The Annotated Guo Meimei Interview

Lang Xianping's interview with the infamous Guo Meimei.


Author’s Note: I’ve decided to assemble all the previous parts together to form one superpost on the Guo Meimei interview.

On August 3, in her first television interview since the Red Cross Society scandal, Guo Meimei appeared on Ningxia television’s “Decoding Finance” with her mother, Guo Dengfeng. The host, “Larry” Lang Xianping, an economics professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, put on the kiddiest of kid gloves for the 20-minute interview and allowed Guo and her mom to prattle on even as they made outlandish claims and contradicted previous reports. But here was their chance to set the story straight, or at least recite the answers they’ve rehearsed for the last month.

Note: The following translation has been edited for clarity and omits certain phrases and interjections.

“Business General Manager of the Red Cross”

This claim by Guo Meimei, namely that she was the “business general manager” of the Red Cross Society of China, was what initially drew suspicion from netizens. How could a 20-year-old girl working for a charity organization afford a Maserati? In the interview, Guo explains that this was all a misunderstanding:

Lang Xianping: Why did you say that you were the business general manager of the Red Cross? Tell us the truth.

Guo Meimei: Actually, I was having dinner with my godfather and them… then, during dinner, they were chatting and I overheard them talking about establishing a company called Zhong Hong Bo Ai.

Lang: Zhong Hong Bo Ai is a subordinate of the Red Cross, right? A subsidiary?

Guo: I think it cooperates with a Chamber of Commerce under the Red Cross—

Lang: Right, Red Cross established the Commercial Red Cross, below that there’s a company called Wang Ding Corporation. Wang Ding Corporation made the Zhong Hong Bo Ai you’re talking about.

Guo: I think you’re right.

Lang: I’m just explaining it for you.

Guo: Because my godfather and them always dote on me, after they finished talking about their business, they told me to come work for the company after it’s established. I said, “Okay, but if it’s anything below general manager level”—I was joking—”I won’t do it.” They said, “Then we’ll let you be general manager.” Actually they were just placating me like a child, and I didn’t really believe them. After a few days, I was on Weibo… because all the friends I follow, they’ve all written [on their profile] something like “President” or “CEO,” and I guess it was vanity or competitiveness that made me change my Sina-verified job from singer and actress to China Red Cross Business General Manager. Actually at that time I didn’t even know the name of the company was Zhong Hong Bo Ai. I only knew that it was China-something Red-something, I only remembered those two words, so I just changed it to China Red Cross.

Lang: But this thing alone wouldn’t have evoked such a big reaction. What did you do to shock the netizens like this? Other than writing this, did you do or say anything else?

Guo: Because I don’t have a job right now, everyday I just sit at home or go shopping with my friends or go out, so that day I wrote on my Weibo, “Everyday I have to go to English class, swim, and study how to be general manager of the Red Cross.” Because that night at dinner we joked, I said, “How can I be a general manager? I’m so young I don’t know anything.”

Guo: Then [my godfather] said, “If you don’t know then learn.” So that day I was at home on the Internet, I was bored, and I suddenly remembered what my godfather said that day, so I changed it, I said that I was going to study how to be general manager of the Red Cross. I didn’t think it would become such a big thing.

Believe it or not I actually sympathize with Guo Meimei. If this story is true, then she shows a surprising amount of self-awareness and self-reflection. At least she knows she’s young and doesn’t know anything—there are plenty of fuerdai that would be more than happy to take a job they are completely unqualified for, just ask Wen Jiabao’s relatives.

I believe her when she says that vanity that caused her to embellish her resume; it must be hard being so untalented compared to your friends on Weibo. But I have to be critical of her explanation of the situation. It is clear that she has no idea what she’s talking about. I mean, this almost as bad as Paris Hilton on Larry King trying to answer questions about the Bible or Sarah Palin trying to answer questions about anything. Come on, you had a month to prepare. The producers showed you the questions beforehand. I thought you were an actress. The Chinese public deserves a better performance than this.

Who is Wang Jun?

Okay, so Guo Meimei doesn’t work for the Red Cross, it was just a joke that got out of hand. But who is this Wang Jun guy who resigned from the board of directors of a company affiliated with the Red Cross Society as a result of this scandal? Surely he’s not her godfather.

Lang: So this godfather of yours, is he Wang Jun?

