Weird Asian-Americans & How they Damage Asian-Americans as a whole

I’ve been following online sentiment and Asian-Americans at large seem to be interested in the following:

1. Issues surround ethnic identity
2. Issues related to systematic exclusion in society

The Asian-American Community is its own Worst Enemy

By  Ronald Chiang

I’ve been following online sentiment and Asian-Americans at large seem to be interested in the following:

  1.  Issues surrounding ethnic identity
  2. Issues related to systematic exclusion in society

It seems that the majority of Asian-Americans dwell on their identity.  On one hand, they tend to do what they can to fit in with the majority population, whether it is just learning to be a monolingual English speaker, studying a eurocentric view of Asian history, or trying hard to fit in.

For whatever reason, many Asian-Americans chose to pursue a monolingual existence with English being their native or primary language.  They tend to not like speaking their cultural language (Chinese, Vietnamese, Gujarati) over some misguided attempt to fit in with the majority non-Asian peers in school or because they believe they are superior by virtue of living in the USA.

Then later in life, they lament about having a narrow life experience because they cannot pursue other professional opportunities due to a lack of knowledge in an Asian language or some sense of regret that they’ve compromised themselves.

Like most people, history in the United States for Asian-Americans is taught from a western standpoint often with the general concept that much of the US, Canada and Europe are rich and free while the rest of the world is poor and dependent on the USA for their futures.  As a result, enough Asian-Americans grow up believing they are again superior by virtue of living in the United States and develop a tendency to look down on their unamericanized Asian peers.

Again, as they get older and learn about reality being Asian-American, they regret being indoctrinated in such a falsehood and sometimes overcompensate with zealous support of their native country (China, Korea) in such a manner, including but not limiting to nationalism, and apologism, that they make native citizens of those places seem unpatriotic.

Then lastly, like their parents and other immigrants, many Asian-Americans work too hard to “make it” in the USA by becoming financially secure and often compromise themselves to fit in.  Some ways they’ve done this is by embracing the Model Minority stereotype, which implies that Asian-Americans will be accepted and fit in American society if they choose to become leading professionals in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) and avoid social issues of “undesirable minorities” like African-Americans and Latinos.

They’ve also persuaded the rest of the country that they do not need diversity programmes like other minorities because they’re superior Model Minorities and they can work hard to go anywhere.  In extreme cases, they’ve gone out of their way to support Affirmative Action with calls to minimise Asian students to an absolute quantity in favour of diversity for everyone else (including White students).

Not surprisingly, because of the Asian-American community’s apathy and distance from diversity initiatives and the willingness of their majority to hold back their own community in favour of other groups, American society at large became indifferent to social issues in the Asian-American community ranging from dismissing Asians with personal struggles as “rejects” to simply keeping Asian-American media portrayals to an absolute minimum.

When the Asian-American community complains as a whole, the majority population does not take their calls seriously due to their ongoing claims of being Model Minorities, their willingness to put the interests of everyone else above their own community and their general need to stay inoffensive when faced with major social issues.

While it would be unfair to generalise the Asian-American community, the majority of individuals with such values tend to be those from California living in suburbs with upper-middle incomes, from families with university degrees, and have a misguided sense of social justice that involves letting everyone else benefit at their own expense.

These people are the reasons why no meaningful change has occurred among the Asian-American community due to outlandish fears of being grouped with the other minority groups, which often motivates them to avoid “rocking the boat” and an ongoing misguided belief that conforming to an untrue stereotype is the only way to succeed for a place in the USA.

Also, with the growth of social media and online forums these same individuals that often conform to stereotypes usually overcompensate for their perceived shortcomings by resorting to worshipping, if not cheerleading, events in their families’ ancestral country where they have no actual connection to their daily lives other than their ethnicity and known family history.  Examples of this involve Chinese-Americans supporting China’s decision to restrict foreign NGOs or build artificial islands in disputed waters.

