Meng Hongwei and the Mainstream Media’s Slippery Slope of Insinuations
The Mainstream Media is approaching a very slippery slope after insinuating that Chinese citizens are loyal to the Communist Party of China first and foremost above any and all of their other duties, and that failure to obey Beijing could lead to them “disappearing” regardless of how high-profile of an international individual they may be.
Details are still emerging about the case of former Interpol chief Meng Hongwei who Chinese officials finally confirmed was detained in his home country late last month and is being investigated for corruption. He also supposedly resigned from his post despite not (at least yet) being found guilty of anything, which has led to speculation that he might have been pressured to do so by the authorities. Whatever it is that may or may not be going on, and it’ll probably take some time for all of the facts to be released, the Mainstream Media wasted no time in spreading dangerous insinuations that could quickly lead down the slippery slope of discrimination or worse.
ABC News ran a report from the Associated Press that quoted Willy Lam, a Chinese politics expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, who went on record as saying that “Meng’s case shows how Chinese officials, no matter where they are, have to obey the Communist Party first and foremost.” This came out the same day as a New York Times piece that cited Michael Caster, a researcher and human rights advocate in Bangkok who studies China’s legal system, who encouraged the reader to “Imagine if China were to somehow, someday, get a U.N. secretary general, and then he too one day disappeared”. The innuendo is that all Chinese citizens across the world have to follow the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), or else.
Taken to its “logical conclusion”, this narrative could be expanded to include anyone with family living in China too, including members of the Chinese diaspora born abroad who aren’t citizens of their ancestors’ homeland. The implied idea is that the Chinese are just as “untrustworthy” as Catholics and Jews, both of whom persistent stereotypes paint as being “secretly loyal” to the Vatican and “Israel” above all else, just like the developing one seeks to do regarding Chinese and the CCP. This sentiment was already practiced to genocidal effect during the Old Cold War when Indonesian usurper Suharto presided over the killing of at least half a million Chinese on the alleged basis that they were all “communist subversives”.
Nobody needs to be reminded of the dangers of irresponsibly attaching a label to any identity group simply because some of their representatives might conform to a prejudiced stereotype, but that’s precisely what might be about to happen to the Chinese after the Mainstream Media’s insinuations. The Trump Administration even reportedly considered banning Chinese students from the country out of fear that they’re infiltrating America as spies, and this initiative might receive a second wind if neoconservative officials exploit Meng’s situation to argue for its revival on national security grounds. Last week’s accusations about an unprecedentedly expansive Chinese espionage operation could also add fuel to this fire.
The end result is that the Chinese are at risk of being treated as second-class citizens in the West simply because of the insinuations that are being levelled against them for purportedly being susceptible to blackmail by the CCP. The anti-communist McCarthyism of the Old Cold War is giving rise to an anti-Chinese variant in the New Cold War that also combines with the legacy of its predecessor to form an ethno-ideological cocktail of potential discrimination in the future. History is replete with regrettable examples of what happens whenever an entire people are targeted based on their identity, and while it’s unlikely that an Indonesian-like genocide of the Chinese will ever repeat itself, the world would do well to not run that risk again.