A picture is worth a thousand words. A tweet (or “X” message) from the first channel of German state television about China, seen by 152,000 people, used as its symbolic image – understandably – a photo of a Chinese city; supposedly, anyway. Because if you look closer, you can see a Japanese city. Famous for its Pachinko gambling halls, run by the Yakuza. And one of the signs says “Karaoke” in Japanese.
Tweet from German state TV: “Weak economic growth in China” – or is it just weak reporting?
So according to German television, this is a Chinese city. Or did its quality journalists mean to imply that Japan is now part of China? Oh horror! The reverse would be more acceptable. Maybe Japanese would call them “Baka”, which means “fools” in their language, is a swear word and originates from China… But now I have already said too much and would like to leave it at that, in order not to cause even more confusion among the gullible German TV viewers. In fairness, however, I would like to add that a picture of a Chinese city was uploaded to the website (after the fact?). On the other hand, the tweet was not deleted or replaced.
What is the TV report about? Weak growth in China! That fits. But then why not use one from a German city with zero or negative growth instead of a Japanese photo? The journalist quotes a few anonymous sources and gives the following impression in his report, mutatis mutandis: “I have the feeling that the Chinese economy is collapsing because the cabs in Shanghai go very fast, because there are fewer traffic jams, and I saw a closed restaurant when I was hungry.”
Reuters survey: Chinese economy will grow by “only” 5 percent in 2023 (Screenshot: Reuters)
The crisis in China?
German television claims: “China’s economy is in crisis – and it shows in people’s daily lives.” It might have been a Freudian slip – because this statement fully applies to Germany. Other media claim the same, following a narrative that is politically correct in the West. That China’s previously remarkable economic growth has slowed somewhat is undisputed – but “crisis” is an absurd exaggeration or even Western wishful thinking. It is striking that the “gap media” conceal the real causes, which the renowned American economist Jeffrey Sachs has bluntly pointed out: “The media talk about a slowdown in the Chinese economy, but they conceal the reason: the U.S. is attacking China in a way that clearly violates World Trade Organization rules.”
The economic downfall of China predicted and longed for by Western media, politicians and “experts” seems to be short-lived: Chinese consumers have deep pockets and have also saved a lot during the Covid pandemic and are spending again, and “Millions of Chinese tourists are going on holiday again.”
How fortunate that Western journalists living in China and reporting on the economy there with disaster bulletins can do so on the basis of extremely meager basic economic knowledge! Otherwise, they might have found out what Jerry Grey, who has lived in the People’s Republic for 20 years and speaks Mandarin, writes: “One of China’s biggest economic problems is not the often-predicted-but-false collapse theory, but a different problem altogether, a problem that surprises many and even shocks some. As much as the so-called experts would like to believe it will happen, China’s economy is not in danger of collapse, and one of the reasons is that the country simply has too much money; that’s right, China has too much money, and that’s a problem.“
“Problems” that others would wish for
One can only say: You should wish for such a problem, especially if you live in America, in Great Britain or in Germany, whose debts are skyrocketing!
That German and other Western journalists stationed in China mostly do not know Chinese (and their colleagues stationed in Japan do not know Japanese) is nothing new. This also fits: Not being able to explain to readers, viewers and listeners the differences between Asians, for whom Asians all look the same anyway – just like Asian characters – does not cause an uproar.
Is it a matter of keeping media consumers clueless? One might forgive the employees of German television, who are equipped with modest knowledge, since even the otherwise much more professional journalists of “Bloomberg” attribute purely domestic conflicts in India between the Hindu majority there and the small Sikh minority to the “dispute between India and China.”
Bloomberg reports: “The man at the center of a dispute between India and China was a prominent member of the separatist Sikh movement.” China does not support separatists and terrorists in India, any more than India supports separatists and terrorists in China. Such activities typically fall under the purview of the United States.
After all, the Chinese foreign minister knows that such “informed” people in the West usually cannot tell Chinese, Japanese and South Koreans apart. He also recommended to his Japanese and Korean counterparts, according to “Japan Times“: “No matter how much we dye our hair blond and change our nose, we will never become Americans or Europeans and should stand by our roots.”
Sherelle Jacobs, editor-in-chief of the “UK NEWS WEBSITE OF THE YEAR” of the London “Telegraph,” studied history at the “School for Oriental and African Studies” in London, worked for a time for German state TV “Deutsche Welle” (DW) in Bonn and as a freelance journalist in Tunisia.
A terrorist threat on top of economic turmoil
She has never lived in China, speaks neither the language nor understands the culture of the country, but judges China razor-sharp and concludes that it may “pose a bigger threat to the West than the terrorist al-Qaeda ever did, and that it has already defeated Western civilization in its war.”
Oh horror of horrors! Will terrorists dispatched by Beijing, perhaps even highly competent and experienced ones from Xinjiang, soon blow up skyscrapers in the civilized West? In any case, it seems that “Telegraph” journalist Jacobs wants her readers to believe this.
Sherelle Jacobs’ father is Nigerian. The British Empire subjugated Nigeria as a protectorate in 1901 and from then on began to effectively enslave Nigerians and dictatorially impose its policies on the country. In Africa, the British were perhaps less cruel than in China, against which they fought two opium wars. Before the Opium Wars, China was the most powerful economy in the world, and only a decade later its economy had shrunk by half.