Frankly, I am frustrated by all of you Asian-Americans for being walking stereotypes that resort to passive and weak methods to overcompensate for a lack of self-respect and ignorance in their actual history.   Moreover, any suggestions that Asian-Americans can improve their standing within the community through self-respect, understanding of their culture (bilingualism, history), and being assertive in society are often dismissed, invalidated and rejected by the majority who believe in conforming for the sake of pleasing others.

With that in mind, I honestly do not expect any meaningful change in the perception and treatment of the Asian-American community by Asian-Americans themselves and by other Americans in my lifetime.

Hong Kong Free Press: A new, non-profit, independent English language news source for Hong Kong

Do you believe Hong Kong needs a new English language news source? Launching in June, Hong Kong Free Press is an independent news outlet seeking to unite critical voices at a vital time in the city’s constitutional development.

Through our links with Chinese media partners, HKFP strives to bridge the language barrier and raise local and global understanding of Hong Kong issues in the post-Occupy era. Our launch is well-timed, coming amid rising concerns over the decline of press freedom in the territory.

 

A much-needed voice:

With a fast, visual, multimedia design, HKFP will launch with a focus on local breaking news, showcasing translated and viral content while providing a direct platform to expert progressive voices, citizen contributors and advocacy groups.

As a not-for-profit business, HKFP will become more sustainable over time with multiple revenue streams. As we grow, we aim to offer more comment and analysis, investigative journalism, regional coverage and explainers.

Why now?

Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Federation of JournalistsHong Kong Journalists Association and Pen America have all reported on the recent decline of press freedom in Hong Kong. With attacks on journalists, advertisers withdrawing from media critical of the establishment along with the existential pressures facing the wider industry, it is ever more vital that the territory has an independent platform for critical voices to be heard.

In addition to highlighting the lack of plurality in the local media landscape, the Umbrella Movement protests exposed a gap between the Chinese and English media. Some stories, themes and angles featured in the Chinese media were missed or ignored by the English press – other stories took days to be reported on.

 

Purpose of crowdfunding and how will the funds be used:

We are seeking to raise HK$150,000 to

  • Complete our website and populate it with content ready for launch.
  • Create a mobile news app for iPhone and Android.
  • Sustain two frontline reporters for two months to oversee our launch period.

Every HK$50,000 over our target will help sustain us for one extra month.

 

Execution Plan 
May-June : Crowdfunding
Late June : Official launch of Hong Kong Free Press

 

Background of project owner

Tom Grundy is the founder and co-director of Hong Kong Free Press. His team consists of:

Are you a real American? It depends on who you ask

Are you a real American? It depends on who you ask
by Stephen M. Moh

“Why would anyone leave the USA?” wrote a friend on Facebook recently, beside a picture of a beautiful sunset beaming on the Golden Gate Bridge.

“Why does everyone leave the US?” might have been a more pertinent question.

Since my parents moved to this land of opportunity and freedom 30 years ago, my friendship circle has changed countless times, as fellow Asian-Americans move back home after college or leave for the expat life.

The years of pop culture; efficient transport; diverse foods; beaches; socials; and family just weren’t enough to make the USA the One.

Although, obviously, many Asian-Americans do end up staying, why do so many Asian-Americans leave after their parents’ sacrifices? Is there a fundamental reason for this trail of break-ups?

When watching a youtube clip for “Mistresses”, many commenters kept praising Yunjin Kim for her excellent English as a Korean.

Only Yunjin Kim wasn’t a foreigner; she grew up in Staten Island, New York with US citizenship.

“But she’s not an American,” some responded when others pointed out she is American. “She grew up here and her husband is Asian-American,” I argued. Her status, they said, would depend on how deeply she actually connected with American”culture”.

What is an American then, if not someone raised in the US and naturalized?

