Book Excerpt from “Strange Bedfellows” (吃瓜时代的儿女们) by Liu Zhenyun
In early September, the headlines on major websites across the country were about how a woman had brought down twelve officials in two provinces. They had slept with the same woman, who called herself Song Caixia, but her real name was Niu Xiaoli. Everyone referred to her as Song Caixia, however, because that had been the name she used when sleeping with these officials, and no one remembered her real name. As one of the officials was Li Anbang, a provincial governor, the explosive nature of the affair had the power of atomic fission and shook up the whole country; the name Song Caixia became an Internet sensation overnight and overshadowed the news of a meeting among three dozen heads of state that would take place in Beijing three days later.
The news had drawn hundreds of posts, some hurling invectives against prostitutes, some against the corrupt officials, some against the darkness in society, while yet others praised Song Caixia. A ditty, “Song of Caixia” began to circulate among those on her side:
You came down from the bed,
The springtide, your graceful bearing,
You ran up to the corrupt officials,
Casually untying your pants;
You used your sweet flowing milk,
Nursing a team of public servants;
Your surging, billowing waves,
Submerged the head of a governor;
We all sing the praise of Caixia,
Fight corruption like plucking greens;
We adore and admire Caixia,
You are a rare talent no one has ever seen.
There was also the citation for an award that went viral on WeChat:
Award citation for a Saint
She’s a virgin who slept with twelve officials; with a bedsheet alone she exposed a major corruption case; her earnings came from her labor alone, but caused the corrupt officials to lose millions; she is not agent 007, but she braved the tiger’s den to catch the enemy; she fought alone, but behind her stand tens of thousands of us, people who talk without lifting a finger.
She’s a saint, and her name is Song Caixia.
Someone even created a diagram to illustrate the order in which she slept with the officials and probed the connections between them, with the conclusion that the cases broke one by one, thanks largely to Song Caixia, but also to the poorly made firecrackers on the truck driving over the Number Three Rainbow Bridge over the Caihong River. If the firecrackers had been better made, they would not have gone off on their own. If they had not, then nothing else would have happened. The chief of the county highway bureau—the famous Mr. Smiley Face and Mr. Watch-Face—was brought down by poorly made firecrackers, as he implicated Li Anbang and others. It is common for minor officials to be embroiled in their superiors’ problems, but it is rare for it to be the other way around; oftentimes only those with direct supervisory authority are enmeshed in each other’s troubles, but it is uncommon among total strangers. The explosion of a truckload of low-quality firecrackers drew together people who had nothing to do with one another. Someone completed an online search and found that the firecrackers came from a factory called Blazing Colorful Firecrackers and Fireworks Manufacturer LTD. Upon the discovery, Netizens started giving tips and sending award banners to the company’s web site. The most common term of praise on the banners was: Fuckin’ A.
Internet supervisors removed the news items and threads. Netizens would have lost interest in two days if they’d been left online, but instead they popped up in Moments, where they were passed around, precisely because they had been taken down.Liu Zhenyun, Strange Bedfellows (吃瓜时代的儿女们), translated by Howard Goldblatt and Sylvia Li-chun Lin, pp. 229–231