Guo: Yes, he’s not the Wang Jun of the Red Cross as they say online. I saw some reports that said there maybe was a vice-chairman in the Red Cross also named Wang Jun. [My godfather] is from Shenzhen, he’s a businessman.

Lang: Is he a private entrepreneur?

Guo: All I know is he’s a businessman.

Lang: Do you know what he does?

Guo: I think he’s a real estate investor or something.

Lang: Well, Mrs. Guo, the relationship between you and Meimei’s godfather is husband-wife or are you unrelated?

Mother: There is no relationship.

Lang: Your surname is Guo, your daughter’s surname is Guo, so she took your last name?

Mother: Yes, she took my last name.

Lang: So does that mean you and her father have already…

Mother: We separated a long time ago.

Lang: You mean divorced?

Mother: We separated before she was even born.

So Wang Jun a.k.a. the godfather a.k.a. the boyfriend is the one who was talking over dinner about establishing Zhong Hong Bo Ai, otherwise known as the China Red Cross Bo’ai Asset Management Ltd. Corp. Wang, I love joking about nepotism as much as the next guy, but for Christ’s sake tell your girlfriend not to tweet, even jokingly, about your corruption—it makes you look amateurish. Look at former minister of railways Liu Zhijun. This guy had 18 mistresses, embezzled $150 million, and still kept his job for eight years. Now he didn’t accomplish that by letting his girls run their mouths.

What I don’t get is: if Wang Jun is Guo Meimei’s boyfriend and stepfather, she seems to know precious little about what he does. But I suppose you don’t need to know too much about a person if you’re only sleeping with them for money. Or maybe she’s just trying to protect him, though it’s a little late for that if you ask me. Lang comes back to Wang Jun’d role in this scandal later in the interview.

Guo Meimei and her Maserati.

Fun, Fun, Fun, ’til Her Sugar Daddy Takes the Maserati Away

One of the original pictures circulated on Guo Meimei’s blog was her posing in front of a Masterati. How did she get that car, and how did her family come into so much money?

Lang: It says online that you have two cars: one is a Lamborghini, right? The other is a Maserati.

Guo: No, no, one is a Masterati, the other is a Mini Cooper.

Lang: The Mini Cooper was…

Guo: Bought by my mother.

Lang: (to Guo Dengfeng) You gave it to her?

Guo: It was my 18th birthday present.

I wish my mommy loved me that much. Lang declines to ask about where the Maserati came from (he will come back to it) and instead questions the elder Guo’s finances.

Prize Stock

Lang: Your family was always relatively wealthy?

Mother: I don’t think you can say we were very rich, but we always had enough. Because in 1990, before [Guo Meimei] was born, I already had two houses in Shenzhen and a couple million yuan in cash. That time I had the money to raise her; I could not work and raise her.

I have to stop her right here. If you think that 20 years ago in China, having two houses and a couple million yuan in cash doesn’t qualify as rich, then that says something about how warped your world view is. But please, continue.

Lang: So what do you do now?

Mother: I started buying stocks in 1990, investing in the stock market… I used stocks to make my fortune. I started early; when I started investing I only had five stocks. There weren’t even computers.

Lang: Do you remember the name of the stocks?

Mother: Yeah.

Lang: Tell me their names.

Mother: One was Fazhan, another was Jintian; Wanke, and Anda, and another Yuanye.

Lang: How much money did you make with these stocks?

Mother: I made several million. I only had a couple ten-thousand yuan. I made a few million in a few months. At that time prices could go up several ten yuan a day.

This is where the interview veers into arched-eyebrow territory. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about the Chinese stock market to call bullshit, but, if her story is true, then she possesses an unparalleled level of financial prescience or some incredible guanxi. A note to Mr. Lang: I’m not Barbara Walters or anything but now would be the time to ask something like, “Mrs. Guo, could you tell me exactly how in the fuck that is possible?” Again, Lang, who drew a considerable amount of flak for this interview, misses the opportunity to engage with the real issues. Instead, he delivers a soliloquy about morality that Chinese drama students will be auditioning with for years to come.

On Morality

Lang: Why are so many focused on your personal matters? I don’t care if [Wang Jun is] your godfather or your boyfriend. If it’s his own money—if he made it legally—then no one can say anything about what he gives you, because it’s your private business. But, if he is an official, then our society cannot accept it, because officials’ salaries are limited. Unless he’s got it through corruption, he wouldn’t be able to give you such an expensive car, right? If it’s the Red Cross’ money, then we definitely cannot accept it.