In the multicultural British capital, a Londoner can be of any skin color, eat any type of food and have a mother tongue other than English. To describe a British-born man with Indian parents, say, as a “foreigner” might well spark a riot.

If a lifetime spent in the US can’t make you an American, if the children you might have here can’t access that identity (at least, not in the eyes of some), perhaps this country – despite the idea of opportunity and freedom that welcomed our parents – isn’t a natural place to call home, after all.

Hong Kong SAR is Not a Democracy!

Could anybody out there give me a quick introduction to the Hong Kong government and its political landscape? I’ve always had the impression it had a democracy and there are like dozens of political parties in the city.

Hong Kong is a semi-autonomous city that is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) within China under the Basic Law (HK’s mini-constitution).   In essence, Hong Kong SAR is semi-democratic since it does not have universal suffrage, a basic tenet of a democracy.

The Chief Executive, currently CY Leung, is the head of the government in Hong Kong SAR and is answerable directly to Beijing.

According to the Basic Law, the Chief Executive (CE) must be a Chinese citizen who is a permanent resident of the HKSAR with no right of abode in any foreign country. The person must be at least 40 years old, and has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of no less than 20 years

The Chief Executive is elected by 1200 members drawn from functional constituencies and government officials.  There are no direct elections for the CE post as explained below:

However, because so many of the functional constituency parties are instructed by Beijing for whom to vote, the outcome was already known regardless of televised debates and campaigning.

Hong Kong also has a unicameral legislature popularly called the LegCo, or Legislative Council. The LegCo consists of 70 elected members with a fixed 4-year term. Lawmakers in the LegCo, are either elected by direct elections for the 35 seats representing geographical constituencies (districts) or by functional constituencies representing  professional or special interest groups (numbering around 230000) for the other 35 seats in the 70-seat LegCo.

The major functions of the LegCo are to enact, amend or repeal laws, check and approve budgets, approve taxation and public expenditure, and review the work of the government. Due to the design of the Legislative Council, the majority of elected officials tend to be from pro-Beijing political parties or groupings, which often work together for corporate-government interests.

Currently, two groups are fighting for influence in the Hong Kong SAR government:

Pro-Beijing coalition: political parties united by the political ideology of being closer to Beijing government, but differ on other issues.  Since the handover, the Pro-Beijing camp have never lost being the majority in the LegCo, thanks to support from functional constituents and collaboration among the Pro-Beijing parties.  Notable parties include the DAB (Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong), Liberal Party, and FTU (Federation of Trade Unions).

Pan-Democrats: political parties united by calls for democratic reform, universal suffrage and human rights.  Pan-Democrats are often labelled an “opposition camp” by various groups and media aligned with the mainland Chinese government, since the Pan-Democrats goal run counter to values promoted by the Chinese Communist Party.  Recently, 27 democratic legislators formed the Alliance for True Democracy, a formal coalition to show solidarity for genuine democracy. Notable parties include the Democratic Party, Civic Party, and People Power.

8 Reasons Why the Northeast New Territories (NENT) Development Plan is Wrong for Hong Kong

Question: What’s the deal with the Northeast New Territories (#NENT) Development Plan? I heard that some companies (or few people) are going to get a lot of money from the land? And something was passed a few days ago in 立法㑹 under questionable circumstances? What happened?

Answer:   The North East New Territories (NENT) Development Project would allow Mainland Chinese to enter Hong Kong without a visa, which effectively removes the border between Hong Kong SAR and China.

However, this is against the Basic Law (HK’s mini-constitution), which stresses “one country, two systems”, where Hong Kong enjoys autonomy despite being part of China.

June 27th, 2014 – Members of the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee voted 29-2 to move forward with the NENT Development Project, despite irregularities with rushed voting procedures.

 

8 Reasons Why the Northeast New Territories (NENT) Development Plan is Wrong for Hong Kong

1. Doesn’t resolve Hong Kong’s Housing Issues

North-East New Territories Development Plan (NENT Plan) involves 614 hectares of land. Of this, 400 hectares of the plan requires the government to buy from landowners.

