The level of harassment and threats foreign journalists based in China are facing today is worse than ever, some are saying, following the expulsion of a reporter from Qatar-based TV network Al-Jazeera and comments by a top TV show host that exposed an alarming xenophobic streak within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
In a message posted on the popular China-based microblog Sina Weibo last week, Yang Rui (楊銳), host of the popular show Dialogue, which is aired on state-owned China Central Television (CCTV), shared his views on how China should rid itself of “foreign trash,” a reference to a recent campaign launched by the Public Security Bureau that targets foreigners who work illegally in the country.
“Cut off the foreign snake heads. People who can’t find jobs in the US and Europe come to China to grab our money, engage in human trafficking and spread deceitful lies to encourage emigration,” he wrote in Chinese. “Foreign spies seek out Chinese girls to mask their espionage and pretend to be tourists, while compiling maps and GPS data for Japan, [South] Korea and the West.”
Yang then commented on the expulsion of Melissa Chan, Beijing bureau chief for the English-language service of Arabic broadcaster Al-Jazeera, who was forced to leave China after the state refused to renew her visa over its anger at some critical reports made by the news organization.
“We kicked out that foreign bitch and closed Al-Jazeera’s Beijing bureau. We should shut up those who demonize China and send them packing,” wrote Yang, a fluent English speaker who often invites foreign guests on his show.
While his remarks were derided by some Chinese netizens, foreign reporters who operate in China regarded the incident as a sign of deterioration in their working environments.
They said that unlike privately owned media, CCTV was an apparatus of the state and that the failure of its management to force Yang to apologize or to punish him for his comments signified Beijing condoned his behavior. Had a host on a state-owned program in the West made similar remarks against a female reporter, he or she would surely have been reprimanded, some said, adding that it made no sense to judge CCTV by different standards.
Following his derogatory remarks targeting Chan, Yang turned his sights on another foreigner — Charlie Custer, author of the popular ChinaGeeks blog — for accusing Yang of xenophobia.
“Custer seriously damaged my reputation and I retain the right to sue him. This affair is entirely the result of his malicious speculation and he is inciting racial hatred. I can see his eyes are filled with anti-Chinese hatred,” he wrote on Sina Weibo, in comments that have since been removed.
Foreign reporters based in China, who refused to be named for this article, were divided on Yang’s influence, referring to him as a “complex” character and a nationalist who cared deeply about China while being aware of the challenges it faces. However, most agreed that the situation in China was getting worse for foreign reporters and some said it was reminiscent of fascism in Europe, saying also that the situation had become the worst they had seen since they began reporting there.
All agreed that Yang should be reprimanded for his attack on Chan and that failure to do so would severely damage China’s soft power and only invite more of the “negative” reporting Beijing often complains about.
Days after it was banned in China, a Mandarin ballad satirizing nationalistic Chinese Internet users is trending at No. 1 on YouTube in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Fragile (玻璃心), by Taiwan-based Malaysian rapper Namewee (黃明志) and Australian singer Kimberley Chen (陳芳語), offers a tongue-in-cheek apology to “little pink” Internet users, a disparaging term that describes patriotic “keyboard warriors” from China. After racking up more than 9 million views on YouTube, the song reached No. 3 on the site in Malaysia on Thursday, according to Kworb, a Web site that analyzes music data from around the world. It is also the only Chinese-language
NO CHANGE: US officials indicated that the ‘one China’ policy remains in place, while the NATO chief avoided discussing Biden’s comment in an effort to ease tensions US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Friday that the Pentagon would continue to support Taiwan’s military, but he declined to say if US troops would defend the island against China, after US President Joe Biden said there was a US “commitment” to do so. “As we’ve done over multiple administrations, we will continue to help Taiwan with the sorts of capabilities that it needs to defend itself,” Austin said at NATO headquarters. “So we’ll stay focused on those things, and I won’t engage in any hypotheticals with respect to Taiwan,” he told reporters. Biden on Thursday sparked a new firestorm
PROTECTION: The Ministry of Health and Welfare is aiming for a full vaccination rate of 30 percent, and allowing mixed first and second doses to boost coverage rates Whether Taiwan reopens its borders would depend on the nation’s vaccination coverage rate and the COVID-19 situation in other countries, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said yesterday. The Ministry of Health and Welfare is aiming for a 70 percent first-dose vaccination coverage and 30 percent two-dose coverage as part of its consideration, Shih told a media briefing following the weekly Cabinet meeting. In spite of a relatively stable COVID-19 situation in Taiwan, and calls from foreign missions and businesses in the country to allow more international travelers, the government is maintaining strict border control measures. Since March last year,
The nationwide level 2 COVID-19 alert, which is set to expire on Monday next week, is to be extended, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday. Chen, who heads the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC), told reporters before heading to a meeting at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei that the COVID-19 alert level “will not be lowered on November 2,” but he did not say how long the extension would be. Taiwan has been under level 2 alert, the third-highest on the nation’s four-tier scale, since July 27. The CECC yesterday reported eight new COVID-19 infections — six imported