One more email just in on my “Unearthing Hate Facts” column last week.
My quotes from Pierre Ryckmans’ book included him saying this about the chore of being a China analyst back in Maoist days:
He [i.e. the China analyst] must scan the arid wastes of the small print in the pages of the People’s Daily and pounce upon those rare items of significance that lie buried under mountains of clichés.
Times have changed. A reader passed on this article from People’s Daily Online last Thursday:
The vast majority of university students have masturbated and 28.27 percent think it is healthy behavior, research conducted by Guangzhou-based Sun Yatsen University found . . .
More than 96 percent of male students and 70 percent of female students said they have masturbated, according to the survey conducted by the campus media Sun Yatsen University Youth, which polled 103 male and 87 female students in April and May.
Only 8.9 percent of the students had a negative attitude toward masturbation.
Time was when People’s Daily used the phrase “having a negative attitude” only in reference to insufficient ardor in denouncing rightist deviationists, splittist cliques, running dogs of U.S. imperialism, and the cow ghosts and snake demons who resisted the Cultural Revolution.
To see the term used in this comparatively benign way is surely progress . . . of a sort . . .