This started when somebody posted a banal video from some China vlogger talking about "how China beat the coronavirus". The video consisted of a whole bunch of stock footage from CCTV (the CPC's main propaganda arm, also known as CGTN overseas), and a friendly-looking foreigner walking around rich neighborhoods in Shanghai saying that although the authoritarian measures might seem a little scary, golly gee but they sure do work wonders.
That pushed me over the edge. Ever since Europe and America started collectively shitting their pants, the CPC propaganda machine has been working overtime. The Chinese government is over the moon that they have been gifted with this perfect opportunity to declare themselves the most effective government in the world. They are pushing the narrative of their great victory and desperate people in the west are eating it up.
To be clear: every photo you see coming out of China is staged. The video that the CPC allowed to leak of people in Wuhan yelling out their windows "it's fake, everything's fake" just put a voice to what everyone in China already knows.
Every group photo op of Chinese doctors getting their heads shaved or accepting flowers from grateful members of the public, every snapshot of workers and residents standing or sitting exactly 2m from one another to observe social distancing, every John Woo style video of people in hazmat suits emerging from the doves to spray down the city, every group video of people chanting 加油 (add oil) from their balconies, it's all staged.
I think i literally posted just a few weeks ago that the CPC had their photographers out to take photos of every bit of performative disinfecting they had a hazmat crew doing in my village. None of this is hidden away. Everyone knows that everything the CPC reports on is fake because the vast majority of China - even in major cities like Shenzhen - does not look anything like the propaganda. And yet, everyone also knows that whatever the CPC reports on is the party line, and so it dutifully must be shared on social media and liked and applauded and defended whenever a foreigner questions it. That's just how things work.
So, my company is a UK company, wholly owned by a Chinese company, with a Shenzhen office of about a hundred people. Over 95% of our staff are employed in Europe, and the company communication channels are almost exclusively English. Just like most companies, there are a plethora of public chat forums where people post cat videos and Brexit news and other interesting updates related to our industry. For the past couple of months there has been an alarming rise in the number of "China is great" articles coming in, almost entirely from foreigners who are panicking over coronavirus and want to find some light in the dark.
Do not get it twisted, people. China is run by an authoritarian dictator who has imprisoned all of his political opponents and removed the party term limits so that he can remain leader for life. Even before Xi, the CPC was a ruthless and totalitarian organization. It rose to power in a bloody civil war and remains permanently stuck in a paranoid, war-time mindset. It has killed tens of millions of Chinese people through its negligent policies, and with this latest misstep it is going to kill tens of thousands - maybe even orders of magnitude more - all over the world.
Last year, when Xi was cracking down on Hong Kong, there was a growing undercurrent of annoyance at the Chinese government in my workplace. We have two offices in Eastern Europe, and the people there know first-hand what it feels like to live under the jackboot of an authoritarian regime. One enterprising chap added Winnie the Pooh emojis to our Slack account, and they got a good workout whenever more ignorant folk from Western Europe reposted CPC propaganda that described Hong Kong protestors as "terrorists". When the Chinese government forced us to rename Taiwan, under the threat of punishing workers in Shenzhen, there was vocal discontent.
We renamed Taiwan, and we renamed Hong Kong and Macau too. Those Winnie the Pooh emojis mysteriously got deleted from our Slack account.
And now my response to the soft propaganda video has been deleted. "I'm not saying you have to delete your comment, i just want you to think about what you've done and how it could be perceived." Yo, don't even come at me with that shit. It's not worth the argument, fine, i replaced my response with a 🙊
"You need to think about the feelings of your colleagues when you post things like this at work. You have to understand that you really hurt the feelings of the Chinese people..."
My boss is a foreigner himself, but he still pulled the line that, as a guest in this country, i could never possibly understand the deep and complex emotions of the Chinese people.
Here is how you know you have been suckered into a conversation with a CPC apologist: they will never once acknowledge the fact that you are talking about the CPC. They will not address the content of what you are saying, they will simply try to reframe your words as "hurting the feelings of the Chinese people".
Here's a newsflash. "The Chinese people" are incredibly diverse. There are over a billion of them. They all have different opinions. They speak tens of different - mutually unintelligible - languages. There are rich Chinese and poor Chinese, and their lives are just as different as the rich and poor in every other country. There are Chinese who believe that freedom of speech is important, and Chinese who believe that allowing the government to shape the narrative trumps freedom of speech, and there are Chinese who don't give a shit either way.
But this diversity is exactly what the CPC does not want foreigners to learn about China. The CPC wants to push a fantasy that all Chinese people are the same. All Chinese people speak the same language. All Chinese people share the same Chinese dream. 6% of Chinese people are CPC members, 94% are not, but 100% of Chinese people agree that the party is the center of everything. So when foreigners criticize the party, foreigners are racists, or ignorant barbarians, or black hands who hurt the feelings of all Chinese people.
It's complete and utter nonsense.
So my comment - which i admit was strongly-worded - was privately reported to HR, and now i have self-censored my comment.
The irony is not lost on me that my comment was literally about foreign vloggers self-censoring their content. In my comment i pointed out that it was irresponsible to post content about how well the CPC dealt with coronavirus at the very same time that the party is kicking out foreign journalists, disappearing citizen journalists and muzzling the voices of people in Hong Kong. The whole comment was literally about how the CPC is blocking any and all reporting that does not toe the party line, and then my own fucking company told me that it wasn't appropriate for me to post comments that do not toe the party line.
"Yeah, i understand how you feel, but the workplace isn't the right place for politics."
The same workplace where every dumb thing Donald Trump or Boris Johnson says gets posted up for laughs or debate.
The same workplace where someone cheerily posts a video literally about how well the Chinese government handled the coronavirus.
I am the one accused of bringing politics to work.
Yeah, man. Fuck that.
I would quit my job today, if i wouldn't be totally fucked. The rest of the world has decided to follow China's shitty authoritarian example in locking down their countries, and China has decided to follow the rest of the world's shitty xenophobic example in closing their borders. So basically the whole world is a fascist state right now, and for some reason a lot of people seem to think that's just fine.
Anyway, what it means is that if i had to try make it out of China it would be an utter shitshow. But i can't quit my job and stay here, because even though i have plenty of Chinese yuan and would happily spend all of it at hotels and local businesses, bumming around the country for 6 months, the Chinese government does not allow foreigners to stay in China for longer than 30 days unless they are working.
So, basically, fuck the Chinese government. And fuck this coronavirus. Which, in case anybody forgot, is only a pandemic right now because of the Chinese government. So fuck the Chinese government again. And fuck anyone who capes for them.