Who has it in for China?

Cover of December 2006 (II) issue of Global People

State media in China spills a great deal of ink attacking reports on China by western organizations that subscribe to this or that anti-China theory — "China threat", "China collapse" and so forth. Like other catch-phrases in the media — "three represents", "peaceful rise" and such — the words are often bandied about without any explanation. Global People (环球人物), a magazine under the People's Daily group, promises to remedy that situation in its latest issue, which profiles the "China attackers" most closely-associated with a number of anti-China positions.

Here's a translation of the promo for that issue:

Global People: Who is viciously attacking China?

For several years, absurd theories like "China Threat" "China Collapse" "China Split" and "Yellow Peril" have continually attacked China from the west. These arguments and rhetoric are not worth refuting, since they have never been real and will not become reality in the future. However, they have harmed China's international image and have disrupted China's efforts at development and engaging the world, and for this reason they should be taken seriously by Chinese people.

So who are the people planning and disseminating these irresponsible opinions? How have they maligned China, and what is their goal in doing so? For the answer, you must look to "China's vicious attackers." Only by gaining a deep understanding of their words can you truly uncover the means and motives of those attacking China, and by doing so lay bare their sinister machinations. To this end, this magazine has selected several "attackers" from the US, Japan, and Russia:

· Bill Gertz, The Washington Times: For 20 years he has been spinning the "China Military Threat Theory." Bogus news stories like "Chinese submarine stalks American carrier" and "China paid millions to steal B-2 bomber stealth technology" were entirely his creation. Most galling, this forger has won the support of the Pentagon and some members of congress.

· Larry Wortzel, former assistant army attache at the US Embassy in China [1988-1990]: This is a man who detests China to his very bones. He worked within the military intelligence system surveying China for 25 years. In his eyes, China's planes and guided missiles come from Chinese exchange students and computers, and pose a "serious threat" to the US. In the first half of this year, the US State Department's purchase of Lenovo computers was scuttled by him at the last minute.

· Michael Pillsbury, Pentagon consultant: His greatest trait is that when he's in China, he speaks of "friendship," but when he returns to the US he talks of "threat." He claims to have "a good deal of understanding of Sunzi's Art of War," but the strange thing is that he "discovered" from The Art of War a "threat" coming from China. He was the main author of the Pentagon's 2005 Report on the Military Power of the PRC that trumpeted the "China threat."

· Gordon G. Chang, Chinese-American opportunist: "China's economy is in decline and has begun to collapse; the time will be prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympic games and not after...." His "China collapse theory" is so much sensationalism. Though he is "besieged" at every turn because of the utter nonsense that issues from his mouth, his wacky theories still find purchase across the globe.

· Shintaro Ishihara, Governor of Tokyo: Chief among the anti-Chinese in Japan, forty years ago he started on the anti-China road. By cursing China to "split apart" and calling for a re-invasion of China, he has become a classic representative of vicious attacks on China. Worth being aware of is that his anti-China ideas run deep in the fringes of Japanese culture and have extremely negative effects.

· Mineo Nakajima, "anti-China hero" of Japanese academia: The earliest person in Japan to put forth the "China collapse theory," and an advocate of the "China split theory," he goes traveling every month for exchanges with anti-Chinese elements in other countries and to spread his anti-China fallacies. However, nothing that he has predicted has come to pass, so he had no recourse but to return to the "China threat theory."

· Evgeniy Nazdratenko, Russian official: He is one of the leading modern drum-beaters for the "Yellow-Peril Theory". "China has plans to expand its population across the Russian border," "Russia will inevitably fall to become a raw-material tribute-state for China" — during his tenure as governor of Russia's Maritime Region, he not only made noise about this sort of twisted theory, but also instituted discriminatory policies toward Chinese people and gave orders to expel tens of thousands.

Why do these people attack China so viciously? In addition to reasons of so-called "national interest", are they perhaps motivated by abnormal psychology? The latest issue of Globe People will give you a compete report and explanation.