Residential development accounts for 96 hectares of the project, which is estimated to provide 60700 residential units: 40% public housing and 60% private housing.

Majority of private housing part for project is “low density luxury housing” (54 hectares), and only 36 hectares of the entire project is used for pubic housing – just 6% of the project!

 

2. Destroys Traditional Communities

Despite preserving some traditional villages, over 10,000 people are still affected by the plan.  Homes inhabited by over 3 generations of families will be destroyed in the name of development.

NENT Plan also destroys quality of life for inhabitants in the affected area. Landowning villagers are being forced to leave, but unable to afford replacement homes despite government compensation.

Most of all, all inhabitants will lose their homes and traditions, under the NENT Plan.

 

3. Many Elderly Will Be Made Homeless

HK SAR government’s latest NENT Plan is to demolish the existing elderly home in Shek Tsai Leng in 2 phrases and replace it with a public estate for the elderly in 2023.

It sounds great on paper, but not all the elderly would qualify to live in the replacement estate, which means there will be those made homeless by the development plan.

Even if they qualify to move into the replacement estate, the first phrase of demolition will badly affect the environment and quality of life for elderly who are living in the area.

 

4. Major Conflicts of Interest

The Town Planning Board (TPB) has not approved the NENT Development Plan but HK SAR Government bypassed it to apply for public funding, which is against procedure.

Also, details and size of land acquisitions has not been finalised for proper review.   The Financial Committee of the Legislative Council (LegCo) that approved the plan is composed of legislators with direct conflicts of interests.

Legislators with such conflicts of interest include Ng Leung-sing (Chairman of the Committee who is tied to Sun Hung Kai), James Tien Pei-chun (New World Development), Lau Wong-fat and Abraham Razack.

 

5. Destroys Local Farming and Agriculture

The NENT Plan will destroy 25% of active farmlands in Hong Kong SAR and what remains of locally produced vegetables and livestock along with harming the environment. The HK SAR Government has no plans for real sustainable development in Hong Kong’s rural areas.

NENT Plan will turn remaining farmlands into “to-be-developed” land, which allows developers to continue accumulating land for development into private luxury housing, shopping centres, and other commercial development catering to Mainland Chinese.

 

6. Doesn’t Create Jobs

The NENT Plan claims that it will “..maximise the increasingly frequent economic interactions” similar to ZAPE in Macau and the Shenzhen SEZ as in the past.  Plan also claims the NENT development will provide around 37700 new job opportunities, including research and development, retail and community services.

However, other relevant necessary services including education are not specified.  There is also concern whether citizens who move into the NENT development area will have the necessary skills and qualifications needed to fulfill the demand in these industries or not.

 

7. Ignores Public Concerns

Villagers affected by NENT Plan and activists supporting the villagers have exhausted all methods to urge the government to withdraw the plan.

They have spoken to  relevant government officials, protested outside the Lands Department, collected 50,000 signatures opposing the Plan, and some elderly affected by the plan have knelt at the LegCo begging them to withdraw the Plan.

However, the government and those in power refused to change their minds.

 

8. An Expensive White Elephant

The HK SAR Government plans to spend USD15.5 billion to build a “new Northeast New Territories”. Around USD5.3 billion will be spent on infrastructure, and USD3.9 billion is used for land compensation.

About 95% of land qualified for  government compensation is owned by major developers and indigenous villagers.

Instead of destroying local agriculture and livelihood of people living in the area, the government could have used the money on projects that are more acceptable to Hongkongers.

 

Conclusion

This NENT Plan highlights the collusion between government and big business, and the pro-Beijing camp’s domination of the LegCo.

Chief Executive CY Leung has gone on record saying he wanted the NENT as a special area where Mainland Chinese can enter visa-free.  This would erase the border between China and HK.

