When Nationalism Goes to Extremes in Communist China
(Minghui.org) High School Student Guide (Zhong Xue Sheng Dao Bao), one of the most popular secondary education publications in China, published a poem in April:
Tears from Coronavirus
I will go back to the United States,which is my home—a place I belong;Coming to China was a mistake,since life here is so difficult for me....Chinese government is too tough [on controlling the epidemic],and Chinese doctors here work so hard [to eradicate the virus]...
Many Chinese parents were stunned by the message conveyed in the poem and worried what kind of people their children would turn out to be, with such propaganda that glorifies the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and incites hatred toward the U.S. and other countries that the CCP deems threats and enemies.
The publication of the poem is not the first time the CCP has weaponized nationalism and patriotism to achieve its agenda. In fact, such propaganda existed as early as when the communist ideology invaded China in the 1920s.
At that time, a debate broke out between Liang Shuming and Hu Shih, two renowned Chinese scholars at Peking University. Liang, who was influenced by communism, considered capitalism and feudalism the top enemies of China. Hu, on the other hand, deemed poverty, illness, ignorance, corruption, and riots primary concerns of the nation.
When Liang asked why, Hu replied that problems within China were largely caused by domestic issues. For example, while capitalism made Japan stronger, it left China with opium poppy everywhere. Therefore, he advised against using nationalism as an excuse to ignore domestic issues. He promoted practical philosophy over ideology.
Liang’s affinity with communism did not work out in his favor, however. Less than four years after the CCP took power, he was criticized by Mao Zedong in September 1953 for not aligning with the Party. After being publicly attacked for months in 1955, he was again reprimanded during the Cultural Revolution for not following the Party’s campaign against Confucianism. These series of tragedies not only harmed Liang but also left his wife with a mental disorder.
Similar stories have occurred all the way to the present. After a medical expert in Shanghai suggested people consume more egg and milk instead of rice porridge during the coronavirus pandemic, he was targeted on the internet and portrayed as a counter-revolutionary.
The coronavirus outbreak has also taught overseas Chinese a big lesson. As infection cases exploded in Western countries, the CCP reported few new cases starting in the beginning of March, creating the false impression that the epidemic was over in China. Many Chinese living abroad decided to fly back to China, the self-proclaimed “safest country in the world” amid the pandemic.
But to their shock, instead of being welcomed back, they faced tough treatment and were accused of “flying back thousands of miles to poison their motherland” and being unpatriotic. Those overseas Chinese who did not secure tickets quickly enough to fly back found it even more difficult to return, as the CCP openly discouraged or banned overseas Chinese from entering the country starting in late March.
Similarly, after many Chinese in Russia believed the CCP’s low official infection numbers and decided to return to China—only to be stopped at the border. Even attempts of smuggling were blocked, reported The Moscow Times on April 14 in an article titled “China Offers Reward for Catching Russian Border Crossers.”
“China is probably the only country that restricts its own citizens from returning home,” wrote Wang, an overseas Chinese student. “You [the CCP] cannot keep bragging about yourself for fighting the coronavirus while abandoning your own people.”
No Tolerance for Criticism
Anyone who dares to voice concerns about the situation in China could be labeled as traitors or overseas anti-China forces. Even when some overseas Chinese posted online saying they were safe in their adopted countries, they were immediately attacked by the CCP’s internet army. According to CCP doctrine, patriotism to China means treating Western countries, especially the U.S., as enemies.
The CCP often tells people “not to air your dirty laundry in public,” which is meant to discourage the Chinese from criticizing the CCP. But when the Party’s brutality remains unknown to outsiders, people could be misled by its propaganda; when an emergent infectious disease is covered up, the entire world could face serious consequences, as we have now seen.
The Gulag Archipelago, a publication by Soviet writer and historian Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, described the forced labor camp system in the Soviet Union. The book remained underground after its publication in 1973 and Solzhenitsyn fled overseas until the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
The censorship is even worse in China, as several decades have passed and Chinese writers have not dared to reveal the CCP’s responsibility for numerous tragedies from Great Leap Forward to the Tiananmen Square Massacre and the persecution of Falun Gong.
Extreme Nationalism Leads to Killing
Since ancient times, China and Chinese people were known for their generosity and inclusiveness. After the CCP came to power, all these changed. Instead of focusing on moral values, people were brainwashed to believe that patriotism and nationalism equate to alignment with the CCP’s agenda.
This is not the first time something like this has happened. In Nazi Germany, patriotism was conflated with antisemitism. People who were neutral or sympathetic to Jews were labeled as traitors. This contributed to the killing of about 6 million Jews in the Holocaust.
Hermann Göring, creator of the Gestapo and the chosen successor of Hitler, did not harbor strong anti-semitism in the beginning, and his deputy Erhard Milch actually had a Jewish parent. Due to his political ambition, however, Göring followed Hitler closely and carried out antisemitic policies. As a result, Göring supported the Nuremberg Laws of 1935. Later on he required the registration of all Jewish property and imposed hefty fines on them. In 1941 he issued a memo for a “Final Solution” of killing Jews.
Such tragedies have also occurred in communist China. In the name of nationalism, the CCP participated in the Korean War in 1950 and later engaged in the Sino-Vietnamese War. After its relationship with the Soviet Union worsened, the CCP set unrealistic goals in both the agricultural and industrial sectors, such as doubling steel production within a year. Such fervor did not create miraculous output, but rather led to cover-ups and disinformation that led to the Great Famine (1959-1961) with a death toll of 45 million.
About 80 million people lost their lives in various political campaigns launched by the CCP. As public opinion largely shifted to the digital space, Chinese nationalism quickly dominated online articles and forums, as well as social media. With collective efforts from government agencies, government-controlled news media, and the CCP’s massive internet army, the coronavirus outbreak was covered up, which so far has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths globally.
How much more harm will the CCP’s nationalism bring to Chinese people? Only time can tell, but history tells us that the tragedies will continue as long as the communist regime remains in power.
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