The Ayatollah of Iran took his shot at using the political and cultural fallout from Charlottesville for political gain earlier this week. On Friday, it was China’s turn, with an editorial in the Chinese Communist organ Global Times.
“The division of values in U.S. society is deepening,” the Global Times wrote, noting the dissolution of two of President Trump’s business advisory councils.
“From the perspective of Chinese society, the division of values in US society is striking. In the past few days, protesters in North Carolina toppled a nearly century-old statue of a Confederate soldier during a rally against racism. The Lincoln Memorial was vandalized in Washington, DC,” the editorial continues, taking more notice of the Lincoln vandalism than most American media outlets are comfortable with.
According to the Global Times, some Chinese are joking about an American “cultural revolution”—a very loaded term in China, whose Cultural Revolution killed about 1.5 million people. It is nice that they have healed enough to tell jokes about it now. It was long illegal for Chinese citizens to discuss the Cultural Revolution at all, but the authoritarian regime finally admitted Chairman Mao’s bloody exercise in social engineering was “entirely wrong in both theory and practice” in 2016.
The Communist Party senses a political opportunity in America’s current convulsions. The Global Times editorial includes one odd little bit of praise for America’s resilience, saluting it as “the very country in the Western world that can withstand all kinds of twists and turns,” but then sets about assuring the global audience that China’s government and culture are far superior.
The editorial argues that America made it through the racial strife of the Sixties because it was able to rally against the menace of the Soviet Union, but now “changes in the global power structure have gradually crumbled the confidence of US society.”
“While the people are not of one mind, the president is supposed to be the core to rebuild consensus. However, Trump seems to have become exactly where the conflicts start. No matter what he says about the Charlottesville violence, people are not buying it. This reflects the systematic defect of the U.S.,” the ChiComs argue, coming off as mildly sympathetic to President Trump’s predicament in their eagerness to indict American society.
Anyone familiar with China’s state-run media should know where this is going: The world really ought to think twice about lining up behind neurotic, unstable America as the global hyperpower when China’s system is so much more equitable, reliable, and efficient!
“Chinese society does not indulge the expansion of social conflicts. China has always been cautious and kept a close eye on any social chaos from its initial stages. It has learned great lessons from its lengthy history and it spares no efforts to build social unity. China is wary of the limits of its social endurance and we prefer political stability and flexibility,” the Global Times argues, confident that readers will give them a mulligan on that whole Cultural Revolution thing.
“China and the US have two completely different cultures and systems. Both of them will encounter problems and then solve them. History will prove which system is more effective in a longer span of time and make the two complement each other,” the editorial concludes.
Give the Global Times this much: they have a point about how healthy societies should be able to reconcile conflicting viewpoints and heal deep cultural divides. China does it by depriving dissidents of their basic rights and heavily censoring public discourse. Too many Americans appear willing to give up on democracy and give the Chinese approach a try. The Chinese Cultural Revolution was very big on destroying statues and other artifacts to sweep away useless history, for example.