OPINION / VIEWPOINT
'Why do you stand up for China in the way you do?'
Published: Sep 15, 2021 06:33 PM
Photo taken on March 19, 2019 shows the view of the Central Business District (CBD) in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province. (Xinhua/Mao Siqian)

Photo taken on March 19, 2019 shows the view of the Central Business District (CBD) in Shenzhen, south China's Guangdong Province. (Xinhua/Mao Siqian)

A very simple question was put to me recently by a friend who happens to be a journalist. It wasn't part of an interview. It was just a question posed by a curious person to a foreign friend who seems to be pro-China. My answer is just as simple as the question: I don't really stand up for China, but what I do is I stand up for the truth in reporting. I see something that's wrong and I attempt to correct it with information that's right.

Recent articles by BBC, Reuters and even from "think tanks" such as The Institute for Strategic Dialogue, all seem to point at what they call "Western influencers" and use words like: "pro-CCP narrative" (Western media constantly refers to the CPC (the Communist Party of China), as "the CCP"), to describe the things we blog or vlog about. However, they all seem to be missing one very important point. Unlike them, we usually live inside of China, we are actively living in, observing and taking part in the very policies they call the "CCP narrative" and, generally speaking, we like them.

I sent messages to several of my seemingly "pro-China" friends to ask why they feel as they do. Some, like myself, are writers, some are vloggers with very large followings, indicating that there are a lot of people in the world who understand enough of what we say to believe we might have some credibility. We don't have millions of readers or viewers like mainstream media. We aren't a coordinated team. We don't have a network of huge numbers of supporters reposting for us, and we certainly don't have marketing budgets or government support for the things we write and say and do. What we do have on our side is very easy to understand, it's called truth.

The feedback I got from my group of friends varied and was interesting. One is very afraid that the rhetoric is leading China toward an unwanted and unnecessary war. He sees the possibility that not only himself and his family, but millions of others will be killed in this war, and it wouldn't be the first war based on lies and deception. He went on to make an additional point that China's contributions to the world are not only exemplary, but very much deserving of promotion.

Another felt that, had he not come to China, he would be one of the believers of the "China bad" rhetoric. However, having been here through the pandemic restrictions, a business slump and back into better times, he now views the country differently. He frequently debates with family and friends back home about the differences between their perception, and his reality. He does what he does in order to give voice to Chinese people so that others, outside of China, will at least question the narratives. Another well-known vlogger, similarly, made the comment that he's annoyed by the number of people commenting on China based on reports they've read, rather than visiting the country and seeing for themselves. Like most of us, he feels the governments and media of some countries are deliberately misleading their public into a belief that all is not what it seems in China.

One very interesting comment came back from a vlogger who is not based in China; he's not even particularly aware of what happens in China since he's only visited the country one time and that was many years ago. But still, he is acutely aware that toxic propaganda, corrosive sanctions and economic sabotage are all going on and this leads to senseless destruction. Right now, for want of a better enemy, some Western governments as well as many media outlets are targeting China and, in his words, "this needs to be defeated." 

For 1.4 billion people, China is home, it's a place they are, quite justifiably, proud of. It's a country that has landed machinery on Mars and Moon, sent men to its own space station, developed the most advanced generation of mobile communications, installed infrastructure to accommodate more sustainable energy and leads the world with more EVs than the next six countries combined. It recently handled the pandemic with a minimal loss of life and recovered well. Are these scientific and technical achievements CPC narratives? No, they are cold hard facts. 

The rate of murder and rape in the entire country of China is lower than that of some individual American states: is this as a result of oppression? No, it's as a result of an acceptable degree of surveillance, which is no higher than any developed country, as well as an efficient police service that rarely kills an individual and a society that generally believes in rule of law. CPC Narratives? No, once again these are easily identifiable and verifiable facts.

In this aerial photo taken on April 29, 2020, representatives of frontline health workers fighting COVID-19 attend a bell-ringing ceremony at the Yellow Crane Tower, or Huanghelou, a landmark in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)

In this aerial photo taken on April 29, 2020, representatives of frontline health workers fighting COVID-19 attend a bell-ringing ceremony at the Yellow Crane Tower, or Huanghelou, a landmark in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)

At least 850 million people have been lifted out of poverty. Curbs have been placed on excessive income generated by IT and education industry IPOs. The benefits of this are for the 1.39 billion people who live and work normal lives, not the 1 percent of CEOs and billionaires. These same billionaires are taxed their fair share and most rich companies put money back into society. Are these CPC narratives? No, once again they are easily established as being true and the vloggers and writers are happy to repeat them. We repeat them not because, as is often alleged, the CPC asks us, coerces us, threatens our families or our visas or even rewards us for doing it. We amplify them to our followers because they are true and because they should be lauded.

Standing up for this truth creates problems for us. Our home country's media will often lambast and ridicule us. For example, despite being a GM in a multinational corporation in the security industry and despite having cycled several times across China (more than 20,000 kilometers and counting) and helped to raise several million yuan for charities in my adopted home city of Zhongshan, South China's Guangdong Province, I'm described by Australia's ABC as a "retired security officer who rides a bike in China." Recent articles by the BBC and others, accuse us of being paid simply because our narrative aligns with the CPC's narrative, are ridiculous.

There's a very simple reason why our narratives align with the CPC narratives and it's not hard to understand - we're here, we see it, we know what's happening and we report truthfully about it. It's hardly a coincidence that the CPC narrative happens to be the same as ours - they're the architects of it!

The author is a British Australian freelance writer who has studied cross cultural change management in China and has lived in the country, traveling extensively for 17 years. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn