In 1996, a group of young Chinese authors published a book, China Can Say No. It was modeled on Japan Can Say No by Tokyo’s governor Ishihara Shintaro, and like it, it was an anti-Western (but also anti-Japanese) tirade. It became a bestseller and marked the beginning of a fad of saying no — to Japanese products, to advertising deemed offensive to China, to pop stars seen as unpatriotic — all in the name of standing up to foreign “bullying”.
Ten years on, China’s international position has strengthened dramatically, but naysaying is still in vogue. A book I am writing — with illustrations by Putao — tells stories of saying no as they permeate the everyday life of the emerging middle class. Through these stories, I want to look at the intermeshing of politics, market and media in China in a new way, including a look at issues of language and censorship.
This blog is intended as a companion to the book and also as a forum to share stories of saying no, which crop up on the Net with weekly regularity. And, of course, stories of saying yes as well.