Hu Xijin on Guiding Public Opinion

Since 2010, the U.S. embassy in Beijing has maintained a Twitter feed with hourly air quality readings. Beijingers distrustful of the city government’s reports found ways to surmount the Great Firewall and access the embassy feed. Enormous discrepancies between embassy and local air quality measurements, combined with a few exceptionally bad days of smog last winter, seem to have lead the municipal government to improve its air quality monitors.

After the U.S. consulate in Shanghai started its own feed this month, China claimed that air quality monitors at any foreign mission are illegal. The U.S. insists its monitors are intended solely for the consular community, but that has not quelled Chinese government spokespeople. Nor do the authorities think America is solely to blame. Global Times Chief Editor Hu Xijin excerpted his paper’s June 7 editorial, “Confronting an Increasingly Active U.S. Embassy,” in a Weibo post:

HuXijin: One of the reasons for the U.S. embassy’s growing activity is its group of followers within China. Through the Internet, they enter into a tacit agreement with the embassy, while also helping the embassy disseminate information through traditional media. This is a normal manifestation of the diversity of Chinese society. We cannot think of the whole thing as a “U.S. embassy conspiracy.” This is often China’s own problem.

胡锡进: 美使馆之所以越来越活跃,原因之一是中国国内有了一批它的追随者,他们通过互联网与美使馆默契互动,也通过一些传统媒体帮助美使馆做传播。这是中国社会多元化的正常表现,我们不能认为这全是“美国使馆的阴谋”,它在很多时候就是中国自己的问题。

Hu further commented on the article in a reply to his original post:

HuXijin: China must assiduously guid mainstream public views in [the effective production and convergence of voices] in the public opinion space, clamping down on and balancing pro-U.S. and pro-Western voices. In nearly every country, including countries heavily influenced by the U.S., it is difficult for the pro-U.S. view to gain support. In China, however, at least on Weibo, has become an exception. This is a bit abnormal, and its causes are worthy of deep consideration.

胡锡进: 中国一定要认真引导主流公共意见在舆论场的有效发声和汇合,使这些意见对亲美和亲西方的声音形成强有力钳制和平衡。几乎在所有国家,包括美国影响巨大的国家,亲美的声音都很难在舆论场获得强势,而在中国至少微博现在成了例外。这有些反常,也值得深思它的成因。

As usual, netizens had a field day with Hu. Below is a sampling of over 1000 comments. Read more on CDT Chinese.

Translated by Deng Bolun.

ArabianYouth: The reason is that you can speak relatively freely on Weibo, so the people’s vehement dissatisfaction comes spewing out. All other websites have been harmonized. If you can’t see dissatisfaction, does this prove a happy society? @HuXijin


KiMzzzzzZ: The Chinese people aren’t pro-U.S., they’re pro-conscience, pro-truth.


NiuniuLovesKaka: The mainstream you’re talking about would be People’s Daily, right? You should know, only on Weibo can you really sense the people’s will. The People’s Daily is just selling dog meat and calling it lamb.


HappyIsEnough: Other than stirring up nationalist fervor among some people, what else can you do? Pursuing freedom and democracy is wrong. Pursuing better air quality is wrong. I know your children must have gone abroad. Are you f*cking evil? Turning a few normal young people into Maoists.


ChineseCitizen8: If I’m pro-U.S. or pro-West, that’s my right. Do you want me be an [ass-licker] like you? @HuXijin


KubiTranslatorLiu: We are far from being pro-U.S. We are looking forward to a better life. As for your comment “In nearly every country, including countries heavily influenced by the United States, it has been difficult for the pro-U.S. voice to attain a strong position,” please have a look at the immigration policy on U.S. passport holders in the democratically elected governments of those countries heavily influenced by America.

苦逼的翻译刘:我们并不是亲美,我们是向往更好的生活,至于您说的“几乎在所有国家,包括美国影响巨大的国家,亲美的声音都很难在舆论场获得强势” ,请您看看那些美国影响巨大的国家的民选政府对持有美国护照的人的入境政策。

Zi-Fei-Yu: @HuXijin You use “clampdown” very well, very appropriately, just like someone who has practiced various [throat-clenching or wrestling moves]. Very good, and if you can’t clamp down then couldn’t you still remove our vocal chords for free? Perhaps it wouldn’t be free. You still want fifty cents per bullet [for executions], isn’t that right, Editor Hu? @SimaNan @KongQingdong @SongYangbiao @WuFatian

子-非-余: @胡锡进 钳制这个词用的非常好,恰如其分的好,如同练过锁喉功或者鹰爪功。很好,即使钳不住还可以给我们免费做个声带小手术吗?也有可能不是免费的,子弹还要五毛一颗呢,对吧,胡编?@司马南 @孔庆东 @宋阳标 @吴法天

GuyCalledBubbleBobble: Teacher Hu, if you tell us not to be pro-U.S., ask So-and-So’s and So-and-So’s  “only children” to come back from the United States and then we’ll see. You do the utmost to send your family to America and then ask the common people to not to be pro-U.S. Who are you fooling?


Laomu 1840: Your own [government] credibility is lacking, what use is it to blame others? What you should think about is why people don’t trust you! Traditional media are all organized, it’s only Weibo that can sound the voice of the people! Everyday it’s guide this, guide that, and your way of thinking is always right. Now you’re looking for volunteer Fifty Centers. In the end it’s ordinary people who pick up the tab. Senior Fifty Center Sima Nan even secretly took his family and money to the United States. What else can you say???


Bickermate: #HuXijin, if the public opinion space needs your guidance, can you still call it mainstream opinion? Do you represent the mainstream? What’s the point of equating truth and progress with the U.S. and the West? This kind of logic wouldn’t come out of a dog’s ass. The people will support whatever best promotes social benefit. If you don’t want to see pro-U.S. and pro-Western, then build a democratic government. What’s the use of playing dumb all the time?