Tue, Mar 10, 2015 - Page 9 News List

Chinese media increase anti-Western rhetoric

Since taking over as leader of the ruling Chinese Communist Party in 2012, Chinese President Xi Jinping has made defending the one-party system and stoking nationalism top priorities

By Chrisopher Bodeen  /  AP, BEIJING

Illustration: Yusha

Western values are a “ticket to hell,” a newspaper published by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) said in a recent editorial that held up Ukraine and some Arab nations as examples of outside ideas causing turmoil.

It was the latest colorful example of a rising level of invective targeting critics of the authoritarian government. In the two-plus years since Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) took the helm of the CCP, state media have become more strident in defending the one-party system and stoking nationalism.

Events of recent months have accelerated the trend. Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong from September to December last year, known as the “Umbrella movement”, opened floodgates of disdain against “anti-China” forces. China’s Global Times tabloid, owned by CCP mouthpiece the People’s Daily, laid into well-known blogger Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) for questioning official warnings against Western values infiltrating Chinese college classrooms.

The newspaper pointed to turmoil in Ukraine and the Arab world to show how any adoption of Western models by non-Western nations “basically amounts to the copying of failure.”

“No matter how beautiful they appear on the surface, they are in fact a ticket to hell, and can only bring disaster to the China,” the newspaper said.

While Cold War brickbats like the “running dogs of US imperialism” have yet to return, there has been an overall revival of tough language laying down the CPP’s bottom line and seeking to undermine opposing arguments.

Some critics fear a reversion to the extreme intolerance of China’s 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution, and scrutinize the speeches at China’s annual ceremonial legislature opening on Thursday last week.

“Over the last two years or so, the propaganda has become less refined. There is a big market for this kind of crude nationalism,” said Willy Lam (林和立), a Chinese politics expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation.

The exchange involving Ren followed a stern warning in January by Chinese Minister of Education Yuan Guiren (袁貴仁) against threats to communist ideological purity in higher education. His comments, in turn, reflected an internal party document, leaked in 2013, that warned against Western values such as constitutionalism, respect for civil society and freedom of the press.

A further echo was heard last week, when Chinese Supreme People’s Court President Zhou Qiang (周強) demanded that judges stand strong against Western concepts of judicial independence and division of powers.

“Resolutely resist the influence of erroneous Western thought,” Zhou said.

Such pronouncements are clearly being dictated from the highest party echelons, said Chinese political analyst Li Datong (李大同), who has been removed from a state media senior editing job for broaching sensitive subjects.

“These people talking so harshly now were only recently espousing greater openness, not less. Clearly things have changed,” Li said.

Foreign nations and leaders are frequent targets.

Chinese state media pilloried Britain after British Prime Minister David Cameron met with exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama, who is reviled by Beijing. The Global Times in a commentary published in December 2013 said that Britain is no longer seen as a “big power” among Chinese, but as “just an old European country apt for travel and study.”

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