People outside of China often puzzled at the cynicism attitude among elite Chinese. Indeed, it is not only an essence on issues of political significance, but abundant in trivial daily life. For example, many many years ago, faculty dinning room of Beijing University sold two kinds of buns, one made with regular (dark) wheat flour, and the other kind with bleached flour. The official name of the two, as referred to in the rest of the China, would be 'regular' and 'enriched'. However, intellectuals of the University rather used disparaged words, such as 'black' and 'white', and later 'pay-more', and 'not-pay-more' (the cultural backdrop: mentioning anything about money is historically despited for intellectuals). In another example, though many enthusiastically supported the student democratic demonstration on the Tian'anmen Square in 1989, once the military rolled tanks into Beijing, few dared murmur any objections. Quietly, on basketball fields on campus, a referee would proclaim 'martial law' in lieu of 'time-out'. They called the attention that they recognized the situation, without expressing an opinion of any.
What are the cowards afraid of? People living outside China often fail to understand that you could be throw into jail or killed even on a trivial gesture.
It couldn't be more clear from the threatens issued after the 1989 incident. The CCP claimed millions of communists sacrificed their lives in the wars and fights to established the current regime, therefore, if any students or anyone else wants to over throw the government, the CCP will behead ten million people first. (The logic was actually disputed by a number of old generation communists years later, where they argued, those who sacrificed their lives did that for a hope of a country where enjoy their lives, unlike the situation of current regime)
Even if you were not against the government, and even if it were a misunderstanding, you and your family could be ruined and buried forever. The communism enforces their rule by crushing any challengers mercilessly. It is also a highly efficient mechanism which always entices more followers by offering huge incentives and covering for their well beings with no limit.
With the knowledge, it's easier to decipher the behavior of elite of Chinese intellectuals after the Governor of Hubei grabbed a young female reporter and confiscated her recording pen at the National People's Congress in front of hundreds of other reporters.
Five days after the incident, many posters are praising the governor, while felt lucky for the reporter. The mainstream voice is that the reporter should count her blessing because had it happened in Hubei Province, she wouldn't have been able to walk out alive. Many expressed sympathy on the governor because had it happened in Hubei, police, military or even security would have handled the interruption perfectly for him. An untamed reporter would not even be able to get close to him within a 10 miles perimeters. The elite spread the incident at first time to check out the political wind. When they sensed the central government could care less even though it happened at the biggest annual political show stage, they backed from their initial demand of apology.