Chapter 559 Wait a moment!
The welcome ceremony finally began.
The host went on stage. “Good afternoon to the leaders, honored guests, and all gathered…”
The Japanese reporters and media staff set up their cameras and began recording the event.
Meanwhile, the group of Chinese reporters looked at them, hungry and aggrieved. From the looks of it, those Japanese reporters must have had lunch together with the delegation, all appearing energetic and high spirited. What about them? They had gone the past few hours on an empty stomach, so how could they be in a good mood?
The reporters muttered among themselves.
“This is the first time I’m witnessing a group arriving so late for a big event like this.”
“Did you put this into your report?”
“Hur, what’s the point in doing so? The newspapers won’t report this matter.”
“That’s true. Since it’s all about Sino-Japanese Friendship, Sino-Japanese Good Friends, and what not, with their prime minister on a diplomatic visit as well, such negative news reports would surely be suppressed.”
“Stop complaining, let’s get back to work.”
“Right, there are some matters that we won’t be able to change.”
When the ceremony started, a Peking University head teacher came on stage to give the opening speech. Seeing this, Zhang Ye, who was not in a listening mood, decided to get up and go to the backstage for a smoke. When the others saw him leaving his seat, they all thought that he was just going backstage to prepare for his speech, so no one said anything. While he was smoking, a recital of a poem* could be heard. It was probably a small program that was prepared for the ceremony. It was performed by a female student of Peking University.
Following that, a Japanese student went on stage to perform a Japanese poem, but recited the Chinese translated version instead.1
“Pitiful petals falling like rain,
Scattering onto the belles’ shoulders.
Demure maidens murmur and pass by,
As geta clops sound in the air.”
Not many people in the hall could understand the meaning and mood of the poem, but when the student finished reciting, the whole hall broke out into applause. This was different from those competitions where, if a performer did badly, they might not even receive any applause at all. This was a welcoming ceremony and was full of political flavor, thus, even if a performer went on stage to fart, the audience would still erupt into applause.
There was even a person there who led the applause.
Some teachers also led their students in clapping.
Zhang Ye was leaning against the wall and smoking, lightly shaking his head. In his previous world, the attitude towards the Japanese was similar to this world, but with a slight difference in the general tendency and environment of this world. Why was there a difference like this? Although the two worlds had a similar history, the history happened at different times and mixed with different political stances, which had resulted in the difference in attitude towards the Japanese.Therefore, for Zhang Ye, who had come from a world where there was deep mistrust of Japan’s contradictions, he was clearly out of tune with the environment of this world’s attitude towards Japan. He could not look at this, so he found a place to relax his mind and left the rest to the others.
After that, it was time for the speeches.
First off was the teacher from the Sociology Department. He talked about the key projects of this Sino-Japanese exchange. For example, he raised the environmental protection research project and how Japan was doing really good in this area of work, how Japan was far more advanced in this field than them. As Zhang Ye understood it, this speech was to tell everyone just how badly China was doing compared to Japan!
Following that, a professor from Tokyo University gave a speech. The whole speech was given in Japanese and translated after that by a teacher from the Japanese Department. The overview of this cooperation was that Tokyo University would provide guidance and equipment support in some key projects to Peking University, so that Peking University would be able to raise the standard of research in this areas, etc. Of course, they also touched on some of the projects that Peking University excelled in and how they intended to seek to learn from Peking University.
It gave Zhang Ye the feeling of someone giving a victory speech to the defeated, saying how they would help them to improve, and then suddenly saying that even in defeat there were some good points that they could learn from. It might be subjective, but in any case, that was what it sounded like.
The ceremony continued on.
After about half an hour later, Professor Yan got on stage for his speech. The first words he said immediately left everyone silent for a moment, “Good afternoon, everyone. The title of my speech today is ‘What is Patriotism.’ Some of the things that I will be saying might make some of you uncomfortable, but I still must say them. These days, many people view patriotism in a very biased and prejudiced manner. In China, ‘Japan’ is a very sensitive word that, when mentioned, if no one shows any resistance or voices displeasure, it is seen as unpatriotic!”
Su Na had no reaction to that.
Professor Zeng raised his head and looked up to the stage.
Professor Yan asked, “Just where does such attitude originate from? When we break it down, we are just seeking some form of psychological comfort, as if after resisting, we will feel better even if we’re indeed more backward!”
Who’s backward now? Us?
Many students were found it difficult to stay seated!
