China is using ‘baizuo’ progressive ideology and rhetoric to attack us
By Bill Connor
At the start of the recent talks between senior United States and Chinese diplomats in Alaska, the Chinese foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, made uncharacteristically public belligerent statements. Yang proclaimed that the U.S. did not come to the meeting from a “position of strength” in this first U.S.-China meeting of the Biden administration. According to a tweet from Disclose TV: “China’s FM Yang threatens ‘firm actions’ in response to ‘U.S. interference’ on arrival for Alaska talks: — U.S. is the champion of cyberattacks — Black Americans are slaughtered in the U.S. — U.S. uses military might and financial supremacy to pressure countries.” This level of criticism of America by the Chinese Communist Party is new — and directly connected to extreme “baizuo” progressive ideology and rhetoric in the U.S. Let me explain.
First, despite the frequent use of progressive talking points to criticize the U.S., the Chinese leaders actually resent and lampoon extreme progressivism in America. According to the Global Times, Chinese use the Mandarin term baizuo, meaning “white left,” to lampoon progressive elites in America and throughout the West. The term baizuo “has become increasingly popular among China’s netizens [internet users], a phenomenon analysts ascribe to the public’s resentment against what they perceive as the superiority complex of the Western liberal elites” and use the term “to ridicule the liberal elites.”
Dr. Zhang Chenchen has written that baizuo means those “who ‘only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment’ and ‘who have no sense of real problems in the real world” and advocate for such things “to satisfy their own feelings of moral superiority” while being “obsessed with political correctness.” On the Chinese question/answer site “Zhihu,” one of the most-responded-to questions is “why are well-educated elites in the West seen as naïve ‘white left’ in China?”; that site describes baizuo as those “who advocate inclusiveness and anti-discrimination but cannot tolerate different opinions.” Cultural scholar Zhang Yiwu of Peking University has opined that many Chinese believe baizuo are hypocritical and will make things worse in the West. Most probably recognize this is the same criticism from the American right, though that criticism is called “racist” by the baizuo.
The claim by CCP member and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang about the U.S. “slaughtering blacks” is absurd. Heather Mac Donald of USA Today wrote on July 3, 2020, “There is no epidemic of fatal police shootings against unarmed blacks,” and that only 14 unarmed black people were killed in 2019, compared with 25 unarmed white people. Even the seeming disparity (African-Americans make up only 13 percent of the population) is shown to be similar by the number of police encounters: “The African American community tends to be policed more heavily, because that is where people are disproportionately hurt by violent street crime. In New York City in 2018, 73 percent of shooting victims were black, though black residents comprise only 24 percent of the city’s population.”
The CCP can make such an outrageous accusation against the U.S. due to the outrageous rhetoric of the baizuo. The constant refrain from progressive groups like BLM, supported and repeated by most of the American baizuo, is that blacks are being “hunted” by police. From the 1619 Project and the rhetoric of those promulgating “critical race theory,” America is described as systematically racist and a danger to African Americans. This carries into the Democratic Party, in which even Joe Biden recently claimed at the CNN Town Hall, “we have to deal with systematic racism that exists throughout society.” The false progressive assertions of systematically racist American police massacring black people is picked up by the Communist Party of China and thrown back against us. This dynamic happens in a number of other such ways with progressive rhetoric.
These attacks coming from China are particularly galling when considering China’s record on such issues. Most in America are aware of the massacre of thousands of dissidents in Tiananmen Square in 1989 (though that historic event is blacked out by the CCP from the Chinese public). They are usually aware of the oppression of Christianity and the crackdown on dissidents in Hong Kong. What they may not be aware is of the Chinese use of concentration camps to intern Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Province. According to the former head of the human rights bureau in the U.S. State Department, Michael Kozak, this kind of persecution hasn’t happened “since the 1930s” (a comparison to the persecution used by Hitler and Stalin). Reports include organ harvesting. Unbelievably, China has called the concentration camps “vocational training centers.” Unfortunately, progressives like Biden rationalize this as a “cultural” difference. China has used alleged minority persecution to stop any criticism of Xinjiang Province concentration camps, and progressives remain silent.
A majority of Americans are not baizuo. A recent Rasmussen Poll showed 75 percent of American voters want voter ID laws (including 60 percent of Democrats). Yet progressives not only push legislation (HR1) to end voter ID but have called support for voter IDs “racist.” The majority of Americans, like the Chinese, see the progressive insanity. It’s time we demand an end to baizuo ideology and rhetoric, for the sake of America and for the good America could accomplish in the world without it.
Bill Connor is a 1990 Citadel graduate, 30-year Army infantry colonel and combat veteran. He is a writer and attorney and lives in the Charleston area.