21ccom.net 共识网, literally ‘Consensus Net’, is a news and commentary portal that aggregates content from a wide range of other sites, and also features original contributions from commentators and public intellectuals. The website is connected to Leaders 领导者, a bimonthly Hong Kong-based magazine founded in 2004 and devoted to ‘influencing the most influential decision makers’. Magazine president Zhou Zhixing 周志兴, former president of Phoenix Weekly 凤凰周刊, is also in charge of the website.
The website posts a selection of its latest updates to its Sina Weibo microblog. Below are three recent commentaries examining Chinese attitudes toward Japan. They are: an essay by Xu Zhiyuan 许知远, a well-known liberal thinker and Chinese Financial Times contributor; a Global Times editorial; and, a controversial on-air comment by the TV host Bai Yansong 白岩松.
The Japan Factor
Xu Zhiyuan 许知远
For more than a century, Japan’s very existence has seemed to mock China’s leaders. You thought you were a grand celestial dynasty, but then you lost the Sino-Japanese War to those pirates. You made the arduous transition to the Republic, but then the Japanese forced you to the south-west corner, where you struggled to hold out. You thought you were a victor nation, but when you opened up to the outside world you discovered you had fallen far behind Japan once again. You assumed that you had risen, and that Japan was in decline, but then you discovered that not only was Japan deeply involved in your daily life, but it had captured the hearts of the younger generation as well. And this time, you couldn’t even pull off a peaceful demonstration, while the Japanese appeared so calm in the face of an earthquake and tsunami…
Don’t Look Up to Japan Any Longer: View it as the ‘Troublemaker of Asia’
An unsigned editorial from the Global Times:
We must not subconsciously revere Japan as one of the great powers simply because it is more developed than we are and once invaded us. We must gradually come to see this country, which continually harasses us, as the ‘troublemaker’ of Asia, and to teach it a lesson if need be. But we must be sure to avoid psychological entanglements, for we have to continue on our way.
…So long as we keep our heads, the resolution of the Diaoyu Islands issue will be a grand drama. The one who ought to be anxious and tormented is Japan, not China, because we are improving every day, but Japan is only getting smaller. The duration and complexity of the Diaoyu Islands crisis will become increasingly harder for Japan to accept.
For the past two years, and in this current contest in particular, China has been gaining the initiative in its conflict with Japan. Japan has exhausted its capacity for dragging China along on the Diaoyu Islands issue. Now is the time for Chinese society, after more than a century of looking at Japan with a mix of respect, hatred, and helplessness, to regain its total psychological advantage.
Don’t Dress Up Lawbreaking in Patriotic Clothing
Bai Yansong 白岩松
On 26 September, the CCTV news program News 1+1 devoted a segment to violent expressions of patriotism, in particular, the savage assault on the driver of a Japanese car in Xi’an. The program wound up with a brief look at the beating of an elderly man who objected to demonstrators’ nostalgia for Mao Zedong during anti-Japanese protests in Beijing. Han Deqiang, a college professor, called the man a traitor 汉奸 and struck him across the face.
Program host Bai Yansong suggested that Han was the traitor:
The term ‘traitor’ is thick in the air these days, almost like it’s become an especially powerful weapon to use on enemies. But it’s actually a form of violent speech. Who is a traitor? If you’re a college professor and you slap an old man in his eighties twice across the face, that’s another kind of traitor. You’ve brought shame on us all, and you’ll bring shame to lots of other professors in China.
The program drew intense criticism from the nationalist left and generated a number of parodies accusing Bai of working for the Japanese, just like Wang Jingwei 汪精卫 did during the war.