In China, “ … the trending Weibo hashtag #NotreDameCathedralLargeFire (#巴黎圣母院大火#) has been followed over 1.2 billion times, and over 500,000 netizens are discussing the topic ….” as reported by an April 16 article published on Thatsmags.com, most of the Chinese netizens feel sorry and sad to see the blaze and destruction to the historical building.
When these very few netizens “… referred to the cathedral’s burning down as retribution for the ravaging of the Old Summer Palace; however, many were quick to challenge those cynical remarks. ‘War is guilty, art is innocent. The guilty are the aggressors, not buildings,’ commented one person ….”
Furthermore, such a discussion has caused the official TV channel CCTV to issue an editorial on its own website to denounce this sort of negative comments immediately on April 16 (央视网评论：国耻不能忘却，但不应该落井下石). It says there is nothing comparable, and those who express that view are out of narrow-minded nationalism; and it reminds people of the doctrine that remembering history does not mean extending hatred (my translation).
Nowadays, hatred speech is everywhere on the internet worldwide. Even though Beijing has certain controls over them, words of this kind struggle to emerge here and there. Some people argue that there must be ‘freedom of speech’.
I tend to accept Nietzsche’s concept of ‘freedom’ that an individual has freedom if only if he/she has overcome certain obstacles. These obstacles include both the external difficulties and mindful self-revaluation. Freedom is to be earned, not born with, nor granted unconditionally. An insouciant man/woman who comments casually is not having any freedom, but merely abusing the social tolerance; in the Nietzschean sense, this human is a private person, not an individual (see Twilight of the Idols: Expeditions 38-9; The Will to Power 369).
The Chinese are neither better nor worse than other peoples. However, by living with censorship and persistent self-overcoming, more and more mainlanders have been able to realize the significance of Confucius’ teaching about ‘cautious speaking’ 慎言 (The Analects 18), thus capable of making correct strategic moves in international politics.
The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.