Two Face

Language, Politics

Whether or not Liu Xiaobo’s 刘晓波 accusations [Chinese link infected with malware] are true, the concept is fascinating. He is accusing Li Xiguang 李希光, Dean of the Tsinghua University School of Journalism, of having different political opinions depending on whether he is writing in English or in Chinese.

Li Xiguang is a very peculiar person who can be split into two persons both named Li Xiguang.  One of those persons uses the name Lixiguang” when he speaks to the western media in English or pens essays in English to advocate the benefits of freedom of media and the perils of opinion suppression.  The other person has the Chinese name 李希光 and is a hatchet person against freedom of expression inside China.

Liu Xiaobo cites someone named An Ti 安替 who provides an example of the kind of two-faced behavior Li Xiguang/李希光 is accused of:

During the SARS period, CNN interviewed him and asked him about why China imposed a national blackout on information.  He bluntly pointed out that there was no need for the government to do so and that the media should be allowed to collect and publish news.  Then he turned around and told the Chinese students that the whole SARS terror was manufactured by the foreign media.

If this is true, the fact that it was caught probably reflects the increasing number of bilingual Chinese. A decade or two ago the number of truly bilingual Chinese would probably have been small enough that someone could have gotten away with behavior like this and never gotten caught. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are many examples of such behavior from all over the world. Does anyone know of other examples?

(via Jeremy Goldkorn, who provides some related links)

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