Western hype over TEDx event aims to tarnish China's image, cause panic
Published: Aug 08, 2023 11:06 PM
Western smear Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Western smear Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

On July 31, authorities in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou canceled a TEDx event that was scheduled for August 13, and the organizers said this was done over "concern about foreign influence," according to Bloomberg. Is this really the case? 

According to a WeChat post by the organizers, the Guangzhou Police's Office for the Management of Foreign Non-Governmental Organizations viewed the TEDxGuangzhou event as a foreign non-governmental organization carrying out activities within the territory, and thus believed the organizers should establish a domestic representative office or obtain a "temporary activity record" as required by the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Management of Domestic Activities of Overseas Non-governmental Organizations.

The organizers quibbled, stating that they do not fall under the jurisdiction of this law, as they are merely "a group of local volunteers who occasionally come together to plan some activities." However, the right and wrong in this situation are quite clear. The authorities in Guangzhou ordered the cancellation of the TEDx event as it's illegal. This is due to the fact that foreign NGOs are required to file with the local authorities before conducting large events in China.

Zhang Xiaoming, a professor at the School of International Relations, Peking University, told the Global Times that the TEDx organizers cannot determine whether they are a non-governmental organization or not. Since they are conducting activities in China, they are obligated to adhere to Chinese law, he added. 

It's reasonable and feasible that the Guangzhou authorities demand the TEDx organizers establish a domestic representative office or obtain a "temporary activity record. "Any large-scale event needs to be officially approved, as this is a matter of public safety. Every country has such management measures; otherwise, it would be unacceptable to any government," said Zhang. 

Ignoring the fact, some Western media outlets are hyping China's "concern over foreign influence," in an attempt to create an impression that China is cracking down on social activities out of "fears of foreign infiltration." They also linked the issue with China's intensifying counter-espionage efforts, particularly singling out China's revised Anti-espionage Law. 

National security is now particularly emphasized in the world. It is also natural for China to strengthen its national security. China certainly wants to eliminate external factors of insecurity, but this doesn't conflict with China's sincerity in welcoming and encouraging cultural and academic exchanges with other countries. Normal non-governmental organizations or groups without hostile overtones only need to follow legal procedures. 

China's revised Anti-espionage Law is a measure for maintaining national security and is intended to address the imperfections of the previous legal system, but not to target the activities of foreign organizations in China. Therefore, normal and legal activities need not worry about being affected by the law. 

The underlying motive behind the West's hype over the cancellation of the Guangzhou event is to disrupt China's social stability. Faced with China's intensifying efforts to safeguard national security, the US and West are attempting to tarnish China's national image and instill panic among the people by smearing China. Given this, it is crucial for China to strengthen the overall concept of national security and address any shortcomings in important areas, in order to better protect its achievements in development.