Western Anti-China Sentiment
Anti-China sentiment in the West has been gradually on the rise since the 2008 financial crisis. The rise has been greatly hastened after Donald Trump assumed the presidency in 2017. Trump, in an effort to shift the focus from his woefully inadequate handling of COVID-19, repeatedly called the virus “the China virus,” thus encouraging racism and anti-Asian bias. He used inflammatory words such as “China rapes the US” to lay the blame for the huge US trade deficit between US and China. Confronting China has been one of his signature policies over the past four years. Policies such as leveling heavy tariffs on Chinese imports, targeting Chinese technology giants such as Huawei, delisting Chinese tech companies such as China Mobile, attempting the forced sale of Tiktok, banning Chinese international students, and closing the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas, pushed the US-China relationship to a historic low since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1979.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has upped the ante with China by constantly saying the Chinese Communist Party is the central threat of our time and calling for “Free society to stand up to Beijing.” He has gone even further in the waning days of Trump’s presidency by lifting the restrictions on the US government’s contacts with Taiwan to further antagonize China.
Western media, while touting their objectivity, truthfulness, and fairness in their reporting, often engages in cherry-picking in their reporting on China. One example that comes to mind is their reporting during the Hong Kong riots in 2019. With the exception of a few news outlets such as RT America and, to a smaller extent, DW (the German public broadcasting company), the focus of the mainstream Western media was completely one-sided, i.e., favoring the rioters and ignoring the destruction of property and loss of innocent lives caused by the rioters. The storming and subsequent vandalization of the legislative complex in Hong Kong was far worse than what Trump supporters did to the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021. Yet the Hong Kong rioters were praised as democracy fighters while the rioters at the Capitol building were deemed as traitors.
Voices of Reason
The great strides that China has made in improving the livelihood of her citizens in the past four decades has been mind-boggling. However, deliberate disinformation efforts spearheaded by the US government and media create negative views on China in the minds of many people in the West.
Fortunately, there are increasing numbers of people from the West who have more positive views on China. These are the expats either currently living in China or who have stayed in China for a long time. They witnessed China’s amazing progress and through their daily interactions with the Chinese people, have gained a much better understanding of Chinese culture and the political system. To dispel many negative narratives promoted in the West, they use their first-hand information to tell the truth about China through YouTube or social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
The following are a few examples:
In a riveting speech entitled “Why the World Needs China”, Cyrus Janssen offers a candid discussion of common misconceptions about China, including that China has no democracy because of its one-party system, people have no freedom and no safety, China is a threat to democracy in America, and China desires to take over the world.
As you can see from the YouTube video below, Janssen comes across as a mild-mannered and sincere person. His 10-year experience of living in China enables him to convincingly allay the doubts many may have about China. At the end of the speech, he also expresses his hope that the US and her allies will work with China to benefit the entire world.
Based in Beijing, Nathan Rich is also known as Hot Pot King (火鍋大王). He has 485,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel. Rich has made many videos dispelling the Western media’s distortions of China on topics such as the Hong Kong rioters, the real Muslim genocide in the Middle East, the origins of COVID-19, Taiwan, etc. He is very meticulous when presenting his arguments. There are always citations and statistical data to accompany his narratives. His strong stance in support of China makes him a very popular figure in China.
In his video below “Why do I defend China”, Rich stresses that he mostly talks about the dishonesty of the Western media on China. He is not defending China; he is just against any type of systemic oppression imposed by the West.
Daniel Dumbrill is a Canadian beer brewer who lives in Shenzhen. In addition to commenting on serious topics such as “What is the Communist Party of China?” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKxQDezR7Bg), he also touches upon controversial topics such China’s treatment of Uyghurs by interviewing Uyghur activists. During these interviews, he is respectful and professional but asks tough questions of the activists’ motives, their sponsors, etc. His videos on visiting a Tibetan middle school and interviewing a Living Buddha reveal much information seldom known by the outside world.
Two Powerful Voices
In addition to the expats’ YouTube channels mentioned above, there are some scholars, such as Martin Jacques and Kishore Mahbubani, whose views on China may also have some positive impacts on people’s perceptions and understanding of China.
Martin Jacques is a British journalist and author of a global bestseller When China Rules the World, first released in 2009. At that time, China’s GDP was only approximately 1/3 of that of US, and China was behind Japan as the third largest economy in the world (it soon overtook Japan in 2010). In that book, Jacques criticizes the woeful ignorance of the West about China, suggests that the Western-dominated international order will end someday, and implores the West to imagine a future dominated by China.
Kishore Mahbubani is the founding dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and spent over 10 years as Singapore’s ambassador to the UN. His profound understanding of China and the US provides guidelines and useful suggestions to lessen the geopolitical confrontation between these two superpowers of the 21st century. His book Has China Won? is highly praised by Western scholars.