May 17

Chinese Internet Mob – Morality Police

Written by Buxi on Saturday, May 17th, 2008 at 2:33 pm
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Students from Sichuan high school were evacuated from their classrooms on May 12th due to the earthquake. A few decide to record themselves having some fun. They mock the idea of casualties (one girl says she’s not worried about her parents, only the singers of Twins); they say they hope there’s an earthquake every day.

A few days later, these same students issue this teary-eyed apology:

The video comes with this text:

请大家相信我们,我们真的没有恶意。因为我们真的很爱国家,真的很为灾区人民着想。我 们当时也并不知情,给家长摸黑,给学校也带来了很多麻烦。
I hope everybody can believe us: we really didn’t have harm in our hearts. We really do love our country, and we really have the victims of the earthquake on our minds. At the time we didn’t understand the situation, as a result we really humiliated our parents, and created a lot of trouble for our university.
Thanks to our Internet friends for clearing our minds, for criticizing us. Please, everyone, give us a chance to rectify our behavior.

We hope that all of the disaster victims can leave their difficulties as soon as possible, and that the people trapped in the rubble will soon be able to rebuild their homes. Again, please forgive us. Please forgive our ignorant selves. Go China!

– An ignorant student

What happened? The Internet with Chinese characteristics grows in significance day by day.

Many remember the verbal assaults aimed at Grace Wang and came to the false conclusion that hyper-nationalism was the root cause. It isn’t. The Internet has become a connected social world in China, where hundreds of millions of Chinese communicate, socialize, and interact on a daily basis. And when something disturbs social morality, the Chinese Internet mob will police those who step out of line.

After the first video was issued, these students were subjected to the internet flesh search engine; once identified, they were abused and harassed in all of the ways available to the Internet mob.

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8 Responses to “Chinese Internet Mob – Morality Police”

  1. jim Says:

    I’m amazed that you think that “policing” should be done by rabid mobs of anonymous internet users. This is the same kind of mob mentality that was so prevalent during the CR. Did you stop to think that these students are probably scared shitless by the prospect of an internet mob targeting them? Grace Wang’s family had to go into hiding for something she said halfway around the world; I’m sure these students were fully aware of the dangerous position they put themselves in.

    If you think it is good to have angry mobs of people attacking anyone they deem insufficiently “politically correct” or “patriotic,” then you are just promoting a culture of fear, conformity, and blind stupidity.

  2. Buxi Says:


    Hopefully, you’ll come to understand that reporting and observing the significance of something doesn’t necessarily equate “support”. I’ve already said numerous times I have very, very negative opinions of the internet mob when it crosses the line.

    In my opinion, attacking someone’s family, and/or threatening them with physical harm is crossing the line. Is what happened in this case across the line? I don’t know, I’ll live the moral righteousness to those more equipped for it, like yourself.

  3. jim Says:

    >>I’ll live the moral righteousness to those more equipped for it, like yourself.

    That is pretty funny considering that the point of your post was to highlight the positive efforts of the “morality police” — what you call angry online mobs.

  4. Buxi Says:

    Roland at ESWN gives us a very similar story out of Hong Kong.

    I find this very interesting. It looks like it’s not a distinct mainland China phenomenon at all… but perhaps its instead something more closely tied to our cultural roots.

  5. nanheyangrouchuan Says:

    the online lynch mob is even more guilty and far more blacker for hunting down these kids who are full of frustration, anger, sadness, depression, anxiety etc, etc after their world was torn apart. Kids are kids, those internet losers should choke and die on their cheap boxes of flied lice.

  6. Buxi Says:

    And how do you feel about the Internet mob turning on this girl?

    Her world wasn’t torn apart by the earthquake… but I’m sure you’re filled with great deal of compassion for what she is about to receive. The sort of hostility she is receiving on the Chinese internet is, in my opinion, far worse than what Grace Wang received a few months ago.

  7. Chris Says:

    I agree that nationalism probably isn’t the “root cause” of the human-flesh search engine, but I don’t think this incident shows that. The earthquake is deeply tied into nationalism, except perhaps in the areas affected by the earthquake itself.

    Consider the opening of their apology:


    They didn’t mean ill “because” they love their country and care about the earthquake victims. If this incident is really independent of nationalism, why the emphasis on patriotism—even before professing concern for the victims?

    If a literary analysis of the forced confession of a few high-school students were the only thing connecting the earthquake to nationalism, I’d say it was meaningless. But I think that would be a pretty tough case to make.

  8. Nimrod Says:

    Chris, it’s not independent of nationalism (patriotism, really) but it also doesn’t make patriotism the “root cause”. This earthquake was felt all over China, so there is naturally a shared connection here. And loving your country encompasses showing concern for its people, so these aren’t disjoint topics to begin with.

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