To explain why anyone could possible attack China, Global People offers two analyses. The first (by special contributor Peng Xiao, for whom I have found no other information) identifies three types of attacks, and offers three possible motives. The attacks (in excerpted translation):

  1. Exaggerating the "threat to world peace and stability" of China's development: What kind of effect on the Asian region and on the world does China's sustained stable development have? This is a major question that has attracted the attention of western scholars. The majority, through scientific research, believe that its influence is positive. However, a minority find evidence that "China is threating the world" in the areas of politics, military affairs, economics, and culture, and use that evidence to launch theories of a "China military threat," a "China economic threat," a "China economic threat," a "China technological threat," and a "China soft power threat."
  2. Smearing China's image: A benign image is beneficial toward a country's entrance into world society and can gain the support and understanding of other countries and peoples. To contain China's rise, individuals opposing China do their utmost to smear and demonize China; they invent facts and conduct exaggerated, one-sided analyses, attacking China's domestic and foreign policy.
  3. Making groundless conclusions that "China's outlook for development is dim," and attempting to blow China off: During the course of China's development, there have appeared a few problems are are entirely normal and are completely solvable. However, some anti-China elements have refused to let go of some specific issues, and explain them as "unsolvable, destructive conflicts," and continue on to conclude that "China's future development is fraught with danger; collapse is imminent."

The reasons Peng gives are (1) a Cold War mentality; (2) ideological, cultural, and structural differences combined with western-centered thinking; and (3) crass pursuit of fame and profit, since the media eats this stuff up.

The second analysis, by Huang Qing, a long-time People's Daily reporter who has been stationed for brief periods in Japan, Germany, and the US, performs a sort of "psychological analysis" of the China Threat theory. Huang divided the theory's supporters into patriotic types, who prove their affection for their own country by bashing others, moral types, who oppose China on a religious or ethical basis (he puts Pelosi here), and realpolitik types, who simply need a convenient enemy.

People Online reproduces some reactions to the feature from forum commenters. They're mostly what you'd expect:

  • Self-strengthening is stronger than anything!!!
  • This is a good article in Global People. In the past, I'd only heard of this or that theory, but I did not know whose foul mouth they came out of. I now know from the names named in this article. As a country, other countries cannot sing your praises all the time, to say nothing of those old anti-Chinese. Everything has an opposite — this is normal. Having no opposite would be abnormal!
  • This netizen completely agrees with the facts told by the author. However, what good is simply revealing these things in a fit of anger? Some people are only looking to cause trouble for China. China has criticized numerous times this manufacturing of an alarmist "China threat", this smearing of China's image, but their government authorities don't say a word. Or they say something like a "democratic country" permits its citizens "freedom of speech". This netizen has always believed that it's preaching to deaf ears to talk reason with hegemonists. Us Chinese should follow Chairman Mao's most effective method: "Pay them back in their own coin." Our fury can only hurt our own hearts, our own bodies!!!
  • Study countermeasures, keep a close watch, persist in opposition.
  • A wakeup-call article.
  • I hope that China's intellectuals can use their own methods against them.
Links and Sources
There are currently 20 Comments for Who has it in for China?.

Comments on Who has it in for China?

Fantastic! Thanks for translating this work of high comedy!

My fave bit: "During the course of China's development, there have appeared a few problems are are entirely normal and are completely solvable."

Ah, the unintentional irony of stuff like this is truly world class!

I'd make a short list of the "problems" along with the obvious "solutions" -- but I'd lose my visa.

This is a great post Joel. I often find it funny that despite the Chinese media dismissing a lot of these claims as bogus, it never fails to describe such bogus claims in great detail. The article about a Chinese submarine 'stalking' a US aircraft carrier is a good example. Despite it being decribed by Chinese spokeswoman Jiang Yu as a bogus claim, the Chinese media still translated the article in great detail. It seems unusual that the media would give air time to claims that are bogus. Obviously, it is politically correct to dismiss any foreign claims about the direction of China's rise. However, I believe the Chinese media is desperate for information, especially about the military, which is very secretive. To report on a foreign article about China is very safe for the media organisation because the journalist won't get into trouble for reporting on China in a way that is different from the government's official line. The journalist can simply say that they are making it clear to the Chinese public about how foreigners have been slandering China's good name.

