the illness can defeat you ASAP!” and “We are glad that you are gone [for good]!” Like one netizen 无聊史 cursed: “I hope Fang gets cancer and die soon.” Another netizen 我们没有V made a similar wish: “May the illness take his life ASAP. All netizens are on the side of the illness. Please, take his life!”
Among waves of cheers and curses, there were also voices of doubt. Weibo celebrity 一毛不拔大师 asked bitterly: “Too early to be happy. Who knows whether he resigned to be able to wholeheartedly work on the Great Fire Wall?”
Some others, on the other hand, thought it was too mean to make fun of an elderly man in poor health. After all, China would still have a Great Fire Wall, with or without Fang. One netizen 马子惠 commented: “We have lost even the most basic respect for a human being. What we should focus on and fight against is the system and the policies, not another citizen.”
Among those who expressed sympathy for Fang are students from the Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunication. For example, netizen 徐来Donia commented: “As a student who attended yesterday’s graduate ceremony and listened to Fang’s speech, I’m deeply moved by his sincerity. After 4 years at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunication, I know better than anyone of you what our university president has done for us. Your curse and condemnation won’t change my respect and love for Fang.” Another of his students 有希的三味线 commented: “I don’t understand politics and I don’t want any fight. But he was my university president, and I hope he can get better soon.”
Chinese netizens are mean to Fang. But has Fang, as netizen 醒客张 put it, done too much evil to be forgiven? Or is Fang just a mirror through which Chinese netizens vent out their suppressed anger towards the government? Probably both.