The nationalist tabloid has published its share of saber-rattling op-eds.
- By Uri Friedman
Uri Friedman is deputy managing editor at Foreign Policy. Before joining FP, he reported for the Christian Science Monitor, worked on corporate strategy for Atlantic Media, helped launch the Atlantic Wire, and covered international affairs for the site. A proud native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he studied European history at the University of Pennsylvania and has lived in Barcelona, Spain and Geneva, Switzerland.
Today on Foreign Policy, Christina Larson profiles China’s populist, hyper-nationalistic Global Times. Just how belligerent is the state-run tabloid? Let’s take a look at 10 of its most scatching screed.
DON’T TAKE PEACEFUL APPROACH FOR GRANTED (10/25/11)
“If these countries don’t want to change their ways with China, they will need to prepare for the sounds of cannons. We need to be ready for that, as it may be the only way for the disputes in the sea to be resolved.”
Context: The editorial argues that countries like Vietnam and the Philippines are taking advantage of China’s “mild diplomatic stance” to threaten the Chinese in the disputed South China Sea, an area valued for its fishing and oil and gas deposits.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images
LOCKE’S LIFESTYLE AND NEW MISSION (09/22/11)
Money Quote: ”
He enjoys the fact that his acts are praised by Chinese media, even though he knows he is not as plain as described … It is not suitable to overly praise a foreign ambassador, particularly when his task in China is rather complicated.”
Context: The tabloid penned the editorial at a time when Gary Locke — pictured above — had just become the U.S. ambassador to China and the Chinese public was buzzing about his alleged modesty, as displayed in his flying economy class, lugging his luggage around a Beijing airport, waiting in line at the Great Wall, and slinging a backpack across his shoulder as he tried to use a coupon at Starbucks.
Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
“China insists on peace. However, the US and other countries make use of this insistence as a tool to press China now. We should stop insisting on sticking to peace when other countries are challenging our bottom line again and again.”
Context: The author of the editorial, an analyst named Long Tao at a Chinese think tank called the China Energy Fund Committee, is reacting to America conducting military exercises with Vietnam and the Philippines in the South China Sea.
ALERT TO BUT NOT LURED BY FOREIGN INFLUENCE (10/29/11)
Money Quote: ” L
iving in an international environment that China temporarily cannot change, we need to be alert to foreign interference as well as keep a sober mind, clean house and constantly improve governance … No country is fond of interference from the outside. China is no exception. In addition to hostile forces originating in foreign countries, China also has to face the mixed chorus formed by Tibet separatists, East Turkistan terrorists and the Falun Gong cult, who have gone abroad. Inner calm is specially needed when dealing with the collusions of the above-mentioned forces.”
Context: The editorial, which reflects on China’s rise in a globalized world, sounds a lot like the paranoia about foreign interference expressed by dictators during the Arab Spring. The appeal at the end to “inner calm” may sound tranquil, but one can’t help but wonder whether it’s a euphemism for a crackdown.
RUMORS FIND BEST PLACE TO BREED ON WEIBO (07/13/11)
“New media was once held up as a model for freedom of speech in China. But in reality, a lack of censorship leads to rumors growing more rapidly.”
Context: The Chinese government has been busy waging a battle against the spread of false information online (some critics say this is code for a crackdown on dissent), and the Global Times has enthusiastically supported the effort, providing a justification in this instance for censorship. In another op-ed on the subject, the tabloid urged the government to ”
regularly publish authoritative information so as to nip rumors in the bud.”
Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images
“The Philippines, pretending to be weak and innocent, declared that mosquitoes are not wary of the power of the Chinese elephant. The elephant should stay restrained if mosquitoes behave themselves well. But it seems like we have a completely different story now given the mosquitoes even invited an eagle to come to their ambitious party. I believe the constant military drill and infringement provide no better excuse for China to strike back.”
Context: This is another piece from Long Tao of the China Energy Fund Committee on the provocations of China’s rivals in the South China Sea. Between the references to elephants, mosquitos, and eagles, the lead image of cats circling a fish bowl, and a reference to”minows,” the op-ed is heavy on animal metaphors.
“While in China we still see a family-value based social order, in the West we find an interest-group based social order. When in your family you do not apply strict laws or make contracts; instead you induce a moral code. When among strangers who fight against other interest groups, you simply cannot trust them like your own family, so you need laws.”
Context: Sometimes Global Times will outsource its missives to foreigners. This reflection on the differences between Chinese and Western culture by a German scholar seems to suggest that Western societies are held together by laws while Chinese society is held together by family values. We imagine some people might take issue with the notion that China is devoid of “strict laws.”
CHINA MUST REACT TO VIETNAM’S PROVOCATION (06/21/11)
“China has to be ready for two plans: negotiate with Vietnam for a peaceful solution, or answer the provocation with political, economic or even military counterstrikes. We have to be clear about the possibility of the second option, so as to let Vietnam remain sober about the South China Sea issue.”
Context: This editorial specifically singles out Vietnam’s aggression in the South China Sea and increasingly friendly relationship with the United States. The picture above shows Vietnamese protesters during an anti-China rally over tensions in the South China Sea in July 2011.
Hoang Dinh/NAM/AFP/Getty Images
THE REAL STAKE IN ‘FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION’ (01/22/10)
“The free flow of information is an universal value treasured in all nations, including China, but the US government’s ideological imposition is unacceptable and, for that reason, will not be allowed to succeed. China’s real stake in the ‘free flow of information’ is evident in its refusal to be victimized by information imperialism.”
Context: The op-ed lashes out at Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for endorsing a “single Internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas,” arguing that China’s meddling with the flow of information is design to ward off American imperialism. The picture above shows Clinton meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in September 2011.
Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
FEAR IS A MEDIOCRE REASON TO SUPPORT THE US (01/24/11)
“The US just lacks the willingness to face the serious challenges and opportunities brought by other emerging countries, including China. It should remember that prosperity comes from competition rather than fear.”
Context: In the wake of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s January 2011 visit to the U.S., the editorial criticizes U.S. news outlets and politicians for scapegoating China out of fear about its rise. The picture above shows a Chinese man in Beijing reading a Global Times edition with the headline “America, You Are Too Highhanded” back in 2001.