India fared even worse: British colonial policy claimed one hundred million lives between 1880 and 1920. India’s share of the world economy was 23 percent when the British came; when the British left, it was only 4 percent. Moreover, at the end of British colonial rule, 90 percent of the population lived below the poverty line, and life expectancy was only 27 years.
The literacy rate in the British colony was less than 17 percent. Kindergarten to university spending was less than half of New York State’s budget for elementary schools. Moreover, the British stole a total economic equivalent of $45 trillion from India.
This British journalist writes nothing about all this. All the more she tries to demonize China – a country which itself never colonized other countries and which, as a world power, for centuries did not abuse its fleet for gunboat politics and the subjugation of other countries, but used it only for peaceful trade.
British colonial troops in Nigeria (Source: answersafrica.com)
But could it be that China has developed colonialist and imperialist tendencies under the leadership of the Communist Party? First, a small correction: “Communist” it still is in name, but in reality it is a better “capitalist” party than those that set the tone, for example, in the two-party system in the USA.
China has capitalism with Chinese characteristics, which works better for most Chinese citizens than untamed capitalism with American characteristics works for most American citizens. Beijing intervenes when the market economy becomes dysfunctional to make it work – for example, by banning cartels and monopolies – to ensure fair competition. To cite just one example, online marketer Alibaba in China faces a host of local competitors, unlike its American counterpart Amazon in America.
Communists as saviors of the capitalist system?
Moreover, in Chinese capitalism, unlike in the U.S., the rich must pay their fair share of taxes, which the government uses to reduce poverty and greater social inequality. It uses the market as a competitive tool to drive innovation and modernization, and ultimately to achieve the “Chinese dream,” which I will explain in a moment. The results were not long in coming: 800 million people were lifted out of poverty in just a few decades, the country is highly innovative, files the most patents in the world, has the best universities in the world (especially in engineering and technology), and is now a world leader in 37 of 44 technology areas.
The “Chinese Dream” (中国梦), to which Chinese politicians often refer, has its roots in China’s ancient literature and intellectual history. It is closely linked to the idea of a hope for the restoration of the lost national greatness of earlier dynasties. But it is not about achieving global dominance; in essence, it is specifically about ensuring that all Chinese citizens have access to better education, better medicine and health care, better housing, more stable jobs, higher salaries, and a higher level of social security.
The Chinese Communist Party is also influenced by Confucianism and therefore represents the meritocracy, in which civil servants not only have to pass the civil service entrance exams, but also have to prove their abilities at all times if they do not want to lose their jobs. Article 27 of the Chinese constitution obliges civil servants to act in the “best interests of the people.” It states, “All State organs and functionaries must rely on the support of the people, keep in close touch with them, heed their opinions and suggestions, accept their supervision and do their best to serve them.” Every day there are about 500 protests in China. All citizens have the “right to criticize and make suggestions regarding any State organ or functionary…,” according to Article 41, which also describes what happens if the complaint is not heeded.
For many in the West, it is inconceivable that even Chinese academics, such as researchers at Tsinghua University, are allowed to publish studies about protests. Instead of suppressing all protests and criticism on social media, the party even wants to use them to improve the governance of the country. Local authorities are obliged to take them seriously, and differences are usually resolved through compromise. Citizens can sanction local authorities by voting them out of office.
The pursuit of a harmonious world
How did Confucius, who greatly influenced Chinese thought, view the relationship between the rulers and the ruled? He taught that a “ruler has a mandate from heaven” and must set a good example for the people by instilling virtue everywhere, thus demonstrating his “harmony with the divine.” According to Confucius, the only way to restore peace when the ruler no longer rules morally (or for the good of the people) is to depose him. Here is a detailed description of how criticism and complaints are dealt with in Confucian China.
The party also advocates the millennia-old concept of “Tianxia“ (天下), which literally means “(everything) under heaven“. What is meant is a comprehensive world full of harmony for all, or to put it casually and understandably for the Western confrontationists in Washington, London, Ottawa, Brussels and Berlin: “We leave you in peace, and you leave us in peace.” That is why the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries is so important to the Chinese. Throughout their history, harmony has always been a treasured ideal for the Chinese.
“Tianxia” in Africa — a challenge to Western hegemonism and neocolonialism
By comparison, the U.S. has 29 military bases in Africa, China has only one in Djibouti, near Somalia, to protect merchant ships from pirates, and the Chinese government’s activities on the continent are limited to building power facilities, hospitals, schools, railroads and the like. And the alleged “Chinese debt trap” is a Western invention.
The collective West, where unilateralism, militarism, and the extension of U.S. jurisdiction to extraterritorial territories around the world, combined with other coercive measures such as sanctions (the weapon of hunger), are taken for granted, does not understand the Chinese and projects its attitudes onto them.
Finally, one more question: Did you already know everything I have told you here? If not, that’s not so bad. After all, you are regularly informed about everything that goes wrong in China by German and other Western TV channels as well as the many other mainstream media. That already makes you a pretty good China connoisseur.