Today Global Times ran a piece called “Time to teach those around South China Sea a lesson.” It basically says it would be a shame to waste an opportunity to wage some small scale battles in the South China Sea to teach mosquitoes like Vietnam and the Philippines a lesson. Tom Lasseter and Laowai Times have already written up pieces giving it the ridicule it deserves, so I’ll leave that part to them. As Laowai Times pointed out, “It’s hard to tell where stupidity ends and satire begins sometimes.” As satirical as it sounds though, the author of the article has what appears to be a real name and job, and the same piece ran in the Chinese edition of Global Times a few days ago. They’re not typically known for printing (intended) satire.
That people have this idea about war with Vietnam or the Philippines isn’t very surprising though. I’ve written before on how the South China Sea would be the perfect place for a little shock resuscitation of nationalism-based legitimacy if the party were ever backed into a corner. I’m sure there are plenty of hardliners in the government pondering the very suggestion the GT piece put forth.
But that this was printed in a national newspaper in a country that constantly emphasizes “peaceful development” …and then translated into the English version for the world to see is truly dumbfounding. I wrote a column for Global Times for a year-and-a-half (which I recently quit) and also did an internship this summer with the op-ed department. I always try to defend the paper because a lot of wonderful people work there that write very intelligent, hard-hitting pieces. It’s just a shame that they have to come up with about a hundred of those pieces for every asinine editorial they run just to hold on to any kind of credibility.
Out of professional courtesy I won’t say anything about day-to-day operations there or the editorial process, but I’ll say that, in spite of all the incredibly dumb stuff they routinely print, this piece blew my mind. I really have no good guess as to how this made it in. Nothing that I’ve ever experienced gives me much of a clue; especially given that it’s not an editorial and the guy who wrote it is an analyst with some outside think tank who doesn’t even directly work for the paper. So if any readers out there are more discerning and analytical than I am in this case, please share.