'Wuhan diary' writer escalates online spat, wears out dwindling fans

By Cao Siqi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/4/23 3:54:54

Fang Fang File Photo: Chinanews.com

Wuhan diary author Fang Fang, who was once regarded by her fans as a "glimmer of hope" in the dark days when the city was fighting the deadly coronavirus under a lockdown, now seems to have become a desperate "online celebrity" who lost her dignity as a writer. 

Despite her earlier glamour, she is now confined to battling critics on her Sina Weibo account after news that her 60-episode diary will be published overseas which soon triggered an uproar online and disappointed many of her loyal readers. 

Facing a flood of criticism over the upcoming publication in English and German, labeled as an astonishing "testimony" that "courageously spoke out against social injustice, corruption, abuse, and the systemic political problems which impeded the response to the epidemic," Fang Fang defended herself, saying she was "besieged by public opinion." 

She believed the backlash against her was due to a "far-left ideological trend" brewing in China over recent decades. She went on to say that without the outbreak and her diary, the world would not know that in China there exists such "crazy, evil and violent tendencies" in and outside the institution and among the general public.

By constantly re-posting articles that only serve to support herself, she slammed people who criticized her, calling them "crazy dogs." 

Her latest "battle" with Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin made her become one of the most trending topics on Sina Weibo, one of China's most popular social media platforms, which attracted over 800 million views. 

Hu previously commented that "the diary will not be a normal exchange of documentary literature. It will be captured by international politics. It is quite possible that in the coming storm, the Chinese people, including those who have supported Fang Fang, will pay for her fame in the West," to which Fang Fang believed Hu was playing a trick on her, aiming to beat down a writer just because she allegedly "told the truth."

Hu then went on to ask Fang Fang three questions: do you feel you have been beaten down? You are still doing fine now, aren't you? Has the government punished you or mainstream media criticized you?  

"Your fame is greater than the pre-lockdown period. Your spat with the public showed that you have a lot of room to improve in becoming a proper person," Hu said. The phrase "you have a lot of room to improve in becoming a proper person" has quickly made a splash on Sina Weibo, becoming Wednesday's social buzzword. 

Fang Fang statue?

In a media interview, Fang Fang admitted that she was willing to publish her diary domestically, and in early March, she entrusted the diary's global copyright to her agent. 

Many netizens mocked that if they were Fang Fang, they would make a fortune quietly, instead of quarreling with others like a desperate housewife. 

Fang Fang's hysteric reaction further pushed netizens away from her, broke the hearts of her fans, and wore out her declining readers. Some people even took some "surprising" measures to express their resentment, which gained support but also stoked controversy as some suggested some practices against her go too far. 

For example, a writer based in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu Province, said his friend who is a sculptor, plans to carve out a statue of Fang Fang kneeling down next to the statue of Qin Hui and his wife.  

Qin, who is believed to be the most notorious traitor in Chinese history, often appears in traditional Chinese operas as a treacherous court official.

Many netizens praised the idea because Fang Fang has also been accused of being a traitor for the upcoming publication of her diary overseas, whether it was for money or to gain reputation, it will hand the West a "sword," especially some Western media outlets and politicians who are dedicated to defaming China, with which to "kill" the country's dignity and smear its people's efforts in fighting the health crisis over the past three months.  

The writer, with an online name displayed as Zuobi Qian Shigui, said on his social media account that his comment has been viewed over 1.5 million times with over 7,000 comments. He said his sculptor friend is a serious artist. In response to the netizens' demands to publicize his name, the artist thought that after he finishes his task, he will show it at the media press conference. 

"Why are Nanjing locals so active in their support for the sculptor's proposal? It's because the city houses two tombs of the biggest traitors in Chinese history," the writer explains, noting that local residents are very wary of traitors and their practices of selling out our country for their own selfish personal gain.

However, the proposal has also been met with criticism. Lu Xiaoping, a professor at Nanjing University, told the Global Times that if Fang Fang committed a crime, it can only be determined by a court. Without a court conviction, Fang Fang is a citizen whose reputation is protected by law.

Lu said Qian's [the writer's] proposal is illegal and is public defamation of Fang Fang. If Qian was not condemned, it would be a disgrace to the calligraphic, artistic, cultural and intellectual circles of Nanjing, Lu said. 

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