Huanqiu Impressions

Within its given limits, the Chinese press can be really freewheeling, an exercise for the reader in handling contradictions.

Joint statements of Sino-Canadian cooperation sit alongside justifications for executing another three Xinjiang rioters.  Little thumbnail photos of South Korean women’s nightclub attire glow next to Sun Yat-sen-esque oil paintings of Zhou Enlai.  If you can’t handle dissonance, it’s best not to look.

Today’s web version of the nationalistic-popular Huanqiu Shibao [a watered-down, woefully incomplete, and fractionally useful English version of which can be viewed here] contains a wide array of items worth a comment or two.

– A longer historical article about Soviet women who fell in love with Japanese prisoners of war after 1945.

– An extensively-argued BBS posting, replete with jpgs. of relevant treaty sections, arguing that the Diaoyu Islands are eternal Chinese territory.  But doesn’t anyone seem to mind that this trenchant patriot stuff is being done by netizens who depict themselves like this?


– This completely fascinating Chinese photo essay of a 6-day journey to understand Japan, in which Japan appears as dirty/rotting/disorderly/and old.  Not only are such things meant bolster the modernizing pride of the Chinese people, they have fundamental continuities with Japanese depictions of China in the 1920s!

via Huanqiu BBS

– Along the lines of Japanese appearing less than civilizationally superior on the Huanqiu news site is this photo gallery of Japanese sleeping on the subway [地铁上睡着的日本人].

Sleeping Japanese, via Huanqiu -- in implicit opposition to the infamous German website on "Sleeping Chinese"

– Another image gallery of Japan uploaded to the Huanqiu BBS that is stirring discussion are these black-and-white photos of Hiroshima atom-bomb victims.  One reader comments “Of course I feel a lot of hatred toward Japan, but looking at these photos, I can see that [Hiroshima bombing] was a tragedy.”

– This reflective blog posting on a new and centrally-published Cultural Revolution memoir by Zhou Enlai’s secretary for eight years.

– An editorial (in English) upbraiding Canadian PM Harper for waiting four years into his term to visit the PRC, and for a lot of other things:

By playing up China’s human rights issue, keeping away from the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, and meeting with Dalai Lama, Harper has long turned a cold shoulder to China. He seems to be bent on appeasing his electoral base, particularly in the western parts of Canada.

Is that a dig at Vancouver, the city charmed this past September by the Dalai Lama (along, of course, with its esteemed Francophone homologue, Montreal)?

– In true Huanqiu style, a special report (mostly derivative from the British press, but a new item nonetheless in China) on how the CEO of the American security firm Blackwater was a CIA agent.

– A photo gallery of drunken American university students who, ostensibly, spend more time on the bathroom floor than the library.  To my chagrin, I’ve misplaced the URL — perhaps it is in my folder entitled “Fodder for the Wipe Out America’s National Humiliation Campaign”?

– And finally, on the need for a strong nation, the Huanqiu shares polling data from India about perceptions of “the China threat.” As should be apparent to casual observers of the Chinese media, India’s profile continues to rise in multiple (mostly negative) ways in the PRC.  Of course, 53% of recently-polled Americans foresee military conflict with China, but at the moment Xinhua is leaving that statistic alone in favor of much better stories about Obama addressing an important US-China celebration in New York City.


  1. Western Canada in this case means the prairie provinces (and eastern British Columbia, sometimes), but definitely not Vancouver.

    Vancouver is still basically out of the reach of Harper’s Conservatives. Most Chinese-Canadians live in urban areas, which are still Liberal/NDP/PQ strongholds.

    Local Chinese news coverage of Harper’s visit has been generally positive, where English-language coverage has been quite negative (“BEATDOWN IN BEIJING” according to the National tonight, and the leader of the Opposition saying: “He lost face. That’s very important in their culture.”) Getting in Hu Jintao’s face about human rights won’t win many friends among Chinese-Canadians, especially those with close links to the Mainland, who make a lot of money off of everything being cool-cool in the 中加 relationship. Harper got to announce a deal that would make it easier for Mainland tourists, students, whoever to come over and check out Canada, which makes a lot of recent Mainland immigrants really happy. And, this is my own crazy conjecture, but I think there’s a sense of pride among recent Mainland immigrants (and Mainland visiting students) that ol’ Hu Jintao 欺负‘d Stephen Harper.

    “He seems to be bent on appeasing his electoral base, particularly in the western parts of Canada.” This is superficially kinda true, I guess, because Western Conservatives might be the last people in Canada to keep calling China a dictatorship. The Conservative Party has spun the scolding of Harper as a dictatorship attacking our Prime Minister– so why are the members of the Opposition supporting a dictatorship by suggesting they might be right? Traitors! The Conservative Party is also down with the whole Dalai Lama, religious freedom thing that a lot of religious right people in the U.S. are down with. So, that’s why I guess you can make that claim, that talking about human rights does appeal to a certain prairie province Conservative demographic.

    But… Western Canada (and a lot of other regions nearby, where the Conservatives hold seats) are interested in doing business with China, exporting resources. There have been more than a few editorials in Canadian papers over the past week that have identified Harper’s goal as coming to the aid of big resource exporters, who see the Chinese RMB being spent on buying up resources everywhere but Canada. This article gives some background on that, detailing the Conservative Finance Minister’s meeting with Li Keqiang:

  2. It’s certainly a rare sight for a Chinese like me seeing foreigners reading Huanqiu and decipher its messages. I am not a frequent reader of the newspaper, given my cold, neutral, sometimes libertarian political views, but I admit that it’s an interesting (and yes, ultra-nationalistic) newspaper to read 🙂

    I am really interested in reading people from other countries on how they view on us Chinese. But maybe reading Huanqiu and its comments only might not be the best idea. Maybe you can try some different online forums (or maybe you have already tried?)

    Although these days I am far more interested in N.Korea news coverage since I long predicted its downfall in 2012, which coincides with its current propaganda about a prosperous nation AND the end of a period on the Mayan long-count calendar 😀

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