Chinese editorials; I had it in mind to find one and this morning I did. Searching the Chinese word for editorial 社论 shelun I was immediately presented with page after page of search results for Taiwan newspapers. This, even though the traditional character for lun 論 seems to be different. I’m be happy to read the Taiwanese commentary, but I’m trying to push my reading of simplified characters forward with this morning ritual. The traditional are infinitely more beautiful, but I don’t need to make morning Chinese reading any more difficult than it already is.
I confess I also wondered for a moment if editorials were simply not allowed. But that’s ridiculous. The “People’s Daily” certainly has an opinion on matters. They’re not above taking a position. And sure enough, when I entered the name of the paper I was taken to a list of what they called she lun on their web site: The People’s Daily Important Speech Library: http://opinion.people.com.cn/GB/8213/49160/49179/index.html
None of these position pieces seems to be attributed to an individual, which is what I really wanted, but rather the position of the editorial board for the paper. What we have is the official, emphatic writing of the Party organ. I chose the most recent editorial entitled: “Major Announcements to Advance the Process of Peaceful Reunification of the Motherland.” When I was young, I was always taught to use exclamation points sparingly in one’s writing. The People’s Daily team strongly disagree! The paragraph I read has six sentences. Four of them end in exclamation points.
There wasn’t much by way of “news” in the article. President Xi has reiterated China’s position and the paper drums home the time-honored themes: Chinese are all one family, blood is thicker than water, don’t let “outsiders” cause trouble, etc. The line of argument is designed to be absolute and to allow no room for nuance or reflection. Reading it this way, rather than translated, it seemed even more stentorian than usual and one can only imagine how exasperating this must be to read, sitting in Taipei. More “nuanced” mainland perspectives presumably focus on historical legitimacies and precedent in international law but it’s unclear if and where any real debate on this most sensitive topic, is ever pursued.
I asked my wife about this while I was getting my coffee and the girls were getting ready to depart for school. I tried to pronounce shelun properly three times and when she finally did cognate what I was saying, she seemed to decide it was not worth commenting on and went to get her coat. At least my older one and I could laugh about her weighty response. Still, this was just my first day’s search for shelun. The web’s a big place. I have some ideas on where else to look for individual mainland Chinese opinion on a political topic. And I think I've already found something interesting for tomorrow.