Ian Johnson Interviews Yuan Ling


In the past, when writing about the realities in China, it was hard to find a milestone-type of event that has significance as a topic for writing. Sometimes you think there is a key event, but its significance disappears very quickly because, no matter what happens, there’s always the opposite argument and explanation. Things that you think matter often don’t matter to others. Even with big topics like the Cultural Revolution, some think it’s good, some think it’s bad, and others think it’s best not to discuss it. So it has been hard to find a starting point.

But the virus has already had a deeper impact on the people than even the [2008] Sichuan earthquake [that killed 69,000]. The virus causes isolation and shutdown, which mirrors the isolation and shutdown in Chinese society, and also because it was directly the result of controlling speech and clamping down on “rumors.” Everyone is isolated, even though it’s not necessary. This is symbolic. During normal times, people aren’t free but they don’t feel it, but now everyone feels their unfreedom.

attached to: Yuan Ling


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