The Man Behind China’s Raging Nationalist Campaigns Against the US

April 3, 2021 Updated: April 6, 2021


Though it may not be clear to many Westerners, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is collapsing. The Chinese are quite certain that the Chinese regime’s fall is imminent, as more than 375 million Chinese have already quit the CCP and its affiliated organizations.

On the verge of a crisis, the CCP has again raised the banner of nationalism in order to save itself. This is a tactic it has regularly used over the past century when it has been cornered and had no other choice.

The latest nationalist campaign started with the CCP’s diplomatic system, after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on March 18 that the United States had “deep concerns with actions by China, including Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber attacks on the United States, and economic coercion toward our allies.”

In the midst of this diplomatic dilemma, the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League (CYL) joined in to initiate a heated boycott of foreign goods, with the CCP’s official mouthpieces invoking nationalist sentiment along the way.

The situation shows that Politburo Standing Committee member and state adviser Wang Huning—who controls the CYL and the CCP’s Publicity Department, but has no position in foreign affairs—is directing the diplomatic system from behind the scenes.

Staged Confrontation in Alaska

At the two-day U.S.–China meeting in Alaska on March 18 and 19, the two sides, led by Blinken and Chinese foreign policy official Yang Jiechi, exchanged fire at the beginning of their talks, bringing their conflict under the international spotlight.

Yang spoke for 17 minutes without giving time for translation in between. The most surprising remark he made was that “the United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength” and that “the U.S. side was not even qualified to say such things even 20 years or 30 years ago, because the Chinese people don’t buy it.”

As many people have said, Yang’s words were for the Chinese to hear, in order to intensify a new wave of anti-U.S. sentiment among domestic Little Pinks (a pejorative term to describe youths indoctrinated by the Chinese regime). Yang’s performance was also for CCP head Xi Jinping.

After Yang and the CCP’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, dramatically opened the talks with guns blazing, the CCP’s official media quickly amplified their message and declared the talks a diplomatic win for the regime. A bilingual post on the Weibo account of CCP mouthpiece People’s Daily Weibo quoted Yang’s remarks in Chinese, accompanied by a warning in English: “Stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.” The video of Yang’s speech went viral on China’s internet and was met with an outpouring of fanfare from the Little Pinks.

Both Yang and Wang were acting for Xi. Just like fighting the CCP virus epidemic, foreign affairs are on Xi’s list of issues requiring his “personal leadership and personal deployment,” with Xi not daring to leave it to others. The CCP’s foreign ministry appears to have nothing to do with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, who is supposed to assist Xi in the area of foreign diplomacy. Who is behind Xi, then? It’s Wang Huning, the so-called state adviser.

Wang is in charge of an array of areas, including the CCP’s party building work, ideology, and propaganda. He is also a member of various committees, including the Central Comprehensively Deepening Reforms Commission, Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission, and Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission.

Most notably, Wang was the only member of the Politburo Standing Committee who accompanied Xi to meet with diplomatic envoys of foreign countries on July 17, 2019, as secretary of the Party’s Secretariat.

This is notable because typically more officials would have attended, and Wang doesn’t hold any position in the foreign affairs area. He’s also not a member of the Foreign Affairs Commission under the CCP. While Xi is the director of the commission, Prime Minister Li is the deputy director and Wang Qishan is a member of the commission.

Wang is believed to have replaced Li in assisting Xi to direct diplomacy. That is to say, the CCP’s diplomatic system has become a territory of Wang’s meddling.

In addition, the CCP’s propaganda itself is under Wang’s control, and it is not difficult to judge that Wang is manipulating it behind the scenes.

Boycott Sparked by Controversial Xinjiang

The controversy surrounding Xinjiang cotton, which is a product of forced labor, became the spark for a boycott of foreign goods, after several foreign companies including H&M publicly stated last year that they would stop sourcing their cotton from Xinjiang due to human rights concerns in the region.

After the European Union (EU) and many Western countries sanctioned CCP officials over human rights issues in Xinjiang on March 22, the CCP’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced retaliatory sanctions against 10 European officials and four entities, intensifying the conflict between the Chinese regime and the international community, and creating a weird undercurrent in China’s political situation.

On March 24, the CYL raked up the past on its Weibo account, uploading H&M’s statement from last year about its boycott of Xinjiang’s sweatshop cotton, asking H&M to “stop yuejipengci” in English.

It explained in another post that “yuejipengci” in Chinese means “going beyond one’s capacity to fake an incident for money.” This is also a follow-up to the statement made by Yang Jiechi during the U.S.–China talks in Alaska, which represents a rogue diplomatic phrase: “Chinese people don’t buy this.”

Following the CYL’s opening strike, almost all of the Chinese regime’s official media, including CCTV and People’s Daily, launched an all-out attack on H&M at about the same time. The storm spread rapidly to more than a dozen international brands, such as Nike and Adidas.

At her March 25 regular press conference, CCP Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying showed a photo of American slaves from more than 100 years ago and compared it to a recent color photo taken in Xinjiang, arguing that the United States also used black slaves to grow cotton. However, the so-called “black slaves picking cotton” photo she showed to foreign journalists was exposed by Newsweek to be a postcard from the archives of the Library of Congress titled “Sharecropper Sam Williams With Family Members and Laborers in Cotton field.”

Why did a statement released a year ago from H&M become compromising material to be used now by the CCP’s official media? Why did it suddenly ignite a national movement in China against foreign brands? Why did the CCP’s organizations, including its domestic propaganda system and its foreign ministry spokesperson, join the fray? Obviously, just like the performance of senior Chinese diplomats in Alaska, it was a coordinated effort.

