Han Han, Man Who Is Famous for Telling the Truth

Who is Han Han and why is he so famous in China?

First of all, he is the most popular personal blogger in China (running a blog on Sina). Actually, in the game of numbers it automatically makes him the most read blogger in the world!

He is also a young writer who came to prominence at the age of 17 (today Han Han is 29 years old) when he wrote his first novel “Triple Door” which immediately became a bestseller in China. It was even more surprising taking in account that he twice failed end-of-year exams and quit the school.

Why Is Han Han So Popular?

Finally, besides literary career, Han Han is a professional racer. Indeed, he is a colorful figure but all these things together wouldn’t be enough to explain his immense popularity. What makes him the thought leader of his generation is his ability to tell the truth (i.e. “criticize the system”). In China, saying the truth in a way which will both convey a message and not land you in jail is a rare skill and Han Han has mastered it.

He himself referred to his fame in the following way:

Some people are beneficiaries of a flawed judicial system. Some are beneficiaries of a chaotic society. I just happen to have benefited from telling the truth.


In 2010 the TIME magazine listed Han Han among top 100 influential people in the world. Although not to the same degree as Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Prize, this recognition irritated Chinese officialdom as well. China.org.cn published an article in which the author not only accused Han Han in lies but even compared him with the minister of Nazi propaganda Goebbels!

Han cannot distinguish between rumors and legitimate criticism. <…> Han does nothing but present the government as a bully, revealing his poor understanding and low moral standards. Han also cites old figures that have been retracted or denied. <…> People like Han are turning people against the government. <…> To Joseph Goebbels, the mastermind behind Nazi propaganda, lies became truth by being repeated thousands of times. Rumors, essentially lies, don’t become just the truth; they become more real than truth.

I am sure that at this point you would like to know what exactly Han Han is saying to be highly praised by ones and strongly criticized by others.

Below is the compilation of 10 Han Han’s quotes said by him on various occasions either in interviews or in his blog.

Ten quotes from Han Han

1. Following the death of Huang Ju – member of Politburo Standing Committee – Chinese TV channels broadcasted the funerals and the national flags were lowered to a half mast.

Han Han reacted:

It seems that the flag is never lowered for civilian matters, no matter how big.


Of course, we must be strict and scientific, and draw up a head-count. For example, major accidents that kill more than one hundred people could have flags lowered to half mast to pay respects. In our country, this number would definitely be set quite high, at least ten times higher than other less sophisticated countries — first, this would demonstrate that our half-mast flags are of finer quality than the half-masts of other countries, and second, according to current safety conditions for manufacturing and traffic, if the head-count is set too low, the national flag would probably never have a chance to go all the way up.

2. In 2007 and 2008 when China was preparing for Olympics, there was a number of incidents during which the human rights activists and supporters of Tibet tried to sabotage the Games. One such incident occurred when the Paralympian torchbearer Jin Jing was attacked in Paris by pro-Tibet protesters who tried to grab the torch from her hands.

In response, some Chinese suggested to boycott the French brand Carrefour whose management was rumored to support Dalai Lama.

This is what Han Han wrote about the boycotte:

Why is our patriotism so fragile and superficial? When others call us a mob, we curse them and behave aggressively. And then claim, “We are not a mob.” It’s like when somebody calls you an idiot, you hold up a big sign in front of his girlfriend’s dog, protesting that you are not stupid. Although this message would be received by that person, he would still believe that you are an idiot.

3. On February 9th, 2009 the headquarters of Chinese Central TV Channel (CCTV) caught fire following the unauthorized usage of fireworks. This event, however, was ignored by CCTV itself!

Han Han with his trademark wit noticed:

Our officials make big incidents appear insignificant, and hope the public will ignore them. It might not be a big deal to lose the valuable state property, since our taxpayers’ money is being wasted anyway. It either gets burned or eaten away [by government officials]. I just wish the construction workers and the firefighters won’t be injured and can go back home safely


As for CCTV, this is so hard to imagine, such an always truth-speaking media, how could it be hit by such a tragic event? The gods must have been blind.

4. Talking about the movie “The Founding of a Republic” depicting the ascendancy of Communists in China, Han Han wrote in his blog:

The Founding of a Republic is like a love story. It artistically recounts the story of an impoverished boy who was pursuing a rich family’s daughter. The Communist Party was the poor boy, the New China is the daughter waiting to be married, the KMT is the fiancé and all those democratic parties and independents are the daughter’s friends. The boy’s secret to success is to have dreams, brag about future, relentlessly network and make many empty promises. Of course, being unafraid to fight is the most important of all. At last, he successfully married the New China. Apparently, the life after this marriage is not much different than the life after your marriage.

