Following recent high-profile examples of foreigners behaving badly in China, last week saw a spike of anti-foreigner sentiment that culminated in the announcement of a hundred day Beijing police crackdown on illegal immigration.
Among the commentators who applauded the crackdown was Yang Rui, a television host on China’s state-run English-language TV network, CCTV-9. On his microblog on China’s Twitter-like service, Weibo, Yang posted a bile-laden diatribe on how China’s Public Security Bureau should deal with foreigners (Thanks to China Smack for the translation):
“The Ministry of Public Security must clean out foreign garbage, arrest foreign thugs and protect ignorant/innocent girls, with Wudaokou (popular student area in Beijing) and Sanlitun (bar & restaurant district in Beijing] being the disaster areas [worst places]. Behead the snake heads [human traffickers], the unemployed Americans and Europeans who come to China to make money, trafficking in people, misleading the public and encouraging them to emigrate. Identify the foreign spies, who find a Chinese woman to cohabitate with, while their job is to collect intelligence, drawing maps and perfecting GPS [coordinates] for Japan, Korea, Europe, and America under the guise of being tourists. Drive out the foreign shrew, shut down Al Jazeera’s Beijing office, let those who demonise China shut their mouths!”
The vitriol in Yang’s post is appalling but is made all the more worse by his day job. Yang co-hosts “Dialogue,” a current event news talk program in the vein of “Meet the Press” or the “Charlie Rose Show.” On his program, Yang invites foreign experts to discuss topical world and China-related news.
That Yang holds such inflammatory opinions of foreigners is worrying, given that he’s the host of one of CCTV’s more venerable news programs charged with providing a forum for the civil exchange of ideas and opinions between China and the outside world.
Ad hominem attacks on foreigners aside, particularly of concern are Yang’s charges that foreign spies have infiltrated China, at a time when Chinese suspicions of foreigners are already running high.
Yang’s comments come after a series of high-profile incidents that have provoked extreme nationalist rhetoric in public debate: sovereignty in the South China Sea, American re-commitment to Asia and the recent kidnapping of Chinese fishing vessels by North Korea.
Guests who have appeared on Yang’s show have contributed to the negative fall-out.
The Atlantic’s James Fallows –who during his years in China occasionally appeared on the program– posted a piece on his blog about what it was like to appear on “Dialogue.”
Similarly, Charlie Custer, founder of the tech blog China Geeks and a two-time guest on the show also expressed his outrage and even confronted Yang on Weibo about his post.
Yang responded on Weibo by calling for the Public Security Bureau to investigate Custer and even threatened to sue him.
One thing that is clear from the reaction registered by Fallows, Custer, and other foreign guests is that it’s about to get a little bit harder for Yang to find foreigners willing to appear on his show.Ed Flanagan
- Beijing in drive on illegal foreigners (chinadailymail.com)
- Al-Jazeera English closes Chinese bureau (chinadailymail.com)
- They come here… Chinese TV host rails against ‘foreign trash (independent.co.uk)