On news.sina.com.cn, a popular Chinese news site, readers can leave comments at the end of stories. While looking through the reader comments of a “news” story entitled “The Dalai Lama clique’s efforts to destroy Tibetan social stability are doomed to fail,” two friendly little cartoon police officers trotted across the bottom of my screen and saluted. The java cops informed me that I should “Stay far away from obscene pornography. Advocate a civilized Internet. Refuse to look at vulgar content. Carry forward harmonious progress.”
“Obscene pornography” is clear enough. But vulgar content? What was on my screen, on this mainstream news site, was some of the most vulgar content I've ever seen on the Internet.
Below is a translation of the first screen of the comments that came up on my computer this evening, out of thousands and thousands. I didn't pick and choose the “best” ones, I just translated all the ones on the screen. Some are typically nationalistic (and quite easy to unpack from a historian's point of view); some are simply shocking; and some, like the long one below, may have been written by government big brothers. It would of course be foolish to generalize this sampling as “typical” of China. But it is striking how widespread it is—I've noted the province where each comment originates—and it is surely a scandal that the Dalai Lama and his “clique” have close to zero sympathy in China. On a scale of hating the Dalai Lama to sympathizing with his cause, extremely few Chinese are past the stage of apathy.
The page is obviously censored (meaning absolutely no pro-Tibet comment would get through), but it's shocking that the censors allow so much violent language (from a government that constantly tells its citizens to avoid violent (and pornographic) websites). Reading this, it makes sense why so many Taiwanese are weary, and frightened, of the prospect of unification.
In fact, it's interesting how many of the comments mention Taiwan, even though Taiwan has nothing to do with the current protests in Tibet. For these kinds of Chinese nationalists, all “splittists” are the same: they want to divide the nation, and they should be condemned.
I changed some of the punctuation to fit more closely with typical English style. Some of the phrases sound a bit silly in English—in Chinese they’ve achieved normality in their ubiquity, but I'm not sure if they’re any less silly.
Firmly suppress! Kill on sight with the authority of the law! (Hunan)
我们不怕 - 因为我们是一家人
We are not afraid - because we are all of the same family. (Jiangsu)
As for the splittist ringleader, [he should be] punished mercilessly, and killed without mercy. (Ningxia)
When it comes to attacking the influence of Tibetan and Taiwanese independence movements, [we should] not hesitate for any price to safeguard the homeland's unity, fear nothing!!!!!!!!! When over 1 billion descendants of Yan Di and Huang Di [that is, Chinese people] are a shield, I don't believe they could be scattered! (Guangdong)
There is only one word, "kill!" These no-good bastards dare to cause chaos in my China, kill without mercy! Kill without mercy! (Sichuan)
China is a loving and peaceful developed country, a vast people in a peaceful environment who enjoy freedom and democracy, [and should] truly cherish this hard-earned society. The just-concluded National People's Congress has given us a beautiful development blueprint. Tibet is a region with an ethnic minority problem that has existed for a long time; it's a region whose economic development is supported by our country, [for example] the recently finished railroad is an important and positive development for Tibet's future.
Our country is currently building our economy, it has a formidable economy and national strength, and we are stable. The Dalai Lama has continuously used peace as a pretense towards Western countries to destroy our country's security. This kind of minority group scum is the great enemy of our whole nation. We must simply maintain high alert, maintain strong unity, maintain strong cohesion, [and only then] can we thoroughly defeat the Dalai Lama's conspiracy. (Sichuan)
Resolutely defend our homeland's unity! As for these splittists, we should resolutely counterattack! (Sichuan)
Resolutely defend our homeland's unity. (Hebei)
If we must close then let's close [?], if we must kill then let's kill, we mustn't be softhearted! (Shaanxi)
The splittists should be killed without mercy. All executed by shooting. (Hunan)
Repress Taiwanese and Tibetan independence activists. Don't be softhearted. (Liaoning)
For the police who are in the middle of this situation and have been injured: pay tribute to the public security [forces]!!! (Jiangxi)
Resolutely defend the homeland's security and unity, oppose any scheme that tries to split the country. (Shanghai)
Resolutely defend the homeland's unity, oppose the splittists, severely punish the armed rebels, never be softhearted!!!! (Anhui)
Defending the country's unity is every Chinese person's duty! (Beijing)
Kill all these sluts who are harming the stability of the country! (Hainan)
It is essential to severely punish these rebellious evildoers who are making trouble, [we] cannot be softhearted! (Henan)
Resolutely attack, never be softhearted, [when they] emerge, immediately attack; do not leave behind one opportunity [for them] to keep breathing. (Sichuan)
Kill, kill, kill. (Zhejiang)