“Swastikas on French flags”

Is this really the best way to express your grievances with France? Go see the photo. Another blogger quoted in the post wisely notes,

It’s not hard to imagine how Chinese people would react to having symbols of their World War 2 occupier added to China’s national flag or the moral integrity of China’s national heros slandered.

Not hard at all.

Don’t miss the same blogger’s excellent post on why some foreigners in China are starting to worry about their safety. For the record, I feel no such worries myself, at least not yet, though if the trend he describes keep escalating, that may change. I don’t see it happening any time soon.

I believe the CCP is going to go on overdrive in an attempt to calm the people down. They know this is not the face China needs to put forward as “friend to all the world.” They’d rather show off the fuwas, not shrieking banshees waving swastika-adorned French flags. What a dilemma they’ve put themselves in. They saw blind nationalism as a useful tool – when they could manipulate it. I don’t think they factored in how mass movements can take on lives of their own. How to get the genie back in the bottle?


Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 150 Comments

xenophobia like in any other society has always been a part of China. Xenophobia directed at the West is actually in my opinion on of the less common type in China. Examining the history of the “Han” group ( I’m just using that term to narrow the focus to China) one finds numerous occasions such as the Punti-Hakka clan wars in Guangdong, which was serious enough to cause a mass migration of Hakka’s to Taiwan, which unfortunately was followed by the Minnan-Hakka clan wars in the island. Now open warfare is probably not likely to happen again, but xenophobic comments directed from one Han group to another is extremely common and indeed in my opinion is the most common form of discrimination in China due to the fact that there are so many Han groups in China.

April 23, 2008 @ 4:53 am | Comment

It’s a huge myth that China’s a police state. Chinese gongan often find themselves in situations where they can’t even protect themselves from a mob. The idea that they can “step in” and protect shoppers or the targets of a mob with great ease is not realistic.

In this case, it sounds like they did eventually step in, but I’d be shocked if they didn’t have to get 50-100 officers on site before trying it.

April 23, 2008 @ 4:55 am | Comment

“When friends visit, we offer them our best wine.
When our enemies come, we prepare our hunting rifle.”

Most Chinese citizens are having a little trouble with that distinction right now.

“Chinese gongan often find themselves in situations where they can’t even protect themselves from a mob.”

That, to my surprise, is true.

April 23, 2008 @ 5:13 am | Comment

But CCT in this case according to the original post in the “Shanghaiist” blog: “Two police made there way though the mob” Does it mean that their weren’t really enough of a mob to prove to be any danger to only 2 policemen or is it something else I’m not sure.

April 23, 2008 @ 5:19 am | Comment

What? You aren’t China’s best friends. And “most Chinese citizens” are not nationalists.

Stop trying to make yourselves out to be some kind of victim class, you get enough special treatment as is.

Why should Chinese people worry about some whiners when thousands of North Korean refugees are sent back to the DPRK?

April 23, 2008 @ 5:22 am | Comment


Here’s the thing: we, not you, get to decide whether visitors are coming in the spirit of friendship or not.


I wasn’t there, so anything that I say is purely speculation. But there’s no reason for the mob to be angry at the cops, as long as they didn’t try to “side” with the Westerner. My point is that Chinese aren’t cowed by the authority and police. Not even close.

Sounds like these cops exercised great judgment in getting the hell out of there immediately. But I seriously doubt there were only two cops there; I doubt the car could’ve moved without more cops trying to clear the path.

April 23, 2008 @ 5:40 am | Comment

“What’s this? Even American born Chinese get special treatment, why wouldn’t you?”

So that’s why Ferin loves China so much. He gets special treatment, because he’s a yankee.

April 23, 2008 @ 5:47 am | Comment

I don’t use it to find Shanghai gold-diggers though.

April 23, 2008 @ 5:56 am | Comment

“I don’t use it to find Shanghai gold-diggers though.”

Why not? Even Shanghai gold-diggers need some love.

April 23, 2008 @ 6:07 am | Comment

But they don’t fancy immature American youngsters like Ferin.

April 23, 2008 @ 6:25 am | Comment

Unfortunately gold-diggers would settle for just about anyone, as we have learned from this blog.

April 23, 2008 @ 10:07 am | Comment

Of course, the point is NOT to take the gold-diggers home to see Mom

April 23, 2008 @ 12:44 pm | Comment

“Unfortunately gold-diggers would settle for just about anyone, as we have learned from this blog.”

