The following Weibo post was deleted from the platform sometime before 7PM on October 23. The post contains no obvious terms of sensitivity that might trigger keyword blocks, but rather speaks directly to young people with a caution about believing the hype about China’s greatness at the expense of a clearer understanding of the world.
2018-10-23 18:57:20 | Young friends, there are certain blind people (妄人) at the moment who want to stir you to arrogance, demanding every day your belief that China’s old culture is superior to that of any other country, and that China’s old morals are superior to those of any country. There are even those fools who, having never set foot outside, shout at you saying, “Head East! Head East! The West, this bag of tricks, is going nowhere!” So let me tell you all: Don’t buy it! Don’t mistake your own ears for your eyes! Open your eyes and look at yourself, then look at the world . . . http://m.weibo.cn/1397724893/4298359554018677
A contemporary reader might assume these are the words of a contemporary — perhaps a “Big V” user on Weibo offering a rebuttal of the “Amazing China” hype still so evident in the tone of official media coverage and its repudiation of liberal values broadly panned as “Western.”
But in fact the words conveyed in this microblog post are those of Hu Shi (胡适), the Cornell and Columbia-educated essayist and diplomat (serving as Chinese ambassador to the United States from 1938 to 1942) regarded still as one of the seminal figures of Chinese liberalism. Hu was a central figure during the 1919 May Fourth Movement and the “New Culture Movement” of the 1920s.
The passage in the deleted Weibo post can be found in Hu Shi’s Collected Works.
In May 1954, just as Mao Zedong was introducing a new Party policy emphasizing the “Party nature” (党性) of newspapers and their need to be led by Party committees, Hu Shih published a piece in the Columbia Law Review called “Communist Propaganda and the Fall of China.” Now, in the “New Era” of Xi Jinping’s renewed called for the “Party nature” of media, it seems that the propaganda machine can still work to obliterate Hu Shi’s ideas.