The CYL is a so-called mass organization of the CCP, a channel for the CCP to connect with the Chinese people, especially young people, and Wang is the superintendent of the CYL, with ideology and propaganda also under his direct supervision. Yet Wang also manipulates the Chinese regime’s diplomacy from behind the scenes. Therefore, while this nationalist drama may appear to be under Xi Jinping’s command, as Xi is supposed to be the so-called super authority in China, Wang is the true director.

Wang Designs Xi’s Leftward Turn

In recent years, Xi has made frequent moves toward the left, showing a tendency to emulate Mao Zedong in various fields. Early on, he asked senior CCP officials to study Mao’s writings in order to deal with trade negotiations with the United States. Many of Xi’s speeches were copied from Mao.

Xi claims that “time and momentum are on our side.” In his domestic policies, he boasts about the so-called miracle of poverty eradication (though much of the Chinese population remains in poverty), and he puts forward the so-called 2035 Vision Plan (a nationalist plan with the aim of overtaking the United States). In his foreign policies, he regards the world trend as “the East is rising and the West is falling,” and the United States as his No. 1 enemy. These are all signs indicating the rise of nationalism across the board.

Xi’s leftward turn is due to the fact that he has been deeply influenced not only by the CCP’s highly deceptive propaganda, but also by Wang, who has easy access to him.

Wang, known as the “state adviser for three dynasties” (he has served two previous CCP general secretaries Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao and the current general secretary Xi), first helped Jiang Zemin package the so-called “Jiang Zemin Theory,” and later was an important promoter of Hu Jintao’s theory “Scientific Outlook on Development.” He is also the author of Xi’s “Chinese Dream” and the so-called Xi’s Thought that was added to the CCP’s party constitution at the 19th National Congress, the Party’s rubber-stamp legislative conference.

After the 19th congress, a series of internal speeches by Xi revealing his ideological orientation was published in the party media, and many of the speeches were designed by Wang. It is said that even when Xi attends international conferences, Wang prepares some small notes for him.

See How Wang’s Nationalist Farce Ends

Despite Xi’s intention to rely on it, Wang’s proud nationalist work has received backlash from time to time.

For example, the rise of nationalism in the previous two years—which is really aimed at glorifying the CCP, as represented by the documentary “Amazing China“—was shattered by the sudden trade conflict between the United States and China. In addition, it revealed the reality that China has long relied on the West for its core technologies. At the time, a group of CCP officials spoke out through pro-Beijing Hong Kong media, implicitly criticizing Wang’s propaganda system for bringing harm to the country.

Last year, just after the outbreak of the CCP virus from the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the Publicity Department under Wang’s control released a propaganda book, “A Battle Against Epidemic: China Combats the Novel Coronavirus in 2020,” touting Xi’s “major country leader’s love for the people.” The book, initially slated to be published in five languages including English, was pulled off shelves less than a week after its release in February due to negative feedback. Beijing resident Xue Fumin wrote that Wang, as a member of the CCP’s Standing Committee in charge of propaganda, should be held politically accountable for his lack of care for the people.

Although Wang has been repeatedly protected by Xi, the CCP’s propaganda system has become a subject of ridicule for Chinese citizens, and for the international community.

Yang’s remark “China doesn’t buy it” has been ridiculed by Chinese netizens, making similar sentences out of the template. For example, “China doesn’t buy the American way, but only Mao’s cultural revolution way”; “China doesn’t buy the American way, but only the way that caused 30 million peoples’ death in the three-year famine.”

The current Boxer Rebellion-style boycott of foreign goods has now begun to take a turn for the worse. Videos can be found on Weibo of people burning Nike sneakers and cutting H&M clothes to vent their anger, and at least one shopping mall has removed H&M’s outdoor billboards.

Amid all this chaos, a Little Pink in Zhengzhou was taken away by police at a protest site for boycotting H&M. Then certain CCP media began to call for vigilance against “bad guys” who acted too aggressively in the boycott campaign.

An article titled “Bad People Are Mixed In With the Masses Who Boycott H&M,” published on March 26 by Nanfang Daily, a mouthpiece of the CCP’s Guangdong provincial committee, asked its readers to “be wary of some irrational actions and attempts to muddy the water with the intention of high-level sophisticated irony.”

Is it the Little Pinks or the CCP’s mouthpiece being ironic? Of course, it is the CCP’s own mouthpiece, because they were the ones who started the push for a boycott.

Some netizens said that people shouldn’t blindly follow trends, as this results in following the CCP.

In fact, it’s not difficult to imagine, given that the so-called anti-Japanese patriotic demonstrations that occurred 10 years ago in China were eventually stabilized to serve the CCP’s own ends. The CCP fanned the flames of nationalism then, too, against Japan and Japanese companies.

The CCP claims that it wants people to be patriotic, but in reality, it doesn’t allow it. Loving the country makes the Party’s rule unstable. It actually wants people to blindly love the CCP. In a country where there are no human rights, no freedom of thought, and no freedom of speech, and where even citizens are afraid to appeal to the government, there is only a nationalist drama manipulated by those in power, so when the time is ripe, we can expect the curtain to close on the regime.

Yue Shan is a freelance writer who used to work for CCP’s government organizations and listed Chinese real estate companies in his early years. He is familiar with the inner workings of the CCP’s system and its political and business relations and is dedicated to analyzing Chinese politics and current trends. He has been a long-time contributor to several Chinese media outlets based in the U.S. and Taiwan.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.