Phrase of the Week: “It may seem absurd, but you are required to comply.”
A police officer’s statement acknowledging a traffic rule as being “somewhat absurd, but still must be followed” has gained widespread attention for its unintentionally insightful commentary on life in China.
The video captures a Tesla driver being stopped by a police officer in Hangzhou. The driver was denied permission to cross a bridge, with the reason given as “because [your car] is a Tesla.” The driver protests, to which the policeman responds that while it may seem ridiculous, the driver must still obey. Hangzhou police explain that the stop was due to “temporary controls” put in place for the upcoming Asian Games opening ceremony, similar to how COVID lockdowns were described in 2022. Teslas have faced multiple bans in China over concerns about their data collection abilities through cameras and sensors. This summer, they were prohibited from entering Beidaihe for two months during the annual summer retreat for Chinese Communist Party leaders. In July, they were also banned from certain roads in Chengdu ahead of Xi Jinping’s visit. Since 2021, military staff and employees of state-owned companies have been forbidden from owning Teslas. Despite these security concerns and negative publicity, Tesla remains a significant presence in China. Their gigafactory in Shanghai produces more than half of the 1.3 million Teslas delivered worldwide each year, and CEO Elon Musk was highly praised during his visit to Beijing in May 2023, which included private meetings with top Party leaders. With Musk’s growing global political influence, there may be increased concerns about Tesla’s security.
A footage of the incident where traffic was stopped in Hangzhou was shared on Twitter.
The phrase used by the policeman quickly gained popularity among social media users as a fitting description of life under the control of the government. A post on the Q&A website Zhihu, written by user @美芳 (partially translated below), discusses the passive cooperation of the public in regards to other nonsensical policies, some of which have led to tragic outcomes.
This recent occurrence of “radiation exposure” serves as an illustration. It may seem absurd, but we are obligated to comply. If they declare the presence of radiation, it must be acknowledged. There is no use in disputing the level of radiation or its potential consequences.
An alternative scenario would be getting abruptly displaced from your residence and forced to wait in the street late at night for a PCR test to determine if you have a common cold. However, even if you do have a cold, you will not be given medication for it. Instead, you will receive a universal remedy known as Lianhua Qingwen, which was supposedly found 20 years ago. Isn’t this absurd? It certainly is, but we are all expected to comply. [The term “cold” may have been used instead of “coronavirus” to avoid censorship of the post.]
During my time in school, we were required to commit the textbook and Core Values to memory. I remember feeling a sense of pride at the time, but in hindsight, I can only chuckle at the naive joy I experienced.
During my time in school, we were instructed to perform eye exercises. Despite not knowing the proper techniques for massaging, I continued to do them for a duration of 10 years.
There are those who use their platform to sing poorly, while others who have a talent for singing are prohibited from performing in concerts again. This could possibly be a mention of singer Dao Lang, who was allegedly banned from performing after releasing his controversial song “Demons and Mirages,” which was interpreted as a criticism towards his critics or America.
Today, as Tony Leung was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Venice Film Festival, it made me wonder: “Are there no other actors who can compare to Leung?” I believe there are, at least in my opinion. How is it that individuals like Leung and Chan are able to accomplish so much?
The solution is not elusive, it is right in front of us.
Numerous events that appeared nonsensical in the moment ultimately became irreversible catastrophes.
Similar to 2020, my only wish was to have permission to exit my building, undergo a PCR test, and return to work.
Those who choose to remain silent may think they are doing the right thing, but their silence makes them part of the problem.