An allegory of urban China


Chublic Opinion is an excellent blog about the ways public opinion in China is shaped by and shapes the media and internet. The author is Ma Tianjie 马天杰, who has appeared several times on the Sinica Podcast to discuss subjects like Islamophobia, and, in 2016, online reactions to a shocking family murder-suicide, a famous actor’s cheating spouse, and a mass internet action in the name of patriotism against a popular film director and fast-food chain KFC.

Ma’s latest post, titled “The class allegiance of China’s de facto voters,” discusses the online reactions to evictions of migrant workers from Beijing late last year, and the problem that such events highlight: a growing gap between haves and have-nots, between the migrant workers who make the roads and the urbanites who drive their cars on them. A small taste:

Nothing captures the middle-class psyche in the winter of 2017 better than a piece of satire [link in Chinese]: “The fence of the middle class has collapsed.” In an almost allegorical post, the author presents imagery that consists of a hellish blood pool, middle-class garden and castle of high power. The child abuse scandal marks the fall of the garden’s fence, giving the complacent bourgeois a taste of the hell just outside. But in a dark twist of the allegory, those traumatized middle-class people chose to pay slightly more to erect a stronger fence, while never courageous enough to challenge the Olympian puppet masters living in the high castle. Only history will tell if this characterization of the Chinese middle class is prophetically accurate or shortsightedly cynical.