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China’s Nationalist Fervor & Fear-Mongering Paranoid Xenophobic Bloodthirsty Racist West-Bashing Reaches Dangerous New Levels

This kind of propaganda is highly effective and gives licence to ordinary people to indulge their most primitive prejudices. By convincing its people that many of China’s ills are the work of foreign spies and conspiracies, Beijing could eventually be forced to hit back against such perceived enemies in order to placate popular outrage. 

Across much of the world, fear-mongering and xenophobia are creeping into public and political discourse.

In liberal democracies with traditions of free speech, vociferous denunciations of these attitudes can act as a counterweight. But in authoritarian countries where alternative narratives are forbidden, official attempts to demonise foreigners and “others” can be especially dangerous. In the past week, the Chinese government has launched several viral online videos that blame “western hostile forces” for a host of ills and supposed conspiracies within China.

U.S. Navy leadership and senior officers from the Chinese People's Liberation Army (Navy) meet for lunch aboard the Chinese destroyer Harbin (DDG 112) marking the conclusion of a U.S.-China counter piracy exercise between Harbin and the guided-missile destroyer USS Mason (DDG 87). Mason is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Gary M. Keen/Released)

“In the past, most foreigners in China enjoyed a certain level of unstated protection and privilege. In business and in everyday life ‘foreign friends’ were welcomed and often treated with kid gloves by the authorities. Some of them undoubtedly took advantage of this to flout the rules or behave badly without fear of retribution.”

The videos are crude but exceptionally powerful in their simplicity and emotional appeal. One video promoted by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and Communist Youth League, two of the most powerful state bodies, begins with heartbreaking scenes of orphans and victims of the wars in Iraq and Syria, and then jumps to an assertion that the west, led by the US, is trying to subject China to the same fate.

NYT China-Espionage

“Today, that informal immunity seems to have vanished. In its place are hints of a backlash that many long-term foreign residents will tell you can be very ugly, ranging from casual discrimination and racial slurs, to physical altercations that take on a racist dimension.”

“Under the banner of ‘democracy, freedom and rule of law’ western forces are constantly trying to create societal contradictions in order to overthrow the [Chinese] government,” the subtitles read over pictures of democracy protesters in Hong Kong and President Barack Obama meeting the Dalai Lama.

[Read the full story here, at FT.com]

According to the video, western plots and the “dark shadow of the Stars and Stripes” are also to blame for everything from attacks on Chinese peacekeepers in Africa, to farmers’ riots in China’s hinterland, to the Tibetan independence movement. The effect is heightened by ominous music and juxtaposition of chaos elsewhere with heroic images of Chinese soldiers and weaponry.

xi-xao

 “In the past week, the Chinese government has launched several viral online videos that blame ‘western hostile forces’ for a host of ills and supposed conspiracies within China. The videos are crude but exceptionally powerful in their simplicity and emotional appeal.”

In some ways this is a mirror of the populist, jingoistic tilts happening elsewhere in the world. While not a direct reaction to the assertive Trumpism emanating from the US or the rise of rightwing nationalism in Europe, some of the same collective animus is taking hold in China, partly at the instigation of the ruling Communist party.

DC-China-Propoganda-Military-Painting

“According to the video, western plots and the ‘dark shadow of the Stars and Stripes’ are also to blame for everything from attacks on Chinese peacekeepers in Africa, to farmers’ riots in China’s hinterland, to the Tibetan independence movement.

Many of those propagating this message are the shallowest of nationalists — the kind of party apparatchiks who are diversifying their (often ill-gotten) assets abroad as fast as they can and sending their children to study in Australia, the US, Canada or the UK.

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“The effect is heightened by ominous music and juxtaposition of chaos elsewhere with heroic images of Chinese soldiers and weaponry.”

Indeed, one of the main producers of the video on western plots is a 29-year-old PhD student from China now living in Canberra, Australia. Meanwhile, the party has called for the rejection of western values and concepts in favour of Marxism — an ideology named after a German living in London and refracted into China via Moscow. Read the rest of this entry »

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China is in the Midst of Harshest Crackdown on Human Rights and Civil Society in Decades

Since Xi Jinping came came to power nearly four years ago, hundreds of activists, lawyers, writers, publishers and employees of nongovernmental groups have been rounded up. Many more have been threatened and intimidated. Internet news sites have been ordered to stop publishing reports from sources that aren’t sanctioned by the state.

Julie Making reports: For five days last week, the confessions poured forth from Chinese human rights activists and attorneys rounded up last summer and held incommunicado for a year. Four men, facing trial for subversion, cowered before a court where they were represented by lawyers they didn’t choose.

A fifth person, knowing her husband was detained and teenage son under surveillance, declared her wrongs in a videotaped interview.

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“As an old timer who’s been studying China since the Mao era, I have to say it’s the worst I’ve seen since then. It’s very discouraging.”

— Susan L. Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Program at UC San Diego

China is in the midst of what many overseas scholars say is its harshest crackdown on human rights and civil society in decades. Since Xi Jinping came came to power nearly four years ago, hundreds of activists, lawyers, writers, publishers and employees of nongovernmental groups have been rounded up. Many more have been threatened and intimidated. Internet news sites have been ordered to stop publishing reports from sources that aren’t sanctioned by the state.

