Hot Mircroblog Topic: IMF Head Strauss-Kahn’s Arrest; Comments Allude to Social Injustice in China

Posted on May 16, 2011

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Just a little more than an hour after IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested in New York on sexual assault charges, news and comments about this incident are circulated wildly on t.sohu.com, a leading microblog hosting website in China. It’s one of the top topics this morning.

It seems that Strauss-Kahn’s fall fed Chinese’s hunger for examples of justice, examples of powerful figures being punished for their abuse of power, even if they did not happen in China:

白水古月: Sex and politics are always tied together, and this is true across the world. Look at this brother (IMF head Strauss-Kahn, born in Paris on May 25, 1949), at this age, he’s still into sexual assaults. I’m so impressed. Look, because of a bit carelessness, he’s famous now; even somebody from a poor mountain valley like myself knows this character.

最强力#IMF总裁 性侵#: He thought too much about himself, thought that he could use his money to calm everything down. But he forgot that money can’t put down our dignity.

Many microbloggers are impressed by NYPD’s quick response, and, albeit quite naively, a system that works to protect people’s rights. The following comment has been circulated around, reflecting many microbloggers’ appreciation of a such a “big city” system that protects “petty citizens,” especially women, and their condemnation of a system controlled by those in power:

侯少开: One of the differences between a big city and a small town: when powerful big shots cover the sky with one hand, it’s called small town; when petty citizens’ rights can be ensured, it’s called a big city. This might be why many people feel safe in big cities despite the feeling of displacement. (@新周刊) Based on the fact that after a female hotel housekeeping employee reported being sexually assaulted by IMF head Strauss-Kahn, the police arrested him in the first class chamber on an international flight and charged him, New York is a big city.

吾亦与点也#sexually assaulting female hotel employee, IMF head arrested#: Strauss-Kahn wouldn’t have lacked women around him, but the weakness of his character and his power and conceit allowed him to step on the bottom line of the law. In front of power and money, powerless women are willing and able to protect their dignity, this is a necessary requirement for modern society.

Others directly compared this case to those in China, often with a sarcastic tone such as the following entry:

书画家作家陈祖芬: If this brother had been born in China, he wouldn’t have needed to sexually assault [someone]. Look at Luo Mengguo, he’s having so much fun, and could even collect the underwear of the women he slept with.

Luo Mengguo was the corrupted Secretary of the Municipal committee of the CPC in the city of Maoming, Guangdong, who had multiple mistresses.

Of course, there are always those interested in international affairs who speculated on the impact of this incident on French politics:

爱智慧心飞扬: IMF head Strauss-Kahn was arrested in the U.S. on charges of sexual assault. I thought the was the strongest candidate for France’s presidential election in 2012, what a shame! Could it be a political conspiracy?

Chinese microbloggers’ interest in this incident seems to come from their dissatisfaction of the lack of social justice in China, especially in underdeveloped regions, or “small towns,” where local officials tend to abuse their power even more often than in larger cities. On a positive note, with the extensive use of social media, Chinese do have more channels to access to information and to express their opinions with a certain degree of freedom. One time a good friend of mine, a journalist in China, said to me that in China people know what’s going on in the country and in the world, but they just don’t talk about it. That’s partly true. After all, people who have access to the internet are still a fraction of the entire population in China. However, what I see is still encouraging and exciting. Many Chinese do speak out candidly, directly or through humor or sarcasm, and I believe more will be willing and able to express themselves in the future. We’ll see.

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