Two years and four months after whistleblower Dr. Li Wenliang’s death from COVID-19, the comments section under his last Weibo post, which has become known as “China’s Wailing Wall,” continues to serve as a repository for the hopes, dreams, worries, and opinions of countless Chinese citizens. CDT editors regularly archive and translate Wailing Wall content, including the selection of comments below.
In early June, a number of commenters referenced June 4, the thirty-third anniversary of the violent crackdown on the Tiananmen protests in Beijing, and wondered how many of their fellow citizens were even aware of the significance of the date, given strict government censorship of any online commemorations. Throughout the month, many Wailing Wall visitors focused on current events such as the brutal beating of four women at a hotpot restaurant in Tangshan and the reported misuse of health codes by officials in Henan. Students awaiting university entrance exam (gaokao) scores confided their hopes and anxieties; workers discussed wages, the cost of living, potential layoffs, and how their livelihoods had been affected by China’s pandemic lockdowns. Commenters of all ages and walks of life described coping with COVID testing, app-based health codes, and circumscribed freedom of movement during the pandemic. As always, there were expressions of gratitude and admiration for Dr. Li’s courage during his lifetime, well-wishes for him in the afterlife, and requests for his blessing and protection in these uncertain times.
The following Wailing Wall comments, selected and translated by CDT editors, were originally posted during the month of June, 2022.
Comments from May 30-June 4, 2022:
听说名字可以取这么长哦哟：Already, many people are unaware of the significance of this date [June 4].
Mazkew: This Dragon Boat Festival memorializes both Qu Yuan and Dr. Li. Someday, when people look back at this period of time, Dr. Li should be regarded as a modern-day Qu Yuan. But the tragedy is that over the last two thousand years, some things haven’t changed.
Comments from June 5-12, 2022:
蜡笔小丸子131：Dr. Li, how are you, over there? I’m not doing well today. This overwhelming tide of brutal news has made me lose my last shred of faith that this society is safe. We teach girls to go home early, and not to wear revealing clothes, but why doesn’t anyone teach boys that it’s not okay to harm women? It’s really upsetting. What do we have to do in order to live in peace and safety?
朝不虑夕2333：If this matter isn’t dealt with properly, then how can we ever trust our government?
劉雅文Emilio：Dr. Li, I feel like society is bleak. On the night of April 27, it was raining, and I went to pick up my mom from work, and was followed by a strange man. Luckily, I ran fast and nothing bad happened. After seeing the news about the Tangshan incident, I was so sad, I couldn’t sleep. There are so many bad people. How can they expect women to give birth to three kids while at the same time, not doing anything to protect women? I saw some comments saying that the women who were beaten weren’t good women because they went out to drink and eat barbecue in the middle of the night. ? ? ? It’s 2022. Do women really have to be careful about what time they pick to go out for a meal?
Coolbigcat: Doctor Li, my 13-year-old Weibo account @漂亮的大猫 got blocked because I said something similar to what you said. How are you? The world isn’t getting better and better as you imagined. We’re getting further and further away from the life we want.
凌晨的海w：I still don’t want to believe that this is China in 2022. There are some things happening in this country that I can’t quite bring myself to believe.
馋少年肉体的妖艳货色2：My memory will not be erased by “correct collective memory.“
Comments from June 13-18, 2022:
野生的奈奈阿： Dr. Li, I feel so hopeless and helpless. I can’t seem to do anything but cry and constantly doomscroll for news about Tangshan. I’m trying to stay rational and not believe random rumors, but why won’t they publish an announcement about the condition of those girls? Why haven’t we heard anything from the victims’ families?
四季稻F：You surely never imagined this, but health codes are already being used as a tool to restrict the movement of certain groups of people. How can they do this? // 幼稚_鬼：Never underestimate evil.
要和咩哥去海边：What these two incidents have in common is that all of us—you, me, the four girls in Tangshan, all of us ordinary people—are just trying to protect ourselves and the people around us. It’s that simple, but it never turns out well for us, does it? How is that not scary?
missLisasa: Dr. Li, they are bad people, rotten to the core. As a person born in 1989, suddenly now in 2022, I am utterly disappointed in this place I used to be so proud of!
张誉酩：I’ve been pretty happy recently. I met the right person and have a stable, satisfying relationship. Life’s not easy, but I try to be a kind person.
叶问天行：There have been no concrete updates on the Tangshan beating case, and there’s no way of knowing what steps have been taken regarding complaints [about gang violence] that people filed under their real names. Right now, Tangshan exists in a state of suspicion, cloaked in mystery. It’s like entering Tangshan has become a crime, and anyone who does is monitored. What are they so afraid of? Why haven’t Hebei’s leaders issued any concrete statements? Is it because they’re afraid of losing their cushy jobs?
-二吉：Dr. Li, I am applying for a job tomorrow, and I hope everything goes smoothly! Since graduating, I don’t seem to be very happy. Mostly I worry about the future. I don’t know what my future will look like. Will I be able to become an outstanding doctor? Will I be able to live the kind of life I want? I don’t know. All I can do is try my best with each task at hand, and hope for a good future. Also, I’ve recently discovered that this world is not as wonderful as we imagined.
太阳的麦兜：Dr. Li, the only reason I’ve been reluctant to uninstall Weibo is this place of yours. With so many friends who come here to call on you, you probably don’t have time to read all the messages. Even when we’re getting rained on, we always try to hold up an umbrella for others. Please remember those girls [who got beaten up in Tangshan]. Pray for them!
Comments from June 19-26, 2022:
九味人生lww：Dr. Li, the violent incident in Tangshan has made us angry, and the foot-dragging by Tangshan’s local government has left us speechless. Henan’s red health codes are frightening everyone, and today from Shandong, there’s news of [people with too much money in their bank accounts being accused of] “maliciously refusing to buy homes” … Living isn’t easy.
-今天不饿TvT：Brother Liang, I want to make a secret vow—to become a person who isn’t cowardly or indifferent, who isn’t hesitant, or afraid, or nervous. If you happen to remember and have time, maybe you can give me a quiet helping hand. I do want to improve myself. Wish me luck~
啊邪pig：Dr. Li, I was in an unfamiliar area today, searching everywhere for a hospital where I could get a nucleic acid COVID test. In the hospital lobby, I met a really kind-hearted and helpful older man. It made me so happy. // Gnemouz: The kindness of strangers can really warm your heart.
爱吃鸡蛋的小阳儿：Doctor, recently I’ve been afraid I’m pregnant. Although I’m at the right age to have a baby, I don’t think I’d be able to raise him yet. I don’t want him to come into this world and have to suffer. I wish he could wait until I have everything ready for him.
林海雪原950：Dr. Li, tonight I have to check my gaokao results, and I’m dying of nervousness. Send me your blessing, okay?
田甜鲸鱼：Dr. Li, if I pass by your grave a few decades from now, I’ll tell people that here lies a wise and courageous man. We suffered a grievous wound the night we lost him … [Chinese]
CDT’s Wailing Wall archive, and selections here, compiled by Tony Hu.