One of the circumlocutions that one hears regularly in China is that some event or other has “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.”
It implies that somehow the Chinese nation is unified in its outlook and reaction, and prone to the same emotional reaction. We all know that this is a generalization. As time passes, Chinese are ever-more diverse in their opinions, and free to speak them.
So the circumlocution is used by anyone – often, but not always, within the government – to suggest that a preferred point of view has massive support.
This comes to mind with a story in the China Daily this morning about London Metropolitan University apparently apologizing for bestowing an honorary doctorate on the Dalai Lama in May for his role in “promoting peace globally.”
“Angered and offended by the move, Chinese students and Internet users at home and abroad called for a boycott the university, saying its conferment of honors on the Dalai Lama had hurt the feelings of the Chinese people,” the China Daily story said.
Hmm. I would guess most Chinese didn’t even know about this. I sure didn’t and it’s my job to read the papers. I guess people can have their feelings hurt without even knowing what caused them to be hurt.
In fact, a quick search through Nexis with the phrase “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” came up with 88 hits over the past three months. That’s a lot of hurt feelings. Granted, the trouble-plagued Olympic torch relay gave Chinese much to be angry about. But it seems to me that there are hurt feelings over something or other just about every week.
April 13 – A Xinhua commentary calling U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a “disgusting figure” said she had conflated the Tibet issue with the Olympics and “seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.”
April 15 – After the U.S. House passed a resolution on Tibet, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said: "We demand those few senators respect the facts, abandon prejudice and immediately stop wrongful remarks and deeds that hurt the feelings of Chinese people and harm China-US relations."
April 16 – Chinese embassy spokesman Tian Yuzhen in Ottawa warned MPs to “refrain from doing things that hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and undermine bilateral relations.”
April 20 or so – The French retailer issues a statement denying it had links to Tibetan separatists and saying it would “never do anything to hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.”
April 25 – President Hu Jintao told French envoys that disruptions in the torch relay “are not what we want to see, and have hurt the feelings of the Chinese people."
April 25 – NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo tells visiting French envoys that events during the torch relay “has hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and is something we do not wish to see.”
May 24 – Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang lambasted a trip to Britain by the Dalai Lama and said it “not only interferes in China's internal affairs but also seriously hurts the feelings of the Chinese people.”
June 4 – Actress Sharon Stone, who defended the Dalai Lama while at the Cannes film festival, was disinvited to the Shanghai film festival. A spokeswoman said “she hurt the feelings of the Chinese people.”
It’s time to give this cliché a rest. Otherwise, my feelings will be hurt.