Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

July 17, 2013

Abacus Column: 'Ding Jinhao wuz here'

By Larry Backus
Sun contributor

— I have been an AOL subscriber so long that it has been free for more than 15 years. Their news provider is the Huffington Post. By my archaic standards, AOL and the Huffington Post are liberal (see progressive?) sources of news. Oh wait, isn’t “source of news” and “liberal” synonymous? I’m kidding; please do not report me to the IRS. Let us carry on to a subject of interest.

In a recent AOL blog article entitled “Chinese Tourist Vandalizes Egyptian Temple, Pisses Off China” by Adam Hodge (RSS Feed); Hodge revealed the story of a Chinese couple and their young teenage son visiting Egypt and the 3,500-year-old Luxor Temple. There was no story until their son found a rock and artfully carved, “Ding Jinhao wuz here” into the ancient hieroglyphics. There was no discovery of the incident until another tourist noticed the Chinese writing and posted a photograph on China’s Sina Weibo micro-blogging site. The photo initiated outrage in China, where Chinese tourists had been officially admonished by the government to get their act together. There has been nearly universal chagrin in China and the incident has been featured as a reason for China’s poor reputation abroad. Thank goodness for Chinese travelers. We “Ugly Americans” will be delighted to relinquish our tainted tourist leadership in this capacity.

The photo prompted a “renrou suosou,” which translates into “human flesh search.” In case you visit China and require such a phrase, “renrou suosou” is an Internet attempt to expose offensive perpetrators to public humiliation. This action created the odd but desperate personal action of probably one million Chinese named Ding Jinhao declaring publicly that they have never been to Egypt and are able to prove they are not “that” Ding Jinhao. Eventually, the infamous Ding Jinhao was discovered. His parents apologized profusely on his behalf, explaining that he was young at the time and merely copying what he had seen elsewhere. The Egyptian tour guide graciously took blame for the incident, “allegedly” claiming there was no reason to blame the boy.    

The most interesting part of the story was the replies from AOL bloggers that responded to the story with appealing insight. One blogger stated, “I am not so sure most people understand the situation in China under the One Child policy. Males are preferred to the extent that infanticide orphaning of female children is all too common. And male children are indulged to the point of absurdity. They learn from an early age that they can do no wrong…”

If I took a poll of our three sons, I am sure they would agree with me that other than the “infanticide orphaning of female children,” this is a very enlightened policy. Such a policy would certainly prevail in our households, unless our wives would not go along with it. Therefore, we also understand that Chinese men are in for very unhappy marriages. The blogger added a suggestion that Chinese men marry North Korean women who might accept such an arrangement merely to exit North Korea. Another blogger noted that it was generous of the Egyptian guide to absorb blame, but he pities the guide for the retribution he or she will suffer. And finally, there was one blogger who mirrored my initial reaction by questioning why AOL would copycat vulgarism, which we are all bombarded with, in the use of “Pisses Off” in the title.

Reading the notes by bloggers or letters to editors has always given me faith that people in general have much more common sense and insight than many news sources give credit them for.