The NENT development area also matches the land holdings of major property developers, suggesting collusion between government and big business.

The Plan fails to resolve ongoing housing and job creation issues in Hong Kong. It would also result in loss of locally farmed crops that contribute to a sustainable Hong Kong.

This USD15.5 billion White Elephant project is also a potential waste of taxpayers’ money.

Are you comfortable to bear this cost?  

What is Going On In Hong Kong Right Now?

Question: I’ve read political forums and debates on CNN and I just can’t understand what the debates and discussions in Hong Kong, China are about. Can you please explain to me the political issues that Hong Kong is now tackling and current events?

Answer:

Hong Kong was formally a British colony. On July 1st, 1997, Hong Kong entered a 50 year transition period (it will end in 2047) to Chinese rule. The Hong Kong people do not like the Chinese government (except those involved in government or business) and are terrified of becoming part of China. The idea of the transition period is that Hong Kong will still have its own government and not be fully integrated into China right away. This kind of gradual change would diffuse the anger and outrage of the Hong Kong people over time.

In the meantime, China is socially, politically, culturally, linguistically, economically and physically enveloping Hong Kong. Currently, huge numbers of mainland tourists who spend money very well are critical for Hong Kong’s economy. In the mind of these tourists, Hong Kong is a part of China. As a result, they do not change their culture, try to speak Cantonese or even English when they visit. They spit, shit in the streets, and are offensive to the local people. But because they spend so much money, locals have to speak there language. As a result, Cantonese is on the decline even in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is part of the pearl delta region. The mainland is currently rapidly developing that entire pearl delta region to create a mega city that is roughly the size of Denmark. Hong Kong will inevitably be swallowed by this city.

In a nutshell, the outrage in Hong Kong now is their response to being gradually consumed by the mainland in almost every aspect of life. This is a misunderstanding of the 50 year transition period. Locals want it to be a 50 year extension of autonomous rule, but really it is the period of gradual takeover by the mainland.

Also, as the New Territories (the northern part of Hong Kong which borders Mainland China) are developed, the Hong Kong government (which is really just a puppet of the mainland) is planning to bring in many mainlanders as permanent residents of Hong Kong. As Hong Kongers become more and more diluted, they lose their voice. That voice is already so weak because they don’t even have suffrage and can’t vote for their political leader (who already needs to be approved by the central government anyway).

The loudest Hong Kong people, especially youngsters, want to select their own leader in the 2017 election, but Beijing wants to keep some control of Hong Kong by limiting whom Hong Kong voters can vote for.

As part of an “Occupy Central” campaign, a non-binding referendum is staged to get public endorsement for the demand of nomination by the public, as opposed to just a small group of Beijing loyalists representatives called the “nominating committee,” which is stipulated in the Basic Law (some sort of mini constitution for Hong Kong). The result of the referendum doesn’t matter that much really. It represents over 750,000 voters’ wish to have a say in who can be voted in the 2017 election.

What’s next is that, before the end of the year, Hong Kong government will have to release to the public a proposed method of selecting Hong Kong’s Chief Executive in 2017. Occupy Central threatens to blockade traffic in Central, the business district, if the proposal doesn’t fit their demand of a “universal suffrage in accordance with international standards.” Hong Kong government and Beijing officials have deplored the disruptive protest, which its organizers call “civil disobedience”. More political chaos will ensue. It might agitate Hong Kong activists and make them do more radical things, such as storming government or legislative buildings.

Another key thing to realize about the environment now is that June-July is a very sensitive time for Hong Kongers politically. The anniversary of Tienanmen Square, even though it did not take place in Hong Kong, is very important to Hong Kongers. July 1st is the anniversary of the beginning of the transition period.

China’s Paid Trolls: Meet the 50-Cent Party (Includes Hong Kong SAR)

China’s Paid Trolls: Meet the 50-Cent Party

The Chinese government hires people to distort or deflect conversations on the web. Ai Weiwei persuades an “online commentator” to tell all.