What is the Red Cross’ duty? They raise donations from average citizens, then use it according to the citizens’ wishes to help those in need. This is why when you associated yourself with the Red Cross, public sentiment was seething and extremely negative. Because in their eyes, they think, “I managed to scrape some money together to donate to the Red Cross, but due to their corruption, a part of the money was used to buy you a multi-million yuan car, a Maserati.” Of course [they] can’t accept it, and public opinion finds [this] difficult to bear.

This is why when you tweet, saying you twisted your foot while dancing—we estimated there were about 40,000 comments, almost all of them were insulting you, and very severely. All kinds of profane insults, some even include your mother. Why has it turned into this kind of situation? If society thinks that the money you used to buy this car was diverted from Red Cross donations, then this is beyond terrible.

Thanks for the civics lesson Dr. Lang but this is something Guo Meimei’s mother should have taught her when she was a child. Of course this didn’t happen because Guo Dengfeng is a soulless aristocrat. If you want to know why China is becoming more and more stratified and why the strata are becoming more calcified, look no further.

All during this stern talking-to, Guo Meimei is struggling to show that she understands what he’s saying. Given, it might be hard for her to move her facial muscles after all that plastic surgery. Even when he launches into the hilarious last paragraph, she retains a glazed look of what I imagine must be bewilderment.

Left: Guo Meimei struggling to understand why corruption is bad. Right: Guo Meimei hearing that netizens have insulted her and her mother. Try to spot the differences.

Wang Jun Revisited

Finally, Lang turns the conversation back to Wang Jun, the shadowy businessman/godfather/boyfriend behind all of this, but first a caveat:

Lang: So right now on this program I have to be sure; I want to ask you specifically about this. This Wang Jun guy is an entrepreneur—of course, I have no way of authenticating or verifying what you say. All I can do is ask you, and you answer according to what I said earlier about honesty and sincerity, tell our good friends in the audience. I think this is the best attitude to have, alright?

Oh great, the honor system. I’m sure this will lead to honest and fruitful answers. Is this really the point of the interview? To provide Guo Meimei and her mother a platform to prevaricate on national television without the interviewer exercising any semblance of editorial judgment? Fuck it, let’s hear your story.

Lang: Let me ask you again, Wang Jun, according to what you said, is in the real estate business, right?

Guo: Right.

Lang: Then what money did he use to buy you this car?

Guo: The money he made from business, I guess.

Lang: We said before, the Red Cross has under it something called the Commercial Red Cross. Under that is Wang Ding Company. Under Wang Ding Company is the Zhong Hong Bo Ai you mentioned. What position does [Wang Jun] have in Zhong Hong Bo Ai?

Guo: As far as I know, this Zhong Hong Bo Ai works with [a company] under the Red Cross…

Lang: It has something to do with Wang Ding Corporation, right?

Here Guo Meimei looks utterly lost, which prompts Lang to backtrack.

Lang: But you don’t need to know because you aren’t an expert in this area, and we don’t want to know. In your understanding, Wang Jun is a board member of Zhong Hong Bo Ai, right, according to this information?

Guo: I think he’s a nominal director who has invested money.

Lang: How much money did he invest?

Guo: I heard them say, altogether about 60-70 million yuan, he invested 10 million or so.

Lang: Has he resigned? According to reports, it seems he is no longer a director.

Guo: I don’t know but the other day I heard him say to my mom that he didn’t plan on doing that anymore.

Lang: When was that?

Guo: A few days ago. A while ago.

Lang: He invested in Zhong Hong Bo Ai. Did he make any money from that company?

Guo: No. It isn’t operational yet. It’s under construction.

Lang: Because we did a lot of research before, and our reporter went to Zhong Hong Bo Ai and Wang Ding Company to film, and found that it was still under construction, that it had not started to do business.

Guo: Right.

Lang: So what you’re saying is, Wang Jun, after investing 10 million yuan or so, no longer wants to [be a director]? Has he withdrawn the money?

Guo: He doesn’t plan on keeping the money.

Lang: He doesn’t plan on keeping the money. He must be pretty rich! [Laughs]

Guo: He said as much.

