Chinabounder goes mainstream

In my first post about this, I said the Shanghai Sex Blogger would probably end up with a lucrative book deal. He’s now entering, oh, I’d say the 4th or 5th minute of his 15 minutes of fame, and if he’s smart he’ll “leverage” (the most used and most useless word in all of public relations) his new-found faminess. The story’s pickup in the UK Guardian tells us he’s on the right track.

Chinese internet vigilantes have launched a hunt for a self-professed British bounder who has sparked outrage by blogging about his seduction of women in Shanghai. The campaign to uncover the identity of the blogger and have him kicked out of China is the latest in a series of online denunciations that have drawn comparisons with the humiliations inflicted by mobs during the cultural revolution.

Traffic on the Sex and Shanghai blog has surged from 500 hits to more than 17,000, thanks to a swarm of castration threats, anti-British rants and attacks on women who sleep with foreigners. The author, who calls himself Chinabounder, introduces himself as a wastrel, “lacking in moral fibre, but coping with the situation”. According to the posts, he is an English language teacher at a university….

Encouraging “netizens and patriots” to investigate the people and the places mentioned in the blog, he [Dr. Zhang] set a goal of expelling Chinabounder by October 1. More than 1,500 people are now visiting Prof Zhang’s site every hour.

“Trial by virtual lynching has become the norm in China’s cyberspace,” Raymond Zhou wrote in a comment article in China Daily after previous mass campaigns. He added: “Online ‘flaming’ wars exist everywhere, facilitated by anonymity. But in China they may have a self-propelling force that sweeps thousands, sometimes millions, into a frenzy. It is nearly impossible, even for the most respected scholars, to give voice to dissension.”

Chinabounder condemned the campaign against him, saying many expats and “a goodly number of local men” were no different to him.

Chinabounder’s last point is well taken, but he’s ignoring the obvious: most of his slut-brothers don’t broadcast the details of their conquest to the whole world. One key learning is that if expats can’t keep their dicks in their pants, they’d be better off not boasting about it on the Internet. Unless, of course, they’re looking for a book contract.

For me, the most interesting lesson out of this is just how volatile and malleable the Chinese masses of today can be, reminiscent, as the reporter says, of the Cultural Revolution. Of course, we saw this with the anti-Japanese riots last year, but that’s an issue that’s been smoldering for years. Here, at the touch of a key, you have a lynch mob that could well move from the virtual realm into the physical. And it all goes back to the same sources – a controlled media, an education system that doesn’t reward independent thinking, and a xenophobia that combines images of China as both the world’s greatest culture and the world’s greatest victim. Toss all the ingredients together, add a few drops of racism into the mix, stir rapidly and, voila, you’ve got yourself an old-fashioned populist lynching.

Update: Good post on this subject, with a great picture.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 23 Comments

Stoopid, stoopid, stoopid. This whole thing is such a pointless swamp. Although I am considering it for my China tech blog.

Anyway, foreigners are not China’s problem when it comes to louche behavior. From Xinhua:

“Trial of China’s largest pornographic website begins”

http://tinyurl.com/hkw5y

600,000 paid-up members. Even more than have been to China Bounder’s blog.

August 31, 2006 @ 3:25 am | Comment

Although I am considering it for my China tech blog

Why didn’t you say you are considering leveraging it? What kind of PR man are you?

I find the whole story interesting mainly from the communications angle – the use of the Internet as a tool for hunting down witches, the jump from the blogs to the print media, the ability to whip the crowd into a frenzy with the most simplistic and hackneyed of messages (throw the running dogs out of China!)…. I admit, I’m hooked, as a blogger, a PR person and someone so intrigued with China. How could you not write about it for the tech blog?

August 31, 2006 @ 3:36 am | Comment

Richard, the “good post” you referred us to is excellent — incisive and on the ball.

August 31, 2006 @ 4:18 am | Comment

Richard, the “good post” you referred us to is excellent — incisive and on the ball.

August 31, 2006 @ 4:19 am | Comment

Richard, the “good post” you referred us to is excellent — incisive and on the ball.

August 31, 2006 @ 4:19 am | Comment

I just went through the rest of the blog, and it’s great! Unfortunately, the guy (girl?) almost never posts or I’d add it to my blogroll. Great writer, great observations on China.

August 31, 2006 @ 4:25 am | Comment

So I thought the sitemeter was showing almost all of the folks visiting the SiS blog were coming from hits from Metafilter and the English-language blogs, not from some alleged Chinese vigilantes?

I still haven’t seen any evidence of any actual lynch mob besides one rather goofy prof issuing a fatwa. And lord help the world if people start taking goofy profs’ fatwas seriously. And looking at the whoichinabounder site, it doesn’t look like the lynch mob there is more than a handful.

As for SiS, he obviously wanted the attention. The article you link to shows that when Chinabounder wasn’t succeeding in gaining attention by just writing about sex, he became more and more intentionally confrontational to stir things up, which is probably a good sign the stories aren’t true. (Have any of the alleged victims come forward with so much information and being so violated and pointed out the man?)