By Ai Weiwei [1] Published 17 October 2012

The Chinese government hires people to distort or deflect conversations on the web. Ai Weiwei persuades an “online commentator” to tell all.

New Statesman
(PHOTO: Marcus Bleasdale VII)

In February 2011, Ai Weiwei tweeted that he would like to conduct an interview with an “online commentator”. Commentators are hired by the Chinese government or the Communist Party of China to post comments favourable towards party policies and to shape public opinion on internet message boards and forums. The commentators are known as the 50-Cent Party, as they are said to be paid 50 cents for every post that steers a discussion away from anti-party content or that advances the Communist Party line.

Below is the transcript of Ai’s interview with an online commentator. As requested, an iPad was given as compensation for the interview. To protect the interviewee, relevant personal information has been concealed in this script.

Question: What’s your name, age, city of residence and online username?

Answer: I cannot make my name public. I’m 26. I have too many usernames. If I want to use one, I just register it. I won’t mention them here.

What do you call the work you do now?

It doesn’t matter what you call it: online commentator, public opinion guide, or even “the 50-Cent Party” that everyone’s heard of.

What is your level of education and work experience? How did you begin the work of guiding public opinion?

I graduated from university and studied media. I once worked for a TV channel, then in online media. I’ve always been in the news media industry, for four or five years now.Over a year ago, a friend asked me if I wanted to be an online commentator, to earn some extra money. I said I’d give it a try. Later, I discovered it was very easy.

When and from where will you receive directives for work?

Almost every morning at 9am I receive an email from my superiors – the internet publicity office of the local government – telling me about the news we’re to comment on for the day. Sometimes it specifies the website to comment on, but most of the time it’s not limited to certain websites: you just find relevant news and comment on it.

Can you describe your work in detail?

The process has three steps – receive task, search for topic, post comments to guide public opinion. Receiving a task mainly involves ensuring you open your email box every day. Usually after an event has happened, or even before the news has come out, we’ll receive an email telling us what the event is, then instructions on which direction to guide the netizens’ thoughts, to blur their focus, or to fan their enthusiasm for certain ideas. After we’ve found the relevant articles or news on a website, according to the overall direction given by our superiors we start to write articles, post or reply to comments. This requires a lot of skill. You can’t write in a very official manner, you must conceal your identity, write articles in many dif­ferent styles, sometimes even have a dialogue with yourself, argue, debate. In sum, you want to create illusions to attract the attention and comments of netizens.

In a forum, there are three roles for you to play: the leader, the follower, the onlooker or unsuspecting member of the public. The leader is the relatively authoritative speaker, who usually appears after a controversy and speaks with powerful evidence. The public usually finds such users very convincing. There are two opposing groups of followers. The role they play is to continuously debate, argue, or even swear on the forum. This will attract attention from observers. At the end of the argument, the leader appears, brings out some powerful evidence, makes public opinion align with him and the objective is achieved. The third type is the onlookers, the netizens. They are our true target “clients”. We influence the third group mainly through role-playing between the other two kinds of identity. You could say we’re like directors, influencing the audience through our own writing, directing and acting. Sometimes I feel like I have a split personality.

Regarding the three roles that you play, is that a common tactic? Or are there other ways?

There are too many ways. It’s kind of psychological. Netizens nowadays are more thoughtful than before. We have many ways. You can make a bad thing sound even worse, make an elaborate account, and make people think it’s nonsense when they see it. In fact, it’s like two negatives make a positive. When it’s reached a certain degree of mediocrity, they’ll think it might not be all that bad.

What is the guiding principle of your work?

The principle is to understand the guiding thought of superiors, the direction of public opinion desired, then to start your own work.

Can you reveal the content of a “task” email?