Great post. Wonder what other countries would even bother with an article on who has it in for them? Probably not very many. So why China?

i for one welcome our new chinese overlords.

Many thanks for your meticulous work translating this article. I notice this foreigner paranoia affect politics in Hong Kong, as many there who campaign for greater voting rights are often branded as "anti-China." Bureaucrats in Beijing are told by certain vested interests in Hong Kong that this or that reformer is actually a running dog of the British/Americans. The Central Government feels any talk of democracy in Hong Kong is part of a larger, sinister Western plot to overthrow the CCP. All this xenophobia has stymied progress in the former colony.

Still it was gratifying to read the quote above ("our fury can only hurt") which seems a little more willing to allow foreigner suspicions to roll off the back...

Well, CLB, plenty of Americans do tend to vilify al-Jazeera in a similar way, and the U.S. government subsidizes a competing network, al-Hurra.

The DOD Report in question was written by a rather large team throughout the US Government in which I played a tiny role -- Chinese tell me other Americans curry favor in China by "ratting" on who is promote China as a threat. I hope our field is not that ruthlessly competitive?

gee, why aren't Bokane and Zhang Yimou's names on that list? If I recall correctly they've *both* hurt the feelings of the Chinese People several times in the last year alone ;)

Seems like they ripped off the ideas from the book 中国威胁谁?:解读“中国威胁论”by 陆钢 and 郭学堂 (a book that I read this summer).

The book talks about all of the same people mentioned above, but is fairly complimentary and respectful of Michael Pillsbury in parts.

I sometimes feel that Chinese people in positions of authority are not in a very good position to persuasively argue against the “China Threat” because that entails talking about China’s strategic weaknesses in detail. A lot of the refuting of the “China Threat” that I’ve read in the Chinese media consists of saying: A) Here are the Chinese "haters", B) China is a developing country, therefore C) there is no threat.


Did Bokane and Zhang Yimou advocate containing/sanctioning China econimically and millitarily?

Geez, I work so hard and I don't get on the list?

China paints itself as a threat with all of this talk about "recapturing territory" from pretty much all of China's neighbors, most recenty claiming 30% of NK as "inherenty Chinese since ancient times". You almost had to not pay attention to the China threat when every chinese person would could speak english voiced their support for the theory that SARS was caused by the CIA to kill Chinese people.

China is a threat because of its paranoid, desperate government and soon to be more of a threat because of tens of millions of the poorest men in the country not being able to find wives or even a girlfriend.

Oh Jesus, that was the best Christmas present since my childhood! Someone needs to get the rights to publish that - in Chinese and English - in Taiwan. People here would get a massive belly laugh out of being told things like that China poses no threat whatsoever and that it is a "benign" state.

If I were not mistaken. Were there once an anti-American sentiment raging in China during the whole pre-reform period? USA was then considered as the paramount enemy (among other imperialists) of the world (and of China of course).
"Proletariat of the World Get United!" and "Down with the American Imperialism!" were the two most frequently used propaganda slogans found on mainstream media, if not every day at that time.
China is becoming softer and behaves more like a gentleman now. But to most in the west, the same communist regime is still running the nation which was extremely agitative not long ago and the worst of all is that this same country is more-and-more becoming a real tiger (with a panda face).
The feelings of the west to a "face-changed" China are certainly very complicated, especially to those who know a little bit about the political ideology of communism.
The course of the communist party(s) is to turn the whole world "Red", as the rule of Marxism implies.
The Chinese communist elites might now think differently. Well, I dont know, it's just a wild guess based upon what they are now preaching inside and out for a harmonious society/world.
If the regime really meant what it said, then it is better not to act childishly like what Globe People had done. Time will tell.
There's an old Chinese saying says, "If you did a bad thing to other, others will do the same to you".
"An Eye for An Eye" might not help to improve China's image, and the west's too.