And as some were suggesting in one of the earlier threads that the the prof and SiS should be sealed in a small room together, might I suggest we add the man who hypes such tempests in the teaup like this and Bus Uncle, to the list of those sealed in the room to never be heard from again.

August 31, 2006 @ 5:06 am | Comment

Professor Zhang is no better than Chinabounder himself. The only difference between the two is that Chinabounder readily admits to being a scoundrel.
 
If the Professor really cared about such
moral indecencies taking place in his country, he’d take aim on the real scoundrels in Chinese society.

August 31, 2006 @ 6:11 am | Comment

Like many British, he wants to be a pinpin.

http://uvgarden.blogspot.com

August 31, 2006 @ 8:16 am | Comment

Do you know what’s interesting is how this meme of “internet vigilantism” is being picked up by the Western media, but the link at idlewords provides only one source for this meme, ESWN.

The proof idlewords gives to back it up this time is this whoischinabounder site, yet if you read through the comments there, you hardly find vigilantes. Perhaps one or two people repeating the same cut and paste info on chinabounder interspersed with a few pro-chinabounder sockpuppets and a lot of innocent gawkers who suggest a pox on both of them as trolls, who in a serious society should be ignored. But you won’t find pitchforks or a lynch mob.

Instead we find the PR society in the English-language Chinese blogosphere with the belief that anything that drives up the hit counts is good. There is no such thing as bad PR. Doesn’t matter if there is no there there, as long as it keeps the hit counters spinning, it’s good for the blogs.

August 31, 2006 @ 8:45 am | Comment

This backlash only goes to prove ChinaBounder’s comments about chinese men. Chinese societ is completely fucked up and broken, mostly because 肛交党 won’t let society evolve (becuse if it did, it wouldn’t need them).

bad, dirty, broken china.

August 31, 2006 @ 8:55 am | Comment

Jesus H. Christ on a stick, is there no China related internet site you won’t troll at nanheyangrouchuan?

*skips off to oppress some more uighurs*

August 31, 2006 @ 11:10 am | Comment

I do not intend to offend people. But seriously, do you think the guy, Chinabounder, could be one of regular visitor at Pekingduck?

He is a ultra-liberal and anti-china ultra conservativst. The tone expressed in Pekingduck could be found line by line from Pekingduck commentators, from ACB to Raj to Ivan. Boy, so much coincidence. Even some usage of words.

I actually have sympathy for him. He is an ultimate loser, choosing to live in a place he does not like, sleeping with a woman he dispised, be friended with people he cursed on the back. Sound as creepy as the Jon Bonet suspect.

August 31, 2006 @ 12:55 pm | Comment

Great, the story spins on. Now there is the report that chineabounder is an art project:
http://www.danwei.org/

Steve you’r on to something there. You should tell mister Zhang Sherlock Jiehai. He’ll be delighted.

August 31, 2006 @ 1:18 pm | Comment

Great, the story spins on. Now there is the report that chineabounder is an art project:
http://www.danwei.org/

Steve you’r on to something there. You should tell mister Zhang Sherlock Jiehai. He’ll be delighted.

August 31, 2006 @ 1:21 pm | Comment

Through this debate, can I ask foreigners please respect our culture, history and people while staying or living in China? If you respect our culture, history and people, everything you find difficult may become easy. The majority of our Chinese people are not narrow-minded people but rather very kind and friendly to foreigners in fact. There are so many differences in the world, but respect is the one bring us to an understaning.

August 31, 2006 @ 2:28 pm | Comment

Someone on the Japantoday forums wants an apology from Western men because of this guy…..

August 31, 2006 @ 2:56 pm | Comment

Funny how this ‘scholar’ won’t take on the corruption or land theft or medical crisis or exploitation of the vulnerable by those in power, but will courageously attack a single foreigner….

August 31, 2006 @ 4:33 pm | Comment

…”that’s exactly how Nazi Germany started!”
-Basil Fawlty

August 31, 2006 @ 4:34 pm | Comment

Well Keir, hes a psychology professor not an internet pundit. Not everyone can be a bloviating cyber know-it-all whose outraged at anything and everything. That sir, takes a special kind of talent.

August 31, 2006 @ 5:10 pm | Comment

Jing, he’s using a blog – ergo he’s qualified.

August 31, 2006 @ 5:26 pm | Comment

everyone i have spoken to (mostly my students), has indicated that no one really cares. if those women wanted to sleep with some creepy foreigner, that’s their problem. no one likes a degenerate brit expat anyway, so this is non-news. everyone back to drinking, and playing majong.

August 31, 2006 @ 6:36 pm | Comment

Chris, that’s exactly the kind of thing I want to hear about – thank you. Was this whole thing a non-story? See this new post to see why I ask. If so, was I and many other bloggers fooled into falling for it?

I am closing this thread – please leave comments on the new post above.

August 31, 2006 @ 6:41 pm | Comment

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