Xi Jinping’s Harvest — an anthem for China’s disaffected Huminerals

Xi Jinping’s Empire of Tedium

An Annexure to

Appendix XXXI



‘People With No Ideals Don’t Feel a Thing’ 沒有理想的人不傷心 is a song written and performed by Peng Lei 彭磊 from 2013. It enjoyed a renewed popularity in late 2019. Three years later it appeared yet again amidst the ‘fireworks protests’ 煙火運動 of 2023.

On New Year’s Eve, crowds in Luyi county, Henan province 河南省鹿邑縣, the fabled birthplace of Laozi 老子, flouted a ban on fireworks and enjoyed a raucous celebration. When the authorities attempted to quell the carnival of the masses, a festive wave of people surrounded, trashed and overturned a police vehicle. Despite a number of arrests and official attempts to ‘educate the wayward’, crowds continued to gather and set off fireworks, as they did in many other Chinese cities, well into the new year (see Fed up with a nationwide fireworks ban, crowds in Henan overturn police car, Radio Free Asia, 3 January 2023).

In Xi Jinping’s Harvest — from reaping Garlic Chives to exploiting Huminerals (China Heritage, 6 January 2023), an appendix to our series Xi Jinping’s Empire of Tedium on the topic of 人礦 rén kuàng — ‘human mines’ or Huminerals — we included a video clip of the fireworks protest in Luyi county on 5 January 2023. The soundtrack featured Peng Lei’s ‘People With No Ideals Don’t Feel a Thing’.

As we noted in the introduction to Xi Jinping’s Harvest:

A significant byproduct of the stultifying and erratic control-and-eliminate Covid policy of Xi Jinping, which was strictly pursued for sixteen months from August 2021 to December 2022, was a new awareness among China’s ‘Huminerals’. Workers of all kinds freed of the daily grind of 996 jobs, shopping, taking children to school, as well as socialising and in-person family interactions were becalmed at home and left to their own devices. Among the most important devices of all were mobile phones which allowed people to follow obsessively the main scandals and stories of the year. Despite the best efforts of the censorate, online reports and rambunctious discussions tracked the fate of the Woman in Chains, the April Lockdown of Shanghai, the female diners being assaulted in Tangshan, the woes of the Chinese economy and real estate market, the appearance of Bridge Man on the eve of the Twentieth Communist Party Congress in October, the ejection of former Party General Secretary Hu Jintao from the closing session of the Congress, the apartment fire in Urumqi in November and the callous response to it by local government officials, the protests at Urumqi Middle Road in Shanghai and the Blank Paper rebellion on campuses throughout the country… Isolated at home, forbidden from going out, subject to harsh treatment by state functionaries (the ‘Big Whites’ in PPE gear who were the seen as the equivalent of Mao’s Red Guards) and yet with 24/7 access to online chatter, some people experienced an existential crisis, others experienced a kind of ‘consciousness raising’ that for all the tireless Party education and propaganda had failed to achieve. Wide swathes of people had an unprecedented opportunity to reflect on their condition as ‘Huminerals’. This was part of a new ‘awakening’ 覺醒 juéxǐng, or ‘arousal’, unfolding  in China, as well as among some Chinese people outside the People’s Republic (see, for example, Awakenings — a Voice from Young China on the Duty to Rebel).

The song ‘People With No Ideals Don’t Feel a Thing’ features in ‘Ecce Homo! — Hopium & China’s Hopioid Crisis’, a forthcoming chapter in the present series. We are also publishing our translation of it, along with a video of a performance by Peng Lei and his group New Pants, here as an annexure to Xi Jinping’s Harvest.

— Geremie R. Barmé, Editor, China Heritage
Distinguished Fellow, Asia Society
7 January 2023


Further Reading:

Peng Lei 彭磊 — ‘setting off fireworks’. Source: The Story of New Pants Continues, The Paper 澎湃, 30 December 2019


People With No Ideals Don’t Feel a Thing


Music and Lyrics by Peng Lei 彭磊

Performed by New Pants 新褲子樂隊

translated by Geremie R. Barmé


The record store that I love
Closed shop just yesterday
Albums I was obsessed with
Lie broken on the ground

The bookstore that I love
Didn’t make it through the summer
All I have are the pages of my memory
Though there’s nothing there to long for

All those treasured dreams of yours
Are now nothing but a blur
And the struggles for your ideals
Are after all about love
Then there’s that person I most despise
They didn’t die before my eyes
They’ve grown old, though they were never young
A life that’s just confounding

There’s no space for me

The person you were passionate about
You will never see again
You’re waiting atop a culture of ruins
No one even can tell how wild you are
Those sacred halls that people so revere
Only really work on the hearts of the ignorant
Living in this pigsty of mine
Passing this sleepless night

I don’t wanna die alone in my sleep, defeated
I don’t want to always live these fantasies
Materialism is a scam, see all those busy ants
People with no ideals don’t feel a thing
I don’t want to die alone in my sleep, defeated
I don’t want always to live in my fantasies

Materialism’s a scam, see all those busy ants
A person with no ideals doesn’t feel a thing
They doesn’t feel anything …






物質的騙局 匆匆的螞蟻

物質的騙局 匆匆的螞蟻




‘Shitizen’ / ‘Huminerals’ in Luyi, Henan province 河南省鹿邑 celebrating New Year on 5 January 2023 in defiance of an official ban on fireworks. The soundtrack is an excerpt from ‘People With No Ideals Don’t Feel a Thing’ 沒有理想的人不傷心 by Peng Lei 彭磊


A couplet composed by and written in the calligraphic hand of Liu Chan 劉蟾, 3 January 2023