The world is full of self-centered so called thinkers. They have only one perspective, that is of cause their perspective, not anyone else's. As a result, they have never been right, in this case, about China. Take Gorden Chang, which of his predictions have come true? Ironically, he's probably done more damage to US public, than to harm China, if that was his intention. It's quite funny to see someone glee with "enlightenment" after reading Mr. Chang's article. It may be good entertainment, it even may satisfy his, let's just say, unspoken desires. But the fooled public probably is not in the US's interests.

The artilce may be a goverment propoganda, but there is truth in it, that the Chinese public attitude toward US media has been changing over the last decade. It seemed that US media has lost most, if not all, of its credits to Chinese people.

So maybe this is not as funny as you think.

Hey! I'm a chinese have few self-education,"No body is purity,the country as well. However, I'm Chinese, as a chinese I should maintain our country's fame and that's also our responsibility, only the immoral people , only the wicked people , only the foreign crow smear and demonize the great China development for their dirty aim.

I have to say there is truth to this to an extent but this article fails to realize why the West always looks down on China and the reason why this is, is endemic of Chinese society. Unable to press for change in government they have long since Tiananmen Square lived to accept the CCP. The west will look down on US Chinese people as long as headlines like 5,000 miners die this month continue. Because as long as the Chinese themselves dont care about their own people the West will not either. Realistically and statistically the way the CCP treats its own people a life of a Western foreigner is worth much more than that of a Chinese so why would the West treat you as a equal when you dont yourself? If China became a democracy lets say tommorrow, and then renounce threatening Taiwan and says it embraces human rights instead of the Chinese tradition of ruling with an Iron Fist and lack of accountability in government then in a few years the West will treat you as an equal. But when you continue to breed nationalism into your children through indoctrination to counter western influcences like democracy and saber rattler and boast about your military achievements and continue your defense posture on countering the US military then of course the West will continue to be alarmist as it should be. Your values are very different than that of theres, your military is based the idea of fighting the US on Taiwan, a democratic ally, and China is communist. Those are the simple as basic facts as to why the US looks at China as a threat in disguise.

There is clearly mistrust between some Chinese and Westerners. It is, in my opinion, very important for both sides to tolerate and accept each other. Both China and the U.S. are evolving, toward greater level of mutual dependence, economically, culturally, and politically. If both sides remain restrained, their differences will gradually fade away within a few decades, and mutual trust will then result.

The power of the western media machine is awesome, westerners thought patterns are dictated by it. Democracy = bad cop administration followed by good cop administration to dilute international animosity after invading this or that country. The Chinese see through democracy: it's rubbish.
China bashing will continue ad naseum because they're not a US puppet. The Chinese people will and should determine there own future. Does that mean they'll gallavant round the world creating empire? Do they have a historical precedent for this? These fears say more about the culture that spawned them.

"Does that mean they'll gallavant round the world creating empire?"

They're already behaving like colonists in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Africa. Add to that a deep, nationalistic anti-western sentiment and an increasingly belligerent and bullying tone and China has all the ingredients.

"Do they have a historical precedent for this?"

What does that matter? But for the record, the Yuan dynasty cast its net pretty far and wide. More recently we could ask Vietnam and India.

"These fears say more about the culture that spawned them."

Correction: your denials speak volumes for the regime that implanted them.

Too bad Huanqiu is only around because it appeals to the nationalist crowd...

Do any of the GOOD papers make lists like these?

China Media Timeline
Major media events over the last three decades
Danwei Model Workers
The latest recommended blogs and new media
From 2008
Front Page of the Day
A different newspaper every weekday
From the Vault
Classic Danwei posts
+ Culture and corporate propaganda in Soho Xiaobao (2007.11): Mid-2007 issues of Soho Xiaobao (SOHO小报), illustrating the complicated identity of in-house magazines run by real estate companies.
+ Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship (2010.03): Internet executives complain about excessive Net censorship at an officially sanctioned meeting in Shenzhen.
+ Crowd-sourced cheating on the 2010 gaokao (2010.06): A student in Sichuan seeks help with the ancient Chinese section of this year's college entrance exam -- while the test is going on!
Danwei Archives