This translated commentary was written by blogger Xiang Dongliang (项栋梁) on a public WeChat account named Basic Common Sense (基本常识项栋梁). The original commentary is still available on WeChat in Chinese, but an archived version can be found here and here. It was first published on August 3, 2022.
Not familiar with former Global Times editor Hu Xijin? Read our full profile of him here.
I wrote before Pelosi even left that using only basic common sense I could tell there was no way a war was going to happen this time. Why do I write an article specifically to refute something so obviously unlikely to happen? Because someone is deliberately misleading the public into thinking that the country will use military force to coerce Pelosi not to visit Taiwan or retake Taiwan by force in one fell swoop.
This person is Hu Xijin.
The current surprise, disappointment, and frustration experienced by the people are not 100% caused by his remarks, but at least 80% are his fault. In this matter, Hu Xijin’s harm can be fully described as misguided and harmful to the country.
On the one hand, it has seriously damaged the credibility of the country, and on the other hand, it has dealt a heavy blow to the morale of the people.
Bluffing to reveal information
How can a retired newspaper editor-in-chief damage the country’s credibility so badly? It starts with Hu Xijin’s elaborate tactics.
The former editor-in-chief of the Global Times has always identified himself as a hawkish patriot, which is perfectly fine. The point is that the main content of the Global Times‘ coverage is international affairs, and Hu Xijin, as editor-in-chief, often expresses or implies that he has exclusive inside information and makes predictive or conclusive views on military and state affairs.
Hu Xijin has been devoted to creating the persona of the propaganda apparatus off government’s (and even the military’s), so that people mistakenly believe that some of the official statements that cannot be made openly are spoken through him, and news not convenient to be released through official channels are revealed through him.
He has also repeatedly expressed that although he is often criticized by the public for these statements, he resigns himself to the fact that it is his duty to do so.
In the case of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Hu Xijin also used Huspeak to imply that he had insider information that the general public was not aware of, including top-secret information, such as the country’s military operation plan.
Such tactics led many to believe that Hu Xijin was leaking information and making harsh statements on behalf of the state and the military for the purpose of deterrence. As a result, when Hu Xijin made predictions about the possible consequences of the Pelosi visit, many people mistakenly thought that he had real insider information about the country’s response package.
But what actually happened? Hu Xijin’s judgments about the international situation are often the exact opposite of reality, and he simply does not look like a so-called source who has access to the core decision-making level.
Before the Russia-Ukraine war, Hu Xijin swore that Russia would not take military action, but it was the West that was creating the rumors. There are countless cases of such face-punching lies but his skin is so thick he does not feel pain at all. And we can think with our toes to know that such top-secret information about the plan of action against Taiwan cannot be disclosed in advance to a big mouth like Hu Xijin.
Even if Hu Xijin could receive some internal information of not too high level when he was in the office, now that he has retired, who would dare to violate organizational discipline and risk their career to reveal information to him? Purely Hu Xijin is simply making himself sound more authoritative than he can deliver.
In fact, as a Chinese citizen or as a media commentator, there is nothing wrong in making suggestions and predictions about national policies, but pretending to have inside information to mislead the public into thinking that the country will start a war is a very bad behavior that has serious negative consequences. It harms the nation and hurts the people.
Scare tactics is unscrupulous and disgusting
Whether it is an international struggle or a diplomatic strategy, it is understandable that sometimes there is a need for harsh words, and sometimes there is a need to make false moves. However, in the current international order, to scare people with harsh words needs to observe ethical and moral principles .
In the case of Russia, even if they had deployed troops and fired shells on Ukrainian soil, Putin would never admit that Russian forces had bombed the hospitals, schools, and home. Attacking civilians in war is barbaric and inhuman. Even if you have done it, you will never admit it–this is the behavior of a rascal who follows rules.
However, Hu Xijin does not follow rules and is unconscionable.
Before Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, Hu Xijin made a harsh statement on an overseas social media platform that the PLA could shoot down Pelosi’s plane if necessary. This is a barbaric statement.
China and the United States are still friendly countries with diplomatic relations, but even if China and the United States are at war, China is unlikely to go shooting down Pelosi’s plane.
Pelosi, as Speaker of the House of Representatives in the U.S. Congress, is a leader of the legislature, not a military person, and her plane is naturally not a military target. Even if she is an enemy leader, even if we hate her, as long as she is not a member of the military, the most we can do is to sanction her, arrest her, and try her, but never to kill her in a military operation, which would breach the bottomline of civilization.
Hu Xijin’s terrorist remarks, which openly threatened to kill the leader of a country with diplomatic relations with China, were reported by the foreign media and relayed to the White House, and it was lucky that they did not lead to a serious diplomatic incident (foreigners know very well that he does not speak for the Chinese government).
Previously Hu Xijin had also openly said that China should build more nuclear bombs and increase them to a thousand.
Against the backdrop of a global consensus among major countries to prevent a nuclear arms race and do their best to control the size of their nuclear arsenals, Hu Xijin’s statement is a terrorist manifesto that is not in line with national military strategies and also breaches the bottomline of civilization.
These remarks, when put on the overseas social media platform, can be said to have seriously damaged China’s international image of loving peace and maintaining civilized order. It’s fine to utter harsh words, but to issue such barbaric statements is definitely not a patriotic act.
People who love war pretend to be patriotic
In fact, in the end, Hu Xijin’s various actions have a common root.
He is a fanatical warmonger.
Of course I know that “forgetting war is dangerous”, but we should also know that “being belligerent will lead to destruction”, and that war should be the option of last resort in any situation. China is by no means a warlike country and will never threaten war at any time in its interactions with other countries.
Hu Xijin’s long-standing rhetoric has made it clear that he loves war, desires war, and is relentlessly promoting it, even at the expense of kidnapping our country’s credibility.
Hu Xijin harms the country and hurt the people. What is he really going after?