President Xi Jinping, who also serves as chairman of the Central Military Commission, shakes hands with PLA division commanders in Shandong province last year. Photo: Xinhua

“I want to remind everybody to wipe their eyes and clearly see the ugly faces of hostile forces overseas. Never be fooled by their ideas of ‘democracy,’ ‘human rights’ and ‘benefiting the public.’”

— Zhai Yasmin, one of the defendants

Even as China has been touting its efforts to boost the “rule of law,” some critics of the government have vanished under mysterious circumstances in places like Thailand and Hong Kong, only to surface months later in Chinese custody, claiming rather unbelievably they had turned themselves in voluntarily. Many of those detained have appeared on state-run TV confessing to crimes before they have had a day in court.

Archive/Getty Images

Archive/Getty Images

“Xi likes to underscore his status as the new Mao Tse-tung by not giving a damn about what the major Western leaders, authors or media are saying about China.”

“As an old timer who’s been studying China since the Mao era, I have to say it’s the worst I’ve seen since then,” said Susan L. Shirk, chair of the 21st Century China Program at UC San Diego. “It’s very discouraging.”

[Read the full story here, at LA Times]

The activists and lawyer prosecuted last week confessed to having illegally organized protests and drawn attention to sensitive cases at the behest of “foreign forces” in order to “smear the [Communist] party and attack the Chinese government.” They had erred in accepting interviews with international journalists, they added, and traveled abroad to participate in interfaith conferences and law seminars infiltrated by separatists and funded by enemies of China. Read the rest of this entry »


‘We’re Always Among the First to Learn America’s Bad News’: Chinese Media

virginia

Shootings are rare in China, which largely outlaws private gun ownership. But knifings have occurred there with some frequency in recent years, including an assault at a school in central China in December 2012 that injured 22 children and one adult.

Bethany Allen Ebrahimian writes: On the morning of August 26, a reporter and a cameraman for a local Virginia television station were fatally shot during a live television interview. The alleged gunman, now dead, apparently shot himself before being apprehended by police.

“The tragedy occurred shortly after 6:45 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time, or around 6:45 p.m., Beijing time. That’s significant, because despite the evening hour, media outlets across China were quick to provide front-page coverage of the breaking story.”

— Weibo user

The shooting quickly made national news in the United States, and outlets across the country have provided regular updates. The tragedy occurred shortly after 6:45 in the morning, Eastern Standard Time, or around 6:45 p.m., Beijing time. That’s significant, because despite the evening hour, media outlets across China were quick to provide front-page coverage of the breaking story.

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State new agency Xinhua featured the shooting among its online list of top ten news items. By 10:30 p.m. in Beijing. Chinese news website NetEase had created a separate live-update webpage for the shootings. By 11 p.m. in Beijing, the state-run, often fervently nationalist Global Times had made a related photo its website’s cover photo, accompanied by a report with details of the shootings.

“The United States is a major preoccupation within China, often as a geopolitical rival held up as a kind of foil. It’s a focus for many everyday Chinese, as an object of scorn, an object of desire…or both.”

The United States is a major preoccupation within China, often as a geopolitical rival held up as a kind of foil. It’s a focus for many everyday Chinese, as an object of scorn, an object of desire — even Chinese President Xi Jinping sent his daughter to Harvard to study — or both. Within China, the high rate of gun violence in the United States is widely known and often seen as a flaw in the U.S. political system, a criticism repeated after the Virginia shooting.

[Read the full text here, at ForeignPolicy.com]

Though Chinese media reports on the Virgina incident were strictly factual, the accompanying social media commentary quickly became a domestic political battleground. Around 9:20 p.m., Beijing time, Chinese web giant Sina began live-blogging about the shooting on its official news account on microblogging platform Weibo, with one post garnering more than 570 comments. Read the rest of this entry »


China to Defend Human-Rights Record to U.N.

Members of the Students for a Free Tibet organization display a banner on scaffolding in front of the European headquarters of the U.N. in Geneva on Oct. 22, 2013 Denis Balibouse / Reuters

Members of the Students for a Free Tibet organization display a banner on scaffolding in front of the European headquarters of the U.N. in Geneva on Oct. 22, 2013 –  Denis Balibouse / Reuters

Amid criticism of a worsening crackdown on dissent, China will defend its human-rights record before a U.N. panel on Tuesday. It will be the Asian superpower’s second hearing at the Human Rights Council, which calls upon each country every four years, Voice of America reports.

Human Rights Watch states that recent years have seen “one of China’s major crackdowns on activists and free expression,” citing among other things the disappearance a month ago of activist Cao Shunli, the country’s pervasive culture of media censorship and extensive abuses in Tibetan and Uighur areas.

Beijing has welcomed the discussion but warns that it will not accept interference in internal affairs. At the last hearing in 2009, officials rejected practically every recommendation made by U.N. member states.

TIME.com