The New Laobaixing of ChinaWritten by Julen Madariaga on November 26th, 2009
You might have heard the term Laobaixing (老百姓), literally “the hundred surnames”, the common people of China. They are also known as LBX in this website dedicated to them.
Laobaixing is a great word, not only because of its obvious etymology, but also because its connotations are quite different from our “common people”. From what I have seen, in China everyone can be a Laobaixing depending which way the wind blows, and to look down on the Laobaixing is a mortal sin that you can only enjoy when nobody is watching. See below:
This is the protest I saw on one little Huaihai Road Lane a few months ago (56minus1 was faster to post it). Note the white protests banner, to mark the difference with the otherwise identical red propaganda ones. The banner said: “The relocation of the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra to a new building seriously disturbs the people and destroys social harmony.” It disappeared very quickly and there was no way to find out what it was all about. This week I have witnessed chapter 2 of that protest:
The banner is now black like a pirate flag (excuse bad phone camera).The text is also more aggressive, it reads: “The propaganda department XX cheats everyone, doesn’t care if Laobaixing live or die”. I asked the guys who were keeping the banner but the menwei of the little lane nervously sent me away. Nearby there was a poster explaining the problem: the works of the Shanghai Orchestra building right behind the lane are causing vibrations and cracks on the walls. The next day when all was over I went back to witness the despair of the Laobaixing:
This is the little lane where the LBX live. And yes, that is a Maseratti. Stay tuned for the next episodes, we will keep following the plight of the dispossessed.