Except for extremely repulsive trolls like you.

April 23, 2008 @ 2:16 pm | Comment

Cao Meng De

Yep – valid points all of them.

However what I took from what they guy was saying was that in the longer term Russia is more concerned about rivally from the east as opposed to the west. Maybe this was just comforting talk for a western audience however as I work for an Arabic FI I can’t totally put it down to this.

Whilst you accurately describe the reasons behind the current situation I’d be more interested to hear why you don’t think this will escalate. Right now its a win win situation for those sides but long term an equilibrium has to be achieved…where will that be?

April 23, 2008 @ 5:32 pm | Comment

“why you don’t think this will escalate.”

Thermonuclear weapons.

I have no doubts there are lots of racist motherf@ckers or at least people who think like your clients on the Russian side of the border.

But Mutually Assured Destruction tend to keep people honest.

Of course, if they really decide to go nuts and start a Chinese pogrom on their side of the border, all hell will break loose.

But I am counting on the Russky Bear to be a rational animal.

April 23, 2008 @ 6:02 pm | Comment

CCT, so basically, Chinese deserve free speech but no one else does.

This is amazing. And, to reiterate a former post. If the Chinese have the right to free speech now, which us barbarians have been encouraging for a while (by the way, barbarians-free speech, sound odd?) I guess it’s time to free all those political dissidents, protesters, and common people misplaced by the “People’s Games,” isn’t it?

No, because that, apparently, is a different kind of speech.

Also, The Genocide Olympics flag is indeed slightly offensive, but then again, I’m pretty sure that’s not what sits in front of China’s chair at the UN. The French flag is, well, the flag of France: a nation. The Olympic flag is a flag of utter preposterousness, on that China cannot lay claim to. That said, the entire idea of the Olympics is ridiculous, but what do I know? I’m not a sports fan (actually for a barbarian I’m pretty pathetically non-hirsute and bookish).

One last thing. The Torch Relay that started this whole exercise in mendacity? It was started by the Nazis in 1936. They wanted to parade their master race quite literally through Europe with the whole world watching.

Sound familiar?

Oh yeah, And then Jesse Owens kicked their asses.

April 23, 2008 @ 6:41 pm | Comment


Yes, a Chinese student was killed by a gang in Paris on March 19. This tragedy took place almost three weeks before the torch relay, so it appears that the incident was unconnected to the olympics PR meltdown.


April 24, 2008 @ 12:09 am | Comment


“so basically, Chinese deserve free speech but no one else does.”

Yup, you got it, bright chap!

“One last thing. The Torch Relay that started this whole exercise in mendacity? It was started by the Nazis in 1936. They wanted to parade their master race quite literally through Europe with the whole world watching.

Sound familiar?”

Yup, We are Nazis and Master race. You so smart.

Now run along and go play with other pathetically non-hirsute and bookish barbarian children.

April 24, 2008 @ 12:40 am | Comment


Huh, a link between the 1936 Berlin Olympics and the Beijing Olympics… what an insightful and original comment. Seems to me like Europeans have a heavy load of its own historical burdens that it needs to get rid of.

As far as “deserving free speech”… I honestly don’t even know what you’re talking about.

April 24, 2008 @ 2:29 am | Comment

europeans sure love projection.

genocide! nazis! religious intolerance!

April 24, 2008 @ 3:18 am | Comment

hell yah!

Finally “foreign guest” can know how it feels to be an “alien”, Mexican, Asian, or blacks in America.

Vincent Chin can finally rest in peace!

April 24, 2008 @ 4:47 am | Comment

>Why should Chinese people worry about some whiners when thousands of North Korean refugees are sent back to the DPRK?

From what I’ve heard China desn’t worry about them, either, lol

April 24, 2008 @ 5:01 am | Comment

The CCP doesn’t care about anyone. It’s not worth the time, however, to dedicate any extra police or court resources to deal with some butt-hurt white princesses that think they deserve everything handed to them in a silver platter on the steps of their gated expat communities.

April 24, 2008 @ 6:44 am | Comment

Yup, I feel your anger, Ferin. The very thought of foreigners in China not wanting to be attacked by mobs. The cheek! Arrogant, spoiled laowai. o_0

April 24, 2008 @ 6:51 am | Comment

Until one of them actually gets beaten to death like the minorities in Europe and America, they have no reason to complain.

