Xi Jinping’s Empire of Tedium, Appendix VI
Until being detained in early 2020, the lawyer Chen Qiushi (陳秋實, 1985-) was a popular citizen-journalist known both for his short videos and on-the-ground reports first from Hong Kong during the 2019 Uprising and later in Wuhan during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic where he attempted to report on the ‘Wuhan Flu’ 武汉肺炎 (武肺) — later known as ‘Corona Virus’ 新冠病毒 or Covid-19 — in February 2020.
Following his detention on 6 February 2020, updates continued to appear on Chen’s Twitter account, the flow of tweets continuing well into August, when they suddenly stopped. It was subsequently revealed that the publisher Geng Xiaonan 耿瀟男, Chen’s friend and advocate, had been acting on his behalf. As we previously recorded in China Heritage, Geng, a woman known for the valiant and material support of many independent intellectuals and cultural figures, including most famously Xu Zhangrun 許章潤, formerly of Tsinghua University, was herself detained on 9 September 2020 and sentenced to a three-year jail term in early 2021 (for details, see ‘Mid Autumn, Geng Xiaonan & National Treasures’, 21 September 2021).
In late 2020, reports surfaced suggesting that Chen had been released into the custody of his parents, who live in Qingdao, Shandong province. On 30 September 2021, over eighteen months after his sudden disappearance, Chen Qiushi reappeared online, featuring in a clip on the YouTube channel of his friend ‘Mad Dog’ Xu Xiaodong(徐曉東, 1979-), a well-known Beijing mixed martial artist, YouTuber and ratbag (in the Antipodean sense). Chen revealed that he was training for a boxing competition and in a follow-up video released on the morning of 6 October 2021, he addressed his followers directly (see ‘How Steel is Tempered‘).
Here we introduce four monologues by Chen Qiushi, uploaded on his YouTube channel from Qingdao in Shandong province. Two feature the Sino-American athlete and entrepreneur Eileen Gu, the third focusses on ‘The Chained Woman of Xuzhou’ and the last is a consideration of Li Wenliang and his place in Chinese history. We have transcribed and translated an excerpt from Chen Qiushi’s initial discussion of Eileen Gu. In his second video on the subject he dubs her ‘Hu Xijin with long hair’, a reference to the former editor of Global Times who is known for his noxious brand of sophistry.
— Geremie R. Barmé, Editor, China Heritage
Distinguished Fellow, The Asia Society
25 February 2022
- Xi Jinping’s Empire of Tedium, 1 January 2022
- ‘The Heart of The One Grows Ever More Arrogant and Proud’, China Heritage, 10 March 2020
- ‘Chen Qiushi’s Gift of the Gab’, China Heritage, 28 December 2020
- ‘How Steel is Tempered — Chen Qiushi Returns’, China Heritage, 6 October 2021
- Li Yuan, ‘Who Is the Real China? Eileen Gu or the Chained Woman?’, The New York Times, 15 February 2022
- Bill Maher, ‘New Rule: Stop Kowtowing to China’, Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO), 19 February 2022
- ‘Olympic Athletes Speak Out’, Human Rights Watch, 25 February 2022
Eileen Gu Inc.
‘How Should Chinese Parents Invest in their Children?’, posted by Chen Qiushi on 24 February 2022
Transcribed and Translated Excerpts
On Everyday Economics today I want to talk about Eileen Gu. Since this channel doesn’t normally discuss business ventures, you may well be wondering why I’ve chosen this topic. But, don’t you realise that Eileen Gu and her family are a business enterprise and that Eileen Gu is a particularly successful product?
Let me put it like this, some eighteen years ago, Eileen’s mother, Mme Gu, and her foreign father set up a Sino-American joint venture and, following a nine month gestation, they successfully launched a product called ‘Eileen Gu’. After eighteen years of dedication, energy and training this product now generates 200 million RMB annually. There’s no doubt that Eileen Gu has proved to be a good investment.
But we’re not interested in Eileen Gu per se. What I really care about is the kind of influence that she has on Chinese society, in particular the kind of profound anxiety that she is causing among all the ‘Chaoyang Mothers’ over in Haidian District in Beijing [‘Mother of Chaoyang’ is a reference to an ambitious fictional character and it is a term that overlaps with ‘Chaoyang Masses’, a term denoting citizen vigilantes]. In the face of Eileen Gu’s success all the Tiger Moms and Wolf Dads of Chaoyang who have devoted themselves to their ‘chicken blood kiddies’ [that is children weaned on chicken blood, which is believed to make people strong] are going crazy. How can they possibly compete?
Eileen Gu was born both Chinese and American, enjoying the advantages of superior Caucasian genes to which has been added intensive Chinese-style training and the nurturing educational environment of the United States. Moreover, she’s travelled the world: her innate talent has blossomed because of all of the benefits that only money and opportunity can provide.
So how do you think all those Haidian Moms are going to react? All they can bring to the table is Hengshui Number Two Middle School; they’re simply not in the running. Of course, any young person can give up and declare ‘I’m sitting this one out’ [我躺平了], but for the parents it’s a completely different story. What parent doesn’t hope that their little darlings will grow up and become a Dragon or a Phoenix? ….
Recently the authorities have forcibly removed all of those online videos that instruct parents on how to train their children to be more competitive. Meanwhile, you have Eileen Gu’s mother in her sports car speeding on ahead like greased lightning while the Haidian Mothers vainly try to catch up furiously pedalling on their tricycles. However, the government has in effect punctured their tires and that the reality that Chinese mothers face today … .
Aiya! Eileen Gu has already gone back to America; who cares whether the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics had been held or not? She’s got places to go, people to see. See, the pride of China doesn’t want to spend one more second here than she has to. You gotta laugh: that’s why people have been joking that Eileen Gu only came over here so she could ‘harvest garlic chives’ [that is, make money out of the clueless masses]. But you really shouldn’t say that: business is all about enjoying a level playing field. People want to buy, others want to sell, and around and around it goes. But is this really what they mean by a level playing field? Is this particular designer item really worth the cost? The garlic chives [the masses] have a yearning; it boosts national pride and goes some way to filling up the gaping void in their hearts.
So Eileen Gu fulfills a need, she satisfies a hankering for self-worth and that’s the tradeoff we’re talking about.
You see, some people really just want to eat shit, and Eileen Gu has responded to that need by crouching down for them. It’s a done deal; everyone gets what they want!
— trans. G.R. Barmé
Eileen Gu, Hu Xijin & Political Strong-men
The Chained Woman of Feng County, Xuzhou
Dr Li Wenliang & Chinese History