Written by John Kennedy
“America is the enemy of all the people in the world.”
So wrote Sima Nan, one of China’s most vocal opponents of Western liberal values, before he boarded a plane to Washington, DC on January 20. At some point after arriving at Dulles International Airport, Sima leaned over the handrail of an escalator and wound up getting his head pinched between the handrail and an approaching section of wall.
Sima was put in a neck brace and taken to a hospital where he remains today, partially mobile and busy updating his microblog [zh]. The news that the media figure, who has made a career out of bashing the United States, quietly traveled there on the eve of Chinese New Year broke first online and, among other things, led to rumors that Sima had gone stateside to reunite with his wife and daughter. Sima has claimed that no warning sign was posted on the escalator and has said that he will sue the airport.
Sima, who was on his way to a conference, has been mocked to no end over the past week, as dragonwell summarizes here at the Tea Leaf Nation blog, along with some of what he has written since confirming the news of his injury on January 24.
On the Phoenix TV blog portal, Canada-based blogger Yu Xiaoping has written on the hypocrisy of Sima’s position, regardless of the nature of the conference he had been invited to attend:
Just heard that the anti-American warrior Sima Nan was spotted at an American airport and I thought it must have been a rumor, but then photos of the person injured appeared online. He’s confirmed this on his own Weibo, that he did in fact get his head stuck on an escalator in an American airport. You don’t stick your head out when you’re riding an escalator, this is something all normal people know. Tens of thousands of people pass through this Washington, DC airport each day, which makes it all the more hard to believe that someone as fiercely opposed to the US as this could get his head stuck there.
I deeply sympathize with the injured person, and I don’t think this is the time to be ridiculing him. As for the rumors online that he’d gone to see his family, it’s best not to spread that sort of thing until the situation has been clarified. What is undeniable, however, is that many people who once spent years fighting America from China, have immigrated to the US with their families after having saved up enough through writing earnings.
There’s one point, though, I don’t know if people have noticed, that he’s written on his personal Weibo account that he went to the US for a conference, and not to reunite with his family. Although it’s impossible to confirm either way, what’s far more telling I think is to know that someone so fiercely opposed to the United States can still receive a visa to go there, for work purposes in particular, rather than obtaining a visa for the humane reason of going to join his family. Can you imagine China doing the same thing?
Fresh into the Year of the Dragon. Those who accept American values have run off to America, because staying in China they just endure persecution. Those against American values are also running off to America, not for fear of facing persecution at home, but at the very least due to an invitation from the US, which as everyone knows is necessary to obtain a visa to go take part in a conference.
What is it that allows a country to grow to become great? You need only look at whether it can tolerate those who oppose it. If we look back at Chinese history, the truly prosperous periods were all times in which everyone from top officials down to common folk could all say whatever they wanted. Why is that? The emperors weren’t afraid of anyone rebelling because no one was capable of pulling something like that off, and knowing that it wouldn’t change anything, people could speak whatever nonsense they chose. Only the emperor of an unstable dynasty, meanwhile, will strictly control what people can say, exercising the most control over what top officials say, even employing torture out of fear of a rebellion, spending each day in a panic.
This Sima Nan, was he on his way to a verbal showdown at a pro-US conference, or was he going to take part in an anti-American conference, like the frosting on a cake, a representation of the tolerance within America’s society. In the case of the former, it would have been the conference tolerating this individual, and in the latter, the US government tolerating such a conference. Only tolerance can make a nation great, and America has nothing to worry about. Only a weak government would worry about something like this and not let its opponents in. Many dissidents, unable to bear the persecution at home, have fled overseas and found themselves unable to renew their Chinese passports. Similarly, once they receive foreign passports, they can’t obtain visas to China, leaving them unable to see their friends and family in the country. What this actually is is a form of exile, and for China to fear even frail intellectuals, you can figure out the rest yourself.
I’m curious to know just what sort of conference this anti-American warrior was on his way to attend, so I hope the injured person recovers soon to share the truth with everyone. Either way, it’s gotta make you wonder.
This post was originally published by Global Voices.
Photo from endlisnis via flickr