Lang: It’s okay. As long as you tell me what you know, because we don’t need to get into whether or not this is reasonable.

Guo: I heard him say this to my mother.

Lang: Because you’re still young, you probably are fuzzy on a lot of things and don’t know for sure. Either way, just tell me what you know. Which is to say, he invested this money, and, as far as you know, did not make a single penny from Zhong Hong Bo Ai. Is that what you mean? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?

Talk about leading the witness. It is exchanges like this that caused netizens to wonder whose side Lang was on. I think that Lang, out of sympathy, is trying to help Guo answer these basic, factual questions in order to get to the bottom of the issue; and instead of letting her fall flat on her face, which, I would guess, is what most of the viewing audience wants (hell, it’s what I want), he helps her answer questions she should know the answers to.

Guo: Right.

Mother: Absoluely right, not a single cent.

Guo: Because the company had not started to do business.

Lang: Because the company had not started to do business, so it was impossible for him to earn any money.

Guo: Yes.

Lang: So if we follow this logic—Zhong Hong Bo Ai is not in business. We also checked and it is true, alright? So about his investment, whether or not he can get the 10 million yuan or so he invested back is his business. As far as you know, he said he didn’t want it. I don’t care; it’s not important. The question is: since he didn’t make any money, then the money he used to buy you the car couldnt have been Zhong Hong Bo Ai’s money right?

Guo and her mother: Of course not.

Lang: So it must have been his own money.

I know what Guo and her mother are thinking: shit, it’s this easy? It is when your interviewer helps you answer the questions!

Guo: Right, because—

God dammit let her say something stupid, please. Wait, no, not another soliloquy…

Lang: Of course I believe Zhong Hong Bo Ai has not yet started doing business, therefore it was impossible for him to make money. Unless it was his own money… otherwise I can’t find another reason. Supposing he paid for the gift with his own money, then make a clarification. Of course I can’t help you clarify anything because I don’t understand it fully. I’m just giving you the chance to make a clarification. That is to say, if he really gave you money, then that’s between you two. Whatever relationship you have with your godfather, I don’t care, and I don’t think our society needs to pay such close attention to this issue because he isn’t a government official, and he isn’t a member of the Red Cross, and he didn’t take money from the average citizen, and he didn’t take their donations. He can give you whatever he wants, that’s your business. But the result of our investigation, the only job title he has, the only job title related to the Red Cross, is Zhong Hong Bo Ai, okay? He is a director. But this director, after investing money—because the company is not in business—of course has not made any money. So, if we follow this logic, we can affirm, that the money he gave you was his own.

Guo: Right—

FOR FUCK’S SAKE LET HER TALK.

Lang: If this is so, then if you could make this clarification, I think it would very important to the Red Cross, to yourself, and to Wang Jun. But I hope this is all the truth, okay? All three parties can consequently get rid of these nightmares—these few months of nightmares, okay, alright?

Guo: Because if I had lied, I wouldn’t be sitting here…

This is, like seriously, the worse defense in the world. “Your honor, if I were guilty of embezzling millions of dollars in public funds, why would I be in this courtroom today, pleading my innocence? Surely I would be in the Caymans, sipping a strong cocktail. Therefore, I must be innocent. The defense rests.” But Lang, ever the eager beaver, finishes her sentence for her.

Lang: Right. I believe, if you had lied, you wouldn’t dare come on my show because my questions are very severe. Also, in order to ask you these questions, we did a lot of research in advance. We guarantee that you didn’t lie.

“Very severe” questions don’t really scare liars from what I can tell. Take James Frey on Oprah for example, or any interview with Dick Cheney. I really can’t decide who is the biggest moron here: the brain-dead Paris Hilton impersonator, her mother (who doesn’t really seem fazed by or disappointed in her daughter), or the interviewer who is ANSWERING HIS OWN QUESTIONS.

The Inquiry

Guo: Because when we were coming back from Shenzhen to Beijing, that day when I got off the plane, reporters were taking—

Let me guess, Lang wants to finish her sentence.

Lang: Right, we saw this. We have all the information here today. We have a whole stack, can you see? So our information—

Lang makes a point to flip through the stack of paper on his lap, to show that he’s done his homework. Here, Guo ACTUALLY HAS TO INTERRUPT HIM in order to say something. The more I watch this, the more I feel for Guo. Fucking scary.

