Now that it’s evident foreign coverage of the attempted protests in China and the government backlash against them isn’t simply going away unnoticed, it’s time for Beijing to resort to the one-size-fits-all response they use in any similar situation:
Foreigners who show interest in the events want to see China in chaos.
Global Times, China Daily, the Foreign Ministry, and numerous netizens have flaunted this claim. Basically, foreign reporters who showed up to Wangfujing to do their job were hoping to see demonstrations because they, and their viewers back home, want to see China implode. Committing journalism is evidently proof of willingly agitating upheaval.
I won’t deny that most of the journalists who showed up probably were hoping for demonstrations. It does make for exciting news. I also won’t deny that many in the West do cheer on the kind upheavals happening in the Middle-East without really understanding their long-term implications. It’s inspirational to film statues of dictators toppling over, but after the initial party most media don’t stick around for the ugly clean up.
The Chinese claim goes way beyond any of this though. It suggests people in the West want to see China in chaos just for chaos’ sake. Then their countries can carry out their own devious political objectives without the benevolent Chinese counter-weight.
It was exactly the same during the Tibet and Xinjiang riots, as well as the Nobel Peace Prize saga. Foreign media showed implicit support for the events simply by covering them. And again, foreigners who showed any kind of approval wanted only to disrupt the peace of China.
In those cases, the government was even able to blame the initiation of unrest on underground anti-China conspiracies (which TOTALLY exist) who fund and pull the strings of misguided local villains like the Dalai Lama, Rebiya Kadeer or Liu Xiaobo.
In the government narrative, there’s no middle ground for supporting peaceful protest or calling for reform and transparency. You can either silently trust and submit to them totally, or live in absolute anarchy. In most cases, this false dilemma sells pretty well to domestic audiences. After years of schooling emphasizing western arrogance, foreign occupation and the “century of humiliation”, it’s generally accepted that foreigners who say otherwise really do want to see China collapse, or at best, they simply “don’t understand China.”
After living in China through all these events, I’m getting pretty tired of being told I don’t understand China because I advocate transparency in the government and media . I don’t appreciate the idea that I’m labeled anti-China because I don’t think Liu Xiaobo is Hitler. And most of all, I’m dumbstruck at seeing the Chinese media say that I must wish to see the country I’ve made my home erupt into chaos since I condone peaceful public demonstration as a means of airing grievances.
So Chinese government and media, find a new scapegoat already. I know we foreigners are an easy target to use in consolidating nationalistic support for your actions, but please stop making me refute all the bloodthirsty bullshit you ram down your people’s throats about us.