A Coded Rant About China's Government Goes Viral

The Communist Party -- I mean, my girlfriend -- is going shopping again!

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A general view shows delegates raising their hands as they take a vote at the closing session of 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on November 14th, 2012. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

A recent post from a Peking University student on Chinese social networking site Renren.com about his girlfriend's shopping habit went viral online. In the last four days, it has been shared over 26,000 times. At first glance, it is nothing more than a simple rant about a girlfriend's tyranny. But reading between the lines, it quickly becomes apparent that the author is in fact talking about Chinese citizens' relationship with their government as the Chinese Communist Party convenes its 18th National Congress, where the next generation of leaders will soon be selected. Tea Leaf Nation translates.  

Going shopping for the 18th time

Today is the 18th time I have accompanied my girlfriend to go shopping. Whenever my girlfriend goes shopping, she tends to get overly serious and way more than just fidgety about the whole thing. It always interferes with my usual pace of life. Anyway, she calls the shots at home, so can't complain. As my girlfriend stipulates, when it approaches her shopping date, I can only make working plans for up to three days, and if I go on a business trip, I need to get her approval first. These past few days I've been sitting on pins and needles, praying to God that I don't do anything wrong to ruin her good shopping mood.

The main focus of her shopping is cosmetics. She usually purchases seven or nine varieties. This time, she crossed the name of a very famous brand off her shopping list, because there have been some problems with this brand, which causes it to have lost its original reputation [referring to "Mao Zedong thought," not mentioned in official 18th Congress propaganda]. But she's not willing to admit [those problems] and grins at me: "Am I not getting more and more thrifty?" Fine. Whatever her reason.

Sometimes she also buys me things, though I have no say in what she buys me. She often says to me, "You see, officials always wear this brand, company bosses, too. Singers and sports stars love this brand. I even consulted the views of a few workers! All these different opinions are sufficient to represent you, aren't they? I always solicit opinions in an advanced and reasonable manner." Why can officials, bosses, singers, sport stars, and workers represent me? I don't understand. But I guess as long as she buys things for me, I shouldn't complain too much.

She does ask for my take on things, of course, if only occasionally. She usually takes out her iPhone, aims the camera at me, and asks me in a very journalistic or television host-like tone: "Now that I've bought all these things for you, are you glad? Are you happy?" Seeing my own face show up on her iPhone, hearing her iron-like interrogation, I can't help sweating and nodding: "I lack nothing right now and life is so blissful -- all because of you!"

She usually doesn't pay attention to me when she shops. Well, you do your shopping, and I'll tend to my own business, I think to myself. So I take out my phone to surf the net a bit. But before I can open even one page, she pops up immediately: "You can't just get online like this when I shop! What emails are you checking? If you dare check one more, I'll deactivate your Gmail account!" Yup, she's such a woman: she can forget about you when she shops, but when you are too tired to give her your undivided attention, she creates problems for you from time to time, to remind you of her existence.

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Xiaoying Zhou is a contributor to Tea Leaf Nation.

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