An 18-year-old football fan who idolises Lionel Messi, the world’s most famous and perhaps most talented footballer and an Argentinian team member, has captured the imagination of the Chinese public by bravely jumping down from the stands in a dangerous manoeuvre and running onto the pitch at the Workers’ Stadium during a friendly match between Australia and Argentina to embrace Lionel Messi who initially was surprised but then was friendly towards him. The 18-year-old football fan is believed to be Mr Di.
When he was tracked and chased by security guards in large numbers it appears that they were part of the show. Security guards were smiling. It appears that the brave actions of this young man has reflected the desires of perhaps hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens living in China in that he broke free of the shackles of an oppressive dictatorial government, the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), and became an individual with individual rights and freedoms.
And it is suggested that all the memes that followed this incident indicate an admiration for him and his behaviour, which also indicates a culture change in China; one which desires improved human rights and freedoms; the freedom of expression.
It seems to me that the CCP want all the citizens of China to move in one direction under their management. This was very apparent during Covid-19 when the government locked down large parts of China very strictly. The citizens became disgruntled and modestly protested. This was picked up by the government and they suddenly released them all in understanding for the first time that it was impossible to control Covid by locking people down indefinitely.
Animal rights as well as human rights
But what interests me about this story is that if there is a change in culture – and I sense that there is – it may bring about a gradual awakening to animal rights. An awakening to the sentience of animals. This would undermine the obscene Yulin Dog Festival, so-called, in which thousands of dogs are brutally killed and consumed.
And then there’s my pet hate which is the cat and dog meat industry generally in China which largely takes place in the south of the country. Not all Chinese eat cat and dog meat but millions do. It leads to gross cruelty because it is unmanaged and unregulated as there are no animal welfare laws of any note protecting animals in China.
Mr Di has been praised as a “life winner”. He’s been congratulated for seizing the moment. He wanted to achieve something distinct and he took his chance and did it. When you watch the .gif video (the first one above) you see him jumping down from quite a height onto concrete. This was a dangerous manoeuvre. It shows great commitment.
And when he is finally captured by security guards there’s a big smile on his face. Everything about his behaviour was charming although he broke the rules or even the law in China. I would hope that he is not punished. It would be foolish of the CCP to punish him bearing in mind the support that he has.
It has been suggested in one meme that the security guards chasing him intentionally failed to apprehend him as they were enjoying the moment. They suggested that security guards were chasing their idol as well; meaning that they wanted to be near Lionel Messi. Some suggested that the guards deliberately held back to allow them to continue running around the pitch.
The whole event has a levity and fun element about it which has been noticed by the Chinese public. It is almost like a signal to the CCP that what the Chinese public want is not being delivered by the government. I would hope for a slight change and above all else, from my perspective, a change towards a proper, umbrella animal welfare act (national law) protecting all animals in China. This would be the kind of culture change which would make me extremely happy.