Guo: Because the second and third day after we returned… The second day the police requested we go in for an investigation.

Lang: Right, when was this? When you came back to Beijing from Shenzhen?

Guo: Right. We were in the police station for ten hours answering questions. The third day—we were recording our confession—and they were asking us all kinds of questions related to this—

Mother: Inquiry.

Guo: Right, inquiry.

Lang: You two went together?

Mother: She doesn’t understand. It was an inquiry.

Lang: You can’t say “recording a confession,” you two are not criminals. [Laughs]

Mother: She doesn’t understand.

Lang: She’s still young. She’s said a lot of things that are quite funny.

Hahaha, criminals? Of course not! Oh Lang Xianping, you’re such a joker. And how about Guo Meimei? What a doll. I remember when I was her age I didn’t know how to perjure myself correctly either.

Lang: So, you went with her?

Mother: Correct.

Lang: So you spent two days, each day you recorded ten hours or so.

Mother: Right, it was an inquiry. The first day was ten hours, the second was eleven hours or so.

Lang: So what you said during the inquiry is the exactly the same as what you’re telling me now?

Guo and her mother: Yes, exactly the same.

Guo Meimei and her Hermes bag.

Mama’s Got a Brand New Bag

Now, onto the question of her many Hermes bags, which were featured in some pictures on her microblog.

Lang: So, on your microblog you also posted a lot of pictures. You have a lot of Hermes bags, a lot of designer bags, right?

Guo: I want to clarify something…

Mother: I bought those bags.

Lang: Where did you buy them?

Mother: I bought them in Shenzhen.

Lang: You bought them in Luohu, right?

Mother: Yes.

Lang: In Luohu Department store, right? All the bags there are fake, right?

Guo: Yeah, only two are real, the rest are fake.

Lang: Which two are real?

Guo: The green one is real, the other is orange.

Lang: Both are Hermes? Who gave them to you?

Guo: One of them my mom bought. And the green one…

Lang: You bought a real one. You gave her a real one, right?

Mother: I wouldn’t say gave. It’s mine, but she often uses my bags.

Lang: What color is this real bag?

Guo and her mother: Orange.

Lang: The orange one is real, and you [Guo Meimei] also use it?

Mother: Right, she uses mine.

Lang: Who gave you the green one?

Guo: My father gave it to me. My godfather.

Mother: Because I watch the news, and the’re all saying a bunch of stuff that isn’t true.

Lang: Right, and it keeps getting uglier. The more they say the worse it gets.

Mother: Right, it’s all lies. They say she… anyway, in reality all the human flesh search engine stuff is not true. A lot of it isn’t true.

A strange thing happens here. There is a cut to a camera which zooms in on Guo as she starts to cry. Guo dabs at her nose and rubs the discharge on her hand as if it were moisturizer. Because the cut is so jarring and not continuous, it might have caused some viewers to assume that the crying was an act. I happen to disagree.

Lang: You didn’t let her come out [to talk to the media], what was your thought process? Did you want to lie low or what?

Mother:I don’t know, I thought this stuff would blow over in a day or two…

Lang: A lot of things blow over in a day or two.

Mother: Right, I didn’t anticipate that after more than a month there would still be people insulting [her]. When I saw it I was very angry.

Lang: But you two just decided to not make any clarification?

Mother: No, but later on I thought that maybe we still had to come out—we had to come out and make things clear. So that’s why we’re here today.

[Guo's mother and Lang laugh]

During this exchange Guo is crying and finally her mother fishes out a tissue and gives it to her. Then there is an abrupt cut, probably made in the editing room in the interest of time.

The Apology

Here’s what we’ve all been waiting for. This poor soul, misunderstood by society, bares it all in a defense worthy of Socrates himself.

Guo: I always say the wrong thing; it’s been like that my whole life. Either I stay out of trouble, or if I get into trouble—

Lang: You get into big trouble.

Guo: I get into grave trouble. I didn’t do it on purpose, I didn’t know.

Lang: Although I believe that in your whole life you’ve never caused this much of a stir. You certainly have gotten into a lot of trouble. With respect to this situation, which has itself caused so many negative effects, can you tell our audience sincerely and honestly what you’re feeling inside right now?

Guo: I want to say that I am truly very sorry.

