These two pictures are from Joe Chung’s new book “China – Where is your pride?”.
The pictures have a couple of things in common which are quite revealing about China and its culture:
- They depict absurd and hideous phenomena in China that are absolutely shocking to the civilized world. The one at the top shows a helpless citizen being brutally handled by two men who looked to be law enforcers. The bottom one shows Huang Chuancai, a man known as China’s "Elephant Man” because of the massive tumour on his face. The absurdity of the former phenomenon lies in how violence is so freely and starkly used when the police or security people carry out their duties, the most recent and controversial case being policemen in Xinjiang beating up Hong Kong reporters when they were reporting on the story of the mass demonstration there. As for the latter phenomenon, Joe Chung referred to James L. Maxwell’s book “The Chinese Medical Journal” in talking about how Chinese people usually tolerate hideous growths and wait until very late before seeking treatment. He quoted Maxwell’s interpretation of the phenomenon: “But special interest is added from the fact that combined with a lack of ability to remove even the simplest growth, the Chinese are as a race particularly unembarrassed by the mere presence of morbid growths which a more sensitive race would find repellant indeed. To the Chinese a growth is painful or inconvenient, but seldom disfiguring.”
- They show how common it is that crowds gather around what they consider to be scenes of interest. Most of the time they do nothing, just standing there and staring blankly at the scene or the victim like vultures or coyotes. Look at the onlookers in the pictures. On most faces one cannot see any emotion, or anger, or sympathy. I said ‘most’ because there are exceptions. Look at the couple of faces below that I have enlarged:
In case there is any doubt about how typical this onlooker phenomenon is, here is a photo of China’s “Elephant Man” I found from the Internet. You can see exactly what you saw in the other pictures: Same crowd. Same grin.