April 24, 2008 @ 6:54 am | Comment

What an odd moral universe you live in, Ferin. In mine, everyone has the right to be safe from lynch mobs, regardless of what crimes other people may be committing in another country.

April 24, 2008 @ 6:58 am | Comment

In yours, apparently, you have the right to bitch, piss, moan and whine and hold others to higher standards than you have ever achieved yourself in place of any sense of reason and priority.

China doesn’t have enough police resources to babysit prima donnas.

April 24, 2008 @ 7:09 am | Comment

*showing any sense

April 24, 2008 @ 7:11 am | Comment

Personally, I believe the Chinese government takes this situation a great deal more seriously that you apparently do, and with good reason; any mob violence vaguely reminiscent of the Boxer Rebellion and any suspicion on the part of foreigners that the Chinese government were complicit in violence against foreigners and / or their property (or at least seen not to really care that much) would have extremely grave consequences for the country.

April 24, 2008 @ 7:13 am | Comment

would have extremely grave consequences for the country.

I’m sure they’ll live. Don’t overestimate your worth.

There won’t be violence “reminiscent of the Boxer Rebellion”, are you retarded? Why not say if the “American expats” act in a manner “reminiscent of” the Opium Wars they can expect their fat heads to roll in the streets of Beijing 😉

I think the general Chinese populace has moved past its dynastic ways, as for Westerners? They’re still breaking open markets and invading for commodities, last I checked.

April 24, 2008 @ 7:21 am | Comment

>Why not say if the “American expats” act in a manner “reminiscent of” the Opium Wars they can expect their fat heads to roll in the streets of Beijing 😉

I don’t see British (or American) gunboats shelling the Chinese coast.

I do see mobs of righteous Chinese nationalists yelling “kill the foreign devils” and demonstrating against Western business interests and, apparently, assaulting a “foreign devil”.

Who exactly is going on a trip down memory lane here?


April 24, 2008 @ 7:26 am | Comment

I don’t see Chinese martial artists punching Christian babies either.

So who is being hysterical here? I’d say all the whiners here are.

Oh noes, boxer rebellion v.2! Save me Jesus!

First the Nazi comparisons from fearmongering idiots, now this. What’s next, WMD in Zhuzhou?

April 24, 2008 @ 7:33 am | Comment

“China doesn’t have enough police resources to babysit prima donnas.”

China doesn’t even have enough police resources to maintain public security. The gonganju is a f’cking joke. Lazy, baldheaded men playing mahjong and screwing KTV girls – they really have a hard job to do.

April 24, 2008 @ 9:19 am | Comment

>I don’t see British (or American) gunboats shelling the Chinese coast.

Thank to CCP, China actually has a decent army this time. There will be no Eight-Nation Alliance marking into Beijing again and burning down the Bird’s Nest.

April 24, 2008 @ 10:30 am | Comment

Lazy, baldheaded men playing mahjong and screwing KTV girls

Sounds like you and your “wife”.

April 24, 2008 @ 10:34 am | Comment


April 24, 2008 @ 10:35 am | Comment

Thanks for proving my point, “THUGs AND GOONs”, which was that it is only some Chinese who are taking a trip down memory lane and re-enacting the Boxer Rebellion, and not foreigners.

April 24, 2008 @ 10:51 am | Comment

@ Ferin:

Enjoy your b&

April 24, 2008 @ 10:53 am | Comment

I gauge myself based on which comments don’t get deleted and which do. If I get banned for what I said and HKSojourner doesn’t for saying “Han Chinese can fuck off home” then well, that would be hypocrisy.

It would explain why none of the moderate Chinese posters can stomach this place. I’ve seen tons of them come and go, none of them want to put up with constant slander, exaggerations, and outright lies.

April 24, 2008 @ 11:01 am | Comment

The moderate Chinese posters can’t stomach abusive American trolls like Ferin.

April 24, 2008 @ 9:12 pm | Comment

They find me amusing.

April 25, 2008 @ 6:06 am | Comment

@cao meng & CCT

Thank you both for responding to the inflammatory comments I made. And thank you doubly for predictably commenting only on those comments, and not the less acerbic calls for freedom of political prisoners, journalists, and people who “subvert the state.” Not to mention ignoring the essence of that post, a response to CCT’s about the comparably offense generated by Nazi Swastikas on the French National flag as opposed to handcuffs on the Olympic flag, which, to my knowledge, has not become the official flag of any nation in the last two days. I admit to using harsh rhetoric for a sound byte, and that should never be part of a substantive argument. That said, criticizing said bytes is no better.