Have you met your promises you made when you were dating?

5. In the interview to Asia Weekly Han Han explained his attitude to motherland:

We should differentiate motherland and mother. Some always said to me that no matter if what I said was right or wrong, I can’t ignore the major matters of principle, and the overall national interest is a major matter of principle. I think this is too narrow. I hope that the aliens suddenly come invade the earth, and only then can they realize it belongs to human beings, not the nation. … The overall national interest and motherland are most deeply ingrained in our education. But many people have vague concepts of them, and they tie the nation and political regime together. This doesn’t matter, and it takes time for them to figure it out. When you realize you’re very poor, you can’t afford a house and you can’t afford anything; when you realize some evil people are living a high life; when you turn to suicide and they demand a fee to get your body out of the water, I believe your spirit of the deceased will figure out a lot of things eventually.

6. In the beginning of 2010 Google had to leave mainland China. It left Chinese internet users with less opportunities to find uncensored information. Han Han , however, doubted whether most Chinese would feel the loss:

Do Chinese people seek out dangerous universal ideals? Chinese people seek them, but they seek them at their convenience. To a lot of Chinese people, the value of seeking such things is not nearly as high as seeking an apartment building or an online game to play. Because everyone’s life is so high pressure, they don’t have any ideals. A mouthful of dirty rice is enough. There’s no big difference between eating it while kneeling or eating it while standing up. Perhaps Google thought that freedom, truth, justice, and other such things would mean a lot to a large portion of Chinese netizens. But in reality, these things are nothing compared to a finding a 100 RMB bill on the street.

7. In another blog post Han Han referred to his celebrity status saying that many people who suffered from injustice ask him to write about their misfortunes hoping to draw the attention of media.

I believe that even if I write it for you, it won’t get that much attention from the traditional media. <…> Most of the letters [I have received] are about so-and-so housing project in which the quality of apartments is very poor, or there is a trash station or power station next to it; many of the letters are about forced demolitions. If you experienced a demolition, that’s not news. That’s life. If you did not burn yourself into ashes., if you can still receive and send mail, and all your family members are still alive, that’s the definition of a happy life. You ought to thank the State for it.

8. In March 2010 a mentally-unstable man stabbed 8 kids to death in primary school in Fujian province. More copy cat cases of attacks in schools and kindergartens followed in the next few months causing nationwide panic.

Han Han’s fans waited for what he would say on the topic.

I don’t want to investigate the social reasons for these incidents. I just want to tell everybody, right here, that when the story of a person breaking into a kindergarten to slash up 32 children can’t become news, you have all been slashed as well. Not even one paper can report on this, because a few hundred kilometers away a grand meeting is being held, and hundreds of millions of fireworks will be released, while at the same time, in your old hometown of Taizhou, they want to hold the International Tourism Festival, the trade fair, and the OCT opening ceremony—those “three blessed events.”

Maybe, in the eyes of all those old farts, you are killjoys, intent on spoiling the big party.

9. Han Han speaks out not only about domestic affairs. In the wake of recent events in Arabic countries he had something to say about the situation in Libya.

China voted once to impose sanctions, and abstained in the vote to establish a no-fly zone, how wonderful. Now, today, people won’t stop fighting over Gaddafi, and of course they have split into two camps: one says Gaddafi is completely evil, a corrupt tyrant who slaughters civilian and blows up airliners and ought to be obliteration by the Coalition. Then there’s the other camp which says these are Libya’s internal affairs and other countries should not interfere, that Western countries either just want to get some oil out of Libya or take the focus off their own internal conflicts, that they have ulterior motives.

So when friends ask for my view, I say, my view is very simple: dictators have no internal affairs, and slaughterers ought to be invaded and eliminated.

10. At this point you might guess Han Han’s reaction to the Wenzhou collision of high-speed trains which claimed 40 lives but wasn’t properly reported by central newspapers.

Every now and then, there’s an accident. The top leaders all show how worried they are. We make someone available to answer journalists’ questions. First we say we’ll give the victims 170,000 kuai apiece. Then we say we’ll give them 500,000. We fire a buddy of ours. We’ve done all that, and you still want to nitpick? How could you all be so close-minded? You’re not thinking of the big picture! Why do you want us to apologize when we haven’t done anything wrong? It’s the price of development.