The Trump administration denounced the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) use of “political correctness” against American businesses and U.S. citizens, in a May 5 statement from the White House press secretary.
“President Donald J. Trump ran against political correctness in the United States,” it states. “He will stand up for Americans resisting efforts by the Chinese Communist Party to impose Chinese political correctness on American companies and citizens.”
It notes that on April 25, the CCP’s Chinese Civil Aviation Administration sent a letter to 36 foreign air carriers, including many American companies, demanding they change the definitions of “Taiwan,” “Hong Kong,” and “Macao” to fall in line with the CCP’s standards.
“This is Orwellian nonsense and part of a growing trend by the Chinese Communist Party to impose its political views on American citizens and private companies,” it states. “China’s internal internet repression is world-famous.”
The statement from the press secretary had dual meanings, depending on who reads it. For most Americans, the idea of political correctness has been attached to censorship on issues tied to social justice. In China, however, the idea of “political correctness” goes to the roots of the concept as an idea of a moral system tied to state policy.
Former CCP leader Mao Zedong laid out the ideas of political correctness in 1964 in his “Little Red Book.” The communist leader, who by varying estimates killed between 50 million and 70 million Chinese people, had a simple concept behind the phrase: You are “politically correct” if you support political initiatives, and not being politically correct would mark you for persecution or death.
The concept has existed in one form or another in most communist societies, which have created Orwellian forms of censorship and pseudo “thought crime.” It dates back to the earlier origins of the communist system, which François-Noël “Gracchus” Babeuf, regarded as the first revolutionary communist, pulled from the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror.
Under the 1793 “Law of Suspects,” the French Jacobin leader Maximilien Robespierre declared that anyone suspected of being against his policies should be beheaded by guillotine. Violations could include acting suspiciously, or writing or saying anything out of line. Under the policy, Robespierre infamously declared, “Those who accuse us are themselves accused.”
In China, the concept of political correctness still carries this thread. In the CCP’s push to maintain controls over free speech and the spread of ideas, it has enforced policies of “political correctness” on nearly all aspects of life in China. In January 2016, for example, its Central Propaganda Department declared that all decorations for the traditional Lunar New Year, such as holiday lanterns and red scrolls, must “propagate socialist core values.”
The CCP has similar requirements for nearly all forms of entertainment, including movies, rap music, and video games, which are likewise required to promote “socialist values.”
Foreign industries, particularly Hollywood film studios, have likewise been forced to play along or risk having their products banned in China.
Yet the Trump administration is sending the message that it will stand up against this form of censorship. As the White House statement puts it, “China’s efforts to export its censorship and political correctness to Americans and the rest of the free world will be resisted.”