Lang: Why?

For the record, this is the first MEANINGFUL QUESTION Lang has asked in approximately 10 minutes.

Guo: I know I’m vain, and tweet that kind of stuff that many common people might not be able to accept. They wonder why her life is so good while they have to work so hard. Actually, I’m deep down a pretty kind person. I wasn’t like this before, maybe girls…

Lang: What does, “wasn’t like this before” mean? What were you like before?

Guo: I wasn’t this extravagant before.

My goodness. Honest answers, great follow-up questions, no interruptions—this is becoming frighteningly close to a real interview. Guo Meimei might really just be a confused ingenue who caught the ire of a jealous public through an honest mistake. Here she shows an understanding of and, more importantly, an empathy for those less fortunate. She even betrays a hint of remorse and self-reflection. I think I’m convinced. Back, BACK you cannibalistic netizens, I won’t let anyone hurt Guo Meimei.

Lang: How long ago was “before”?

Guo: Before I came to Beijing, really. Before I turned 18. I went to Beijing when I was 18.

Lang: Why did you become vain only after arriving in Beijing?

Guo: I don’t know if it was because I got older and encountered society or what. Before, at home, I would conserve electricity and water. If there were a lot of lights on in the house, I would tell my mom to turn off all the lights, tell her not to waste electricity. I said I was afraid that in the future, my children, or my children’s children, wouldn’t have electricity. Because electricity is generated by water, right?

Lang: That isn’t important, that isn’t important. [Laughs]

Guo: Because the earth has a water shortage right?

See? What did I tell you guys? Guo Meimei is innocent. She is a kind, gentle 20-year-old ingenue who was ruined, defiled and defamed by this wretched, bloodsucking city we call Beijing. How could she be at the center of a huge corruption scandal when she doesn’t even know where electricity comes from? I think we can all agree that this interview exonerates her completely. Though to be fair, if it were up to me, people with her intelligence would not be allowed to breed, much less have grandchildren.

Lang: That isn’t important. Let’s not get off topic, otherwise netizens will insult you. Continue, continue.

Guo: So after I went to Beijing, like I went to the Beijing Film Academy for a one-year training course. Afterward, I started acting and met some people in society, even I noticed that I was becoming…

Lang: Mrs. Guo, you two live together. Why do you think she underwent this transformation after going to Beijing? She might not be able to explain it clearly, right? Could it be because of the people you met? Did the film school have a somewhat negative effect on you?

Guo: I wouldn’t say “negative.”

Lang: Uh oh, I brought up film school. That’s going to cause a stir.

Guo: Better not say that.

Guo says this as a joke and both she and Lang chuckle. The tone of the interview has changed so much and you can see Guo’s guard come down. Too bad it’s almost over.

Guo: After I entered society, everyone was very… girls liked to compete with each other.

Lang: What kind of friends do you have? Where did you make these friends? Why would they like competition?

Guo: Where did I make these friends… Actually, if you make me say right now exactly which friends, of course I can’t remember.

Lang: Whatever you do, do not say their names.

Mother: No, she usually just hangs out with her classmates.

Lang: Classmates from film school, right?

Mother: Right.

Lang: About your daughter’s transformation, how do you usually educate her?

Mother: Transformation… Actually, I probably spoiled her from when she was little. Because I’m a single-parent; she doesn’t have a father. I always wanted to give her a little more love…

Lang: Speak candidly. I can understand this. Our audience will understand as well. You are a single-parent family. [Abrupt cut] Well, what do you want to do next?

Mother: Probably get into the entertainment industry.

Just have to interject here: good luck, not even Aaron Spelling could get this face on a TV show.

Lang: Do you have any special plans?

Guo: Not at the moment.

Lang: Wait till things quiet down first?

Guo: I wanted to use Professor Lang’s show in order to clarify some things first.

Lang: Right, the clarifications you made today are very important. Through this opportunity… Let me talk about my personal views. I think the biggest harm to this society is the whole “Business General Manager of the Red Cross” affair.

Guo: I know.