Also, I don’t have children, but thank you for assuming so, though I have no idea why that assumption was made, given that most of the foreigners in China that I know are under 30 and childless.

But, you know, whatever.

April 25, 2008 @ 11:20 am | Comment

Sorry, one last thing,

CCT, when I mentioned free speech I was referring to your earlier post wherein you rightly brought up the issue referring to the French flags with swastikas and why we aren’t defending their right to free speech. To be fair, that is an excellent point. Indeed, free speech does guarantee the right to that sort of protest. My point was simply the hypocrisy contingent to that claim. Free speech should be defended when it allows Chinese protesters to defame foreign symbols, but it should not be defended when it includes activists saying “we want human rights, not Olympics,” or allowing journalists into Tibet, or even allowing China’s reporters to report anything than the government’s press releases. Also, if we should be defending the right of free speech in regard to the flags, then those waving the flags should also be defending Cafferty’s comments on CNN, as they fall well within the confines of free speech, and in a country that guarantees it no less. Kudos to CNN for not apologizing, btw. That is, after all, the essence of free speech, that people are free to espouse unpopular and even offensive ideas. I will be the first to respect the right of Chinese protesters as soon as they recognize ours, something which, apparently, is rather difficult. Seriously, it was CNN, and it was an editorial piece. Much, MUCH more offensive things are said in the official, “objective” articles in the Chinese press, as well as by government officials themselves.

But anyway, this all comes down to two old American sayings (my apologies for not being well-versed in Chinese proverbs, I’m working on it.)

“I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”


“Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.”


April 25, 2008 @ 11:59 am | Comment

“They find me amusing.”

Ferin, the word is ABUSIVE, not AMUSING. Your English really is appalling.

April 25, 2008 @ 8:35 pm | Comment


old AMERICAN sayings

“I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Wow your knowledge is profound, the mind boggles.

I didn’t know that Voltaire to whom the above quote is usually attributed to, or Evelyn Beatrice Hall who may actually wrote them, hold AMERICAN passport. Thank you for clearing that up for the rest of us.

It goes to show that you never underestimate a pathetically non-hirsute and bookish barbarian kid.

My apologies.

April 26, 2008 @ 2:27 am | Comment

@Richard: –and it was taken as such!

@Cao Mengde: Cheers. I’d say that we should be friends, but I do remember how that usually ended up with your namesake.


April 26, 2008 @ 8:12 am | Comment

@ Cao Meng De

I meant that it was a commonly used phrase during the American Revolution (partially inspired by those stupid French and their philosophers). It has since been adopted as commonly used phrase in America. I never said that an American first uttered it. Also, I doubt either Voltaire or Hall had a passport, they were first issued in the early 20th century.

I am not entirely sure why I am defending myself, although I remain unsurprised that you are focusing on minor misattributions and errors (your grammar is rife with them) instead of responding to anything said about the Western press, the Chinese press, human rights, etc.

It doesn’t matter much anyway, the lines in the sand have been drawn.

However, if you wish to discuss actual issues like free speech, human rights, and whether or not protests from either country are ideologically sound, I would be more than happy to do so.

I doubt it though, easier to mock the laowai.

April 26, 2008 @ 3:52 pm | Comment


“partially inspired by those stupid French and their philosophers”

Of course, Voltaire couldn’t hold a candle to your brilliance.

April 26, 2008 @ 6:28 pm | Comment


Don’t worry buddy. In my present incarnation, I don’t have the power to have people’s heads removed. Not yet.

April 26, 2008 @ 7:07 pm | Comment

@Cao Meng De

Seriously, no snappy anything, please, please respond to something of substance. You are good at misinterpreting me, and I applaud that.

Also, “those stupid French and their philosophers” was something we like to call “sarcasm.” As is rather difficult to debate, France is the source of some of history’s most important thinkers, writers and statesmen (Camus and Beaudrillaird stick out to me right now, though they’re rather modern) Obviously I was being facetious, which, of course, you were fully aware of. I disagree with you and think you are rude (and evasive) but not stupid.

I tire of this, any desire for actual debate yet? I noticed you ignored that bit of my post AGAIN.

April 27, 2008 @ 3:19 am | Comment

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