For example, “Don’t spread rumours, don’t believe in rumours”, or “Influence public understanding of X event”, “Promote the correct direction of public opinion on XXXX”, “Explain and clarify XX event; avoid the appearance of untrue or illegal remarks”, “For the detrimental social effect created by the recent XX event, focus on guiding the thoughts of netizens in the correct direction of XXXX”.

What are the categories of information that you usually receive?

They are mainly local events. They cover over 60 to 70 per cent of local instructions – for example, people who are filing complaints or petitioning.

For countrywide events, such as the Jasmine Revolution [the pro-democracy protests that took place across the country in 2011], do you get involved?

For popular online events like the Jasmine Revolution, we have never received a related task. I also thought it was quite strange. Perhaps we aren’t senior enough.

Can you tell us the content of the commentary you usually write?

The netizens are used to seeing unskilled comments that simply say the government is great or so and so is a traitor. They know what is behind it at a glance. The principle I observe is: don’t directly praise the government or criticise negative news. Moreover, the tone of speech, identity and stance of speech must look as if it’s an unsuspecting member of public; only then can it resonate with netizens. To sum up, you want to guide netizens obliquely and let them change their focus without realising it.

Can you go off the topic?

Of course you can go off the topic. When transferring the attention of netizens and

blurring the public focus, going off the topic is very effective. For example, during the census, everyone will be talking about its truthfulness or necessity; then I’ll post jokes that appeared in the census. Or, in other instances, I would publish adverts to take up space on political news reports.

Can you tell us a specific, typical process of “guiding public opinion”?

For example, each time the oil price is about to go up, we’ll receive a notification to “stabilise the emotions of netizens and divert public attention”. The next day, when news of the rise comes out, netizens will definitely be condemning the state, CNPC and Sinopec. At this point, I register an ID and post a comment: “Rise, rise however you want, I don’t care. Best if it rises to 50 yuan per litre: it serves you right if you’re too poor to drive. Only those with money should be allowed to drive on the roads . . .”

This sounds like I’m inviting attacks but the aim is to anger netizens and divert the anger and attention on oil prices to me. I would then change my identity several times and start to condemn myself. This will attract more attention. After many people have seen it, they start to attack me directly. Slowly, the content of the whole page has also changed from oil price to what I’ve said. It is very effective.

What’s your area of work? Which websites do you comment on? Which netizens do you target?

There’s no limit on which websites I visit. I mainly deal with local websites, or work on Tencent. There are too many commentators on Sohu, Sina, etc. As far as I know, these websites have dedicated internal departments for commenting.

Can you tell which online comments are by online commentators?

Because I do this, I can tell at a glance that about 10 to 20 per cent out of the tens of thousands of comments posted on a forum are made by online commentators.

Will you debate with other people online? What sorts of conflicts do you have? How do you control and disperse emotion?

Most of the time we’re debating with ourselves. I usually never debate with netizens and I’ll never say I’ve been angered by a netizen or an event. You could say that usually when I’m working, I stay rational.

When the government says, “Don’t believe in rumours, don’t spread rumours,” it achieves the opposite effect. For example, when Sars and the melamine in milk case broke out, people tended to choose not to trust the government when faced with the choices of “Don’t trust rumours” and “Don’t trust the government”.

I think this country and government have got into a rather embarrassing situation. No matter what happens – for example, if a person commits a crime, or there’s a traffic accident – as long as it’s a bad event and it’s publicised online, there will be people who condemn the government. I think this is very strange.

This is inevitable, because the government encompasses all. When all honour is attributed to you, all mistakes are also attributed to you. Apart from targeted events, are individuals targeted? Would there be this kind of directive?

There should be. I think for the Dalai Lama, there must be guidance throughout the country. All people in China hate the Dalai Lama and Falun Gong somewhat. According to my understanding, the government has truly gone a bit over the top. Before I got involved in this circle, I didn’t know anything. So I believe that wherever public opinion has been controlled relatively well, there will always have been commentators involved.

