“You’re stepping on my shadow, please back off,” she said.

Sun Yisheng / Nicky Harman

Mai Jia vs The Web

By Eric Abrahamsen, published

The latest (very small) controversy in the Chinese literary world is author Mai Jia's comments to the effect that "99.9% of online literature in China is garbage", and that if he were given the power he would do away with the internet altogether.

This sparked a lot of huffing and puffing, even attracting notice abroad, and now Mai Jia has posted a clarification on his seldom-updated blog.

The clarification is long-winded and hardly clarifying, but the excerpt he posts from his actual speech makes it pretty clear that he wasn't saying anything all that radical. The line about "exterminating" (消灭) the internet if he had the power (he's been quoted as saying he wants to get rid of all internet writing, but from the speech it seems clear that he means the whole internet) was obviously a throwaway joke (an earlier part of the blog post discusses what a pain the internet has been to him with regards to his thirteen-year-old son).

The second part, about 99.9% of internet literature being garbage and only 0.1% worth reading, is pretty much exactly what he said. But he then goes on to say that the most important and exciting thing about internet literature is that it is a free-for-all, with no artificial barriers to entry or readership, and that the literary greats of China's future are bound to arise online.

So his inflammatory comments, in summary: "There's a lot of crap on the web, but it's still the future."

No argument here.

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