Recently, there is a growing trend of people informing on others secretly in Chinese society, with multiple high profile incidents occurring in succession. Current affairs analysts point out that the culture of reporting others to the authorities is a typical product of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ideology, and breeds a lack of trust between people.
On May 13, famous Chinese stand-up comedian Li Haoshi used a Chinese military slogan to commend his adopted stray dogs in two of his performances in Beijing.
The slogan he used, to “have good conduct and capable of winning battles,” was originally Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s words when he set a goal for the People’s Liberation Army.
An audience member reported on him, saying that he had insulted Chinese soldiers.
Beijing then police arrested Li, saying that they had opened an official investigation into his performance. Li and the comedy firm he worked with were suspended from future performances and heavily fined.
On May 19, the Kunlun Institute, a self-proclaimed independent Chinese research institute, republished an old article from 2021 on its official website, criticizing Chinese painter and sculpture artist Yue Minjun for engaging in an “organized and orchestrated campaign of insulting the military and opposing the Chinese Communist Party” with an art museum in Shunde, Guangdong.
In the article, Kunlun’s guest commentator, Yang Zhaoyou, posted several paintings featuring Chinese communist soldiers and others. Each of the characters has an absurdly exaggerated smile, and some of them even had horns on their heads. These characters are based on ordinary soldiers, police officers, communist model soldier Lei Feng, and communist leaders such as Mao Zedong, Stalin, and Karl Marx.
The article said these characters are “not to be insulted” and the author “strongly requests the relevant authorities to investigate this organized insult” to the military and the CCP.
After the article was published, some Chinese social media users also launched attacks against Yue Minjun but others felt that the criticism of Yue was too far-fetched.
In another incident on May 22, a Chinese netizen reported in an online post that a teacher at Lanzhou University, when lecturing in a classroom, publicly discredited the CCP’s propaganda of the Korean War, which the Chinese regime refers to as “The War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea.”
According to two pictures in the teaching slides, the teacher presented the opposite view of what the CCP depicts as “aiding North Korea and defending our motherland.”
Totalitarian System Controls People’s Minds through Informants
Former Capital Normal University professor Li Yuanhua told The Epoch Times that authoritarian rulers are afraid of public opinion and often get increasingly paranoid about controlling people. Under communism in China, people are not allowed to think and express themselves freely, and rulers control people’s thoughts through informants and mutual supervision.
“When words are crimes, it is actually tantamount to strengthening authoritarianism, and strengthening authoritarianism means that the authoritarians lack the self-confidence to rule, and have to resort to more controls to solidify their power,” Li said.
Li believes that the continued development of this trend will have an erosive effect on people’s minds, and that there will be a lack of genuine trust between people. Even if they have ideas, people are afraid to express them for fear that they will be reported or ratted out by others.
Product of Communist Culture
New Zealand-based political commentator Ye Zhiqiu told The Epoch Times that the practice of informing on others is a typical product of culture under communist rule, which has two distinctive features.
“One is that it does not distinguish between right and wrong, but only emphasizes political stance,” he said. “In other words, those who are reported and denounced are reported not because they have broken the law or violated social morality, but simply because their words and deeds do not conform to the views and stance propagated by the CCP. This phenomenon is also a product of decades of the CCP’s brainwashing education, which has ultimately led to intolerance of dissenting voices.”
“Another significant feature of this phenomenon—the most serious problem—is that it usually occurs among acquaintances. The informants often report on people they know well, which destroys trust,” Ye said, adding that the CCP’s long-term brainwashing education makes people lose their humanity, leaving only the so-called communist party spirit.
He believes that there needs to be a basic trust between people in order for society to operate normally.
“But under communist rule, especially during the Cultural Revolution, even husbands and wives could inform on each other, and children were encouraged to report their parents’ behavior to the authorities. This eventually led to the dire consequence that people in society became enemies of each other and lost trust in each other, which made society very deformed. This is exactly what the CCP wants, because when people guard against or even fight against one another, it is difficult for them to unite and effectively join forces against the CCP,” Ye said.