How do your superiors inspect and assess your work?

The superiors will arrange dedicated auditors who do random checks according to the links we provide. Auditors usually don’t assess, because they always make work requirements very clear. We just have to do as they say and there won’t be any mistakes.

How is your compensation decided?

It’s calculated on a monthly basis, according to quantity and quality. It’s basically calculated at 50 yuan per 100 comments. When there’s an unexpected event, the compensation might be higher. If you work together to guide public opinion on a hot topic and several dozen people are posting, the compensation for those days counts for more. Basically, the compensation is very low. I work part-time. On average, the monthly pay is about 500-600 yuan. There are people who work full-time on this. It’s possible they could earn thousands of yuan a month.

Do you like your work?

I wouldn’t say I like it or hate it. It’s just a bit more to do each day. A bit more pocket money each month, that’s all.

What’s the biggest difficulty in the work?

Perhaps it’s that you have to guess the psychology of netizens. You have to learn a lot of writing skills. You have to know how to imitate another person’s writing style. You need to understand how to gain the trust of the public and influence their thoughts.

Why can’t you reveal your identity? Why do you think it’s sensitive?

Do you want me to lose my job? Whatever form or name we use to post on any forums or blogs is absolutely confidential. We can’t reveal our identity, and I definitely wouldn’t reveal that I’m a professional online commentator.

If we do, what would be the purpose of our existence? Exposure would affect not just me, it would create an even greater negative effect on our “superiors”.

What do you mean by “superiors”?

Our superior leaders – above that should be the propaganda department.

Is your identity known to your family? Your friends?

No. I haven’t revealed it to my family or friends. If people knew I was doing this, it might have a negative effect on my reputation.

You say: “If I reveal inside information, without exaggeration this could lead to fatality.” Do you think that the consequence would be so serious?

With my identity, I’m involved in the media and also the internet. If I really reveal my identity or let something slip, it could have an incalculable effect on me.

If you say you want to quit, will there be resistance? Are there any strings attached?

Not at all. This industry is already very transparent. For me, it’s just a part-time job. It’s like any other job. It’s not as dark as you think.

How many hours do you go online each day and on which sites? Do you rest at the weekend?

I go online for six to eight hours nearly every day. I’m mainly active on our local BBS and some large mainstream internet media and microblogs. I don’t work over weekends, but I’ll sign in to my email account and see if there’s any important instruction.

In daily life, will you still be thinking about your online work?

Now and then. For example, when I see a piece of news, I’ll think about which direction the superiors will request it to be guided in and how I would go about it. It’s a bit of an occupational hazard.

Do you watch CCTV News and read the People’s Daily?

I usually follow all the news, particularly the local news. But I generally don’t watch CCTV News, because it’s too much about harmony.

Do you go on Twitter? Who do you follow?

Yes. I follow a few interesting people, including Ai Weiwei. But I don’t speak on Twitter, just read and learn.

How big a role do you think this industry plays in guiding public opinion in China?

Truthfully speaking, I think the role is quite big. The majority of netizens in China are actually very stupid. Sometimes, if you don’t guide them, they really will believe in rumours.

Because their information is limited to begin with. So, with limited information, it’s very difficult for them to express a political view.

I think they can be incited very easily. I can control them very easily. Depending on how I want them to be, I use a little bit of thought and that’s enough. It’s very easy. So I think the effect should be quite significant.

Do you think the government has the right to guide public opinion?

Personally, I think absolutely not. But in China, the government absolutely must interfere and guide public opinion. The majority of Chinese netizens are incited too easily, don’t think for themselves and are deceived and incited too easily by false news.

Do you have to believe in the viewpoints you express? Are you concerned about politics and the future?

I don’t have to believe in them. Sometimes you know well that what you say is false or untrue. But you still have to say it, because it’s your job. I’m not too concerned about Chinese politics. There’s nothing to be concerned about in Chinese politics.