Female astronaut Liu Yang has come to represent the recent launch of the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft, a space mission for the manifestation of China's national glory. Prior to this, a decision by Southern People Weekly reporter Cao Linhua to crack dirty jokes about Liu and her fellow astronauts using China's largest social media platform, Weibo Sina, has resulted in his resignation.
Cao's original comment, dated June 12 (and since deleted, but published by Malaysia's Sin Chew Daily [zh]), read:
Cao's joke provoked some netizens in a big way, but at the same time served to illustrate how other netizens feel in comparing between the fate of two women, Liu Yang and Feng Jianmei in China.
The former is seen to represent the state and has touched heaven, at the same time that the latter has reached hell by means of a forced late-term abortion.
Liz Carter from Tea Leaf Nation has explained such netizens sentiment through translations of “Sudd's” (@假裝在紐約‘s) Sina Weibo comments:
We can successfully send a female taikonaut out into space, and we can also forcefully abort the fetus of a seven-months-pregnant woman from the countryside. The stark contrast between the fates of these two women, 33-year-old Liu Yang and 22-year-old [sic] Feng Jianmei, is the clearest illustration of the torn state of this nation. As glory and dreams illuminate disgrace and despair, cutting-edge technology exists alongside the shameless trampling of the people. Rockets fly into the heavens while morals reach new lows, the nation rises while the people kneel in submission. This is how the best of times meets the worst of times.
Sudd's microblog was then reposted by celebrity blogger Han Han to his millions of fans, received numerous mentions across social media platforms [Han Han's post was also deleted].
However, in contrast to the fate of CCTV's host Yang Rui, whose equally insulting comment regarding the “cleaning of foreign trash” was defended by commentators from state-run media, People's Daily [zh] quoted a current leading Weibo survey [zh], created by user Maenliesimao (＠大史公說), and its result that 91% of netizens feel Cao should resign from the newspaper [down to 87% at the time the survey expired].
Cao eventually made a public apology on June 19. Although a separate survey [zh] created by Zhang Hai (@烟大張海) shows 64.8% of respondents opposed to demands for Cao's resignation, it seems public opinion offers little help to someone who insults not just the astronauts, but also one of the nation's glory projects.
As such, here are several Weibo comments debating calls for Cao's resignation [zh]:
@金台-夕照： 人只因其犯的错受到惩罚，而不因其所在的地位而受到惩罚，曹记者出口轻浮、隐念不堪、性别歧视，这远远超过“调侃”范畴。无论其是不是知名报社的记者都应 当受到惩罚，有些人会因为没有人注意到而没有受到惩罚 。