Lang: A rock created a tidal wave. All of the Red Cross’ operational details, thanks to you, have been exposed to the entire country. Of course, this is also a chance for the Red Cross to reform itself. Indeed, if you receive donations and such from us common people, you must have an explanation—you have to take some responsibility. But it doesn’t matter what we say, even though you yourself made an honest mistake—of course I can criticize you for doing something wrong—but with regards to the Red Cross… This time, including the release of donation platform information, especially regarding future reform of China’s charities, or privatization itself, you certainly have been the biggest biggest impetus. Actually, I believe that we don’t want the Red Cross to regress, and we also don’t want the Red Cross to collapse. This is definitely not what we want. We want is for the Red Cross to take charge of allocating donations, manage projects well, decentralize power, and be fair, equitable, and transparent. This ought to be one positive outcome of the “Guo Meimei Incident.”

Of course, at the end of our program I have to say, I cannot help you confirm all that you have said. I believe our audience’s eyes are keen. As long as you have made things clear, I believe our friends in the audience will give you the most fair assessment. This is also this interview’s most important purpose. But more importantly, I hope that through the “Guo Meimei Incident” our Red Cross can better satisfy the expectations of their patrons, better satisfy the expectations of our society, alright? Thank you for watching, we’ll see you same time next week!

It’s over. It’s finally over. So what did we learn?

Parting Thoughts

I think by now it’s clear that Guo and her mother are not immoral people, just terribly stupid. As much as I’d like to burn them at the stake for all of China’s corruption, or corruption in Chinese charities, I can’t. They are just rich and selfish—the banality of wealth, as it were. What do I feel for a mother who believes that money can be a substitute for love and a daughter whose pride and shallowness made her the enemy of her country? Nothing but profound pity.

The grand irony is that this interview only makes one person look good: Guo herself. Her mother comes off as a terrible parent and Lang comes off as the worse interviewer since the first homo sapiens asked another homo sapiens a question. (In fact, after the interview, some netizens refashioned the event as: “Lang Xianping interviewed by Guo Meimei.”) Guo, however, proves herself  incapable of advanced cognition and likely innocent of the serious accusations of deception and manipulation from netizens. This interview might be bad for anyone else but it’s great for Guo because it proves that the corruption only begins with her but ends with someone else much more powerful.

Indeed, future shows regarding the incident were prevented from airing, according to a post on Lang’s Weibo:

This interview with Guo Meimei aroused widespread attention. We, in order to be the first to cast aside the aspersions and humiliation toward [Guo and her mother], sat down with the involved parties, and gave them a neutral platform from which to speak. The goal was to provide a space for clues and queries, in order to balance the information out there. Of course I cannot endorse their lifestyles and questions about their integrity still theirs to bear. At the same time I regret that the episode originally scheduled for August 5th where we investigate the Red Cross, and the two shows last week analyzing the Red Cross have all (been made to) stop broadcasting. Moreover, I have to sternly rebuke violent netizens, including craziness from distinguished and not-so-distinguished media. You can disagree with my interviewing style, and you can reasonably doubt their integrity, but what right do you have to use vulgar language to forcibly occupy the platform of public opinion? I took two million yuan in bribes, had a threesome, all these obscene personal attacks. I have to tell the netizens who support me, please think about it: they are the result of a systemic corruption, and this has just begun. I will not give up. I will continue to defend with everyone conscience and responsibility, to investigate the truth of society together. My principles have never changed.

Quite a stirring speech and he’s right. There is a whole system of corruption and the Guo’s are merely the product. Who does it originate with? We probably will never know. In the end, Lang was trying to do the right thing, trying to pick at the truth but nearly became the victim of a public that desperately wants someone, anyone, to blame.

The Guo Meimei case is important, not for the conclusions we can draw about China’s charities, (which she did, however unwittingly, shed light on) but its conclusions about the nouveau riche and fuerdai caste that is emerging in China. It’s nothing we didn’t know already, but it’s startling to see it up close. Like the rich and powerful anywhere, the Guo’s live in a world so different from the great majority of their countrymen, which makes it simple for them to be indifferent toward their plight.

This indifference, not corruption, is the real threat to social stability. How can a society be called harmonious when a minuscule portion of that society exploits the great majority for economic benefit, while denying them basic rights? How long can a country thus divided endure? How long can a country, slipping toward two poles of existence, maintain cohesion?

We shouldn’t worry about a country that has corruption, if that country has effective government institutions. But we should worry about a country where the biggest scandal involving an international charity was not revealed by the government, the judiciary, the media, or any other relevant organ, but by the careless words of a rich, spoiled girl.


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