Professor Yan knew that his words had hit a raw nerve, but this was the effect that he wanted. He was very unaccustomed to the hardline opinions of young people these days, so he looked at the audience and said, “You may say that this is because you’re patriotic. If that is so, then please boycott Japanese products as well. Throw away all the Japanese-made electronics in your home. Even some of the electronics that were produced domestically have Japanese parts in them, so please strip down these things and throw them away too! If there comes a day when the Chinese and the Japanese go to war again, we expect you to carry arms, get on the battlefield, and kill some enemies for everyone to see! You can boycott Japan all you want; that is your freedom. But please do not do so and claim that it is patriotism. Speaking before thinking is not a virtue of our country!” Pausing, he then continued indignantly, “There are even cases of teachers who I know that had similar discussions. In one country, teachers don’t teach their students of love and warmth, but about cruelty and coldness. What would be their future as a country if it went on like this?”
When those Japanese delegates heard what the translator said, one of the person-in-charge nodded in agreement, thinking that it was well said! That’s the biggest problem your country is guilty of!
Some Japanese students also seemingly agreed with the speech. During this trip to China, they had already seen the resistance and hostilities from the people. They were angered by such treatment and Professor Yan’s speech clearly explained their heartfelt thoughts. Yes, all they know is to always rail against us, to resist us, to boycott our products. If you’re really capable, then throw away all the appliances in your house! Would you all dare to do that? No, none of you would dare to do so! Just because you’re backward, you keep saying that you’ll resist us, but look at what happened in the end! You are still the ones who keep buying things from us, so why didn’t you show basic courtesy and goodwill to us?
Meanwhile, the Japanese reporters kept taking photos, as well as recording the speech and reactions of everyone. They were all thrilled to hear such a refreshing speech. It seemed like there were still people in China who were sensible!
Professor Yan, whose speech was echoing this afternoon’s bus blockade incident, said loudly, “Insulting others does not reflect a civilized society, but if it becomes a collective behavior, does that make it reasonable behavior? China has adopted collectivist behavior, so when things are done collectively, they must be right. When a group puts on improper behavior together, the group does not know which direction it is going towards. Unable to grasp an understanding of anything, they never think that they are in the wrong, and thus, will not reflect upon such behavior!”
Some Peking University students were befuddled.
“We have to reflect?”
“Why! Why are we the ones who need to reflect?”
At the end of the speech, Professor Yan said, “I love my country, so I also respect other people; as a Chinese person, I am proud of my heritage, so I shall not be cruel in the name of patriotism, I shall not do bad in the name of collectivism. I know that with just my own strength, this is insignificant. But I also know that one should not do a bad deed just because it seems insignificant, or not do a good deed because it seems insignificant. A small change is all that it takes to make a difference. That is what I understand as being patriotic! Thank you, I’ve finished my speech.”
He held onto his script and went down off the stage.
Suddenly, the Japanese delegation upstairs broke out into warm applause, clapping very loudly.
However, there was only sparse applause from the Peking University students downstairs. Only a trickle of claps could be heard. Some of the students did not understand the content of Professor Yan’s speech at all!
A few Peking University teachers, including Bai Yi and a few others, believed Professor Yan’s speech to be on point. Although it was uncomfortable to hear, it was very reasonable. A nation must first learn how to respect and reflect. Insults did not bring any meaning or positive influence, but only showed that the people spoke before they thought. Unfortunately, this simple truth was not understood by many.
Zhang Ye had already cooled down by now. He turned around, stamped out his cigarette, and walked out from backstage.
By this time, Bai Yi had already gone on stage and was holding the microphone, ready to begin his speech. He started with saying, “My speech today is about respect and forgiveness.”
When the Peking University students heard this, they guessed that this was probably another “enlightening” speech, just like Professor Yan’s!
As expected, when Bai Yi stood on stage and faced the hall, he began by saying, “Our understanding of Japan is skewed. I feel that our people have a big problem when it comes to knowing the Japanese, that is, having preconceived notions that affect our judgment. When our people praise or curse Japan, they’re really speaking of either China or themselves. And because of that, we do not use an unbiased opinion to perceive Japan. We praise it to the skies when it’s good and bury it into the ground when it’s bad…”
“Wait a moment!”
A voice suddenly interrupted the speech!
- The Japanese poem 甃のうへ (Shikigawara nō e) was written by Tatsuji Miyoshi, a Japanese poet, literary critic, and literary editor active during the Shōwa period of Japan. He is known for his lengthy free verse poetry, which often portrays loneliness and isolation as part of contemporary life, but are written in a complex, highly literary style reminiscent of classical Japanese poetry.