Although the Communist Chinese government has made it illegal to spit on those statues for public health reasons, hundreds defy the law on a daily basis, and continue to insult those traitors while honoring Yue Fei.
There is another moral hero from China’s history. During the Three Kingdoms era (220-265 A.D.) after the fall of the Han Dynasty, there was a period of civil war. Out of this era came the story of Guan Yu, who was another moral model of loyalty and righteousness.
Guan Yu lived almost eighteen hundred years ago, but it is easy to find carvings and statues of him in China. In fact, I have several hand carved in wood, and here are two of them.
It doesn’t matter if one is a member of the Communist Party, because role models like Yue Fei and Guan Yu still play an important part in how many Chinese behave and what they think. Anyone in China holding a position of power is measured against men like Yue Fei and Guan Yu.
To help gain a better understanding of what honor means to the Chinese, here’s a link to a piece published in theLos Angeles Times.
Continued in Part 3 on February 12, 2015, or start with Part 1
We visited General Yue Fei’s tomb in Hangzhou, and hundreds of Chinese tourists were there. It was early October 2008. This was our third trip to the city in a decade, and I was watching people spitting on the kneeling, life sized metal statues of men dead for more than eight centuries. Those metal effigies with their hands tied behind their backs had been traitors.
It may be difficult to understand what honor means to most of the Chinese if one isn’t Chinese. One way to possibly understand the importance of this concept is to examine two of China’s historical heroes.
General Yue Fei died on January 27, 1142. He was a famous Chinese patriot and military general who fought for the Southern Song Dynasty against the Jurchen armies of the Jin Dynasty.
Several jealous Song ministers lied to the emperor saying that Yue Fei was planning to kill him and take over. The emperor believed these lies and had General Yue Fei executed. When the truth came out, Yue Fei became a model for loyalty in Chinese culture. By spitting on those statues of those ministers who lied, the Chinese honor Yue Fei’s memory.