When U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke arrived in Beijing, he and all of his family members carried their own bags through the airport. The Chinese regime immediately saw through this simple act: It was a devious attempt to undermine the Party’s legitimacy.
Accordingly, on Aug. 16, the Guangming Daily, a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), published an article on its website headlined “Be Alert to the United States’ ‘New Colonialism’ Brought by Gary Locke.”
The article begins by comparing the “old colonialism” and the “new colonialism.” It describes how Western industrial capitalism and oligopoly capitalism tried to control China’s politics and economy, in order to seize China’s material resources.
The article then goes on to explain how the United States has replaced the old colonialism with the new colonialism during the information age, while keeping in place its old colonialist thinking. Those who know the CCP well are not surprised by this Cold War outlook, but they might wonder at how blatantly it is expressed.
The article refers to another U.S. ambassador to China, John Leighton Stuart, who served before 1949, when the CCP took over mainland China. The expulsion of Stuart is said to mark the failure of the “old colonialism.”
Because of Mao Zedong’s article “Farewell, Leighton Stuart!,” which almost every Chinese knows at least by name, many Chinese considered Stuart’s departure a victory for the CCP. For Chinese intellectuals, however, his departure meant the end of the era of befriending the United States. Stuart’s leaving was a symbol of the CCP’s long-term policy of making the United States the No. 1 enemy. That policy has never changed.
The article reminds readers that the new ambassador came to China for the interests of the United States, not the interests of the whole of mankind. Because Gary Locke’s Chinese face can be attractive to Chinese all over the world as well as to the ordinary people in China, the article claims his appointment as ambassador shows the United States’ bad intentions. Because Locke is Chinese, the United States seeks to “handle China with Chinese” and incite political unrest in China.
Westerners might be excused if they are a little confused at this. It’s almost impossible for a normal person to link the ambassador’s Chinese face with political unrest in China. However, taking such a leap is not uncommon in CCP propaganda.
The next paragraph provides the supporting evidence for this claim: “Just as expected, upon arrival, Gary Locke gave the Chinese officials a lesson. Every family member carried his or her own bags. Without assistants, without bodyguards, without flowers, without applause, without a welcome ceremony, they came here just like ordinary civilians. Obviously, this behavior can easily gain a good impression among ordinary Chinese people.”
The article clarified: Locke’s purpose was not said to be giving Chinese officials a lesson. Instead, Locke is said to be trying to win Chinese people’s hearts and enhance the Chinese people’s “fawning servility” to foreigners. Locke will thus strengthen the pro-U.S. forces in China so that it can then change China’s ideology. The endangered Chinese ideology is not specified, but obviously the CCP’s ideology is meant.
It’s really hard to imagine what kind of people can make such accusations. But it’s not hard to imagine who felt threatened. Several days after Gary Locke’s arrival, Chinese netizens were forwarding like crazy Locke’s family photo taken at Beijing airport. Almost everyone agrees that any head of a Chinese township would arrive with more ostentation than this ambassador from the world’s richest and most powerful country.
The article was written by Xiang Xiaodong, who describes himself as a “free thinker.” He is not well- known in China, and not many people treated his article seriously. Most posts under his article are teasing, joking, or even cursing the author and his opinions. But behind Xiang’s ridiculous article lies something deeper.
Guangming Daily is not an ordinary newspaper. Since 1982, the newspaper has been directly controlled and run by the CCP Central Committee (CCPCC). In 1994, it was confirmed that the paper belongs to the CCPCC and is managed by the Department of Propaganda of CCPCC. Only one other newspaper has the same status, the People’s Daily.
The difference is that the Guangming Daily’s designated readers are intellectuals. Right now, media control in China has been made much tighter. There is little chance of an unwanted article being published on a major online newspaper by mistake.
Since its publication, the article was removed from gmw.cn, the official Guangming Daily website. This is not because of censorship— the article is still on the websites of Global Times and Qiushi, two other main CCP mouthpieces. Rather, the reactions from the netizens on the Guangming Daily site were too strong.
If this is new colonialism, I want to be colonized.The CCP is corrupt. Facing big problems such as legitimacy, social unrest, and conflicts, the economy, environmental disasters, and many more, the new ambassador’s coming is a challenge. The CCP leaders have neither the intention nor the ability to change the corrupt system and its corrupted officials. They would prefer that the U.S. officials who visit China behave just like the corrupt Chinese officials.
But this is out of their power and jurisdiction. There is only one way to deal with the problem posed by Gary Locke carrying his own bag: Make it an imperialist conspiracy.Did the Party succeed? Just read the posts. Most of them read: “If this is new colonialism, I want to be colonized.”